Rachel wants the bun out of the oven. Ken Tucker agrees: The pregnancy storyline has run its course

By Ken Tucker
May 10, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Friends: Warner Bros. Television
  • TV Show

Rachel wants the bun out of the oven

”Think of me as a ketchup bottle — sometimes you have to bang it a little to get something out of it.” Thus, our dear, overdue Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) last night, begging Ross (David Schwimmer) for sex. In case you missed it, a quick explanation: Now a week overdue (the birth is timed for network sweeps-period ratings, of course), Rachel’s doctor advised her of some ”home remedies” that can induce labor, like eating spicy food, drinking castor oil, and…having sex.

Rachel — cranky, snappish, unpleasant to be around by common consensus of all the Friends, yet (is this just me, speaking as a guy who’s always enjoyed his wife’s pregnancies?) actually quite fetching in a little shirt that exposed her nice round belly — decided she wanted sex from Ross. And Ross was reluctant to do so, given how complicated their ”he’s the father but they’re not really together” situation is.

Monica (Courtney Cox Arquette), by contrast, was so eager to end Rachel’s tired, irritable mood (and to win a $50 bet she’d made with Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe over the date of the baby’s arrival) offered Chandler (Matthew Perry) as a — um, sex surrogate, as it were. The offer was not taken.

Chandler was too busy anyway, with the evening’s secondary plot — a silly thing about attending the premiere of the World War I movie that Joey (Matt LeBlanc) had a small role in. At first, this subplot seemed promising, since it occasioned the return of one of my favorite old bit players, Joey’s tough-as-nails agent, Estelle (the wonderfully croaky June Gable).

But soon Estelle vanished, and Joey and Chandler went to the premiere — where Chandler promptly fell asleep, enraging Joey. ”Friends” doesn’t ”do” anger particularly well; these friends are too fond of each other to sustain convincing rows. So Joey’s annoyance with Chandler quickly faded, and we were left with Rachel’s unpleasant discomfort, which inspired only one line I laughed at. It was when she said to Ross, ”Don’t call me ‘Mommy’ — it’s bad enough you call your own mother that,” and Ross’ sister Monica joined in: ”I’m with her on that.” Oh, yeah: I also laughed when Ross demurred about ”making love,” and grumpy Rachel snapped, ”’Make love’–what are you, a girl?”

Rachel’s character is always good with vulgar humor, and Aniston worked up a good, half-hour-long snit-fit. But I agree with Rachel: Enough with this pregnancy. NBC teased the coming attraction with the title ”Friends: The Birth.” Do you think it’ll really happen next week, the final new episode of the season, or do you think the birth will become a — well, what do you call a pregnancy cliffhanger? — an extended dilation?

How do you think ”Friends”’ season will end?