Ross Geller from Friends gets a lot of shit for being one of the shittiest dudes that's ever been produced by television and.....well, I'm here to reiterate this point by talking about the time that Ross casually decided he wanted to bang his cousin in the creepiest way imaginable. Because "wanting to bang your cousin" isn't creepy ENOUGH for Ross Geller.
Now if you haven't seen the episode, you might be wondering how bad could it possibly be. Well let's just say that the episode's B-story involves Monica fashioning a fake foreskin for Joey to wear for a casting call, and that story feels normal by comparison.
Seriously. This is the (comparatively) normal plotline of the episode.
The episode begins with Ross and Monica discussing how long it's been since they've had sex...ya know....like you do with your sibling. It then segues seamlessly into the incest portion of the story, when Monica tells Ross that their cousin Cassie (played by late 90s/early 2000s hottie Denise Richards) would be staying with her and Chandler. It's here that we get a brief glimpse into Ross's relationship with his cuz:
Ross says that the last time he saw his blood relative she was carrying around a doll around with her everywhere she goes. This implies that the two grew up together and (given the way Ross talks about her) that they were relatively close. At the very least, it's clear that she was at one point a part of his life and this isn't a "30 Rock" situation where he doesn't realize that he's related to the object of his desires until it's too late.
To make matters creepier, Monica says that Cassie is 25 at the time of the episode, so while she's not a wee babe, she's definitely younger than Ross. Some light googling suggests that Ross would be around 32 at this point, which, again, while not an unacceptable age difference, it does suggest something about the pair's dynamic. Seven years between a 25 year old and a 32 year old isn't that much, but 7 years between a girl with a Barbie doll and her cousin probably is. Logic suggests that the last time Ross saw Cassie, he was roughly twice her age which would probably explain why he's so quick to infantilize her and why what happens next is way creepier than just cousin incest:
When Ross sees Cassie for the first time, he instantly wants to fuck her because....she's hot? Seriously, she barely says a word. She just takes her hair down and Ross starts fantasizing about her in slow motion. In his defense, Cassie is played by Denise Richards so she's objectively quite a hot person, but....well, just about everything else about the situation is indefensible.
If it seems like I'm going to more effort than I need to to explain why Ross wanting to bang his cousin is creepy then you're right! Truth told, the situation would still be very weird if she was just some random hot lady who was staying at his apartment. If nothing else, she's someone Monica is friends with who is staying in her apartment for a while - and Ross is putting that person in an INCREDIBLY awkward position by perving out on her instantly. My point here is that Ross is such an unbelievable creep that the fact that she is his cousin is arguably not the creepiest thing about this whole situation. His inability to control his own sexual urges is up there too, and so is the reasoning he uses to justify making his move and....yes, he does eventually make a move.
After 20 minutes of reminding himself of their blood relation and quivering with sexual desire at the sight of her eating a hotdog, the whole episode comes to a head with the two of them watching a movie, and Ross leaning in for a kiss after he decides that she's giving him the green light. His rationale is as follows:
- She suggested they watch a movie
- She turned off the lights during said movie.
- She suggested wine.
- She eats popcorn from a bowl that Ross has for some reason places at his dick.
Now ask yourself: If that was all you had to go on, would you make a move? Hell, they're not even sitting all that close on the couch, although that said even if they were, it still wouldn't be that much of a green light because, as I said, THE TWO OF THEM ARE GODDAMN COUSINS.
Ross is, of course, misreading the situation, and he gives the following explanation for his little faux pas:
This line more than anything gets at why the story is so much creepier than all the other cousin fucking storylines on sitcoms, of which there are FAR many. It's not just that he wants to bang his cousin. It's that he's so unable to control his own sexual desires that he will do LITERALLY anything to get laid - and doesn't even really bother apologizing after he does it. Instead, he RATIONALIZES IT to his younger cousin. This probably explains all those failed marriages, along with why his life is just a series of neuroses fueled, headache inducing sexual misadventures. The dude is a pervazoid.
Now, this seems like a good place to end this, but there's still a little bit more at play here. The only thing worse than Ross trying to do the nasty with his aunt's daughter is the implication it has for the larger Friends-iverse. Basically, nobody around him seems to care.
The episode ends with Cassie staying at Phoebe's place in a way that everyone knows what Ross did and don't seem all too bothered about it. I'm not saying that if my friend, made a move on his cousin, I'd instantly cut them out of my life but it would at THE VERY LEAST give me pause, particularly if it was a part of a larger pattern of....not so great romantic decisions.... If nothing else, Ross made an unwanted sexual move towards someone who was staying with his sister, which would be creepy enough without the whole "cousin" element. The Friends just kinda shrug Ross and enable his behavior in a way that makes the core dynamic of the TV show feel very creepy if you think about it long enough. Though they may be there for him, everyone would probably be better off if they stopped putting up with ALL of Ross's bullshit.