1. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
This is why it reminds me of “Friends”:
“How I Met Your Mother,” which debuted in 2004 a year after “Friends” ended, attempted to combine the best elements of the NBC classic with a twist: Who is the mother in this scenario? When it came to the cast, the CBS crew changed Central Perk for MacLaren’s, which had a bar instead of a coffee shop. Ross and Rachel were replaced by Ted and Robin, but everything else remained the same. It wasn’t a show about Ted meeting anyone on “How I Met Your Mother” when it was at its best. It had to do with how he and his pals got there.
No, “Friends” didn’t use a central romantic through-line to help it last for a decade and nine years, respectively (respectively). Ted/Robin, on the other hand, were not Ross/Rachel. As adjectives that apply to the entire show, their overly complicated romance faltered more times than it flourished. To begin with, we were informed that she wasn’t the biological mother of the child. Then there was a long-term relationship that failed on its own terms (and not because they were “on a break”), only to be rekindled time and time again, seemingly at random, until the end result was one that left most people feeling betrayed. Finally, “Friends” made the journey there a lot of fun (even if the last two years had some bumps). No show since “How I Met Your Mother” has come close to competing in its heyday.
2. “Happy Endings” (2011-2013)
As a result, it has similarities to the hit television show, “Friends,” in that it started out as a show about how friends can stay together even after two of them break up under the most improbable of circumstances. However, it quickly abandoned that premise in favor of one that was more familiar to it. A series of hilarity ensued as the rest of the gang rallied around Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) to keep the group together. ‘Happy Endings,’ on the other hand, worked best as an ensemble comedy (similar to ‘Friends’). There was no one to take the limelight from, and everyone did their best to hold their own. This Isn’t “Friends” For Several Reasons: Despite being the best episode of the “new” “Friends” series, “Happy Endings” fell short in the popularity contest. When comparing their cultural legacies, it doesn’t matter if you preferred hanging out with Penny or Monica. Only three seasons of “Happy Endings” were produced, and those were critically panned. “Friends” aired for a decade and received top ratings. Only time will tell if ABC’s cult favorite would have endured.
3. New Girl (2011-2014)
By the end of the third season, what began as a showcase for Zooey Deschanel’s eccentric comedy had evolved into a six-person ensemble comedy. It took a while for “New Girl” to put everything together, but once it did, the show’s group dynamics expanded beyond the individual love stories. And they’re following “Friends” model of pairing and breaking up their most popular couple — Nick (Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel) — in less than three years, which they’re still trying to do.
This Isn’t “Friends” Because “Friends” Never Had Growing Pains Like “New Girl” Did in the Beginning Season 3 saw the return of Damon Wayans Jr., who first appeared on the show in the pilot before moving on to “Happy Endings.” However, the writers (specifically the show’s creator Liz Meriweather) have yet to find the right circumstances in which to put the cast together for a true ensemble sitcom (yet). Season 4 is off to a promising start, but if “New Girl” hopes to match the success of “Friends,” it must increase the number of laughs while decreasing the amount of drama.
4. “The Big Bang Theory” (2007-2017?)
“The Big Bang Theory” is currently the most watched sitcom on television, love it or hate it (we’re in the latter camp). Even though the time allotted to each character isn’t as equal, it’s still a multi-camera ensemble comedy about, well, nothing in particular. Despite the numerous pop culture allusions, especially to geek culture, it’s easy to forget that CBS’ highest rated sitcom is really just about what these socially awkward nerds do in their spare time. (Sadly.) It’s a hit on par with “Friends,” as evidenced by the recent salary negotiations between the cast (deals that will extend “TBBT’s” run to 10 seasons, on par with “Friends “‘s).
