‘Friends’ Writers Explained Rachel’s Famous “It Is a Big Deal” Joke

Olivia Harvey
·2 mins read

NBC, Getty Images

The Friends Season 4 premiere, "The One With the Jellyfish," is probably most iconic for Ross (David Schwimmer) hollering the classic, "We were on a break!" line after he and Rachel almost rekindle their on-again-off-again relationship. But before he has a chance to fully leave the fight, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) delivers the zinger that has left fans laughing, but confused, for decades. Now, Friends writers are explaining the joke, and it might not be exactly what you think.

"Just so you know, it's not that common, it doesn't happen to every guy, and it is a big deal!" Rachel yells out the door to Ross, to which Chandler jokingly responds, "I knew it!"

So, what the heck is Rachel referring to? Obviously, it's some sort of inside dig at Ross's masculinity—perhaps a jab at his sexual performance? According to Friends executive producer Greg Malins, that's a close guess.

"It was the only time I'd ever written down my [joke] before I pitched," Malins told Entertainment Weekly on September 25th. "I remember thinking, 'If I don't pitch this exactly right, it's not gonna get in.'" After Malins pitched the joke, executive producer Adam Chase added in the final nail in the coffin: the "it is a big deal" line.

"They were insulting each other back and forth," Malins continued, "and I had this idea in my head, [Rachel] says, 'Well one time, when you prematurely ejaculated, I told you it was okay and it wasn't.'"

Chase explained that this was actually a callback to a Friends Season 2 episode, "The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know," better known as "the juice box moment." The juice box in the scene was a visual metaphor for Ross's early ejaculation. So, to quote another '90s sitcom, yadda yadda yadda, the joke is a dig at Ross being a bit too excited.

"On Friends, it was so wildly collaborative," Chase said, adding that during the brainstorm session for this scene, "I remember yelling at each other in the room as the characters."

Although "it is a big deal" could be seen as a throwaway joke, it actually has layers. Friends trivia junkies, eat your heart out.