As minds who've matured during the growing age of tv shows we have seen some really interesting genres unfold. From the sixties till the eighties, Hollywood gave us laugh riots with the likes of the Dick van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Cheers, Golden Girls and its spinoff Empty Nest, and I Love Lucy. However the nineties brought forward a new type of era for TV and especially comedy with shows like Friends, Mad About You, and Everybody loves Raymond. The tides changed as a greater significance for youth came into the picture. The main game changer was Friends which took youth everywhere by storm with the proper depiction of how each and every one of us face issues like unrequited love, failed marriages, divorce, short term relationships, and bad breakups during our 20s. Friends is one of the first shows to bring out the concept of fandoms and was a one of a kind dose of life to which each and every one can relate to. The magic was and remains to this day that all of us are like either of the six friends, or even a fusion of certain ones. What however brought in the need for a more in depth analysis was the arrival of juniors like How I met your Mother and Big Bang Theory. Suddenly from only only comparing actors with roles we also debuted into the art of comparing two tv shows and their characters. The whole phase of Joey vs Barney, Lily vs Monica, and now coming to the main issue: How I met your Mother vs Friends was a very interesting phase.

A comparative overview

Friends is firstly and most importantly about what it clearly says: Friends and friendship. It’s about a group of six friends who meet all the time and hang out at a coffee shop. Their everyday career issues and relationship/dating problems are the basic subjects, along with how their lives converge as they make compromises for each other. How I met your mother also follows the plotline around a group of five individuals whose lives collide at a bar. The two can be summed up in many ways that make them look like identical cousins however both have their own individual essence. The previous more or less is about six friends who meet, talk and share experiences. HIMYM on the other hand is centered around Ted and how he met his main love interest Robin and their relationship throughout the years while being part of a group of five friends who hung out together in a bar. How Ross and Rachel met is something we quite frankly don’t know, we know the basic backstory and see how they meet again and move from there. While being a big plot point that starts everything right at the beginning, however it isn’t what the whole show is about. Also while we’re on this, HIMYM has a bar as the centre whereas while the place of Central Perk used to originally harbor a bar.
Both of them are filled with some epic similarities. Let’s talk about some in more detail and bring out the differences:

Two irresistible womanizers

On one hand we have a goofy, carefree stud and on the other we have a rebellious, cunning, manipulative yet childish guy. Joey doesn’t share his food and Barney doesn’t share his suits. Joey is a struggling actor who likes to eat, sleep, and play it cool. He describes that person in all of us who is very caring but will laugh first when you fall down before helping you up. He might even be the one pushing but will never go too far. Barney is a pleaser, quite literally. He signs stuff without reading and is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. He takes it all as a game and everything’s a “challenge” for him which he needs to win, even with women. Barney is a person who cares for his friends but tries hard to hide it. Where barney shares quite a few characteristics with joe, it isn’t the same otherwise. Plus Joey’s the smooth talker and smooth lover alter ego Barney would say would make him “ordi….wait for it……..nary!!” 

Two love-struck failures

While Ted and Rachel have the “both left at the altar” going on, Ross and him are more characteristically similar as well as by gender so……ya! Both are love-struck, kind hearted idiots who’d sacrifice big for someone they care about and especially for the girl they each love. Where Ted would give Robin away for her happiness Ross would go to lengths to get Rachel the pendant she wanted. Ted and Ross have a lot of base similarities however Ross has a zone of his own, of which he is mayor (Sorry. Just had to.) whereas Ted is in every zone. Although on a serious note that’s still true. Rosshel had ups and downs throughout just like Tobin but Tobin don’t get back together until the end(presumed). Ted is more up the creek whereas Ross is more down river sort of person. Both are crazy about their jobs and have been college professors but Ted is predominantly an architect who cares more about finding the destiny girl, whoever that may be. Ross on the other hand loves only one till the end. While both know each of their soulmates till the end, Ted mentally doesn’t till the end. Both of them are quite descriptive and tend to point out mistakes which truly annoys though.

  One predominant married couple
You can almost see the similarities from the pictures and list the differences. Both are couples who met, and smoothly fell in love and got married. Both have an obsessive girl in the relationship. Finally both have a guy who found it to be the easiest and hardest thing to have gotten who they got. Both Chandler and Marshall numerously state the fact that they both have been bad with women and yet they somehow managed to get someone hotter as well as someone hot. The difference is where the couple of Central Perk are sexually adventurous and accommodating, the Mclaren’s counterpart is fully alike. We see Chandler and Monica complement each other individually but Lily and Marshall are mostly like two people of different gender with identical mentalities. Also Chandler has had quite a few relationships other than Monica whereas Marshall scored one home run and retired from the game.

 Career Goals

I’ll repeat about how both shows have a professor of a subject treated as boring. Apart from that though we have other ones too. We also have a person from each show as having been in show business. Joey and Robin have a basic similarity there. Both shows have a guy who is on the second highest post of a company earning a lot while doing something he doesn’t care much about. While having different reasons and motivation individually, Chandler and Barney have that in common. Both have two people desperately trying to figure out and go with his/her dream career at different points. Friends has Rachel and Chandler while HIMYM has Lily and Marshall.The difference is Chandler was never sure of what he really wanted to do and left his job and went into a search out of frustration.

The Best Friends

Both groups have the two female besties who take the tradition forward. There’s the discussion in both cases, about who’s Ted’s best friend and who’s Ross’s. In many cases Joey gets upset on not being chosen as Chandler and Ross are college pals. The difference is Barney is pretty hell bent as compared to Joey. The females in Friends have a history unlike with Lily and Robin. Monica and Rachel have a deeper friendship while Lily and Robin have a deeper bond with each other.In HIMYM there are two separate male friendships, between Barney and Ted and between Ted and Marshall. In Friends there’s not much chemistry between Ross and Joey. There are only certain times like Joey’s and Ross’s sleeping together where two of the males have their own moments, except for of course Chandler-Joey moments.


There are many other similarities including Ross and Rachel vs Ted and Robin, both having taken time to start and both rekindling back in the end. Barney and Robin vs Joey and Rachel, both happened but only one of them really hit big. We can go on but I think there is a simple place where both shows diverge and that mainly comes to their essence.Friends and HIMYM both teach us lessons that are completely different. The six friends each tell us ways in which we all act or react in life. There’s a Monica and Chandler in every one of us, every person who has faced hardship has a Phoebe in them. Every one of us suffering in love is a Ross just keeping on caring silently for that Rachel who means the world to us. Although fictional themselves, even the characters of HIMYM have in them traits of the six friends which is why they are so similar.
Ted and his friends teach us about the different experiences we will have in life, the ups and downs but unlike with the lives of those six, these five make us see the change taking place over time. Rachel and Ross’s relationship is mainly what we focus on as time goes by, the rest of them have relationships and experiences which don’t seem to make them grow. Even Chandler and Monica have a graph which doesn’t venture uptil the end as after they officially get together their relationship stays more or less stagnant. Ross- Rachel show us that even if there are numerous fights and differences two people who love each other will keep coming back to one another. Meanwhile Ted and Robin symbolize two people who need each other, their lives are connected by “destiny”.

By: Aritro Ghosh


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