FRIENDS Analysis: Monica Geller’s Soulmate is Richard Burke

No one on Friends marries their soulmate which is interesting because they all date their respective soulmates at one point. Ironically, in the episode, The One where Joey Tells Rachel, Monica tells Chandler:

I don’t think we’re soulmates. I think we’re two people who fell in love and work hard at our relationship… sometimes really hard.

If we boil what Monica said down to the roots, then she’s saying “chemistry” is more important than “destiny.” It’s fair to say that this is more truthful, if not more nihilistic. They don’t believe things happen for a reason, they simply do. Metatextually, this line of Monica’s is used as the writers’ medium, telling the audience that “Monica and Chandler aren’t perfect together, but they work” as a way to ease them into accepting the episode’s title and that Joey and Rachel might be a “thing” down the line. However, using Monica for this speaks volumes of a greater truth because she missed her chance with her actual soulmate: Richard Burke. Before diving into this review however, here’s a breakdown of how this will go through each character: 1. Character backstory 2. People they date; their type 3. Soulmate on the show So without further adieu…

Monica Geller

Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica Geller

1. Background

Monica grew up fat and neglected by her parents, but she didn’t know this. In every flashback with a fat Monica, she appears to be wholly content with her figure and her family life until Chandler entered the scene. Before Chandler, Monica’s concept of love was aloofness = affection. This is due to the fact that her parents neglected her, but she was none the wiser as a teenager; for Monica, that’s how you displayed love and affection — through neglect.

This was further paralleled in Rachel Green, her best friend. Being popular, Rachel would act aloof and play hard to get for boys; this distance, aloofness, and neglect is what Monica registered as love. This was Monica’s only concept of love and how relationships work. She believes that you should be passive, not active in what you want. However, when she eavesdrop on Chandler (in the past) and learns that he’s not being aloof, but is actually disinterested in her, her world shatters.

Chandler makes Monica feel unloved by her parents and even her friends because Chandler takes the “aloofness” she’d grown to learn as affection and proves that it’s disinterest. This is why Jack and Judy (Monica’s parents) are unaware that they were negligent of Monica — well, more-so Jack, Judy is just kind of a b****. They respond to those accusations in earnest, believing themselves blameless for how she feels — they are right. Monica only feels unloved by her parents because Chandler twisted their nominal neglect into indifference (the opposite of love).

Very likely, although it’s never stated in the series, this is also why Monica and Rachel grew apart, Monica probably assumes Rachel’s friendship (her love for Monica) is superficial as well. The result of all this is that Monica seeks to be active and take control, evidenced by her neurotic behavior (i.e. obsessive compulsive disorder [OCD]) and sudden weight loss.

Women tend to lose weight (and develop eating disorders) when they have a lack of control in their lives. Their weight becomes one of the few things they can control, so they regulate it with strict standards. This is not to say that Monica developed an eating disorder, but OCD could certainly be a by-product of her weight loss — which is a good disorder choice as its more in keeping with “comedy” and any eating disorders on the show would lead to “drama.” In addition, eating disorders tend to cause women to have poor self-image. Again, this analysis is not saying Monica has an eating disorder (making for a sadomasochistic chef), however all these things accumulated into Monica having very little self-worth and a need for control.

This didn’t stop later in life as it’s shown with her roommate, Phoebe. Phoebe moves out without telling Monica. When Monica realizes Phoebe has moved out, Monica is crushed because she thought they were “doing so much better.” They were getting along despite the fact that Monica was being aggressively controlling. This time however, Phoebe throws Monica for a loop, because Phoebe was being more friendly with her (not aloof), but was just as dishonest as her parents, since she moved out. In that same scene, Phoebe had told Monica about the cushion she stained and it’s why she calls her out saying:

You’re not sad, you’re thinking about which cushion it is.

Because Monica does not have the love of her friend, she resorts to controlling what she can — in this case, cleanliness — because it is objective. This shows how a lack of love drives Monica to neurotic behaviors and justifies why her soulmate would absolve her of such neurosis.

Her controlling behavior is directly tied with her competitive spirit. Monica needs to win, not because she’s an egotist, but because it is concrete, quantifiable, and objective. Monica wants to win to prove unarguable worth. That way, she cannot mistake something like aloofness for lovelessness, but winning is calling her “right” in a completely objective and upfront way.

(No surprise, she has such strong convictions when it comes to competing with Ross, the older sibling who was actively loved by her parents.)

[And why she dumps that guy who always proclaimed, “I win… I win…” after sex.]

In addition, when she loses her apartment to Chandler and Joey, she fights to regain the title of hostess; to be the best since, if they don’t show up to her apartment, they must be disinterested. Not surprisingly, Monica wants to be the hostess to avoid aloofness — it’s why she is so intent on receiving gratitude. Monica only wants to be the center of attention when she can quantify her worth (usually through cooking, hosting and winning).

TOW all the football where Monica Geller celebrates the winning touchdown

This is exactly why Chandler is not her soulmate, not only did he crush her concept of love, but her soulmate should make her feel less compelled to clean and less driven to control.

As the series plays out, Monica only becomes more neurotic married to Chandler. (And, if we learned anything from As Good as it Gets, it’s that a person with OCD will only get better when something better comes along — in both cases, it’s love.) So, through Monica’s dates, she yearns for the active displays of love to know that she is wanted and so that she can become the submissive person she truly is inside.

