Six white complainers: Ten friendship sitcoms better than ‘Friends’
Fifteen years ago on May 6th, Friends aired its last ever episode and 52.5 million viewers tuned in to say goodbye to the iconic sitcom. Ross and Rachel got back together for the hundredth time! Somebody adopted a baby! Joey ate a sandwich (probably)! Phoebe possibly did something involving incense and her grandmother’s ghost, but we’re not entirely certain and don’t care enough to look it up.
The point is, the show finished and actually, we were pretty glad to see it go. Sure it had its moments; the duck and the chick were a nice addition and Paul Rudd (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) was a friendly face we were all too happy to land our eyes on.
We’ve seen plenty of great sitcoms come before, during, and after Friends’s reign that explore friendships in the big city in a much funnier and better way than the Warner Bros. comedy ever did. Here’s our ranking of ten sitcoms that do friendship funnier than Friends ever did.
10. Will & Grace (1998 – )
Sharing the same big city, white privilege perspective of Friends (but without any of the show’s rampant homophobia), Will & Grace isn’t perfect, but it least has the tenacity to poke fun at its own foibles. In Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally), the show is able to poke fun at its own stereotypes of upper class lifestyles and queer stereotypes. Friends was always too poe-faced to do the same.
9. Community (2009 – 2015)
Proving that shows about friendship and opposing personalities just trying to get along can extend well beyond living quarters, Community offers a shrewd twist on the basic sitcom.
Starring Donald Glover (Atlanta), Gillian Jacobs (Love), Alison Brie (The Disaster Artist), and Joel McHale (Assassination Nation), Dan Harmon’s often meta-comedy is full of surprises and moments of startling warmth that don’t feel overly saccharine.
8. Seinfeld (1989 – 1998)
The true reigning champ of 90’s NYC sitcoms has always and will always be Seinfeld. Ostensibly a show about “nothing”, it still has a great deal more to say (via the neurotic antics of characters played by Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander) than Friends ever did.
7. Living Single (1993 – 1998)
Vastly underrated by comparison to Friends, Living Single dared to explore a similar narrative that (gasp!) didn’t just revolve around white people. Starring Queen Latifah (Chicago), Kim Coles (One on One), and Erika Alexander (Get Out), the show is a sitcom staple that serves up just as many jokes as Friends does but without any of the smugness.
6. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015 – )
Tina Fey’s Netflix Originals series is full of sly references to Friends (including a guest appearance from Lisa Kudrow and a reference to the show being known as “six white complainers”), which makes sense considering the show apes a lot of the sitcom’s tropes.
While Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) almost evinsions her life to be as picture perfect as that of the Friends gang, it’s actually the polar opposite, including the cramped rundown apartment she shares with Titus (Tituss Burgess) while struggling for money in New York.
5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – )
Offering an anarchic respite to wholesome friendship sitcoms where each character isn’t a blatant psychopath or moron, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is like the dark underside of Friends.
The one where Danny DeVito (who also appeared in the 90s sitcom as a stripper), Charlie Day (Pacific Rim), Rob McElhenney (The Devil’s Own), Glenn Howerton (The Strangers), and Kaitlin Olson (The Mick) are simply stuck with each other, and probably not through choice.
4. Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)
From the outside, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur’s work-based comedy might not seem like it has much in common with Friends, but in the sitcom’s exploration of how a group of people with very little in common find common ground, Parks and Recreation offers a sweet (and very funny) look at the nature of friendships.
3. Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 (2012 – 2013)
Nahnatchka Kahn’s (sadly) short-lived sitcom could almost be considered a parody of Friends’s wholesome and privileged version of New York. Friends has a gang of half-wits with low salaries and impossibly large apartments that included characters like an ugly naked guy and a failed actor.
Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 features an impossibly large NYC apartment paid for by the immoral hustling of Chloe (Krysten Ritter), a perpetually masturbating pervert (Michael Blaiklock), and a legit actor living for his vanquished glory days (James Van Der Beek). Also, it’s impossibly funny. Something that Friends never is.
2. Broad City (2014 – )
Though the friendship group of the Comedy Central sitcom might be as big as that of Friends, it’s far more realistic, hilarious, and heartfelt. The fellow New York based comedy stars Ilana Glazer (Rough Night) & Abbi Jacobson (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) as two fronds till the ond who get high, go on big city adventures, and muse about the mysteries of womanhood and life.
1. Happy Endings (2011 – 2013)
It breaks our heart to this day to think about how much more hilarity was still left in David Caspe’s show before it was rudely cancelled long before its time. Following a diverse friendship group with wonderfully differing personalities, the show seems like an obvious successor to Friends while also improving upon the basic concept of the show.
Happy Endings also features one of the strongest sitcom casts ever assembled, including Eliza Coupe (Future Man), Adam Pally (Dirty Grandpa), Zachary Knighton (The Hitcher), Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door), Damon Wayans Jr. (The Other Guys), and Casey Wilson (Gone Girl).
I know it’s British and many Americans probably wouldn’t agree but to my mind Coupling is a strong contender for #1!May 6, 2021