David Schwimmer on Ross & Rachel: ‘It’s not even a question, they were on a break’

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Look at me, I’m about to discuss the plotline of a TV show which was popular 25 years ago! Hurray. No, seriously, I’ve noticed how popular all things Friends are these days. Friends-related gear is still being sold, People Magazine still does stories and covers related to Friends, and the six original stars of Friends are getting paid buckets of money to do some kind of “Friends reunion” show (which will just be interviews, not actual “shows”).

Anyway, David Schwimmer appeared on The Tonight Show this week to promote his latest TV show, Intelligence, on Peacock. This is Schwimmer’s first TV show since Friends, actually. But of course he was asked about Friends, specifically the storyline “we were on a break!” You know the story – Ross and Rachel were dating, he gets crazy jealous, they have a break up and Ross immediately runs off and sleeps with the Hot Girl From The Xerox Place. Rachel and Ross come back together quickly and then Rachel finds out about Xerox Girl and dumps Ross. Ross argues that “we were on a break” therefore sleeping with Xerox Girl didn’t count as cheating. Around the 6-minute mark, Fallon asks Schwimmer what people yell at him and he brings this up:

“It’s not even a question, they were on a break.” It’s true, they WERE on a break, but that being said, Rachel had every right to be upset and angry with him and she had every right to dump him. The fact that Ross – who was being a controlling, jealous a–hole – ran out and slept with someone just minutes after she asked for a break (for good reason) is still a sucky thing to do. The idea that Ross could somehow use “logic” to explain why Rachel shouldn’t be mad because they “were on a break” is sucky too.

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Embed from Getty Images

’Friends’ screencap, photos courtesy of Getty.

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50 Responses to “David Schwimmer on Ross & Rachel: ‘It’s not even a question, they were on a break’”

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  1. Case says:

    I always liked Friends a moderate amount, but the total idolization and constant presence of that show in pop culture now is a complete turnoff to me.

  2. Noki says:

    Ha! And thanks to Friends it has been used as a legitimate excuse ever since lol. Honestly what does a break mean,seeing other people or working on yourself to be a better partner when you get back ? The worst are people who have ‘break babies’ .

    • L84Tea says:

      I saw this episode recently so it’s very fresh in my mind. Ross legitimately thought he and Rachel had broken up (hence, on a break). She told him they needed a break from “us”, so he walked out and left and proceeded to wallow at a bar/club and went home with the Kinko’s copy girl.

      I always saw both sides here. In my opinion, Ross was ‘technically’ free to do what he wanted, but the fact that he did so SO quickly was what really caused the issue, and I understood her hurt. Had he and Rachel broken up/separated and time had passed (heck, even a week!), I could see Rachel having been more accepting of it. But the fact that he left and made such a rash decision was foolish on his part. Lots of people have the “fine, let’s take a break!” fights and then proceed to regret it immediately–which is what Rachel did. It took less than 24 hours for her to leave messages on his phone saying she made a mistake and wanted to fix things, and then showed up at his front door. If that had been me, I also would have been crushed if my boyfriend had managed to squeeze in a casual one night stand between our 12 hour break up and make up.

      All of this to say, yes, they WERE on a break. He was legit free to sleep with people. But it still didn’t make what he did perfectly okay and hunky dory if he still loved Rachel and wanted to be with her. In other words, don’t be shocked that Rachel will be furious when she finds out, Ross!

      • tcbc says:

        Of course he was free to sleep with other people, but that doesn’t mean he was free from the consequences of choosing to sleep with other people. There’s no “technically” in relationships. “You can’t be hurt by this because rules” is nonsense.

      • goofpuff says:

        Yep. I agree with tcbc. H was free to sleep with whoever he wanted but he wasn’t a free from the consequences of that. She is allowed to feel hurt and break up with him again. Screaming about ‘being on a break’ just says “hey I prefer to be right than acknowledging how that could have hurt you’.

        If its so important to him, he should find someone else who feels the same.

      • L84Tea says:

        That’s exactly what I said.

      • Keekey says:

        Well reasoned. Thank you for writing this L84Tea so I didn’t have to ; )

      • bettyrose says:

        I’ve always sided with Ross on this one. He was depressed, an opportunity presented itself, and he went with it. Yes, he was sometimes a jealous, controlling creep, but I think under the circumstances (i.e. they were on a break) his drunken one night stand could’ve been forgiven. Ross was much less sexually experienced than Rachel, and in her position, if I loved him, I think I would’ve tried to work it out with him after taking some space to work through my own feelings. But if she didn’t really want him back, more power to her.