I know you can’t pick your parents, but if you could (to Ross), I’d pick yours.” – Monica Geller

2. Monica Geller’s Type

Monica’s type then is anyone who is active, secure, confident and dominant; men who are upfront with their thoughts and feelings so she doesn’t need to second-guess their convictions. In short, Monica wants to date someone who can make her revert back to passivity, devoid of control and neurosis — since those were only developed due to a lack of love.

Her want of passivity is evidenced by the fact that she is a chef, despite not eating; when someone loves her for who she is — makes her comfortable in her own skin, then she can eat. Unfortunately, her fears are only reaffirmed with her on-screen love-life. Again, these are men who are confident and active in their affection so that she can be passive and not worry about them being dishonest with their feelings (see below):

1) Paul the Wine Guy

In the first episode, Monica dates a man (Paul) who tells her he hasn’t slept with a woman since his divorce. This enhances Monica’s self-worth because she manages to “get it up” for him. Because he comes across as honest, forward, and sincere, his manhood is directly correlated to her attractiveness as a person and she becomes comfortable. All of this is before Monica’s co-worker tells her she was fed the same story. Her self-worth is shattered. They break up.

2) Ethan “Senior”

Monica's disgust at realizing she just slept with a high school senior.

Monica dates a college senior named Ethan. He’s young enough to be honest and open about his feelings and young enough to not be a sleazy liar (see Paul). She feels comfortable in his arms because she’s getting older, but is still found attractive. While the boy’s feelings are sincere, he reveals he’s a high school senior. Now, here’s where it’s necessary to make this distinction because otherwise, you might think Monica just wants people to be “Honest” but in truth, she just wants a man that can make her comfortable being passive.

The reason she dumps Ethan is not because he lied, but because she would have to take active control in his life. He is open and vulnerable and honest, and would do anything to be with her. But that’s just it, she would have to be the director of his life, tell him what college to attend to continue their relationship and what job to pursue to live comfortably, etc. etc. She dumps him because she wants to be the submissive one.

3) Julio

Julio is a co-worker at the restaurant who exudes confidence. Monica doesn’t even believe he’s hitting on her (due to little self-worth), but then he moves forward and kisses her, absolving her of any doubt. When he writes a poem about her, she feels special, like maybe she found the right guy. Arguably, when her friends say the poem is about her as an “empty vessel,” she’s not discouraged from the relationship as it means he’ll take the active role in filling her — metaphorically, not literally.

I say “arguably,” because it does cause her to confront Julio. But I believe she did this for clarity as even Monica knows there’s something missing from her life, so, if anything, this could be the guy for her because he understands her. It’s only when he reveals that he wrote it about her as a generic woman — making Monica not special or understood — that she falls to pieces again.

4) Alan

Another man Monica dates is Alan in The One with the Thumb. She’s afraid of showing Alan to her friends because they never like the guys she dates. However, she brings this up to them — taking charge (i.e. control) — and sure enough, when she introduces Alan, all her friends appear to be affectatious in their “like” of him. Although it’s never explicitly addressed in the episode, there is a clear “fakeness” to each of her friends’ comments about Alan.

Everyone loves him… but she suspects that they only like him because she (essentially) told them to. Monica ends up dumping Alan because “something doesn’t feel right,” but what really caused the end of the romance was that Monica had taken an active role rather than a passive one; she couldn’t return to submissiveness because she had meddled too much. She felt that her friends were being dishonest because she was upfront about her feelings. This is what makes Monica realize that taking control will only result in failed romance; she needs to be passive but secure.

(As seen from these examples, Monica is trying to repress her OCD. She wants to be passive, not controlling. The most definitive relationship that elucidates this fact is Fun Bobby.)

5) Fun Bobby*

Fun Bobby pouring alcohol into his coffee
Hey c’mon it’s Flag Day!

Monica dates an old flame, Fun Bobby. This man is dominant, forward, and confident. Monica can relax… until she realizes that he has a drinking problem. Monica’s quandary comes in trying to determine whether his direct affection is honest or if it’s an affectation.

By assuming “control” and making Fun Bobby stop drinking, Monica realizes that he was sincere, and is now hampered by her control. She made him stop drinking and now he needs guidance. She would have to take an active role in their love life, something she’s not prepared to do, which is also why she doesn’t want to be active and dump him, because she MADE him this way out of suspicions. Which brings us to Monica’s soulmate: Richard Burke.

3. Monica Geller’s Soulmate is Richard Burke

Monica and Richard smiling next to each other

Richard (played by the delightful [totally-grounded-in-reality-and-doesn’t-belong-on-a-sitcom] Tom Selleck) embodies everything mentioned above. In fact, the above, parenthetical comment, is what further epitomizes Monica’s soulmate. Selleck plays Richard purposefully grounded in reality, not hyperbolic — as many other sitcom characters are.

Richard is such a rock, that Monica feels compelled to hide her OCD. When Richard finds out Monica has this neurotic and controlling behavior, Monica fears he’ll turn and run — as each relationship prior had ended in disaster from her neurosis. However, Richard “makes up” his own neurotic behavior (about which side of the bed he “needs” to sleep on) and Monica realizes that it’s his dishonesty that reveals a greater truth — he’s actually willing to do anything to be with her; he will accept her and all her controlling ways.

