Friends may have tried to be a realistic take on young people living in the Big Apple while figuring out what to do with their lives, but we can't deny that the character interpretations and atmosphere –– as pleasant and welcoming as they were –– could feel a bit unreal at times. I mean, we had six friends, who spent a considerably large amount of their lives crammed together in one apartment without (almost ever) snapping at each other; and who sleep together and get back to being friends with seemingly no long lasting awkwardness.
To top all of that off, they were always there for each other. Such a reliable and faithful group of friends couldn't actually exist, right? Well, according to this new theory, it probably couldn't, because five out of six of our beloved misfits never actually existed. Buckle up, because this is one heck of a ride.
A Twitter user by the name Ted Fox posted a picture of the Friends Season 4 DVD boxset, in which he noticed something peculiar: The picture shows Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, Rachel and Chandler in bed together, but the only one with open eyes is #JenniferAnniston's Rachel. Fox asked the twittersphere for cool theories about why this is the case:
As you can imagine, a barrage of responses popped up, each with theories ranging from Rachel plotting to kill the rest of the cast, to her finally realizing the apartment they lived in was just too expensive for their way of living. But among the jokey theories, there was one that stood out.
A user by the name of Phil Dunne posted a creepy, but eerily realistic theory about what was going on. For some backstory, the pilot episode kicked off with Rachel as a runaway bride, after abandoning Barry Farber at the altar. Well, according to Dunne, Rachel's wedding was the catalyst of the show. Essentially, she made up an alternate world in a dream, one in which she escaped from her big day to live a much happier life with five new, quirky friends:
The message reads:
"Rachel Green had a dream on the eve of her wedding day, she didn't want to marry Barry so she had a major anxiety dream. She created a fantasy in her mind and the five other Friends characters as a way to escape her spoilt, trapped future life. And also the trauma of her getting married the next day. This cover is her partially waking up from that dream at 5 a.m. on the morning of her wedding day. The entire series was her anxiety dream."
Yikes. I bet you're wondering if there's something to this. As with any semi-coherent fan theory, there's some room to have fun. First of all, there's one particularly weird thing about the picture that started this whole thing. The image is cropped in the DVD box art to only show the actors' faces, but looking at it in full, you'll notice everyone's clothed, except for Rachel who's seemingly naked under the sheet with no shoes on. If we want to get really hardcore conspiracy-theorists here, that could be taken as a sign of her not belonging in that environment.
Putting out-there, non-plausible, subliminal message-hunting aside though, the main thing that could (emphasis on "could") support this theory is the fact that Rachel's main storyline always centered around her building a better life for herself. She went from a person who was only looking to marry a guy who could be financial supportive to an independent and strong woman who took risks on her own and forged her own path
Looking at her character through the lens of the theory, one could argue such an arc came about from Rachel fantasizing about being a stronger or better person.
But Still, This Probably Isn't True
There's something about giving a dark twist to a lighthearted story that feels right. But while this was an interesting theory to chew on, and there were a few points that made it plausible, there are also three elements that easily debunk it. Firstly #Friends had a spin-off show, Joey, which centered around the lovable goofball traveling to LA to become an actor. I seriously doubt spin-offs with a whole new set of characters were in Rachel's mind when she ran away.
Then there's the issue of the image that kickstarted this theory being the box art for Season 4. Friends lasted for 10 seasons, so it would have been weird for the creative heads behind the series to give away such a mind-blowing secret prior the ending, instead of doing it in the last season, like any other rational project would (*cough, Lost, *cough).
Finally — and perhaps most importantly — Rachel may have been the show's main focus, and her journey may have been that of someone finding a better life for themselves, but she went through a lot of crappy situations for 10 years. I mean, I don't know about you, but if I created an intricate alternate world to escape my from depressing reality — a world in which I'm the best version of myself — I would take away any problems real life usually has to offer.
So yeah, the theory is not as exciting when we take those factors into account.
Friends Fans Really Enjoy Making Theories About The Show
Friends is kind of a greenhouse for wild theories. We've heard a lot of them throughout the years. My favorite ones out of that impressively expensive batch have been Ross losing custody of his child, and the entire series being a ridiculously long –– but highly engaging –– Starbucks commercial. These are pretty entertaining things to wrap your head around for a bit, so hopefully the show's dedicated fans have more up their sleeves.
Do you think there's something to this theory? What's your favorite Friends conspiracy theory? Let me know in the comments!