Whether people acknowledge it or not, often times one of the most engaging parts of a successful television series is a good love story.
Fans sometimes wait years for their favorite 'ship' to finally get together and, when done right, it can be a great success. But then there are other times. Times when a central romance can be one of, if not the biggest, problems a show has.
Just as a series can benefit from a love story, it can be hurt by one. It doesn't seem to matter whether a pairing is tainted by things like egos, abuse, infidelity, or even incest, there have been many times when a group of writers just can't seem to let go of a bad thing, no matter how loud the viewers might be screaming for it to end.
Really, there are a lot of issues with Friends. From unrealistic apartments to bad decisions, there was no shortage of things to critique. But even still, there were enough good stories that people kept coming back. Arguably the show's most famous storyline, and the most problematic, was the relationship between Rachel and Ross.
It started off rather endearing. He was the nerdy kid in high school and she had been his sister's best friend. After reconnecting several years later, he still has feelings for her and she eventually reciprocates.
For all the build-up, when they actually got together it turned into a disaster, particularly on Ross' side. While Rachel wasn't perfect, Ross' belittling and clingy tendencies started to become overwhelming. Him blaming her for his poor choices in the ensuing aftermath didn't help matters. It's not very surprising that retrospectively the popularity of Ross' character has been greatly diminished.
For years after their messy breakup, the storyline still kept coming back to these two for no other apparent reason that just because they were 'Ross and Rachel'. There were a lot of people who were seemingly appalled by the idea that Rachel would get together with Joey in later seasons. Whether that should have happened or not, he actually treated her well and, after a long build-up, the storyline was discarded in a ridiculous fashion. Unlike with Rachel and Ross, whom the writers never let go of, no matter how bad they were for each other.