It’s also one of the few times you see Richard’s soft underbelly. It’s his subverted way of showing Monica that she doesn’t need to “hide” her controlling mannerisms or who she is, because she already has control over him, since he puts her on a pedestal.

Richard realizing he has no cute quirks the way Monica does

In effect, Richard is active, upfront, and honest in his feelings and accepts Monica for who she is. By accepting her OCD, Monica is given the opportunity to be comfortable in her own skin again and thereby, be passive.

It shows a give-and-take, symbiotic relationship rather than one or the other — which all her previous lovers had featured. In addition, Richard is already established in a career and has only slept with one other woman. While the love of another would normally causes suspicions, Richard says he would not sleep with Monica unless he was in love. Thereby, any suspicions that Richard is not over his divorced wife are dismissed. (It also doesn’t hurt that Richard is an optometrist, and the eyes are a gateway to the soul.)

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is Richard Burke’s ties to Monica’s parents. Her whole concept of love was dashed when Chandler brought it to her attention that her parents were negligent. This defined what love is to her. However, Richard showed her that she can be submissive, as she was with her parents, but she has no doubt that he ACTUALLY loves her. So, true to parent/child fashion, Monica defies what her parents’ love represented by having a loving relationship with someone akin to them that’s entirely opposite of them.

Is there anything more fitting? You can even read into Monica’s actions in The One Where Joey Moves Out that she secretly can’t wait to tell her parents she’s dating Richard Burke — their friend. But alas, all the evidence is there to explain why these two are meant to be together… so what happened with Chandler Bing?

Conclusion (Bing)

Catwoman Monica arm wrestling pink bunny Chandler Bing

Monica and Richard are supposed to be together and if this were a work of literary fiction, they would be at the end of Season 6, but Friends is a sitcom, people are on contract — probably couldn’t afford Tom Selleck. Plus, let’s face it, the creators went on record to say that Ross and Rachel was supposed to be a short-lived romance… but the audience loved it — as they later would with Monica and Chandler. To keep them apart would hurt ratings and yadda, yadda, yadda… That’s where the technical side, the “this is a television show,” comes into play, and that’s an area I actively choose to ignore.

I’d also like to take this time to address that I don’t dislike Monica and Chandler, but it’s clear they’re not soulmates. After Monica locks Chandler down, her OCD and neurosis grow to hyperbolic levels — as seen in my Character Equilibrium analysis. However, we can justify this when Richard and Monica break up.

In order to get over Richard, she reassesses “love,” because when you’ve already lost your soulmate, you recreate a list of qualities and “settle” — as we’ll see time and again with the other friends. With Richard gone, Monica looks for the upfront, active, and honest emotions she always sought… but now with a new stipulation: she wants to be able to have total control rather than symbiotic relationship.

She lost Richard because he didn’t want more kids — that was outside of her control — so, for every future romance, she wants to be on the pedestal and be the active driver of the relationship. In many ways, losing Richard makes her stronger albeit more neurotic.

Monica Geller doesn't mind that Richard smokes cigars, but Chandler's cigarettes is a deal-breaker.

This is exemplified first with Pete Becker who, for all intents and purposes, is Richard but with a great deal of money. She loses Pete when she realizes she can’t control his quest to become the ultimate fighting champion. She tries to let him sow his oats (in the ring), but when he refuses to quit, she realizes it’s another dead-end because there’s something she can’t control.

Then, she dates Chip Matthews which is essentially the high school senior (Ethan) all over again. Whereas now, the Ethan would seem a ripe choice, they redact his candidacy with Chip Matthews as the surrogate — he’s a college kid; a free-spirit; uncontrollable and therefore not worth her time.

So, Chandler Bing works because he clearly puts Monica on a pedestal and is controllable in every way. She doesn’t even have to hide her neurotic behavior as she did with Richard because she dominates the relationship. Plus, Chandler has so many insecurities that he’ll never leave her and that is absolute control. 

Now, you may be thinking that, because she can be more neurotic, it’s more freeing, but this is not the case. While she’s with Chandler, she’s consistently flirting with other men — it’s a jealousy she harnesses to maintain more control; airing on the side of abuse. One example is when she sings karaoke and everyone can see her nips, but she continues to perform for attention.

Another comes when she attends Joey’s Soap Opera party and allows a celebrity to sign her bra. And, as mentioned in your background, it is Chandler that caused her neurosis and does not accept her for it. When Monica brings up her crazy cleaning and controlling behavior, Chandler claims,

I love you in spite of those things.

It is Richard who loved her for them. It’s Richard who would make up her own neurotic “things” just to make her feel more comfortable.

Richard Burke and Monica Geller dancing at Barry and Mindy's wedding

Disregarding the first paragraph of this conclusion, Monica’s choice to leave Richard at the end of Season 6 is more heartbreaking than the series allows us to see. She doesn’t choose Richard because she no longer believes him; she doesn’t feel comfortable around him anymore because he hurt her too badly before. There is no going back, even if they are soulmates.

This is the most honest of the six soulmate pairings and undoubtedly, the most tragic in the series.


