Since the dawn of mankind, fanboyism has existed, in every form- from vicious to playful, from peaceful to bloody and from Friends to How I Met Your Mother. The last one was a surprise; I think not. Forget Marvel vs. DC. FRIENDS vs. HIMYM is a separate zone, a separate warzone and a separate genre, a genre called sitcoms.
It all started with the advent of the television revolution in American industry in the early 1990s with David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. All of a sudden, television was not an idiot box anymore, and people were taking it seriously. In 1994 debuted Friends, a quirky story about a group of 20 somethings chilling out at a public place and living the best years of their lives. Fast forward to the mid-2000s, debuted How I Met Your Mother, a quirky story about a group of 20 somethings chilling out at a public place and living the best years of their lives. Seems like How I Met Your Mother was a blatant rip-off of the former.
Not so fast! There is more to it, way more.
As a fan of How I Met Your Mother, I admire Friends, because it makes me laugh at certain places and laugh out loud at many others. To be frank, other than a couple of emotional moments here and there, there is not a lot more to FRIENDS than laughs. If you want to multiply your red blood cells exponentially, I’d suggest you stick with FRIENDS.
But when it comes to How I Met Your Mother, things go way deeper than the surface, to the cores of the myriad of human emotions such as jealousy, loneliness, melancholy, troubled childhoods and heartbreaks. Laughter is a constant, but what separates it from its older counterpart is the fact that HIMYM does make you shed some bittersweet at many places.
By the end of it all, after viewing the last episode, as you reach out for a tissue to wipe away your tears, you are left wondering who the hell even compares Friends with this sitcom? That’s exactly what I felt when I finished watching HIMYM in 2015.
Now that was it for what separates both. Both have their own audiences and both audiences have their very own reasons to love or hate one another. But isn’t it ultimately a win-win situation for the viewers to have access to two legendary best American sitcoms?
I’m not gonna lie, neither am I gonna act like a diplomat here. I ain’t no Saint. I have my own bias for How I Met Your Mother. There has been nothing more satisfying than watching Ted floating through emotional hell to meet the mother of his kids. Or watching a nice guy as Marshall coping through his father’s death. Or a Barney, whose childhood demons have seeped into his soul, causing a narcissistic adult behavior. While Robin struggles to find a balance between her work and romantic life and Lily struggling to find her own identity as an artist and a wife.
I love the experimental screenplay elements, such as flashback within a flashback within a flashback… I enjoyed the quirky, abstract characters throughout. And mostly, I enjoyed not hearing a deafening cheer whenever a film star made a guest appearance.
Friends offer no character development. No experimental setups, no emotional angles and not great acting, barring Chandler Bing. For years to come, I have come to adjust to the idea that a mere sitcom such as How I Met Your Mother has made me fall in love with myself more. Every pain or heartbreak I go through will pay me handsomely in the end. That’s what I believe. And that’s a great way to live if you look at it in a broader sense.
I have had enough dose of laughter with both Friends and How I Met Your Mother. But hands down, the makers of How I Met Your Mother knew what Friends was lacking, the power to connect. And they made up for it. And while I can’t possibly deny that HIMYM did take some influence from Friends, the disciple has trumped the master, I shall say. My closing lines should be a cliche with a random quote from Barney for the maximum impact. But as a hardcore HIMYM fan, I will experiment with it and say, ‘New is Always Better.’ Yikes!