      • Alyse says:

        THIS! I always thought the problem was that they were ‘on a break’ for less than 24 hours…. like how fast did he have to hook up with someone else?! I’d personally be very upset.
        Plus the fact that this other girl was hiding in the room when Rachel came over to get back with him the next day and he said nothing.
        Ross is a f!ckboi, using the classic “Technicalities” excuses to gaslight the correctly upset woman

  3. McMom says:

    Is this really his first TV show since Friends? He played Noah, the West Side Curmudgeon, on the reboot of Will and Grace (I only saw a few episodes, but he was good – I always found Ross a little irritating). He and Debra Messing had good chemistry.

    • Noki says:

      He also played Robert Kardashian Snr in American Crime Story.

      • bettyrose says:

        OMG, loved that! It was a pop-culture head explosion with David Schwimmer playing dad to the Kardashian girls (but also really well done overall).

    • Kaiser says:

      first time starring in a real series since Friends, not as a guest star or guest-arc or miniseries

      • Bibliomommy96 says:

        Actually he did one season of “Feed the Beast” by the title it seems like it’s a cooking show, but it’s not. He’s amazing in it

      • Renee says:

        I liked his Feed the Beast TV show too. That was before this new one.

    • A Girl is No One says:

      He was also in Band of Brothers

  4. Leducduswaz says:

    TBH, if I was on a break and Chloe the Xerox Girl hit on me, I’d hook up with her too…

  5. janey says:

    I loved Intelligence, it’s a fun, easy watch. I was watching some old friends episodes the other night and it’s the first time I have laughed out loud in ages (it was the episode where they try to get Ross’ sofa up the stairs – pivot!!!!). It was a well needed laugh.

  6. Dhavynia says:

    That’s what Jada told Will….

  7. ReginaGeorge says:

    He thought they were taking a time out. Rachel clarified it was a break from the relationship. Even back then I never saw anything wrong with Ross hooking up with the copy girl. TBH, if it was me and I was drunk and hurt after my BF said that to me, especially if I had a feeling there was someone else involved, I would have at least made out with someone at the bar. (I was kind too prudish when it came to casual sex and one night stands back then lol)

  8. Jegede says:

    It was rich for Rachel to call Ross possessive and jealous.

    I mean she deliberately sabotaged Ross’ potentials with Phoebe’s friend and other hook-ups.

    She took snide shots at him whenever another woman, so much as looked his way.
    Why care, if Ross was the jealous one?🙄🙄

    She doused it in cuteness, but Rachel never wanted Ross to be happy. Not even with Emily.

    • Becks1 says:

      Good points. Part of the reason Ross never got over Rachel was because she never wanted him to get over her. The whole “fly to London to stop the wedding” was really over the line.

    • goofpuff says:

      Agreed. They were both AWFUL people.

      • bettyrose says:

        Yes, but we the viewers voted with our Seinfeld ratings that we wanted more sitcoms about awful people, so is it really Rachel’s fault she was written that way?

    • Ellie says:

      “It was rich for Rachel to call Ross possessive and jealous.
      I mean she deliberately sabotaged Ross’ potentials with Phoebe’s friend and other hook-ups.
      She took snide shots at him whenever another woman, so much as looked his way.
      Why care, if Ross was the jealous one?🙄🙄
      She doused it in cuteness, but Rachel never wanted Ross to be happy. Not even with Emily.”

      All of this happened AFTER Ross banged the copy girl.

      Rewatching in my last 20s/early 30s it’s like YIKES Ross is a mess of a man. He goes into a jealous rage when Rachel mentions her relationship with Paolo was just physical, no real emotions. He is a man child. Won’t let his son play with a doll, endless paranoia about being or appearing gay… the list goes on.

  9. Becks1 says:

    I definitely thought they were on a break and while Ross’s actions were definitely hurtful, they weren’t necessarily “wrong.” it wasn’t cheating on Rachel. I think the bigger problem was that he didn’t tell her and then they got back together and she found out from Gunther.

    • horseandhound says:

      In my opinion, what he did was awful. they were a serious couple, they had a fight, she said they should take a break, obviously didn’t say they should break up forever, it was about distancing for a while because the conflict was too hurtful, and he slept with somebody else in like 2 hours. that was a really low thing to do. even if you break up with somebody for good, you don’t sleep with somebody else the same day if you still have feelings for your ex. I think she was so right to be furious.