More to Come…

For more reviews and analysis, check out Doz’s Reviews

47 Comments on FRIENDS Analysis: Monica Geller’s Soulmate is Richard Burke

    • I don’t know, Richard’s one of those guys that will still look 60 when he’s 90. Plus, Monica probably won’t outlive him anyway with the amount of stress she’s accrued over the years.

  1. While I agree that Richard made sense, she needed children, and even in season 6 he still wasn’t wanting them, but her, and still would do it, “If he had to” just for her. I think ending up with the man that caused her neurotic behavior could, down the road, work out for her. I think her becoming more OCD wasn’t because of Chandler, but mostly because they all wound up becoming caricatures of themselves, (Phoebe more childlike, Joey simpler, Chandler scared). Chandler may not have liked her OCD, but he also helped her, like in “The one with Joey’s Big Break” she is able to leave the cereal on the floor because she trusts Chandler will clean it up for her (she does yell at him to do so).

    I have been binge watching the series and my first thought was that they had planned on Chandler and Monica getting together, Chandler seems to chase after her, making comments about being her backup and begging her for the reasons why and him doing this never stops until Ross’s wedding where he immediately jumps to comfort her.

    Plus Richard isn’t her soulmate, Don is

    looking forward to reading about Chandler (it’s either Janice, or Mr. Heckle’s robe)

    • Haha, love the Don reference!

      It’s been a while since I reread the article, but I don’t think Chandler’s a bad match, just not the one. But yeah, the babies, ugh, as much as I appreciate the writers wanting to appeal to people who can’t conceive and tackling that subject relatively realistically, Monica deserved to be a mother. I felt like they made Rachel pregnant just because it was less expected in the finale.

      Even though Chandler does have some great scenes early on that seem to allude to him and Monica, the writers/creators always say they were setting up Joey and Monica until season 3(ish). It’s more noticeable if you’re looking for it.

      But yeah, the Chandler one was next, but my conclusion is different than how it started, so I have to redo it. Mr. Heckles’ robe will have to get an honorable mention.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kathy was Chandler’s soulmate. They’re very well matched and their ending is pretty unsatisfactory. Janice and Chandler’s relationship is borderline abusive – granted there’s a bit of growth in Chandler’s character that results in their relationship in season 3 but Janice has always been used as comic relief.

  3. Yes agree here as well. Why on earth would she give up Richard for Chandler, although I do think they made Chandler’s character much more likeable later on. I couldn’t stand him in the beginning. But yes Richard should have been it. It would have been more realistic if they ended up with people outside of the circle.

    • Depends what you want in a partner. If you want some stiff old cigar smoker that’s old enough to be your dad, then great. I prefer Chandler – hot, young, funny, witty. The only thing I don’t like is that he occasionally smokes.

      • Not to mention that Chandler and Monica’s “madness” plays off each other nicely.

        We need to face facts, Richard was a boring old man.

        That was his character. Not interesting TV.

    • Yeah, I’ve had difficulty with his, but that seems to be the same conclusion I keep coming to.
      One of Chandler’s greatest weaknesses, and it’s why ALL his relationships fail, is because he has difficulty with confrontation… but with Janice, it’s in the stars. She confronts him at every pivotal moment in his life.

  4. I’ve read all of your articles about Friends and I have to say, the analysis and way you present your opinions are fantastic, using an approach that I don’t think I am even capable of… however, I am not sure (especially with this one about Monica) any of them really prove that the characters ended up with the wrong person.

    You mention how Richard accepts Monica’s flaws and that feeling comfort and love is an indication that those two should have ended up together, but that doesn’t sit well with me. There is no proof that Richard would be able to “love” Monica for her obsessive behaviour for eternity. In fact, putting up with and ignoring other people’s shit for the sake of your relationship screams “infatuation” to me. I have no doubt Richard and Monica wouldn’t have lasted, just like Chandler and Kathy (and the bold claim about Joey and Rachel’s soulmates) as the “in love” phase eventually wears off…

    When it wore off for Chandler and Monica, we saw slippery moments but ultimately they overcame them because what they had wasn’t just the chemical-induced first 6 month of a relationship version of “love”, but true love. Monica confronted Chandler about his commitment crap and it shocked him into getting over it. Monica’s accentuated control issues doesn’t mean that Chandler is wrong for her. What it means is that these two characters had to directly tackle their issues both individually and together, and they passed with flying colours. Their on-screen relationship lasted years, whereas I can’t imagine Richard and Monica’s would have lasted more than a year. The things Richard claims to love about Monica would surely irk him later in the relationship as the age gap between the two of them, plus the timing of their relationship which shows convenience rather than proof of any real connection, would surely be too much for them to overcome.

    • Wow thanks for reading and for the counter argument.

      I don’t think “soulmate” is the right word. It really is just kind of a playful way of watching friends. Doing Joey’s for instance, really made me appreciate his character — I used to hate him before, but now I empathize.

      I think Monica and Chandler are a good match, just not the best. And maybe I’m just misreading her character entirely, but I think she’d ADORE taking care of Richard when he’s an old(er) man. That would give her total control and she’d feel like a good person.

