Is How I Met Your Mother better than Friends?

Written by Morgan Stavrinou.


Early Introductions.

There’s a big chance you have either heard of, or watched the hit sitcom TV show, Friends. It’s the most-watched show of all time, due to it being seen over 100 billion times worldwide, with funny characters and enjoyable plot lines. It’s a great show to watch with the family or to just have on in the background. However, after watching it multiple times, another show has had a bigger impact on me. It doesn’t get as much recognition and is usually compared to the popular show Friends due to similar tropes and that they are both set in New York City. This show is How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM). In my (controversial) opinion, it’s the best sitcom out there and overshadows Friends due to the detailed storylines and long-term inside jokes. I enjoy watching both shows, however, I tend to always favour HIMYM over Friends and here is why.

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Friends is a comedy show that first aired on the 22nd of September in 1994 and was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, the show lasted for 10 seasons. ‘ANALYZING TELEVISION Class Blog’ mentioned that it had around “23 million viewers per episode.” It follows the chaotic lives of a group of friends who are living in Manhattan and their adventures with relationships and careers. The main characters consist of Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing, Phoebe Buffay, Ross and Monica Gellar and later in episode one, we are introduced to Rachel Green who arrives in a wedding dress looking for her old friend Monica, this ends up positively changing up the group dynamic as the gang helps Rachel get through everyday life in the big city without having to rely on her father. The group can usually be found in Central Perk a café, where Phoebe is poorly singing and playing the guitar or Monica’s apartment where Joey is caught raiding the fridge.

Even though this show is very popular, due to it coming out in 1994 and being nearly 30 years old, it hasn’t aged well as it holds a lot of racist, sexist, and homophobic comments which were, unfortunately, acceptable in those times. However, they don’t come across well in today’s generation. There is a lack of representation and when there is, it’s turned into a joke. For example, Chandler’s dad who came out as gay and dressed as a woman ended up having lots of jokes surrounding the topic. Samantha Riedel from the website ‘THEM’ pointed out that throughout the show “Charles Bing’s gender identity is mangled”. Not giving the audience a clear idea of Charles’ pronouns or respect towards the LGBTQ community. Even though there is a lot of controversial comments and jokes, people still watch this show a lot today because the characters are funny and easy to relate to.


How I Got Into Friends.

I came across Friends when I was young, as my family are very big fans and always had it on in the background. I have fond memories of me crawling into my mum’s bed with her watching the show and annoying her by asking hundreds of questions on what’s going on.

I even went to the 2017 Friend’s Fest, a festival that lets you visit the iconic sets and gives you the chance to look at props. This was a great day and let me have a good look at how the show was filmed as well as find out information about props and sets and I was even able to buy merchandise such as clothes and mugs.

I tend to put Friends on now for something easy to listen to in the background meaning I don’t have to pay much attention; however, I do still find it funny and tend to laugh at the show’s humour. I get told I remind people of the character Monica, as we have a similar hair colour and that we are both level-headed and often like to help others.

How I Met Your Mother.

19th of September 2005 is when How I Met Your Mother first came out. The sitcom was created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and ended up lasting for nine seasons while having over 11 million viewers. We are introduced to one of the main characters Ted Mosby, who is narrating the story to his two children, Luke, and Penny in 2030 and explains how he met their mother. He starts the long story off from when he was in his twenties. Living with his friends from college, Lily and Marshall, a newly engaged couple and the audience gets a chance to meet Barney Stinson, another member of the group. Like Friends, we meet Robin soon into episode one, where she ends up making a big impact on the friendship group by becoming a love interest to Ted and Barney. Their main hang out place was Maclaren’s Pub, an Irish bar which is located on the Upper West Side of New York City, where they tend to always make up bets and share stories. We get to see the characters go through heartache, career struggles and family problems, which give the audience a chance to relate to a lot of the characters on the show as well as their dilemmas and conflicts trying to make their way through the wild city. It’s also a very funny show that includes lots of jokes as well as romance and serious heart-breaking moments that forces you to watch and feel for the characters.

I think that’s a big reason why I love this show so much because it highlights real problems that you can face in your own life and makes you feel something. By watching all the bets and inside jokes they create on the show, you feel a part of the friendship group.

With the chance to laugh with the group at Barney’s ducky tie, or his and Marshall slap bet that goes on for the full eight seasons (after being introduced in the second season after finding out that Robin was a teenage pop star.)

