TV Shows That Are Similar to Or Are Better than FRIENDS…

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When “Friends” premiered 22 years ago, no one told us, “Life was gonna be this way…” No one knew it would be the last great TV Sitcom ever!

Judge me all you want but this is the truth:

  • Critics sometimes forcefully favors Seinfeld mostly because they grew up watching it! Only the people in their late 40’s can still find it funnier than Friends. (I was held at gunpoint to tell you that!)
  • Friends is favored by the rest of the world! With fan base growing larger and larger every day… (I wasn’t paid to tell you this!)

But honestly,

“Friends” is exactly what the title suggests, other than that both shows were based on…well, nothing. But unlike “Seinfeld,” which purported to be also “a show about nothing” (no offence to Jerry Seinfeld), Friends was at least something and actually became very much more than just about something, “Friends” was held together only loosely by the defining rules of friendship. It survived on its wit, cast and sustainable subject matter (friends being friendly) to become a classic — and arguably the best ever — TV Sitcom.

(If you obviously agree then you’d find me on the other end saying, duh!)

While Seinfeld & Friends maintained their originality, (Both were critically pinned before they even went on air.) Seinfeld was the first to break a new dimension into the sitcom genre, while Friends became the more ‘Funnier and Friendlier’, and ‘younger’ version and clearly took the sitcom genre to another level. So obviously there were bound to be copycat series. Everything you see after that are copies.

The whole “group of young people of both genders dating and hanging out in the city” concept has been rehashed time and time again since Friends went off the air, to varying degrees of success. In the end, however, they’ve all failed in their quest, because there will never be another Friends.

I mean, the show is ageless. It’s been repeated to death on various channels and yet you can always stumble upon a random episode and still enjoy it. Of course there’s other great comedies out there, but people are so snobby about anything popular.

Take Seinfeld, which was around a decade earlier. Now that’s a brilliant show about a group of New York friends that’s still hilarious and hasn’t aged a bit (almost!), just like Friends. But while the flaws and f*ck-ups are funny and considered brilliant – the healthier people, perfect smiles and good hair are just better to look at.

Others since have tried and failed to imitate the group mentality since “Friends” went off the air in 2004. Here’s why, I thought, in the end, none could stack up to the brilliance of that sitcom.


*Note: Before I begin, I should let you know that, some of these are among my all time personal favorites such as Seinfeld, Friends, TBBT. etc. (& more)


Disclaimer: Please note that I tend myself not to be one of those who downgrade other people’s hard work. No matter how bad they were. I never give any shows or movies a bad review even if they are really really substandard. What you see in the list below is just a list of great shows, all in general and with a few exceptions in terms of juxtaposition. But I strongly suggest and promise you that, if any of my statements below seems degradingly unjustified and disrespectful to any of the respected titles or subjected as individuals, please notify me. || I should’ve mentioned this when I wrote the whole thing, the fact that I was pretty pissed at something or someone or a group of people. So some of you may find some portion of this page, somewhat in disdain. But I can assure you I mean no disrespect nor do I personally hate any of these shows. (I work as a broker or contributor. means mostly I write or suggest ideas for other people so they can publish it as their own and take credit for it. Of course in exchange of cash. Thus, without proper negotiation, things can get real messy. | I’d been doing this since I was 11.) ||*Please leave a comment if you find some portion of this page overlooked  and I’ll remove it immediately.


(Note: Friends (TV series) — was a live show, it wasn’t built on the support of a “Laugh Track”).


************”The One Where We Can’t Find Another One”************


How I Met Your Mother (TV series) | (2005-2014)

Why it’s Like “Friends”: Premiering just a year after “Friends” ended in 2004, “How I Met Your Mother” tried to take the best aspects of the NBC classic and wrap them around a mysterious reveal: Who’s the mom? The CBS crew traded in a coffee shop (Central Perk) for a bar (MacLaren’s) and Ross & Rachel for Ted & Robin, but otherwise held to the same principles as its predecessor (they even kept the multi-cam format, complete with laugh track, despite being sold as the “modern” “Friends”). “How I Met Your Mother,” at its best, wasn’t a show about Ted meeting anyone. It was about how he got there with his friends.

Why It’s Not “Friends”: Yes, both “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” used a central romantic through-line to help sustain 10 and nine years of programming (respectively). But Ted/Robin was no Ross/Rachel. Their overly complicated romance — adjectives applicable to the show in general — faltered more times than it flourished. First we were told she’s not the mother. Then there was a long romance that ultimately failed on its own terms (not because they were “on a break”) — only to be rekindled, seemingly at random, again and again until the final result: an ending that left most people feeling betrayed. “Friends” saved its best for last, and made getting there incredibly fun. “How I Met Your Mother” saved the worst for last, didn’t actually compete in its prime, and certainly couldn’t close.

