It’s no secret that How I Met Your Mother is very similar to Friends. A simple sitcom about a group of friends living in New York City is a recipe for a great show. Ross is Ted, Rachel is Robin, Joey is Barney, Monica is Lily, Chandler is Marshall, and How I Met Your Mother didn’t really have a Phoebe. I watched both shows as a kid and decided to rewatch them a couple years ago, and I couldn’t get through Friends as easily. In fact, I still haven’t gotten through it, so you might think this is why I have this opinion, but How I Met Your Mother is amazing. I hate rewatching shows, but I have seen HIMYM so many times and it never fails to make me laugh and cry. Let’s compare these shows in a few categories.
“Pivot!” “How You Doin?” “We were on a break!” Iconic lines and iconic moments that stick with us after watching the show. I will admit Friends has a good amount of these, and they are amazing, but I am going to say that HIMYM is better. This is because HIMYM had the better continuity for me and more memorable moments. There was always a new thing and so many callbacks. The Slap Bet started in season 2 and continued all the way until season 9. Now, that’s some continuity. It made you feel like you were a part of the group of friends. You all had an inside joke that no one else knew about, which is why I feel HIMYM wins the running gags category. “Challenge Accepted!” “It’s going to be Legen–wait for it–dary.” “Robin Sparkles.” I love it all.
The Plot & Romance
The Ross and Rachel “will they, won’t they” was a central plot in Friends. It had us intrigued if they were ever going to end up together, and we saw the ups and downs of their relationship. HIMYM is just, as the title of the show says, Ted is telling a story to his kids of how he met their mom. We find out from the very first episode that Robin isn’t the mother. While some might feel that the whole “will they, won’t they” plot line is ruined here, it still worked. The intrigue was who was the mother. We saw Ted date so many women, and we wanted to know if this was finally going to be the one. Also, even though we knew Robin wasn’t the mother, we still were interested and almost forget that she isn’t the mother as we see the ups and downs of their relationship. Like we were waiting for him to say sike, Robin is your mom. (Although Robin wasn’t the mother, she did end up with Ted, which made for the controversial ending, but it makes sense since the show focused a lot on their relationship). This is what makes HIMYM better in this regard. There were so much more complexities to the main romance plot.
The Bottom Line
The main difference between these two shows is the tone. Friends is a more positive, warm, inviting show, while HIMYM is the perfect balance between serious and funny. Sad things happen in Friends, but they aren’t dwelled on. HIMYM had so many serious and sad moments that made you think and taught you life lessons. Friends has the less controversial ending, but HIMYM was raw and showed us that things just happen in life, and it was more authentic and real. It really comes down to what you prefer. But, for me, I prefer shows that are more realistic.