TV & Movies

A Friends Error About Rachel’s Sailing History Is Going Viral On Reddit

Why did she lie about that?

FRIENDS -- "The One With Rachel's Assistant" -- Episode 4 -- Aired 10/26/2000 -- Pictured (l-r): Cou...
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By your 10th rewatch of Friends, you know the Central Perk posse’s backstories like they’re your actual friends. Rachel, for example, grew up with two sisters, had a haircut precipitated by a “traumatic swing incident,” and learned how to sail at a young age.

Or did she?

Rachel’s history on the water is discussed at length in the Season 7 episode, “The One with Phoebe’s Cookies.” She offers to teach Joey to sail on his new boat, The Mr. Beaumont, and explains that she’s perfectly qualified to do so. “I’ve been sailing my whole life,” she says. “When I was 15, my dad bought me my own boat.” (He wanted to cheer her up because her pony was sick, naturally.)

However, it quickly becomes clear that Rachel has internalized the worst of her dad’s teaching tendencies. “Greens do not quit!” she shouts at Joey during a particularly rough session. And then it clicks: “I’m my father,” she says. “Oh my god, this is horrible. I’ve been trying so hard not to be my mother, I did not see this coming.”

But as Redditor u/Plastic_Anxiety8118 pointed out in an Aug. 7 post, Rachel’s sailing skills actually contradict an earlier line in the series. During the Season 5 episode, “The One Where Ross Moves In,” Rachel tells her neighbor Danny that she can’t go to his party because she’s going to a gala. She’s lying (it’s all part of a plan to be in the “driver’s seat”), so she has to make up the event on the spot — deciding that she’ll be attending a “regatta gala.”

“Really, you sail?” Danny asks.

“No, no, but I support it,” Rachel responds — leading the Reddit viewer to wonder, “Does Rachel sail or not?”

It’s a good question. Rachel lies a lot over the course of Friends — whether she’s committing insurance fraud with Monica, or telling Joey her boss is trying to buy her baby. But if she could support her lie to Danny with a shred of reality, why wouldn’t she? As commenter u/krittadarling put it, “I feel like she would never pretend to go to [a] gala because she’s fancy and important but then not cop to knowing how to sail, that would also make her fancy and important.”

The simple explanation is probably, well, a continuity error: the kind of thing that’s bound to happen when you’re writing for six characters with big personalities and backstories to keep track of. As Friends mistakes go, it’s a pretty small one! Plus, as several users pointed out in the comments, the two episodes may not be that contradictory after all. User u/Booksmagic, for example, “interpreted it as Rachel not saying that she’s never sailed, but just that she wasn’t currently sailing or [hadn’t] sailed in a while.”

And even if Rachel and Joey’s boating adventure does break continuity, it was certainly worth it for the pair’s hilarious back-and-forth — and for Rachel’s sailing fits.