How I Met Your Mother (TV series) – “Nothing without Barney” — Imagine this show without Neil Patrick Harris. — Case closed!

See this: Why is FRIENDS considered better than How I met your Mother?

“HIMYM is about a close a clone of Friends as you’ll find — though there have been plenty of imitators over the years and HIMYM is, by all accounts, the best one. As for Seinfeld, if you haven’t watched it yet, you probably should just go ahead and do that. (Also if you watch Seinfeld’s finale, you probably won’t be as disappointed by HIMYM’s anymore.)” ~ Time Magazine

Note: I love this show and I believe it has a bigger cultural following than The Big Bang Theory (TV series).


The Big Bang Theory (TV series) | (2007-2017?)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Like it or loathe it (we’re definitely with the latter), “The Big Bang Theory” is the most popular sitcom on TV today. While not as evenly split in its time allotment per character, it’s still very much a multi-cam ensemble comedy about, well, nothing. The many pop culture references, with a skew toward the geeky, often mask that CBS’ highest rated sitcom is simply about what these group of developmentally-challenged nerds do with their spare time. (Sadly.) It rivals “Friends” in popularity, a fact all the more apparent after the cast’s recent salary negotiations (deals that will carry “TBBT” into its 10th season, equal to the run by “Friends”).

Why It’s Not “Friends”: I like this show. It brings out my inner ‘Nerd’. But, it’s the inner problems with the cast, that I don’t like. “Friends” didn’t squabble over money. Technically, the gang was divided during “The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant,” when monetary issues threatened to break up the group’s affinity for always doing things together. But when it came to off-screen financial matters, nothing could tear them apart. The six actors famously chose to negotiate as one unit, forcing NBC to pay them all the same high — but justified — salaries rather than risk losing the show over one or two cast members’ greed (and market popularity). Sheldon & Co. could have learned a thing or two instead of alienating their co-stars and delaying production to get a larger piece of the pie. But again, while “Friends” is 10 times more witty, original, endearing, important, and generally likable than this CBS Hit but it is indeed the best we’ve seen in years.

See: Deadline: larger piece of the pie


Happy Endings (TV series) | (2011-2013)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: “Happy Endings” began as a show about how a group of friends can stay together after two of the members break up under the worst circumstances imaginable (well, the worst within reason — they still had to be in the same room). It quickly shed that premise, though, moving into more comfortable territory. Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) realized they needed to hold the group together, and the rest of the gang helped them move on through a series of joyous shenanigans. “Happy Endings” worked best because it was a true ensemble comedy (like “Friends”). No one stole the spotlight, and everyone held their own — and then some.

Why It’s Not “Friends”:
Though it’s the best of the “new” “Friends” series, “Happy Endings” couldn’t compete on one of the most crucial levels: popularity. Whether or not you liked hanging with Penny more than Monica becomes irrelevant when comparing their cultural footprints. “Happy Endings” only made it three seasons, and those were pretty low-rated. “Friends” lasted 10, with the best ratings in the biz. If only we knew what would have become of ABC’s cult hit, had it lasted as long.


New Girl (TV series) | (2011-2014)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: It took some time getting there, but what started as a spotlight for Zooey Deschanel’s quirky comedy morphed into a six-person ensemble comedy by the end of its third season. It didn’t put all the pieces together at first, but then “New Girl” created multiple scenes in which its group dynamic grew past its individual love stories. They’re also still trying to follow the “Friends” model of pairing up and breaking up their most popular couple — Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess (Deschanel) — in less than three years.

Why It’s Not “Friends”: “Friends” never suffered the early growing pains “New Girl” did. With the addition of Damon Wayans Jr. in Season 3 (after he appeared in the pilot before leaving for “Happy Endings”), “New Girl” has inched closer to having the quality actors needed to hold together a true ensemble sitcom, but the writers (namely creator Liz Meriwether) haven’t found the right circumstances to piece them together (yet). Season 4 is off to a promising start, but “New Girl” needs to up the laughs and cut the drama if it ever wants to achieve “Friends”-level status.


Below are “The Ones With The Actual Friends”


Cougar Town” (2009-2014) | Courteney Cox

The first three seasons aired on ABC, with the series moving to TBS for the final three seasons.