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What Makes How I Met Your Mother Unique?.

So many easter eggs, time skips, wardrobe, props, and sets impact the show. Everything is strategically plotted ever since the first episode which helps lead us and Ted to the mother. Because the cast doesn’t perform in front of a live cast, it gave the creators the freedom to produce as many flashbacks and forwards throughout the seasons which help us understand the character’s histories and how they matured, but it was just all-around really fun to watch. Max Nicholson on ‘IGN’ States that “One of the things that set How I Met Your Mother apart from other comedies was that it was unafraid of letting its characters grow.” I agree with this sentence a lot, and it’s something I will go into when comparing it to Friends. But the characters grow and mature throughout the seasons giving them different life goals and morals, which changes throughout the show. Also ‘HIMYM’ is supported by Ted Mosby’s narration of the story, this hasn’t been done before in a sitcom and it helps the audience catch up on past episodes. The narration also, helps us understand what’s going on. 

How I Got Into How I Met Your Mother.

How I Met Your Mother was usually on television when I was younger and I used to catch an episode or two whenever it was on, I never really gave the show much thought at first until it was put on Netflix in 2015. I started watching all the episodes in order from start to finish and became obsessed. I loved the characters and the plot due to their fun nature and always got shocked when watching the cliff-hangers and plot twists, this made the show much more interesting for me. I watch this show whenever I’m happy, sad, or stressed, it makes me feel much better and distracts me from any problems I’m facing. I even recommend the series to my friends and family members as I love talking about the show and what their opinion is on it. I relate to Marshall Erikson a lot as I get told a lot I am very kind-natured, and I always want to do the best for the environment. He is my favourite character in the series, to me, he is fun-loving and caring, Marshall always wants to be the best for his friends and family.

So back to the question, Is How I Met Your Mother better than Friends? I believe yes, it is. How I Met Your Mother has more of a detailed story as there are many times skips that influence the plot and a bunch of interesting characters that come from different backgrounds that point out how they grew up and how that influenced them when they were adults. Friends don’t have this compared to HIMYM and only have a few flashbacks that barely influences the story in a way it does with the other show.

Some characters do get some redemption, for example, Rachel, becoming more independent and career-focused the more the series goes on, even if she still lacks a certain maturity. While Joey, on the other hand, is the same since the start of the show and is only being used as a gag character and seen as a child by his peers. He never really makes it big in his career and ends up only landing a few minor roles and tends to lose jobs as well as often forget about auditions. I think Joey could have a lot more going for him with his acting career as well as maturing from his womanising ways.

Characters in How I met your mother, start young and inexperienced, however, towards the end they all are different from how the show starts and you can tell what they have all gone through. For one example, Barney (often who gets compared to Joey) the most favourited and intense role, starts as a character who cares about no one except himself, and lies whenever he gets a chance for personal gain, but during the end of the show, we see him get into three serious relationships and even get married. He stops his lying ways to prove himself to Robin which shows how much he matured since season one. In the last episode, we are surprised with the fact he has a child, and it’s evident that his personality drastically changes so much, flashforwards highlights how much he has improved by having a daughter and ends up being a nicer character.

As the audience we know that Barney is okay and happy, giving us closure. While mentioning Barney, someone on Reddit by the name of estyll11 says “I know Barney isn’t exactly the most realistic character, but a lot of his struggles felt very real, and impactful to me as a viewer.” I agree with what they are saying and wanted to express, he has real problems from his childhood that many people can empathise with.

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The sitcom isn’t always turned into a joke and shows that it’s okay to have problems. Friends often turn serious problems into a joke and doesn’t let the characters learn from the conflicts they face. An example that comes to mind is the episode where Ross’s and Monica’s grandmother passes away, they didn’t seem that bothered and the creators turned this terrible event into a gag as the grandmother ends up making a noise which ends up scaring Ross and Monica, creating a laugh from the live audience. Even watching their grandmother die, after getting a nurse, they come out of the room and earned another laugh from the audience when Ross is caught saying, “Now she’s dead”. I just think this scene doesn’t compare to when Marshall’s father passed away, it is heart-breaking to watch, and it stops you from looking away which forces you to pay attention. There is even a countdown throughout the episode which is a cool easter egg letting us know when the scene is coming. Marshall breaks down to Lilly after hearing about his dad’s heart attack, which helps us realise how strong their relationship is  and how close they are.

