How are Friends and Seinfeld different? Which one is better? It has been an epic debate since the two shows aired and continues today. Seinfeld and Friends have very similar cast types. Seinfeld boasts four single adults in New York while Friends has six main cast members... living in New York. The stories in both shows are very much based in reality, as there are no sci-fi story lines and the characters in Friends even grow as the seasons move forward in time and seem to learn from their past experiences that we experienced with them on the show. That happens to be a very cool thing for a sitcom to do, however, it just happens to be less funny than a group of four who never seem to learn anything from their mistakes and repeat the same patterns because they are quite simply jerks.
Well, welcome to reality. Most people in the world are selfish jerks just like the cast of Seinfeld. The show knew this and it didn’t take long for the public to realize that this was relatable to them. More relatable than any story in Friends. Not that the stories in Friends are not relatable, but they are just so emotional and over the top that everyone knows when those stories are happening to them because they are big moments in their lives. A wedding, a death, meeting someone you thought you’d never get along with but then do, the birth of a child, multiple children. None of these stories need to be related to TV because if you are living through it, then you have much more important things on your plate. It is really rare that you will hear someone say, “wow, this is such a Friends moment.” However, you constantly hear people comparing their every-day life to Seinfeld. That was the genius of the show. The fact that any normal situation you might be going through in life was possibly a moment in Seinfeld. A Seinfeld moment if you will.
This list is just to show how Seinfeld is better than Friends. Why Friends? Well they were on roughly throughout the same years and they are really two completely different types of TV shows but the argument always persists as to which is the better show. This list however, is not to diminish Friends. It was a great show and still one of my personal favorites, but if the standard is just purely comedy and laughs, Seinfeld stands atop the sitcom world and does not even bother to look down.
8 The minutia
“What did you do today?”
“I got up and came to work.”
“There’s a show, that’s a show”
That was the simple concept Jerry and George used to pitch the show to NBC. Of course that was in the scope of the sitcom on TV but Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld claim that the meeting in real life went pretty close to along those lines. Of course the show seems more complicated, but is it really? Sitting around the coffee shop and talking to your friends about every little minutia of life because they are your friends, is what normal people do because you see them every day. It’s not always some big event, there isn’t always something going on in your life. Seinfeld was funny because not every conversation NEEDED to drive the story forward. There was no story; the characters were just living, like we do.
7 The Not Caring
“Is this about me?”
“Then I've lost interest”
People, for the most part, are selfish. Sure there are kind people, but overall, people are out for themselves. The characters in Seinfeld are no different. They do not lean on each other for moral support, in fact, it is quite often the opposite. They air their problems knowing that they will likely get made fun of by the other members of the group.
On Friends, on the other hand, they will always pass up a good joke opportunity to show how the six cast members would help each other out or tell each other some random advice. Sure they teased each other sometimes but the moral fibre was always there and that is just not as funny as none.
6 The No Tears
“What is this salty discharge?”
“Oh my God, you’re crying.”
“This is horrible! I care!”
What I mean by this point is the fact that never, not once in the entirety of the nine seasons, did Seinfeld attempt to provoke a fake reaction of crying. Seinfeld only went to hit with laughs at that is all. They did do a wedding episode. It was the most epic and genius episodes of all time. So much so that it is a number on the list all on its own.
5 The Funny
“You can’t be out there, because I am out there, and if I see you out there, there is not enough voltage in this world to electroshock me back into coherence!”
It is a pretty obvious answer, but the actual comedy on the show is just better than every other show. Is this a matter of opinion? Sure, but what isn’t? Seinfeld always goes for the laugh at the expense of anything else. It is admirable for a show to do that. It was the first of its kind really. Shows in the 80s-90s always seemed to try to teach you a lesson. Maybe that is why we are good kids today but it really sacrificed some of the humor. Seinfeld did not teach any lessons. Ever!
4 The Wedding
“She didn’t want me in India; well here I am with a bunch of my Idiot Friends”
“This is going to be great!”
Every sitcom at some point has that monumental wedding episode, where stories of love are tied up and all that nonsense. Friends had several of them in fact. Most were epic, and romantic and whatever else they were aiming for, but again, what was Seinfeld aiming for in their wedding special? Laughs! What else? The episode was named "The Betrayal" and it was very special because they did something epic. They aired the entire episode backwards. It started at the end and just continued backwards in whatever increment of time that made the next joke funny. No sap, no romance. Just comedy, that is how it is done.
3 The Elaine
“Hey, look at these! Cinco de Mayö...Sales Commission Bye bye-o”
Perhaps a weird category when all the other characters are likely funnier than Elaine. George is just classic and Jerry is great, obviously. Kramer is a hipster doofus who always gets the laugh, but Elaine, as the woman is what really gives the show a unique style that you do not get in a Friends type show. In Friends, all the women have that typical woman stereotype attached to their character. Elaine has none of that. She is practically a man in how she interacts with others and her friends. She is crass and has problems with men, but even bigger problems with women who all hate her. Her character and sense of humor make her a unique woman on television and simply funnier than most other women.
2 The Secondary Characters
“Mark my words Seinfeld and mark them well, your day of reckoning is coming, when an evil wind will blow through your little playworld and wipe that smug smile off your face. And I’ll be there, in all my glory, watching, laughing as it all comes crumbling down!”
The list of secondary characters in Seinfeld can go on forever. The list starting of course with Newman and Frank Costanza, both of whom could have likely been categories by themselves. Every show has secondary characters, but why are Seinfeld’s so special? Firstly, Seinfeld uses their secondary characters in more than one episode. Sure there are sometimes girlfriends or friends that you only see once. Most of the time though, you have characters that recur and usually pop out of nowhere. These characters become part of what you love about the show because they are so funny and memorable that it is almost as though they are regulars on the show. Everyone who knows anything about Seinfeld can quote several David Puddy Lines. Patrick Warburton portrayed the character of Puddy in only 9 episodes!
Contrarily in Friends, characters may appear once and rarely every appear again. Gunther is always there but he provides barely any comic relief. It is the same trap they always fall into, as any secondary character are not necessarily there to provide laughs but to advance the story of the episode and that is all.
1 The Seinfeld-isms
Those are examples of just a few Seinfeld-isms, as they have been known to be called. Words that the show made up or used as a manner of explaining something in fairly simple terms or making it funny. You end up using these words in everyday language and not even realize it. Well, those terms are from Seinfeld and the show gave us a many of them. Rarely do you remember any words that are just from Friends. Seinfeld did it and did it to perfection and we as a society will always remember and not only that, use them!