Friends was a really special show. It took a very simple yet widely relatable concept and turned it into a hilarious, highly rated, long-running sitcom that people are still watching over and over again today. I love Friends. If it were legal to marry a TV show, I’d marry Friends. Even though I’ve heard fans say certain seasons are weaker than others, I love every single episode. Yes, even the ones with Emily, who bugs me to no end. And obviously a lot of other people felt the same way, because it was consistently in the top ten of the final TV ratings and ran for ten seasons, which is pretty much unheard of for a sitcom these days. Even The Office only made it to nine.
Obviously there were bound to be copycat series. The whole “group of young people of both genders dating and hanging out in the city” concept has been rehashed time and time again since Friends went off the air, to varying degrees of success. In fact, there’s another one airing tonight at 9 PM on CBS called Friends With Better Lives. Come on, it even has Friends in the title! With that in mind, let’s look at just ten of the most notable Friends wannabes to have aired in the last decade, ranked by just how close they came to recreating the magic. In the end, however, they’ve all failed in their quest, because there will never be another Friends. Can you tell I really love Friends?
1. How I Met Your Mother
I think it’s pretty safe to say that off all the post-Friends wannabes, HIMYM has gotten the closest to recreating that success. It’s pretty much the same concept as Friends, with an extra flashback/mystery element thrown in. It’s gotten great reviews, has won awards, and gets good ratings. But most importantly, it’s been running for nine seasons, the last of which comes to an end tonight.
2. Happy Endings
If we’re judging Friends-y success by ratings and acclaim and number of seasons, HIMYM takes the cake. But if we’re judging by what show came closest in content and quality to being the next generation’s Friends, I’m gonna have to hand it to Happy Endings. The characters even compare themselves to the Friends characters in one episode. It really is the same exact concept, except it approaches it in a totally new and interesting style. RIP Happy Endings.
3. The Big Bang Theory
I’ll begrudgingly call this one a success because it’s so highly rated and just got renewed for THREE more years. But I’m just personally not that into it. Carry on.
4. New Girl
Thirty-somethings living together in a funky apartment they would never be able to afford, dating each other and getting up to wacky shenanigans? Very Friends. Unfortunately I think this most recent season has really missed the mark, and the show has lost a good bit of the charm it used to have, so it gets knocked down a few places here.
5. Rules of Engagement
This was always one of those shows I was vaguely aware existed but never watched. If you can believe it, this show aired 100 episodes. If you’re like me and totally missed its run, I can inform you that it was about a group of friends in varying stages of relationships. Sounds sort of like Friends, if you started watching after Chandler and Monica got married.
6. Cougar Town
In addition to starring Monica Geller herself, this show’s a bit like an older-skewing Friends. A bunch of pals who like to hang out and drink wine and form a weird but lovable family. That premise has kept it on the air into five seasons with a devoted fan base, despite its unfortunate title.
7. Friends With Benefits
And now we’re getting into the “Oh, that was a show?” territory. This one was about a group of young people living in Chicago navigating the dating scene. The twist is that two of them were sleeping with each other without commitment. What a concept! This show aired the same year two movies with pretty much identical plots were released, which might have contributed to its early cancellation.
This one also had a bit of Will & Grace thrown in for good measure. But as we know, drawing inspiration from great shows doesn’t always a great show make. And it certainly doesn’t always make for a long-running one. It only got 13 episodes.
More young people navigating the dating world. Except this time it all takes place over the course of one night. So it’s also sort of a 24 rip-off. And from what I’ve heard, it’s quite vulgar and features totally unlikable characters. Something tells me this one won’t last.
A group of 20-somethings move in together in New York City after college and struggle to become functioning adults. Sound familiar? This one aired on ABC Family, so you probably could have predicted its early demise.