David Schwimmer has weighed in on the age-old debate about whether Ross and Rachel were legitimately "on a break" during that fateful Season 3 episode of Friends. The semantic argument that became a series through-line can still inspire a spirited discussion today, as Schwimmer proved during a new interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. To Schwimmer, the answer is obvious, but he respects those who disagree.
"It's not even a question, they were on a break," Schwimmer said. He was referring to the dramatic episode in Friends Season 3, when Ross and Rachel first broke up. In it, Ross left Rachel's apartment in the middle of an argument and went to a bar to drown his sorrows. From there, he ended up spending the night with Chloe the copy girl, only to regret it the next morning — especially when he realized that Rachel did not want to break up after all.
As the couple tried to patch things up, Ross refused to take complete responsibility for the incident, saying that Rachel should shoulder some of the burden as well. He argued that this was not cheating because they were "on a break," and ever since then, fans have argued the technicality of the point ad nauseam.
"People are so compassionately divided about whether or not they were on a break," Schwimmer told Fallon. In fact, the question remains so divisive that NBC conducted a survey last year in honor of the 25th anniversary of Friends. Out of the 1,865 people surveyed through the dating app Plenty of Fish, about 60 percent said that Ross was in the right, according to a report by PEOPLE. However, women tended to side with Rachel, as 44 percent of them said that Ross had cheated on her. Only 36 percent of men believed Ross had cheated.
The question was meant to be open-ended, as the writers wanted fans to be able to continue to sympathize with both Ross and Rachel as the series went on. To some extent, this clearly worked, as Friends carried on for another seven seasons. Although they spent most of that time as nothing more than friends, Ross and Rachel's dynamic remained a core of the series — so much so that it was believable when the couple got back together in the end.
While he was on the talk show, Schwimmer gave an update on the Friends reunion special coming to HBO Max soon as well. The special has been delayed since February due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Schwimmer is hopeful that fans will get to see it soon.
"The hope is that this reunion special, which we would love to shoot, it's unscripted, it's basically a fun interview and then some other surprise bits," he shared. "But it's supposed to happen in August, the middle of August. But honestly, we're going to wait and see another week or two if we all determine it's really safe enough to do. And if not, we will wait until it's safe."