      But you’re no less right. I mean I think it’s possible to look at her relationship with Richard as a rebound more or less from the slew of bad guys and mistakes she’d had. Richard was the first significant relationship of Monica’s and I definitely think she embellished what it was due to infatuation as you say.

      Thanks again for reading!

  5. You should notice one contradiction: “Monica needs to dominate while she wants to be passive. She must want either of these, not both.

    • I miscommunicated. I mean that she wants to be in control but doesn’t want people to think she’s in control.

      So if Chandler cleans the bathroom, she wants people to think he’s doing that out of the goodness of his heart and not because she told him to. She wants to appear passive.

  6. Ok, first of all I appreciate your effort with exploring the characters, You’ve done some really serious diggings here, especially analyzing Monica’s childhood and roots of her uncomsensated needs that she has developed from her relationship with her parents. But further logic to me was mislead and the very implication of logic for that matter.
    I think the basic mistake you’re making is confusing love (since soulmate is a person one loves) with a person’s psychological feature. You’re making a point that because of Monica’s obsessive temper her soulmate must actually fit to that quality in her like the other puzzle peace. But actually, Monica’s obssesiveness is just a surface of her nature which is troubled but it doesn’t mean that a person who will fulfill her paranoid tendecies or at some point will substitude her parents, will be her soulmate. The thing is, love is deeper and more complex than that. In the part when you were explaining why Richard is Monica’s soulmate, the strongest (and actually the only) arguement you had was that Richard makes Monica feel she is dominant while also instead of ignoring her “things” falsely gives away his own “things” and gets her to realize that her weirdness and obsessivenes is what he loves in her. This is a very weak motivation. It would be same if you said that had Richard met Monica while she was fat, he would love her becuase she was fat. So, what is so different about Richards and Chandler’s approach. Chandler tells Monica that he loves her despite her compulsive and troubled nature. In the other words it means that he understands what’s beneath it while dealing with the surface with lukeworm compromises.
    Let me break down Monica and Chandler here. After I will summarize while they fit to each other.
    Chandler suffers with inferiority complex, while Monica suffers with superiority complex which is just masked inferiority complex. At this point a person who suffers from inferiory complex is one step higher about his/her self-awareness than a person with superiority complex. Monica is competitive and bossy because of her lack of self-sufficiency as she constantly wants to reassure her importance because of the whole igorance she has come through. The fact that Monica often seems stronger than Chandler is only because of her temper, not nature. Unlike her, Chandler openly doubts his abilities probably because he knows he won’t get rid of insecurity anyway. Chandler and Monica are a perfect couple because they entirely fulfill each others core personalities, not their tempers. Chandler knows that bossiness and competitiveness is just a front that Monica chose as a defense mechanism (just like he chose humor for his) from feeling insecure, while actually she’s just as vunlerable as he is, and in fact the other side of the medal is that he’s not that vulnerable anymore because for the first time he found a person who acknowledges his insecurity but trusts him becuase she knows he is stronger than he seems (at least when he is in love). I think Monica and Chandler love each other beucase they both discover real versions of themselves in each other and realize they are better than they think they are. I also disagree with Chandler being so insecure that he won’t leave her. This is simply incorrect based on the charater, he will leave her easily if there is a reason. You mentioned that Monica feels secure with Richard beucase she knows she knows she already has control over him, and Chandler, despite his paranoid fantasies and childish front lets her know that all the submissiveness and controling is not the base of the relationship and makes her feel that at the core all this is not serious beucase the reason they are together is way above that level.
    As for Richard, well, I think it doesn’t seem Monica is in love with him. She is more like an excited young girl who finds a movie star, sexy, with moustache and everything. I don’t see why she would necessarily love him. As for Richard’s last appearance, it was a plot device made for giving the final episodes more intrigue.
    Also when Monica says she and Chandler are not soulmates, before that she also says she doesn’t believe in soulmates at all. And come on, don’t tell me that she wouldn’t have relationship trouble with Richard.

    • Hey! Sorry, I thought I responded to this one!

      Thanks for reading and providing a counter-analysis. Good point, about their inferiority complexes complementing each other and also, good point about Chandler leaving her. I’m reminded of the polyamorous woman who he leaves knowing it’s the best thing he’s had in a while… and Janice. Janice, Janice, Janice.

      I don’t think I understood what you meant here: “…Richard makes Monica feel she is dominant while also instead of ignoring her “things” falsely gives away his own “things” and gets her to realize that her weirdness and obsessiveness is what he loves in her” because I thought that was the same as what Chandler does here “Chandler knows that bossiness and competitiveness is just a front that Monica chose as a defense mechanism”.

      But otherwise, there are some great counterpoints. I don’t think Chandler and Monica are a bad couple… but I have a hard time accepting that they’re a “perfect” couple. This whole series of analysis-es started because I really hated how Monica acted once she and Chandler were married. For example, the soap opera star signing her bra, the nips on karaoke night — knowing it makes Chandler uncomfortable — and the numerous digs at Chandler throughout their marriage. Some are funny, sure, but it always seemed like she was resentful.

      Once I coupled that with Season 2’s ending being the outlier in the series, the Richard thing started looking more appealing.

