Friends was a TV phenomenon which spread like wildfire in the United States during its run on NBC from 1994 to 2004, and outside of the US with the advent of the streaming era. With the streaming rights acquired by Netflix, audiences from continents all over the world were finally able to view full episodes of the series. Here are 12 other shows like Friends to watch if you miss this quintessential sitcom.
Over the years show-runners from different production companies have tried their best to satisfy audiences’ appetite for other cozy, romantic, comedic light-hearted sitcoms, all done to varying levels of success. Friends is the template for other sitcoms to follow and here are a few recommendations for series like Friends.
List of TV Shows Like Friends
1. 2 Broke Girls (2011-2017)
2 Broke Girls is a television sitcom that aired on CBS, and just like Friends, follows the lives of a group of friends, in this case two friends. These are Black and Caroline, played by Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs respectively.
The series aims at showcasing a pair of characters with two completely different perspectives on life and money. Caroline was raised as the daughter of a billionaire, while Max is from a poor background.
The show has garnered praise for its witty humor, and its use of well-known character tropes, and also turning those tropes on their heads. The set design in particular was great, with 2 Broke Girls winning an Emmy Award for best art direction in 2012. Check this out if you want to watch shows like Friends.
2. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
Gilmore Girls had the majority of its runtime in the same era as Friends but this didn’t stop the comedy-drama from gaining its status as a cult classic. The CW drama follows the life and relationship dynamics of its characters just like Friends, but this show especially focuses on the one between single mom Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory Gilmore. Lorelal is motivated by the desire to own her own inn, while Rory, who is an intellectual hopes to one day attend Harvard University.
The show is praised for its focus on familial themes and portraying the family in a realistic yet entertaining light. The show received rave reviews throughout its time on air, and can now be streamed on Netflix. You should check out Gilmore Girls if you’re looking for more shows like Friends.
3. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
Unlike the previous TV series on this list, Seinfeld actually started airing long before Friends did. The show’s structure and the themes of friendship, centred around little comedic episodic adventures, are however similar to that of Friends. Seinfeld, which is said by the writers to be based on some of their life experiences, focuses on four friends, Seinfeld, George, Elaine and Cosmo. Seinfeld is played by Jerry Seinfeld who acts as a fictional version of himself, a move which interestingly blurred the lines between fiction and reality for viewers.
It has been described by critics as “a show about nothing”, and follows the day-to-day lives of these friends, with moments of Seinfeld’s stand-up sketches used as sort of an interlude in early seasons. Seinfeld has received multiple awards and nominations in a wide range of categories, including Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards. You must check out Seinfeld if you’re looking for shows like Friends.
4. Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)
Two and a Half Men also features another leading man who keeps his first name the same as his real name. Charlie Harper who is played by actor Charlie Sheen for 8 seasons before leaving the show in 2012. Similar to Friends due to its lighthearted comedy, the show initially was based around the Harper brothers, Charlie and Alan, and Alan’s son, Jake.
Charlie lives as an unapologetic playboy who indulges in a very wayward bachelor’s lifestyle. The show has been labelled as one of the most successful comedy shows of its decade with its mostly funny, but somewhat misogynistic style of humor contributing to its success. Check it out if you’re looking for more shows like Friends.
5. Episodes (2011-2017)
Episodes is a comedy sitcom about a British married couple who relocate to the United States, specifically Hollywood. This move is in a bid to remake their British TV hit for American viewers. However they encounter some unexpected obstacles, and things don’t go as smoothly as expected. If you miss shows like Friends, you must check out Episodes.
Episodes also features a familiar face for the Friends fandom in Matt Le Blanc, who makes his first TV appearance since the short-lived Friends spinoff, Joey. He was rewarded for his performance in the role with a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Comedy/Musical.
6. Cougar Town (2009-2015)
Showrunners Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel were responsible for the production of Cougar Town, an American television sitcom set in the fictional town of Gulfhaven, Florida. The show follows Jules Cobb, played by Courtney Cox, in other words, Monica in Friends.
Jules is a divorced lady in her 40s who has to deal with her teenage son, her ex-husband and her dysfunctional extended family. However, just like in the show Friends, she is surrounded by a funny and fun-loving group of friends. Cougar Town is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for TV series like Friends.
7. Parks & Recreation (2009-2015)
Also known as Parks & Rec, this show is a political satire sitcom, which features an even larger ensemble cast than Friends. The lead character is Leslie Knope, played by the hilarious Amy Poehler, who is a mid-level manager in the Parks Department of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. If you’ve already seen it, check out our list of shows like Parks and Recreation.
The show makes use of a mockumentary style similar to The Office, which led to criticisms of its first season. However, the gets progressively better from the second season onwards till it ended in 2015. You must check out Parks and Recreation if you miss series like Friends.
8. Community (2009-2015)
The brilliant comedy series Community follows Jeff Winger, a lawyer who is disbarred and suspended from law practice and his firm and his oddball group of diverse friends. In order to acquire a legitimate degree, Jeff enrols at Greendale Community College, Colorado. Community is a must-watch comedy sitcom if you’re looking for TV shows like Friends.
Just like Friends, it is an ensemble comedy sitcom, centred on Jeff’s study group, which he starts for selfish reasons, but soon starts to grow fond of his heart, with members becoming close friends. The show received critical acclaim throughout its time on air, garnering a total of 11 award wins from 60 nominations, evidence of its perceived high level of quality. If you’ve already seen this creative comedy, take a look at our list of shows like Community.
9. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
Of all the shows on this list, HIMYM seems to tick most of the boxes and is regularly compared to TV shows like Friends. The show follows the main character of Ted Mosby, who in the year 2030, recounts to his children the events starting from September 2005 which all led to him meeting their mother.
The episode-by-episode plot centers on his life as a single man and upcoming architect living in New York City, and his friendship with Marshall, Lily, love interest Robin Scherbatsky, and sleazy playboy Barney Stinson. Each season progressively includes hints about Ted meeting the mother of his children, acting as a great way of tying these loose comedic narratives that occur episode by episode to eventually form a cohesive whole.
10. Living Single (1993-1998)
Living Single for the duration of its runtime was regularly compared and contrasted with Friends, which was reportedly inspired by Living Single itself. The show ranked among the top five in ratings among African-American TV shows for all five of its seasons.
The TV show centered on the lives of six relatively successful group of friends living in Brooklyn, split into two households, one shared by three women, and the other shared by two male childhood friends.
11. Happy Endings (2011-2013)
Happy Endings is an American ensemble comedy similar to Friends, which follows the adventures of six best friends living in Chicago, including Brad, played by Damon Wayans Jr., Alex, played by Elisha Cuthbert, and Dave, played by Zachary Knighton, among others. The show’s plot kicks off with the wedding of Dave and Alex, which ends in disaster, as Alex leaves Dave waiting at the altar.
Happy Endings was compared to a host of other relationship sitcoms, however, instead of laser focusing on Alex and Dave’s relationship, it eventually evolves into a show about the relationship dynamic between the six best friends, similar to series like Friends and How I Met Your Mother.
Here are a few TV shows like Friends that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- New Girl
- Grand Crew
- The Golden Girls
- The Big Bang Theory