15 years after it went off the air, Friends remains one of the most popular TV series in the world. Millions of people still tune in to see the reruns every day, not to mention all the people who are streaming it online. The show picks up new millennial fans all the time.
With Warner Bros. announcing it’ll take Friends back from Netflix when it launches its own streaming service, fans of the show will be left high and dry before they know it. They’ll need some other shows to fill the void. So, with that in mind, here are 10 Shows To Watch If You Like Friends.
10 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This Netflix comedy series from Tina Fey recently premiered its final episodes, so new viewers have the luxury of being able to watch the story play out from start to finish. There’ll be no waiting for months on end while the cast and crew shoot new episodes for viewers who go in fresh today.
They can binge from the pilot episode to the series finale in a weekend if they want to. Like Friends, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a show about a group of people struggling to make money, date people, and figure out their futures in New York City. It also has episodes that play around with the format and long-running story arcs that keep you invested. Plus, the cast is fantastic.
Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David and starring the former, this is the darker, more cynical version of Friends. It has the same premise of a group of buddies in New York City who get into wacky situations. In fact, a lot of the early episodes of Friends were based on spec scripts that were rejected by the producers of Seinfeld.
The characters are very different and the sensibility is very different, but due to the unique nature of life in New York City, the stories and situations are very similar. Seinfeld is more tightly plotted than Friends, too, so you might even like it more.
8 The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is currently airing its final season, and in May, we’ll know how the series ends. The show didn’t start off that much like Friends, but it slowly evolved to an ensemble show about a group of both men and women as they tackle friendship and work and the dating scene.
It turned an alienating show about a bunch of geeky scientists who enjoy cosplay and video games into a much more accessible and mainstream ensemble show. The transition has had both defenders and detractors, but one thing is for sure – fans of Friends will love it.
Long before he co-created Rick and Morty with Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon created this sitcom for NBC about a Spanish study group at a community college. Fans of Friends will enjoy Community for its eclectic ensemble cast, and that cast includes all kinds of big names: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover, Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, the list goes on.
Community has an intriguing meta sense of humor, a unique and brilliant style of storytelling, and a diverse cast of characters. Fans of Friends, or just TV in general, will fall in love with it.
Cheers set the template for the ensemble sitcoms that dominated the ‘90s. It was hugely popular and created a lot of the tropes that Friends would go on to make iconic. Sam and Diane were the original Ross and Rachel. Instead of hanging out at a coffee shop in New York, the characters hang out at a bar in Boston, but it’s the same sort of thing.
While the characters of Friends are all the same age and going through more or less the same thing, the characters of Cheers are a bunch of different ages from all different walks of society. That’s the beauty of the bar setting: staff and customers bonding over a beer, guest characters coming in and out etc.
5 Parks and Recreation
What a lot of people like about Friends is that it’s funny without being cynical. A lot of comedies these days have characters who hate each other and yell all the time. This can be funny, but it’s also exhausting. It’s nice to have a show where the characters get along and treat each other with respect and make you laugh while they have a good time.
4 Will & Grace
This is not only a classic sitcom, but it is also a terrific social monument. This is the show that made Barack Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. Biden said, “I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public [on LGBT issues] than almost anything anybody has ever done so far.”
The show was a bold move after ABC canceled Ellen DeGeneres’ sitcom for having an episode where she comes out as gay. It’s about the friendship of a gay man and a straight woman, and it’s of the same era of progressive sitcoms as Friends.
3 Freaks and Geeks
It could be argued that the dynamic of Friends works so well because it splits its lead characters into two groups: the guys and the girls. Well, this nostalgic ‘80s-set dramedy from producer Judd Apatow does the same thing, separating its characters into the titular groups of freaks and geeks. They’re connected by one of the freaks being the older sister of one of the geeks.
It made stars out of Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps, and James Franco. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after just one season – but it’s one of the greatest seasons of television ever made.
2 New Girl
While this show is set in Los Angeles, it does have a similar premise of a group of friends who all hang out in an apartment and talk about their love lives and their work lives. This one also has an on/off romance between two of its main characters, replacing ditzy Jennifer Aniston and intellectual David Schwimmer with adorkable Zooey Deschanel and slacker Jake Johnson.
Like Friends, New Girl has both moments of hilarity that make your sides hurt and moments of drama that hit you in the feels. The show wrapped up its seventh and final season in 2018, so it’s perfect for binge-watchers.
1 How I Met Your Mother
This show is often compared unfavorably to Friends, because on the surface, it may appear to be a rip-off. It’s about a group of friends in New York (albeit with three men and two women as opposed to three of each). Two of them have an on/off relationship, two of them are married, and one of them is a chauvinistic womanizer.
So, it may seem like it ripped off Friends. But really, all it’s guilty of is taking the simplistic premise of Friends to the next level with nonlinear storytelling and experimentations with the format. It’s like if Friends had the complex writing and plotting of Arrested Development.