      But disregarding “characters” and thinking solely from a “screenwriting” perspective, I believe the writers tried to create “perfect” complements to their core cast… and it’s why when characters break up, it feels so disingenuous. The one that always comes to mind is Gary the cop. Great fit… shoots bird in apartment. That’s the kind of swift undercut that makes (and forgive the pun) character exits feel like a cop out. I feel Pete is another great example. Great match for Monica, then Bam! wants something completely different and uncharacteristic — as a super unnecessary digression, The Mindy Project did a great play on this concept when Mindy gets engaged to a Pastor who then quits to become a DJ and the relationship does not end right away.

      Long story short, so many characters get this sporadic sendoff that almost makes it seem like they had problems with the creators/cast/directors. To the best of my knowledge, no guest star was unwelcome, but that’s how it feels when you cut them out of the show willy-nilly.

      One of the few characters with a real sendoff though, was Richard. Regardless of how you feel about the character and his relationship with Monica, it leaves a lasting impression. It’s the only season finale that “ends” instead of getting a “to be continued…” To an extent, I feel like that says more about the relationship’s impact than the characters.

      I’m not trying to convince you otherwise, your points are valid, just some perspective on how I came to my own conclusions. From a storytelling perspective, it’s commonplace (and a bit convenient) for the main cast of characters to date/marry each other… but that’s also why I find the supporting/recurring characters so interesting — and it’s much easier to track their progress/feelings/goals/ideals since they have FAR less screen time.

      • “I don’t think Chandler and Monica are a bad couple… but I have a hard time accepting that they’re a “perfect” couple. This whole series of analysis-es started because I really hated how Monica acted once she and Chandler were married. For example, the soap opera star signing her bra, the nips on karaoke night — knowing it makes Chandler uncomfortable — and the numerous digs at Chandler throughout their marriage. Some are funny, sure, but it always seemed like she was resentful.”

        Sorry to jump in here, but I completely agree with this statement. Monica and Chandler’s relationship is alright in the beginning but many of Monica’s post-marriage behaviors and attitude seem quite un-loving to me too. One of them that I really disliked is when she got angry at Chandler for smoking, and when she found out he wouldn’t have sex with her while they were angry and fighting she pretended to be OK so that she could have sex with him because she was ovulating, and she was back to angry after the sex was over. That was horrible behavior on Monica’s part IMO. She was quite manipulative and literally used him as a sex object and a sperm machine in that episode. I wonder how the audience would react if the scenario was the other way around i. e. a man manipulating a woman and using her for sex and treating her as a baby factory. Chandler was rightly upset, but according to Joey, and the writers, he should get over it because he is a man and he got to have sex.

  7. Balls. If you watch Friends from the start knowing that Mon and Chan get together, it was obvious there was chemistry all the way through! They are ‘soulmates’, if you subscribe to that. How in the blue hell you can say Richard Burke is her soulmate when they disagree over Monica’s dream of having a baby is beyond me; it causes them to break up because it’s the one thing she wants more than anything and he doesn’t want any more children.

    • The writers wanted Mon and Joey to get together in the beginning. If you watch with that mindset, it’s super apparent, “especially the scene about “Hoyt””.
      In any case, Mon and Chan aren’t bad together, but I think her love life peaked with Richard.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. This article has really rattled me. Mon and Chan were always there for each other since the start of Friends and they are the cutest couple in the show. I’d go as far as to say the cutest couple on screen. I can’t believe the people on this page wishing poor Monica had stayed with geriatric, friend-of-her-dad, and creepy (considering he knew her as a child!!!!) Richard Burke. Other than finding each other attractive, they had nothing in common. I just watched the episode where Chandler falls for Kathy, and at the end when he needs to get out of the apartment because he’s upset, he ends up in MONICA’s arms. They’re best friends who fell in love – Monica even says that during her proposal to Chandler. Also, in the episode after the wedding day, Mon and Chan ‘call it even’ when Chandler kissed another woman to get photos for Monica and Monica opened all the gifts without him. I can’t imagine many other couples being so secure in their relationship and so willing to forgive each other for these things. Seems to me like Monica wanted Richard more as a father figure because her parents are so all-about-Ross,more than true love. I didn’t spend hours agonising over things but I have watched Friends more times than I can count and never once did I ever think that Mon ended up with the wrong person. I was really worried when Richard came back on the scene and wanted to marry her that she would go off with him because Chandler was pretending he didn’t want to get married. So happy it worked out for them.

    • The father-figure aspect is interesting, but Monica’s father is a good guy. He’s only put in a negative light because the mom is such a b****. But thanks for reading.

      Maybe it doesn’t come across in the review, but I don’t think Monica and Chandler are bad together, just that Richard was perfect — even if you disagree.

