Friends and How I Met Your Mother are unarguably two of the most famous American sitcoms. With their splendid ensemble cast and writing that surpasses time, the shows have the power to crack us up at any hour of the day and surely make our lives better.
While we all love them both, the world fits into binaries. There are cat-lovers and there are dog-lovers. There are coffee-lovers and there are tea-lovers. And similarly, there are Friends lovers and there are HIMYM lovers.
So let’s address the elephant in the room – which sitcom out of the two is better?
1. Ensemble Cast
Both Friends and HIMYM had a star-studded cast and each character’s quirkiness made the shows what they were.
But we gotta give this one to Friends, because it was a true ensemble show where no character stole another’s thunder. No matter how famous the actors were in real life, they got more or less equal screen-time in the episodes.
In HIMYM, Ted naturally got a bigger piece of the pie for it was his story. Some characters even went MIA for multiple episodes, like when Lily went to San Francisco and became an absent presence.
HIMYM wins this point because it has an over-arching premise – an older Ted recounting to his children how he met their mother.
But that isn’t the case with Friends. When someone asks what Friends is about, there’s nothing we can say except for, “Well, it’s about these six friends.”
3. Joey vs Barney – The Better Ladies’ Man
Both Joey and Barney were the ladies’ men and quite the womanizers. “How you doin’?” was Joey’s pickup line, while Barney had several algorithms and rulebooks that governed his actions.
But let’s admit it, Joey was nowhere close to how wicked and perverted Barney was.
4. The Art of Storytelling
HIMYM has an edge over Friends when it comes to storytelling. The former managed to cut in and out of scenes, give perfect flashbacks and connect old sub-plots in later episodes. Take for instance Ted’s goat birthday, or Marshall’s slap bet.
Friends, on the other hand, was filmed in front of a live audience. While that made the show more authentic, it came with its own drawbacks – like how the show couldn’t play around with its narrative.
5. Sexist Jokes
I don’t know if you felt it too, but HIMYM was sometimes in-the-face sexist. Calling Marshall a girl because he was emotional and cried, or the way Barney treated women, was often cringe-worthy. In contrast, Friends aged extremely well.
6. Character Graphs
One reason why Friends became an instant hit was because it was consistent and felt comfortable. The show didn’t change a bit and its characters did not evolve over the years.
But the characters in HIMYM matured over time and became better versions of themselves. Giving up old stuff, letting go of the past and “taking the leap” were parts and parcels of the show.
Clearly, both shows have their strengths and weaknesses. But my personal favourite would be Friends. It is my go-to show. Whenever I’m feeling low, I pick up a random episode of Friends, and boom! It’s an instant mood-lifter. Hands-down one of the best shows I have ever seen.
Which one’s your favourite?