While “Seinfeld” broke new ground as a sitcom about a group of quirky pals in New York City, “Friends” took that basic idea and ran with it. With a slightly younger cast of twenty-something singles, it focuses more on the relationships between Ross, Chandler, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey, and Monica, and with a bigger emphasis on their romantic foibles. More heartfelt and even downright sentimental at times, “Friends” eschewes the cynicism of its Gen X predecessor in favor of its fun-loving, lighthearted, and free-wheeling Millennial comedy, helping it capture the hearts of a younger generation in the late 1990s and into the 2000s.
An ensemble of mostly newcomers, it launched the careers of David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, and Matt LeBlanc. “Friends” became immensely popular in large part thanks to its will-they-won’t-they romance between Ross and Rachel, while the sarcasm of Chandler became its own common lexicon. Nearly unmatched in its popularity throughout its run, it was a ratings juggernaut and became such a success that the stars of the show were being paid a million dollars per episode. Even now, nearly two decades after it came to a close, “Friends” feels almost as popular as it was in its prime, with new audiences discovering it thanks to the magic of streaming.
But with all that has been said about “Friends,” there’s not much for artificial intelligence to add. But it also mentions its ageless humor and stories of heartache, friendship, career struggles, and family problems, which pretty much everyone can relate to, no matter what generation you are.