Friends vs. Seinfeld: Which was better?
- Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld (the title character) and airing from 1989-1998, Seinfeld lasted 9 seasons (173 episodes), and is a show about “The continuing misadventures of neurotic New York City stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York City friends.”
- Seinfeld’s cast leads included Julia Louis-Dreyfus (as Elaine Benes), Michael Richards (as Cosmo Kramer), and Jason Alexander (as George Costanza).
- Friends was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman and spanned 10 seasons (235 episodes), airing from 1994-2004 on NBC, and is a show about “the personal and professional lives of six 20 to 30-something-year-old friends living in Manhattan.'
- Friends’ cast included Jennifer Aniston (as Rachel Greene), Courteney Cox (as Monica Geller), Lisa Kudrow (as Phoebe Buffay), Matt LeBlanc (as Joey Tribbiani), Matthew Perry (as Chandler Bing), and David Schwimmer (as Ross Geller).
- Creator Larry David “famously instituted a policy of ‘no hugging, no learning,’” meaning the show was to “avoid sentimentality and moral lessons, and the characters must never learn nor grow from their wrongdoings.”
- Friends’ iconic opening theme song was originally going to be R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People,” before producers changed it to “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts.
With infamous characters and memorable catchphrases, it's no surprise Rolling Stone listed Seinfeld as number three on their 100 Best Sitcoms of All Time issue. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld dared to do what no sitcom at the time ever considered: a show about nothing. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of 'Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything,' states how the 'nothingness… is really not nothing.' The characters are just dealing with everyday things that most people can relate to.
Seinfeld's written and visual ways of storytelling were also unusual for its time. Rather than a standard A and B storyline, Seinfeld had four, one for each lead. Each storyline would connect in the end, allowing the story to come full circle. The multiple storylines paired well with the incorporation of single-camera shots. NBC demanded a multi-camera sitcom, but that didn't stop David and Seinfeld from breaking the rules of a multi-cam show. They managed to add more and more single-camera scenes (like in the city street scenes) as the series went on.
And despite The Sopranos getting the credit for this, Seinfeld was the first show featuring a cast of anti-hero main characters. Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George were designed to be relatable but with horrible human traits that an audience could identify with. The key to pulling it off was to make them funny and entertaining. It's safe to say it worked.
So, there may be hundreds of sitcoms and comedies to choose from, but Seinfeld will always stand out from the crowd for its originality, twisted characters, and unforgettable comedy.
Seinfeld is a hilarious show. Running over the course of 9 seasons, Seinfeld dominated in ratings. Now, decades after Seinfeld's conclusion, its influence is limited. Meanwhile, Friends changed sitcoms forever.
Seinfeld's limitations began with no hugging, no learning, as the show is one of the best examples of postmodernism in pop culture. However, as the 90s ended, postmodern irony also waned. Throughout its ten seasons, Friends had two things: a lot of hugging and learning. The result? A show that was more than comedic situations, but watching people grow and change as real people do.
Davis Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, said, 'The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile . . .To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama.' Some of the biggest shows of the 2000s, such as How I Met Your Mother, have followed up on Friends' take of the sitcom. It wasn't a show about jobs or families; it was a show about the communities we create and why we create them.
Friends' use of people undergoing real-life situations like relationships and job woes also helped create emotional relatability. This effect is heightened with long-running jokes ('We were on a break!') that make the audience feel part of the group. Friends didn't just have irony for irony's sake. It was irony with sentimentality at its center. Cynical and aloof characters of today (The Office's Jim, Community's Jeff, New Girl's Nick, etc.) would be different without the cathartic techniques that Friends pioneered. All have snarky and sarcastic personas, but they want to be better at their center.
Friends may be dated, but the show never stopped exerting its influence. Without Friends, American television would be drastically different.