On February 1, 1996, Ross Geller and Rachel Green started their storied relationship on Friends. That is a quarter-century ago.
In the pilot episode, it was revealed that Ross had a crush on his younger sister Monica's best friend back in high school, and Rachel admitted that she was aware that "Monica's geeky older brother" had those feeling at the time. Of course at that moment, Ross was still reeling from his divorce, while Rachel was still agonizing over a very fresh end to her engagement to a man she left at the altar.
Cue an entire first season of Ross trying to get up the gumption to make the next move, only for something to always get in the way "like Italian guys or ex-fiances or, or, or...Italian guys." But he fell deeper in love with her anyway, without her knowledge, until the Season 1 finale, when Chandler blurted it out. A tthat point it was too late for Rachel to do anything, because Ross came back from his trip to China with his new girlfriend Julie in tow.
As Season 2 began, it was Rachel's turn to obsess over Ross without his knowledge, until she got drunk and left a voicemail for him declaring that she was "over" him, prompting Ross to ask "When were you under me?," followed by a fight, a first real kiss, and an ill-advised list of pros & cons that left Rachel to angrily take herself out of the running.
A few episodes later, after Rachel dated a Ross look-alike, and Ross watched his ex-wife remarry, came "The One With the Prom Video." Monica found a video taken around the time of their senior prom in high school, and Ross was the only one that objected to watching it, for reasons that soon become clear. When Rachel's date for the prom didn't show, he was encouraged by his parents to volunteer to take his place, even getting him dressed up in a tuxedo to try to save the day for the girl he's loved since the ninth grade. Alas, her date showed up before he could do anything, and as they left, Ross' heartbreak was preserved on VHS, for Rachel to see years later.
Upon realizing just how long he's been carrying the torch for her, Rachel wordlessly stands up, walks over to him, and finally kisses him again, much to the delighted gasps and shrieks of the live studio audience, and the rest is history. Complicated sitcom-hijinks style history, but history nonetheless.
"The One With the Prom Video" is considered by many to be the best episode of Friends of all-time, and that's out of 236 over 10 seasons.
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Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.