Why “Friends” Isn’t It: “Friends” didn’t fight over money. Financial problems threatened to split up the gang in “The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant,” when they always did things together. However, nothing could separate them when it came to their personal finances off-screen. To avoid losing the show because of the greed of one or two of the cast members, the six actors famously decided to bargain as a unit, forcing NBC to pay them all the same, high — but justified — salaries (and market popularity). Instead of alienating their co-stars and delaying production, Sheldon & Co. could have learned a thing or two. As an added bonus, “Friends” is far superior to that awful CBS impostor in terms of humor, originality, warmth, significance, and general likeability, by a factor of at least 10.
5. Cougar Town (2009-2014)
Just five years after the original group of friends left Central Perk forever (and after one failed drama), Courtney Cox and “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence got together to create a new group of friends. When the Florida crew got together, it felt like the Manhattan crew had been retired and patched together. Lawrence turned the show from a vehicle for Cox to a party with many participants, and the unfortunate title quickly became a badge of honor. “Cougar Town” couldn’t last on ABC, which was fast becoming the family network, but viewers’ fondness for the show’s endearing cast helped Jules find a new home on TBS in the process. Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry both made guest appearances on the show in an effort to attract “Friends” fans.
Why It’s Not “Friends”: Despite its “strong affection,” “Cougar Town” has remained a cult favorite, making it at best a distant cousin of “Friends.” There was a lot of screen time dedicated to Jules and Grayson, and Cox made sure she was always in the spotlight by keeping “Cougar Town” on a romance-related path. Cox appears in nearly every scene because the other members of the cast, while friendly, aren’t able to carry the film’s weight on their own.
6. “Joey” (2004-2006)
Exactly like “Friends,” “Joey” is a failed experiment because it tried too hard to be like that show. However, “Joey” stayed true to its source material, unlike other popular spinoffs like “Frasier,” which diverged significantly from its predecessor (despite diagetically flying from one coast to the other to start anew). He tried to start a new group of friends and kept bringing up memories of the old ones, but he couldn’t entice any of the cast members who had just left to move to the West Coast with him. The overall look, feel, lighting, and structure of “Joey” were all carried over from its predecessor. This Isn’t “Friends” For Several Reasons: As a result of these factors, “Joey” came to resemble “Friends” but without the characters. But it’s not like Joey or Matt LeBlanc couldn’t put on a show of their own. It’s because “Joey” debuted so soon after people were used to getting the entire package when they watched a movie. While Jennifer Coolidge was an improvement over Mr. Tribbiani’s previous agents, none of the new cast members could match the old ones, and viewers were left wishing for more of the same instead of being drawn to something new. Joey was not a brand-new concept. One-sixth of the cast was on hand for the same production.
7. Go On (2012-2013)
It’s a lot like “Friends” because of the difficulties Matthew Perry has faced since returning to television as a regular cast member (David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston haven’t). Despite the success of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Mr. Sunshine,” and “Go On,” none of these films could win over Chandler’s devoted following. Go On was the most successful sitcom Perry appeared in, and not because he returned to NBC’s sitcom lineup for the second time. Perry’s darker Chandler — radio host Ryan King, who was dealing with the death of his wife — and an ensemble cast who became much more than just sidekicks, the show ran for an entire season and received mostly positive reviews.
While “Joey” and “Cougar Town” brought in plenty of great supporting talent to help Perry out, “Go On” kept its star front and center, even while bringing in Lisa Kudrow’s “The Comeback” and “Web Therapy,” which were very different from “Friends.” Also, the episodes were not as light and fluffy as a bunch of well-off whiteys sitting around sipping coffee because of the dark subject matter (for a sitcom). There was only one camera and no laugh track, so making comparisons was difficult (even though they did help the show).
8. “Perfect Couples” (2010)
Why It’s Like “Friends”: There are six people in the cast. Six. Cast with plenty of talent. This is a 30-minute sitcom. NBC. These kinds of shows don’t just happen by chance. Many pitch meetings have undoubtedly occurred where the phrase “the new Friends” was tossed around by NBC and the other big three networks in search of the perfect “Friends” replacement. Although the material for “Perfect Couples” was different, it was similar. It had a strong focus on how couples interacted with one another, evolved over time, and functioned in contemporary society, and it featured at least two cast members who went on to bigger and better things.
