Two sitcoms found unprecedented success on popular television impacting the lives of successive generations of viewers. These, as one might guess, were , which aired for ten years --a record at the time--on NBC, and that ran for 12 seasons on CBS.
Both shows revolved around a group of friends, and their experiences with love, life, and career. In all fairness, was in more ways than one a reincarnation of the , although it managed to carve a niche for itself and went on to become iconic itself. Comparisons between the two are inevitable and one can find areas that one show handled better than the other and vice versa.
might have been all the rage for a decade, but there are a few things that the series stereotyped or made fun of which would never have gone down with a young audience today. For instance, depended heavily on fat jokes, the entire backstory of centered on her being overweight and hence the butt of countless jokes.
steers clear of such concepts. There is a hint of comedy regarding Amy who is awkward and has had a lonely upbringing, but her weight is rarely mentioned in connection with this, and Bernadette's tiny stature is brought up (but not her weight). But instead of making fun of them, the writers focus on what they have gone through because of their so-called unconventional appearance.
Both sitcoms did a solid job portraying women but if one had to pick, the '90s sitcom would probably have a slight edge over . Although the latter had strong female characters too, the women in somehow ended up being freer and more empowered in the end.
Rachel went from being a clueless privileged young woman living off her father's credit cards to a single mom with a high profile job. Pheobe too was a free spirit and Monica was as much the man of the house as Chandler. Of course, Bernadette was definitely the boss of the house, but somehow seemed to perpetuate social norms when Amy was seen tolerating Sheldon's tantrums repeatedly and despite having decided against it at first. Of course, she is entitled to her decisions but a non-conventional ending might have been more interesting.
Both shows had their characters evolve in the course of time. But excelled at this --their lead protagonists started out as socially awkward geeks but matured visibly by the time the series ended.
Everyone from Leonard and Raj to Amy, and even , had their own arc. But the most developed of all the characters were Howard Wolowitz who evolved from a creepy pervert into a balanced family man, and of course, Sheldon himself. Characters in evolved too, for instance, Joey became much more mature by the end, but in balance, in , they grew more as people.
boosted the career ofJim Parsons tremendously as the actor got nominated for, and won, several awards for his portrayal of .But actors got better opportunities almost as soon as the series started, with significant credits getting added to their filmography.
Most of the lead cast of went on to have film or television careers, even while the show ran, Jennifer Aniston being the most popular amongst them. The series also added to its glitz by having top Hollywood stars as guest actors.
It's no secret that , while popular, is seriously lacking in diversity - which is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that it is supposed to take place in New York. Over the course of ten years, the show included only a handful of black or Asian actors.
The CBS drama, however, did a better job of being inclusive. One of the main cast members, actor Kunal Nayyar, who played , was Indian. The show also had recurring guest stars such as Regina King, James Earl Jones, etc. While this is still far from the level of diversity that a sitcom should include (and feels a little like a token POC character), it's still more than managed.
didn't just stay a comedy series but became a global phenomenon. The stars were catapulted to far-reaching fame overnight and the series topped the charts not just in the United States but in countries far and wide.
also had a global reach and brought its stars worldwide recognition, but it is hard to replicate the kind of waves that its predecessor had created. The fever caught on with the entire world, to an extent that did not.
The series had a strong ensemble cast, it is not every day that one comes across a versatile talent like Simon Helberg who pulls off a bizarre character like Wolowitz with aplomb. Most of the guest stars and recurring actors like Laurie Metcalf, Kevin Sussman, Cristine Baranski, Regina King, James Earl Jones, Sara Gilbert, brought also added value to the show with excellent comic timing.
too had a competent cast, of course, but the series seemed to focus more on fueling the oomph factor. Many of the , from George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt to Bruce Willis, were already huge names in showbiz, brought in more as a publicity stunt than anything else.
The NBS comedy aired its final episode in 2005 with over 50 million viewers. The episode went down in TV history for having garnered unprecedented viewership, as audiences around the world bade a tearful farewell to their favorite friends.
Friends gave a much more well-rounded finale to its characters--yes, it had some of the usual clichés with the couple meeting in the airport and reuniting for the final time, but two decades ago, that was what moved the audience. It still does, in fact. But the TBBT finale paled in comparison since it was more like an ode only to Sheldon Cooper than a last hurrah for everybody. Sheldon came of age as he finally bowed in humility to his friends and wife, but the other storylines seemed rushed.
Most situational comedies, unfortunately, derive a lot from social stereotypes. But some shows manage to present them as a satire, a mockery of the ones who bear such prejudices and others fail to cross that line and simply stay unacceptable.
In , Ross was inherently prejudiced about most things, from being homophobic to chauvinistic, he could be unbearable at times. Yet, he was the lead hero of the series--never quite getting told off for his outdated, parochial beliefs. In , too, Sheldon Cooper is the epitome of obnoxious, but his social faux pas is constantly ridiculed by his friends who try to make him more socially aware. also does have a running gag on the but does not go on to perpetuate the mockery of queer people the way its older counterpart did.
The '90s sitcom broke new ground when it first started airing way back in 1995, instantly connecting with the young audiences. The lives of six young people in uptown New York appealed to people all over the wolrd at a time when globalization was just taking off.
The show has left a lasting legacy, being watched and re-watched by generations that came after. In recent years, the advent of OTT platforms has helped revive the series' popularity amongst an entirely new generation of global audiences. Time will only tell when achieves the same iconic status or not.