The passing of his father affects him for multiple episodes and brings Marshall into a dark place moving back to his hometown in Minnesota. As the audience this is away, we can relate to how Marshall is reacting and lets us know we aren’t alone whenever in this type of situation. I think How I Met Your Mother did a better job at these types of deep scenes as there wasn’t a laugh track, which makes the show feel much more real. They also let all the characters grow from the situation and shows how it affects all of them, by making them think of their relationships with their fathers, it even influences Barney to find his father who left him when he was young. We can also see how his family members react to his passing and how upset Marshall’s mother and brothers are, we get to hear about their final moments with their dad. This is a beautiful scene as it highlights how close of a family they are. While Friends just focus one episode on it, and their grandmothers passing doesn’t have a big impact on them, and the creators mainly care about making as many jokes as they can.


After watching Kross’s video called “Why How I Met Your Mother is better than Friends │Definitive Edition” on YouTube. He made a good point saying that Friends sends a message saying that Love beats all which isn’t a great lesson to teach. How I Met Your Mother gives out problems and shows the characters trying different ways to get around it. While Friends focuses on fixing relationships that wouldn’t work out in the real world, an example that comes to mind is the last episode of friends where Ross admits he loves Rachel and wants to stop her from going to Paris for her dream job. She ends up getting off the plane last minute and they are together before the show ends. This teaches its viewers that for love you should forget about everything you want as well as great opportunities for someone. Ross and Rachel’s relationship has always been rocky due to Ross’s controlling behaviour, not trusting her and not wanting her to be independent. Bringing them back together doesn’t seem like a good idea, and I don’t think they are good together. However, with ‘HIMYM’, we get Ted being turned down by Robin after confessing his love for her, this shows off growth with Robin and that she wants to focus on her career and understands that she and Ted both have different life goals.

HIMYM Copying Friends?

Whenever I bring up my opinions about the two shows, I always hear the same argument which is that How I Met Your Mother copies friends. Truthfully, HIMYM did come out a year after Friends ended meaning that the show could be heavily influenced. I do agree with the fact there are similar plots and similar characteristics within the groups, but if you watch any sitcom out there, they will also include tropes from Friends due to how popular the show is. A show that comes to mind is New Girl, this sitcom is about roommates who met the main character (Jess) in the first episode and ends up inviting her to move into their apartment, Jess ends up falling for Nick, one of the roommates, which draws several parallels to both Friends and How I Met Your Mother. For this point, I don’t agree that How I Met Your Mother copied friends. But on the other hand, I will agree that it was influenced and does contain similar romance and friend dynamics, yet so do hundreds of other shows.

In Friends’ Defence.

In Friends’ defence, it did come out in the ’90s, there weren’t many ways to edit and, Netflix or other streaming services were not a thing, so the reason the storylines weren’t as detailed is that the only time you could watch the show was whenever it was on TV. Now, you could go on Disney Plus and watch How I Met Your Mother from start to finish without missing any episodes, however with Friends, fans didn’t have that luxury, so the easier the plotline was, the easier it is to watch from any episode. I understand why people love the show, the number of jokes it has as well as how likeable the characters are, it’s fun and easy to watch. There are many different reasons why people watch it, whether it’s their comfort show or because of how enjoyable it is. Viewers can always find a character to relate to or favour, making it more personal when watching.

Friends has always been in my life and I will never say I dislike it, there are great components to it and always makes me feel happy by making me laugh, which is what the show was made for.

Last Thoughts.

I love both shows and think they both have great qualities, I agree with the statement from cleimk27 on the site, Reddit which shares their opinion that “Friends is funnier, ‘HIMYM’ has a better story” I do strongly like Friends, and always have a good time watching it as there’s a lot of fun jokes and storylines in there, however, I think How I Met Your Mother just upstages it with how detailed and real it is. I will continue to watch both shows and share my opinions on the two, but at this moment, I’m glad I have the chance to show off why I believe How I Met Your Mother is the better show out of the two.



Photos from:

-Kevin Mazur on Getty Images – Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox.

-Elton John Aids Foundation on Getty Images – Neil Patrick Harris.

-Araya Doheny on Getty Images – Matt Le Blanc.

-Lisa Lake on Getty Images – Jason Segel.

-Lead Photo by JESHOOTS on Pexels.

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