As for Olivia Munn and David Walton, they’re both in “About a Boy” now. This Isn’t “Friends” For Several Reasons: When it comes to romantic comedies, the wedding bells and the death knells are frequently used interchangeably. The suspense that a television audience felt week after week fades away when a couple gets married. This stereotype was tried to be broken by Lilly and Marshall in “How I Met Your Mother,” however, they were broken once (before an early wedding in Season 2). When it came to waiting, “Perfect Couples” was adamant, and it paid the price. The foundation of “Friends” was not solely based on romantic entanglements. Ross and Rachel, as well as Monica and Chandler, played important roles, but keeping single friends in the mix opened up a slew of new storylines. Just enough for “Friends” to last two more seasons after Monica and Chandler got married at the end of Season 8. (even if we all want to forget Joey and Rachel ever happened).
9. That 70’s Show (1998-2006)
The fact that “That 70’s Show” debuted only four years after the start of “Friends” means it’s not the best example of a “Friends”-inspired TV show. A young cast was about to break out and become stars, so it felt new and exciting. While “Friends” cast members Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace have done well for themselves, the rest of “That 70’s Show” now feels like a sitcom in the “Friends” mold. All of the members of the group are present, albeit somewhat younger (with two parents completing the sextet). The Central Perk crew also dealt with growing-up-related issues, just at a later stage in life. However, “That 70’s Show” substituted a coffee shop for the basement and weed for coffee. The humor was a little more off-color and the setting more stylized.
Once again, overall quality takes the stage. “That ’70s Show” was entertaining for a while, but it had no lasting impact. Despite running for the same amount of time as “Friends” and concluding two years after that show, the level of fan enthusiasm for this show is significantly lower. To a certain extent, it, too, struggled to keep viewers interested in the “will-they-or-won’t-they” plot of a couple over an extended period of time. Because “Friends” performed so admirably, others may have mistakenly assumed it would be straightforward. As it turns out, this isn’t the case.
10. “Coupling” (U.S. 2003)
What Makes It a “Friend” of “Friends”:
Aiming to take over for “Friends” while it was still airing, the American “Coupling” was marketed as a sexier alternative to the British sitcom. (The above shot of the original British version, which was actually quite good, was ripped directly from a famous “Friends” cast photo.) It was clear to NBC executives (and everyone else) that their cash cow was nearing the end of its useful life, so they did what any sane businessman would do: they sought out a replacement. Why should one group of 20- and 30-year-olds discussing hooking up be any different from another?
For a start, there are quite a few things different. The success of “Friends” can be traced in large part to its excellent casting. In fact, critics often give it too much credit, arguing that the show only succeeded because of the likability of its actors. Insight into the failures of the U.S. “Coupling” reveals just how crucial the six “Friends” were to the show’s overall success. “Coupling’s” flaws didn’t stop at forgettable to downright bad actors, but the new six didn’t hold a candle to the old. Guys, give it another go.
11. “Friends With Better Lives” (2014)
Why It’s Like “Friends”: They tried. The most recent example of a failed sitcom like “Friends” is “Friends With Better Lives.” This failed miserably. “Friends With Better Lives” had no chemistry among its six-person cast despite bringing together a motley crew of popular TV actors (James Van Der Beek, please find another show). Neither of the dates went well, nor did any of the jokes land (which is difficult when Brooklyn Decker is involved). After just five episodes, the show was quickly cancelled. It had a positive impact on the world.
It’s not “Friends” for the reasons stated above, as well as a few others. Instead of putting on a show, “Friends With Better Lives” was more of a cash grab. From the beginning to the end, “Friends” was a labor of love. All aspects of the production, even off-camera behavior by its stars, creators, and crew were infused with it. “Friends” may have been about nothing, but it meant a lot to the people who worked on it, as well as the people who watched it.