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Courtney Cox got together with “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence to create a new group of friends just five years (and one failed drama) after the original crew left Central Perk for good. The Florida-set gang felt a lot like a retired, patched-together clone of the Manhattan crew, only drinking wine instead of coffee. Its unfortunate title soon became a badge of honor as Lawrence twisted the show from a star vehicle for Cox into a party made of many players. “Cougar Town” couldn’t sustain itself while housed at ABC, which was slowly becoming the family network, but strong affection for the very likable cast helped Jules find a new home on TBS. (Also — in an attempt to draw in “Friends” fans, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry both made guest appearances on the show.)

Why It’s Not “Friends”: That “strong affection” hasn’t translated into more than cult status for “Cougar Town,” making it a cousin to “Friends” at best. Also, Cox kept “Cougar Town” on a specific, romance-related path (Jules and Grayson take up a lot of screen time) and also made sure she stayed in the spotlight. Cox is in almost every scene, mainly because the other cast members, while affable, can’t shoulder too heavy a load on their own.


“Joey” (2004-2006) | Matt LeBlanc

Why It’s Like “Friends”: “Joey” was an experiment audiences instantly knew wouldn’t work because it was trying too hard to be “Friends.” Unlike other successful spinoffs, like “Frasier,” “Joey” didn’t distance himself at all from his old show (despite diegetically flying from one coast to the other to start anew). He tried to form a new group of friends and repeatedly referenced what it was like back home, but couldn’t draw any of the just-departed cast over to his new West Coast home (the “Friends” actors repeatedly appeared on each other’s shows, but not this one). “Joey” as a whole kept a lot from its predecessor, too, including its look, feel, lighting, and structure.

Why It’s Not “Friends”: All of this combined to make “Joey” feel like “Friends” without the friends. It’s not that Joey or Matt LeBlanc couldn’t hold together a show of his own. It’s that “Joey” came too soon after audiences were used to getting the whole package. None of the new cast members could compare to the old ones (though Jennifer Coolidge was a step up in terms of agents for Mr. Tribbiani), and audiences couldn’t help but wish for more of what they used to have instead of being drawn to something new. “Joey” wasn’t new. It was the same show, with one-sixth of the cast. But it did pull an average of 10 million viewers.


“Go On” (2012-2013) | Matthew Perry

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Of the four “Friends” cast members who’ve returned as series regulars on TV (David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston have not), Matthew Perry has had the toughest go of it. “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Mr. Sunshine” and “Go On” all failed to lure the legions of fans who claim Chandler as their favorite “Friend.” “Go On” came the closest to replicating the success of Perry’s best role, and not because it was his return to NBC’s sitcom lineup. The show lasted a full season and earned mostly positive reviews, thanks to Perry’s slightly darker version of Chandler — radio host Ryan King, who was coping with the loss of his wife — and a supporting cast who became much more than just peripheral players.

Why It’s Not “Friends”: Like “Joey” and “Cougar Town” (not to mention Lisa Kudrow’s “The Comeback” and “Web Therapy,” which were very much not like “Friends”), “Go On” kept its star front and center, even while it brought in plenty of great supporting talent to help Perry out. Also, the dark subject matter (for a sitcom) kept episodes from being as light and fluffy as a bunch of well-off whiteys sitting around sipping coffee. The single camera setup and lack of a laugh track didn’t help with comparisons, either (even though they did help the show).

But thanks to a terrific and popular show The Odd Couple, Perry can be seen at his best again.


All three shows you see above are awesome! Except only the last two were ruined by a few bad critics and their bad reviews! (Damn!)


“Perfect Couples” (2010)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Six people. Talented cast. Half-hour comedy. NBC. Shows like this don’t coincidentally come together. NBC and the other big three have been looking for the perfect “Friends” replacement for a long time, and countless pitch meetings have undoubtedly occurred where the phrase “the new ‘Friends'” has been tossed around. “Perfect Couples” wasn’t quite cut from the same cloth, but it was a similar material. It focused heavily on how couples interacted with couples, developed over time, and functioned in modern society while also sporting at least two cast members who moved on to bigger and better things. (David Walton is now in “About a Boy” and Olivia Munn moved to “The Newsroom.”)

