Why is Seinfeld better then Friends ? The question that has philosophers pondering. Well they can ease their mind knowing that the reason has been solved here.
1. The Straight Facts
Data is boring but necessary when discussing this topic. During Seinfeld’s fifth season, the show averaged around 30 million viewers (26.6 million on average per season). During their reign, Seinfeld remained in the top two highest ranked television shows. Now you’re probably begging for more facts….. so here are more. Seinfeld had 68 Emmy nominations and 10 wins. They also had 15 Golden Globe nominations and 3 wins. Now lets compare that data with Friends. Friends averaged 23.6 million viewers per season. 3 million less than Seinfeld. Friends had 64 Emmy nominations and 7 wins. 3 less wins then Seinfeld. Friends had 10 Golden Globe nominations and 1 win. 2 less then Seinfeld.
2. The Characters
The characters play a key role in distinguishing between the two shows. Friends has characters who say funny jokes and thats their main attraction. Seinfeld has characters who develop their humor based on unique situations. For example, Kramer does not necessarily have many “one liners” that get the ‘canned’ laughter going. Instead it is his actions that provoke the laughter, making it that much more enjoyable to watch. Sherlock puts it well when he says “Kramer is a funny character, whereas Ross is a character who says funny things”. The characterization is key to ensure each persons lines in Seinfeld are non-interchangeable which cannot be said for Friends.
When I think of this section I think of Family Guy vs. South Park (article coming soon). Both great shows but very different joke setups. Family Guy was very sporadic and random with their punchlines making it hilarious. South Park was much more thought out with their jokes and they often pertained to the situation or contributed to the story line of the episode. I see Friends and Seinfeld in the same way.
Seinfeld being the South Park of the above situation. The characters of Seinfeld are very witty and it shows in their humor. The humor is like a ball being tossed around each character during an exchange. Each character, especially Jerry, has their own unique wit and style of response to add to the situation. Everyone is simply bouncing off one another. In Friends, this is not the case. It usually starts with Chandler making a joke, then the laugh track, then on to the next conversation. Or it starts with Joey saying something ‘dumb’ , the laugh track, and then on to the next conversation. There is not much riffing.
The strength of Seinfeld was their storytelling abilities. Th writers were able to make one peculiar situation into a hilarious episode. An example of this is when the group walks around a parking garage searching for Kramer’s car the entire episode. Yet it does not get boring one bit despite sounding so on paper. The greatest part of that episode is that each character has their own side plot and dilemma that contributes to the gravity of the situation. Kramer is lugging around an air conditioner and Jerry has to pee extremely bad but cannot in public. No other show was able to story tell the way Seinfeld had. The audience was drawn to the situation, therefore, the show. Friends creates descent stories but most of the humor comes from one liners and not the situational humor that Seinfeld creates.
5. Keeping it Simple
I often found the humor of Friends to be very “timed”. The jokes sound forced and inorganic to the scene. Although they were often funny, it just didn’t feel natural to the episode and it was more like a joke machine rather than a show with an actual plot. Seinfeld’s humor was simplistic. This allowed for the humor to come naturally and unforced. There is a timeline of events that caused the audience to wonder how this episode was going to end. I can’t say I have really had myself questioning that same thing with Friends.
Of course the majority of this article is a matter of opinion. I personally find Seinfeld funnier and more interesting than Friends. There are many people who agree with me and there are many people who disagree with me. It is all based on your type of humor. I should say that I do enjoy both shows and have watched every episode of both shows. The scientific analysis of these shows is now over. Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with me, I would love to hear your opinions. Subscribe below if you would like to be notified when new articles are posted. Thank you for reading!