How I Met Your Mother is better than Friends. There. I said it. I will say it a hundred times over if I have to. But I hope I never have to have this conversation again. HIMYM just gave me a very complete watcher’s experience and here’s why:
From the very opening scene, we knew what we were working towards. With HIMYM, we always knew we were building up to something, we always had something to look forward to. That something was the eventual meeting of the mother. And the writers knew that no one would give up on HIMYM without in fact meeting the mother. With Friends , we just watched because it was good, but there was never anything to look forward to.
The character arcs
The characters in both sitcoms were great. The character arcs were handled differently. In Friends, none of the characters displayed all that much growth. Fine, Chandler grew out of his defences and got married and Rachel had a pretty decent growth curve but nowhere as decent as the curves on HIMYM.
The most obvious being Barney who at the beginning was only interested in getting laid but at the end, he had genuinely had feelings for Nora and Quinn and even married Robin. The height of Barney’s growth was the first time he held his baby in his hands.
Ted also went from being borderline obsessed to Robin to helping her and Barney get together and even acted as best man at their wedding. Marshall went from being a naive wide eyed Minnesota boy to a supreme court judge. Lily went from struggling artist, who freaked out over getting married to an art dealer and a mum to three children. Robin went from a commitment-phobe who was hell bent on having a kick-ass career to realising that while the career was good, it was not everything.
Ross vs Ted
Ross and Ted were alike in a couple of ways. They are both professors, they are both pretty smart, both pretty pretentious and they are show offs when it comes to how much they know. Ted wins this one because this is not all he was. Ted made sacrifices for his friends, he was deliberately funny ( and not whiny like Ross). Even romantically, Ted stole the blue french horn for Robin and got a string quartet to play at her apartment and searched high and low to bring back Robin’s lost locket. Ross just held the phone like a stupid as he waited for Rachel to get off the plane.
Rachel vs Robin
I love Rachel mostly because I love Jennifer Aniston. But Rachel just played into too many stereotypes. The blonde girl who is spoiled and not too bright and everyone falls in love with her. Robin was my kind of girl. She was a badass. She had guns, she started bar fights, she landed a helicopter, she had killed a bear once.
Joey vs Barney
Joey was “the player”in Friends but he never had a thing on Barney Stinson. Where Joey’s go to was always “How You Doing?”, Barney worked at his craft. He had the bro code and the playbook both which he revered. Why say “How You Doing” when you can do the Lorenzo Van Matterhorn.
Lily vs Monica
Where Monica was a control freak who kind of mothered the rest of the group, Lily did the same but very overtly. She was more nuanced. Lily could have fun. from being drunk at her wedding, to being slap bet commissioner to Aldrin Justice to being a master manipulator…she was just more fun to watch.
Chandler vs Marshall
I understood where Chandler’s sarcasm came from. He had a traumatic childhood but still. His sarcasm was a defence mechanism but eventually, it got old. The one thing that defined him was his sarcasm. Marshall on the other hand was better developed. He was a giant with a heart of gold, who believed in Big Foot and believed in miracles. What’s even better? We all knew what Marshall did for a job. Lawyered. Big Fudge. Judge Fudge. Fudge Supreme.
Friends had some cool running gags but HIMYM did this so well. Where Friends had “Smelly Cat”and “Ugly Naked Guy”, HIMYM had a number of these. They had the slap bet and the pineapple incident, and the cockamouse and the slutty pumpkin. It just worked better.
Central Perk was cool. It was even funnier that one time when the Friends gang got there to find other people sitting in their spot. MacLarens on HIMYM felt like a minor character on the show. And because it was a bar, it gave you the most basic idea of how the characters behaved. A lot of shenangans happened at MacLarens, hell, it was called Puzzles, once.
Overall, HIMYM won this one because it went beyond just being comedic. There was a perfect balance between the comic aspect and the dramatic aspect. HIMYM wasn’t just chasing laughs, it tried to show what its like and how long a road it is to eventually find “The One”.