Why It’s Not “Friends”: Wedding bells and a death toll are often the same sound for romantic sitcoms. Once someone gets married, the suspense an audience felt every week dissipates. “How I Met Your Mother” tried to buck that stereotype with Lilly and Marshall, but couldn’t resist breaking them up once (before an early wedding in Season 2). “Perfect Couples” didn’t mess around with waiting, and ultimately it paid the price. “Friends” wasn’t built solely on romantic relationships. While they certainly played their part, from Ross & Rachel to Monica & Chandler, but keeping single friends in the mix opened up many more topical avenues. Enough so that even when Monica & Chandler got hitched at the end of Season 8, “Friends” still had enough juice to get through two more seasons (even if we all want to forget Joey and Rachel ever happened).


That ’70s Show (TV series)” (1998-2006)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Arriving just four years after “Friends” started, “That 70’s Show” may not be a perfect example of a “Friends”-inspired TV show. At the time, it felt fresh and funny and different, with a very young cast poised to break out and become stars. While Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace have all certainly done well for themselves — like pretty much everyone on “Friends” — otherwise “That 70’s Show” now feels very much like a “Friends”-style sitcom. The crew is all there, only younger (with two parents completing the sextet). Problems related more to growing up, but that’s also very much what the Central Perk crew dealt with, just at a later stage in life. The humor was a bit more off-color and the setting more stylized, but “That 70’s Show” essentially swapped out a coffee shop for a basement and coffee for weed.

Why It’s Not “Friends”: Overall quality raises its hand yet again. “That 70’s Show” was fun while it lasted, but never impactful. Fan fervor can’t compare to that of the “Friends” following, despite running just as long (and ending two years after “Friends”). It, too, struggled with maintaining its core romances, ultimately serving as an example of how hard it is to keep viewers engaged in a couple’s “will-they-or-won’t-they” plot over an extended period of time. “Friends” did it so well, others may have thought it would be that easy. Turns out, it’s not.


“Coupling” (U.S. 2003)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Literally marketed as a friskier version of “Friends” (the above shot of the original British version —which was actually pretty good —was ripped directly from a famous shot of the “Friends” cast), the American “Coupling” aimed to take over for the series while “Friends” was still on the air. NBC executives (and everyone else) knew their cash cow was about to expire, so like all intelligent businessmen, they tried to replace it with something similar. After all, what’s the difference between one group of 20- and 30-year-olds talking about hooking up and another?

Why It’s Not “Friends”: Actually, there’s plenty different. Casting was such a key element of “Friends'” success — in fact, it’s often given too much credit as critics argue it only succeeded on the likability of its cast. Clearly, the structuring, jokes and overarching plot lines had plenty to do with “Friends'” success, but looking at the failures of the U.S. “Coupling” also shows us how crucial the six “Friends” were. Forgettable to downright bad actors weren’t the only flaw in “Coupling,” but the new six certainly didn’t compare to the old ones. Try again, guys.


“Friends With Better Lives” (2014)

Why It’s Like “Friends”: Because try, they did. “Friends With Better Lives” is the most current example of a failed “Friends”-like sitcom. And, boy, did it fail. Despite gathering together a hodgepodge of well-liked TV actors (James Van Der Beek, please find a better show), “Friends With Better Lives” had no chemistry amongst its six-person cast. None of the relationships sparked (and it’s hard not to spark with Brooklyn Decker), but, worse, none of the jokes landed. It was quickly canceled after only five episodes aired. The world was better for it.

Why It’s Not “Friends”: For all the above reasons and more. “Friends With Better Lives” was a lazy money grab; an impersonation rather than a performance. “Friends” was a labor of love from start to finish. You could see it in every aspect of the production and even in the off-camera actions of its stars, creators, and crew. “Friends” may have been about nothing, but it meant something to everyone involved, audiences included.


These below are a little different but good. Check em out!


Community (TV series)

Community” is supposed to be about a gang of losers at community college, but the group learned more about friendship than anything else in their five years at Greendale. The heart of “Community” is the friendship between the characters — even in the fifth season, when they replaced Pierce and Troy.

Most of the gang’s adventures center around the study room, and most of those adventures are disastrous.

“Community” is available on Hulu Plus.


Parks and Recreation (TV series)

Although “Parks and Recreation” is billed as a workplace comedy, does anyone really know you better than the people you work with?

What makes “Parks and Rec” so much fun to watch is how nice everyone is to each other. Ron and Leslie might seem like adversaries, but over the show’s six seasons, they have proved to be just so warm and cuddly. And as friends, this exchange is one of life’s most important lessons:

  • Leslie: Why would anyone eat anything besides breakfast food?
  • Ron: People are idiots, Leslie.