      • Becks1 says:

        You say “you don’t sleep with somebody else the same day” but some people do. That doesn’t make them horrible people – its a hurtful thing (which I said) and Rachel was right to be upset, but it wasn’t cheating, and she kept implying it was the same thing. Hell even the whole “once a cheater always a cheater” thing was a pretty asshole move.

        When would have been okay for Ross to sleep with someone else? A week later? A month later? If he had still had feelings for Rachel, that was on him. That doesn’t dictate how long he should wait. The moment they broke up (and he clearly thought it was a break up), he was free to sleep with someone else.

      • sa says:

        @horseandhound, I agree with you.

        There is a difference between breaking up and being “on a break” and one of those differences is that being “on a break” isn’t being fully broken up.

        It’s fine if a couple agrees that they can see/sleep with other people during their break, but there should be some agreement about that versus what will turn a “break” into a “break up.”

  10. Mama says:

    Also, to be fair, another point which doesn’t excuse Ross but adds to how he saw the situation, is that he did call her after he left her apartment and he heard Mark’s voice (the source of his jealousy there) and thought SHE was cheating on him.

    • L84Tea says:

      I completely forgot about that! That did muddy the situation.

    • Jegede says:


    • Sayrah says:


      He called to work it out, heard Mark’s voice, asks if that’s him, and she lies saying “no.” He knows she’s lying and that’s the guy he was worried about who eventually does try to date her.

      So I get him being hurt and drunk. It’s interesting how I’ve switched to Ross’ side over the years.

    • emu says:


  11. Bibliomommy96 says:

    He was actually in this really good show called “Feed the Beast” he was amazing

  12. Caty Page says:

    David Schwimmer did that amazing series on harassment and I have SO MUCH respect for him.

    … but he’s so wrong about “being on a break!”

    What Ross did wasn’t “wrong,” but it came across as hypocritical and that deeply hurt his partner. It was fair for Rachel to feel hurt and I’m unfairly a tad miffed as Schwimmer for not acknowledging this!

    • Mel says:

      I watched the clip and I don’t think he answered the question super seriously. I took it as fun, dry humor. He did not particularly go on a rant to defend Ross.

  13. Milly says:

    No, it is not a valid excuse. If you love someone and your break actually means something to you, as in you have your heart broken, you won’t run off to sleep with the next person you see on your way out the door. I wouldn’t buy that excuse. But then I never understood people who like to casually date several people at once. If you can’t Or unwilling to genuinely focus on just one person at a time, then you are just not that into them, simple.

  14. Marigold says:

    His “type” has not aged well.

  15. Teebee says:

    I think this controversy is hilarious.

    Ross didn’t do anything to Rachel, really. The writers did. They had to create drama, because them just going about the business of a day to day relationship does not make for good TV, so they contrived some crazy scenario, and wow, did it work.

    To try and apply real world examples to explain what happened, and if it made any sense, is so silly. Because if Ross and Rachel were real, then he never would have cheated, he loved her. Like crazy love. And he wouldn’t have gone to a bar when she was mad at him. He wouldn’t have fallen on top of a girl, even a hot one, After a couple beers, because he loved Rachel! Instead, he would have bugged the shit out of Rachel over the phone or been on her doorstep within an hour because he wouldn’t have been able to sleep from the stress.

    Or at least that is how I’ve always felt about this, for over 20 years now.

  16. shalla7 says:

    Love her hair in that first pic.

  17. Katherine says:

    Just goes to show how good the writing on Friends is – we are still talking about this. The point of that situation was to show that it’s a very tricky type of life situation and can be argued both ways, and here we are, 25 years later, still divided on this. I agree Ross was in the wrong but I think the pro-Ross arguments are also very strong and it’s not an open-and-shut case.

  18. emu says:

    THEY WERE ON A BREAK! Lol. Yeah c’mon, I agree maybe it was shitty but it wasn’t cheating.

    I love Ross on Friends – I think he’s hilarious like in a Frasier way, and I love Frasier. I am so disappointed in people who don’t like Ross on Friends.

    Also – my 11yr old niece has a Friends sweatshirt and has never seen the show – or knows any of the characters. It’s just a trendy design. I told her all about the characters. It was silly