      • You are making two essential mistakes:
        1. You link soulmate concept with compatibility of some dynamics between two people, which is completely wrong.
        2. You ignore the way how the sitcoms work. They mess up the characters and make them do whatever they want them to do. Writers have to make up a story. Monica let the guy sign the bra not because of lack of love in her life but because it was written in the show and she would do it anyway. She becomes more obssesive because once the writers settled her and Chandler together they had to figure out the conflicts between them because conflict is what makes up a story and it’s what makes it funny too. On the other hand Chandler happened to be so clueless and cowardly because the show wanted him to be. For instance when he does compeletely ubforgivable thing by escaping the wedding. That was a story device and nothing all because why would a guy like Chandler escape the wedding, actually no sane man would do that. Or when he tells Monica tell me what to do to fix this (when he freaks about having babies), no self-respecting man would ask that a woman. What I mean is, you should transcribe the sitcom character to a real person if you want to argue about how compatible and perfect they are together because the sitcom makes them as grotesque as possible, and sometimes even beyond any common sense The same goes for Richard by the way. He is a story device too. A perfect guy with cigars and moustaches. He’s like a superstar, perfection. In a way we can say no one on the show would beat him but that’s ridiculous because life is not about that. Monica is captivated by his strong kind of persona. Man who’s 20 years older, much more mature than any of the regulars. She looks at him the way we look at the celebrity when we meet them in person. The chemistry with him is not nearly as fierce as with Chandler in my opinion.
        So, if we transcribe the characters as real people, on one side we have a woman who is vulnerable, with low self-esteem, conpulsiveness, bossy, but also devoted. On the other hand we have a guy with fears (primarily in relationships, he believes he will be a terrible husband and a father) but rational and intelligent. Fears by itself is not a shortcoming, to some people they are invisible and others get crippled all over. The real thing is how you fight these fears at which Chandler is pretty good, since he has a motivation to do it. Chandler is lucky that Monica has known him and she knows she’s not so messed up as he seems to be. At the beginning of their relationship she is the one who saves their relationship by giving Chandler time to accept that he’s actually in a real relationship (which is exactly what he fears), but later, Chandler is the one who keeps the relationship grounded, he’s calm, more confident (unlike Monica who is competitive and in constant need to reassure things). There are so many scenes that so wonderfully establish how beautiful their relationship is. One of the best scenes they have is the one where they are invited to a dinner with Chandler’s boss. Monica is dissapointed by Chandler sticking up to his boss by those fake laughs, when she lets him know what she feels, Chandler actually risks his job by not fakelaughung and when Monica finally realizes the reason Chandler did those laughs, she accepts it and literally saves his job back. This was a greats scene with two great gestures that two people make and let each other know they love and respect each other by saying no word.
        So, things that annoy you by Monica flirting with men and by Chandler being so cowardly that happens because sitcoms are funnier when spouses are flirty, jealous and insecure and where men are weak and wimpy.
        One of the most beautiful things about Monica and Chandler as a couple is that they are both kinda loosers. Chandler, because of his phobias and anxiety which unabled him to get into a relationship and Monica being such an energy-sucker and crazy and has trouble with finding a boyfriend despite that she’s a beautiful woman.

        • If I’m understanding you right, you want to treat these characters like real people and therefore disregard behaviors and personality traits that act as vehicles for a plot. These behaviors are not indicative of the characters, but of the show.

          In which case, I can only default to a relevant analogy:

          Kate Miller: I think my character’s gonna need a little bit more of a reason than that.
          Joey Tribbiani: Oh, hey, how about this one? Uh, it says so in the script!

          It’s a difference of opinion and I don’t have the authority to say what’s an embellishment of a character for a plot and what’s a genuine personality trait. All I base the analyses on is what I see. If something doesn’t make sense, I’ll find a rationale for it.

          Ross hates ice cream because it’s too cold, but he eats it with Elizabeth. I have to imagine he endured ice cream for her because it was her idea and he was excited for the date and didn’t want her to think he’s weird… instead of, “it’s a show being a show”. For me the “show” argument leads to a slippery slope. Then, Monica and Chandler wound up together, not for chemistry, but because they didn’t want to hire a 7th recurring cast member.

  9. I’m just saying what happens, works. Maybe they wouldn’t hire 7th regular character but on the other hand setting up Monica and Chandler with anyone wasn’t necassery at all, which they initially didn’t intend to do. But the reason they did it, was because it worked for the audience. And chemistry was actually the reason. And I think its kinda weird that chemistry with Richard would seem better for anyone. I’m being objective since I’m in majority but you seem to be insistent about Monica&RichardForever idea.

    Also in responde to the example you mentioned. If we would discuss Ross’s character I would argue that since Ross is fictional, it would be more reasonable to discuss his personality traits in general. For intance, seeing Ross eat ice-cream I would think since he is a fictional character, writers didn’t put too much thought in the fact that it was inconsistent to something that had happened earlier. Assuming that Ross had overcome his disgust for ice-creams in order to please Elizabeth, that’s even more serious approach then I had 🙂 All I’m saying is that I envision these characters as exxagerated versions of real and normal people who don’t actually fear ice-cream, don’t wash someone else’s cars and don’t escape their weddings in the last moment. As I said I love the idea of transcribing the characters into more realistic dimension and then discuss their psyches and possible soulmates.

    P.S. I’m assuming we’re having fun from this discussion. I don’t mean to be irritable. So, if I do, just let me know 🙂

    • Yes, it’s all for fun and I know it’s hard to tell what’s what in writing, but I am not going to persecute you if you don’t believe in the Richard/Monica romance.