Of course there is also this exchange from that same episode, perhaps just as important: “There’s nothing more important than friendship.”

The co-workers on “Parks and Recreation” are not just friends — they’ve also solved some important Pawnee crises over the years: The shutdown, bankruptcy, merging with their rival town, turning an empty pit (or Lot 47, as it’s known) into a park, planning the Harvest Festival, dealing with the death of Lil’ Sebastian, making the summer parks catalog, the flu, evil ex-wives named Tammy, and having 94 meetings in one day.

“Parks and Recreation” is available to stream on Netflix and also on Hulu Plus.


The Office (U.S. TV series)

OK, “The Office” is another workplace sitcom. But what set the American version of “The Office” apart from the British version is that the crew from Dunder Mifflin actually like each other.

While the colleagues are forced to spend working hours together, they also hung outside the office (this photo is from Jim and Pam’s rehearsal dinner). They band together to help each other out in some their happiest and toughest times, as anyone with lucky co-workers knows about.

“The Office” is available to stream on Netflix.


It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (TV series)

It’s not that the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” aren’t friends. It’s just that they’re not exactly the people you’d like to be friends with. In fact, the original name of the show was “Jerks,” according to Maxim. 

The gang even made their own “Friends”-like promo. Not surprisingly, it didn’t go so well.

If you’ve ever watched “Always Sunny,” that wouldn’t surprise you. The gang regularly tortures and humiliates each other (especially Dee). It’s not exactly the show to watch if you want to feel warm and fuzzy. But who needs TV friends when you an laugh with these jerks?


Behold: The best one!


Seinfeld (TV series)

It’s the best one! The one you’ll ever find out there. The rivalry between Friends and Seinfeld is indeed unmatched.

The cast of “Seinfeld” certainly spent a lot of time together for people who never even really seemed to like each other. The show was about nothing, so many of their adventures basically just involved talking and eating — which, come to think of it, is what most real-life friendships consist of.

Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer were all united in their horribleness, and maybe that makes the best grown-up friendship out there.

Note: For some of you, the nosie (and nosey) inquisitive younger ones, if you haven’t seen Friends already, then go ahead and watch this “Iconic” show, which is a must see for everyone. But if you have seen Friends and have an attachment to it then it’s better if you leave it be. Because chances are, and strongly, you’d find this rather boring. Because you know, like, you’re into “Tweaking” and stuffs…(……)

To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld — I’d like to say “Men don’t care what’s best on TV. They only care what else is on TV.”


A few others:

Will & Grace (TV series)

Arrested Development (TV series)

Mad About You

Cheers (TV series)

M*A*S*H (TV series)

Scrubs (TV series)

Frasier (TV series)

Two and a Half Men (TV series)

Modern Family (TV series)

Totally different ones:

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (TV series)

Saturday Night Live (TV series)


But,

If you’re looking for something less complicated then watch:

The Simpsons (TV series)

~ the only sitcom in my opinion to actually stand against Friends (TV series) and Seinfeld (TV series).

Other similar animated series:

Family Guy (TV series)

South Park (TV series)


Since the discussion demands good “Shows” and if you’re not that into Television Comedies then try these:

Breaking Bad (TV series)

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix series)

Sons of Anarchy (TV series)

Mad Men (TV series)

House of Cards (Netflix series)

Sherlock (TV series)

The X-Files (TV series)

Game of Thrones (TV series)


Hope these helps everyone looking for a handful of great Television Series to enjoy alone or with friends.

Friends popularised sitcoms about young people and soon a myriad of others appeared. The romantic cliffhanger had of course been present in other sitcoms (prominently Cheers) but it became a staple after Friends as did sit coms with multiple lead characters. Spinoff Joey had two seasons and ended in 2006.

Perhaps the biggest legacy in the short term was what didn’t happen after Friends. There has yet to be another comedy hit on quite the same scale. While CBS’ Two and a Half Menhas been a very consistent and highly rated hit in the years following it doesn’t have the same Cultural or international appeal. The end of Friends saw sitcoms go in a different direction. There was a distinct move away from multi-camera comedies and toward single camera shows. The Office appeared in 2005 and captured some of the buzz and apparent edge that Friends had had a decade earlier.

However, no Sitcom since Friends has touched it for Comedy or Cultural impact. The wait continues…


Thank you,

Asif Ahsan Khan


If you want more here’s The Hollywood Reporter‘s Hollywood’s 100 Favorite TV Shows of all time


Note: This article was written by Asif Ahsan Khan on Quora.com in 2015;

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