It’s a question for the ages. Which sitcom do you prefer, Friends or Seinfeld? Ask the wrong person and you could wind up on the other side of a long-winded diatribe about the “right” answer. The debate rages on in fan forums and social media platforms around the world, with no definitive answer ever coming out on top.
Each series has its faults and their strengths. Although, at the end of the day, there is another subset of fans entirely who have an equal amount of love for each show. At the very least, we can declare them both beloved 90s sitcoms. What made them so perfect, though?
10 Friends: has the best quotes
There are many reasons that Friends is still binged by thousands every year (ask Netflix), but perhaps the biggest one is that it is just so darn quotable! If you’re a Friends fan, there’s no way you don’t work Friends quotes into your regular conversation. Are you moving a couch? Better yell PIVOT! Then there’s the iconic “we were on a break,” Phoebe’s songs, particularly “Smelly Cat,” “How you doin’,” and that’s only scratching the surface.
If you look around on any social media platform, you’re sure to find tons of memes, jokes, and GIFs all from the iconic sitcom, because there are just so many perfect quotes to fit every situation.
9 Seinfeld: helped change the sitcom formula forever
One of the reasons Seinfeld is still so beloved today is because it helped to revolutionize and permanently alter sitcoms for a new era. Funnily enough, Seinfeld struggled a little until it hit its later seasons. Nowadays, shows don’t get that long to find their footing. If they aren’t successful by the end of the first season, they probably won’t get renewed.
When people saw “The Chinese Restaurant” in Season Two, they realized Seinfeld had something going for it. They could make people care about often-terrible people doing nothing. Perhaps the most apparent influence in the modern era is FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
8 Friends: gave us a fantastic personality test.
Spend a little time with online quizzes and you’ll soon realize that a large majority of them are all about Friends. One of the most fun aspects of becoming a new Friends fan is figuring out which of the main characters you are. Are you a Monica? A Phoebe? A Chandler?
Figuring it out is an important aspect of watching the series. It’s a great way to talk to other people about the show too. Some people take their character comparisons very seriously, and Friends has such a lively and colorful main cast. Why wouldn’t you want to find your best fit?
7 Seinfeld: is incredibly self-aware
The reason the humor on Seinfeld works so well is that the series is incredibly self-aware. The characters are all terrible people, but they’re aware of it, and therefore the audience is also aware of it. They’re not bad people pretending to be good. They’re unabashed in their shamelessness.
That’s what makes it fun to watch them as the viewer. It would be far less satisfying to watch Seinfeld if they weren’t aware of their flaws. It’s another way the show helped to change the evolution of sitcoms, because it became apparent that audiences were smart enough to be “in” on the jokes with the characters.
6 Friends: the theme song is unbeatable.
Seinfeld doesn’t have a very memorable theme song. it’s not that you wouldn’t recognize it, but it’s not an actual song, just synth beats. Meanwhile, Friends has a theme and intro so recognizable that even people who haven’t watched the show know it instantly.
You can’t hear the opening chords of “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts and not immediately connect it to Friends and the cast all jumping into the fountain. It’s one of those songs that, when you listen to it, you might even get a little choked up with nostalgia if you grew up in the 90s, because it perfectly encapsulates everything about the time.
5 Seinfeld: had a cast of comedy legends.
Friends did produce its fair share of stars (the most notable probably being Jennifer Aniston), but not quite to the same level of Seinfeld. For starters, Seinfeld boasts one of the richest comedians in the entire world: Jerry Seinfeld himself.
Then there’s Larry David, who went on to find success with other shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm. And who could forget Julia Louis-Dreyfus who played one of the most popular sitcom characters ever in Elaine Benes?
4 Friends: had awesome guest stars
Both sitcoms had amazing guest stars, so it’s hard to pick just one for this honor, but Friends’ are slightly more memorable. Many of the big-name actors who appeared on Seinfeld weren’t very famous at the time they joined, whereas Friends had people like Reese Witherspoon, Brad Pitt, and Christina Applegate, all of whom were in their prime.
That’s hardly all, though. Big names like Susan Sarandon, Billy Crystal, Charlie Sheen, Noah Wyle, George Clooney, and Bruce Willis all featured. Just about anyone who was big on television or even in films in the 90s showed up on Friends at least once.
3 Seinfeld: had hilarious side characters
However, even though Friends may have had more memorable celebrity guest spots, Seinfeld had funnier side characters, some of whom were also played by big-name actors at the time.
Friends had fun side characters too (Janice, anyone?), but Seinfeld wins in this category. Seinfeld had iconic figures like Mr. Pitt, Puddy, Mr. Kruger, Jackie Chiles, Uncle Leo, Ruthie, and more! Having many of the side characters recur helped provide Seinfeld with its unchanging world. These are just typical bad people living their normal mundane lives, yet somehow it was hilarious.
2 Friends: is still incredibly relevant today
Some of the jokes on Friends are incredibly outdated (as are several on Seinfeld), and it still doesn’t make sense how they could afford those nice apartments in New York, but Friends is still a timeless show. Watching it while you’re in your twenties will be a seriously relatable experience, as you see Rachel and Monica try and find their dream jobs, Joey try to break into acting, and Ross go through all his romantic troubles.
The characters are just relatable to a point where you feel like you know them. Sometimes, the situations they get themselves into are eerily similar to things that happen in your own life!
1 Seinfeld: was a show where nothing happened
Seinfeld was a sitcom where, technically, nothing really happened. We mentioned the infamous Chinese restaurant episode earlier. Nothing happened in that episode beyond the characters waiting for their table, and yet it’s commonly hailed one of the best episodes of the entire series.
Somehow these brilliant writers created a series with detestable human beings that do nothing and don’t change, yet it became iconic and changed sitcoms formats forever. Seinfeld perfected bottle episodes and created its own tropes that other shows would follow after.