      The whole idea of the analyses came about because I’ve consistently been disappointed when they add a unique love interest and then suddenly “write them out”. Gary the cop is usually my launch pad for that. I really liked that character and I felt like there was more they could’ve done with that… but then he — for whatever reason — shoots a bird. I always felt like that was the writers’ inside joke for how they write characters off, especially when Chandler says, “Whatever happened, you can work it out / Phoebe: He shot a bird. / Chandler: Oh, then it’s over.” Same thing with Pete. I really enjoyed that romance for Monica (it was hard to top Richard, in my opinion), but then Pete came along and stole the show! … Until he suddenly decides to become an MMA fighter.

      The idea of soulmates is… I think it’s more of a– if the show didn’t need to be about relationships and characters were real then here’s where their final destination would be.

      Believe me, you are not irritable. I haven’t checked how long these things are in a Word document, but having spent months on each one, it’s enjoyable to actually talk about them.

  10. Glad to hear, I’m not being annoying 🙂
    I agree with you, writers do manipulate and suddenly characters might do something that feels less realistic and done because the sitcom requires so.
    But with Richard, I just never actually felt this was a real couple, Not because he was 20 years older but more Monica seemed fascinated by Richard’s persona so that she actually thought she was in love. I think this is believable since Monica is kinda naive and looks love but actually has faced many dissapointments. Like, when Phoebe tells Richard Monica has slept with lots of men, she actually meant that every man that Monica slept with turned out to be dissapointment because she was looking for love. Or when Rachel’s mom says that Dr. Green was the only guy she had ever been with, Monica expresses envy to that. He’s waiting for his prince, (which she actually calls Chandler).
    Do you remember when Monica tells Phoebe that she felt nothing while she was having launchwith Richard before the day before they left for Vegas. You will say she said that because writers wanted him to, but since you said you accept everything on the show just the way it happened and don’t recognize that characters are sacrifeced to the story, you have to accept this just the way it was said.
    I’m especially stuck on this couple because they just feel right. I’ll just point out one thing that you used as an arguement why Richard is Monica’s soulmate. In short, you said that Monica needs to be sure that she’s already in control of things and Richard gives her that sense of security because he loves her because these neurotic things, while Chandler loves her in spite of those things. I believe that neurotic things essentially represent absence, not presence. They don’t mean anything by themselves, they exist only because Monica needs to subtitude her feeling of self-worth by things that she’s easily in control (cooking and cleaning), but the thing is that, she never will, because cooking and cleaning do not represent her self worth. Her self-worth is her personality and the way I see it, that’s what Chandler means by what he says. He says he loves Monica, and not Monica who needs to be organized. She doesn’t have to be organized because she’s already an object of love. I think this makes more sense. I’m not saying Richard didn’t love her. But we know how a person with low self-esteem operates. No matter how perfect you are in cooking for instance, you will never boost your self-esteem by cooking because that’s not really where the problem lies.
    I’m pretty hung up on this couple but since you seem to be Friends fan, you will probably understand.

  11. And also, persecute me, no problem, I want to hear more arguements 🙂
    You clearly don’t like Chandler, you would rather see any partner of Monica with her (even Pete) than him. So, admit it, you’ve kinda picked up on him, just like I have on Monica/Chandler (but in a good way) 🙂

    • I love Chandler! If anything, I’m not a fan of Monica, haha. I think she’s necessary, but I just think she treats Chandler like garbage.

      There was an article dedicated entirely to the Chandler/Janice romance, but I cut it because that would just be depressing.

      • I’d like to read that article! Pleeeeeease?

        Also, totally random, but I’ve just started a Buffy rewatch. If you watched that show (and Angel), man alive, would I love to hear your take on those characters and their soulmates. So much potential there to mine, I think. Especially (tipping my hand slightly) with the whole not ending up with your soulmate thing. Of course it’s a Whedon show so one should not expect happy endings 😉

  12. You are misunderstanding the reason behind Monica’s cleanliness. She does not do this because she “does not has a man who can control her”, she does it because it’s the only way she found to address the lack of excessive food, when she gets anxious she cleans, instead of eating.

    Talking about when the guy signed Monica’s bra, I hate this episode, but you have to understand that she is a soap opera fan, she gets crazy when all of those stars are there. Let’s not ignore what she said in this episode: “Chandler is the love of my life.” You want more proof about who she really loves? She proposed to Chandler, not Richard, “I never loved anybody as much as I love you” in Vegas, “I don’t want to have a baby with anybody but you”.

    Richard just represents a period of her life when she tries to emulate her family love, Richard is the embodiment of Monica’s lack of parental love. Richard is in a diferent stage of life, at first he did not want to have kids, just because she wanted to, he “changed his mind”. How can this be a soulmate of anyone, two people who are searching for distinct things in life?

    This is why Chandler and Monica are soulmates, they are in the same stage, they are overcoming problems together, the babies, the house, Chandler’s disemployment. Nothing of this is new to Richard, he would just support Monica and… that is it.

    They understand each other and this is why it works.

  13. None of you have figured out the truth here… Chandler rocks Monica world in bed. It’s Streetcar Named Desire… Stanley shaking Stella to the core even though he is crude and borish brut in everything else he does. Still, with all Chandler’s (Stanley’s) faults, he knows the secret sexual recipe that makes his woman’s mind, body and soul ache with climactic ecstasy.

    • I do agree with that. Monica literally told Chandler how to satisfy a woman (but specifically her), so it’s no wonder he’s the best in bed. “7, 7, 7, 7”.

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