Unpopular Opinion: Seinfeld is better than Friends

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Parker Otto, Columnist

This October, along with a massive catalog of horror films, one thing I’ll be watching on repeat is the 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld,” which comes to Netflix on Oct. 1. In the eyes of many Millennials, as well as Generation Z, the defining show of this decade is the beloved sitcom “Friends” with its memorable characters, quotable moments and undeniably hilarious scenes. But, while I like “Friends,” these viewers have it all wrong. “Seinfeld” is the better show and has held up better over time.

This series revolves around a fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld, now famous for his series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” and his friends: ex-girlfriend Elaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, the certifiably insane Kramer, played by Michael Richards, and Jerry’s neurotic best friend George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander. Together, this quartet of misfits and wackjobs get into all kinds of shenanigans in 1990s New York.

While most famously known as “The Show About Nothing,” “Seinfeld” was originally conceived as “a show about how a comedian gets his material,” according to co-creator Larry David, and the structure of the series reflects that concept. Every episode starts off with Jerry in a nightclub doing his comedy routine, and the rest of the episode sees Jerry and his friends get into problems that work their way into his comedy. 

What really makes the series work is how, unlike other sitcoms which place story and character over comedy, the series is more about humor. Because while shows like “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” try to carry storylines over the course of one or more seasons, “Seinfeld’s” episodes are very self-contained, making it a great series for both the binge-watcher and the casual viewer. 

Most sitcoms, including “Friends,” have their characters grow emotionally throughout the show, which, I will argue, results in more stale humor. As much as I loved seeing Chandler and Monica get married and have kids or seeing Phoebe end up with the always fantastic Paul Rudd, there just weren’t as many jokes. 

In “Seinfeld’s” case, the characters are childish, petty and likably horrible and stay that way throughout the entire series. One of the best episodes of “Friends,” season three’s “The One Where No One’s Ready,” is set in one location and has everyone in it acting immaturely, to the point where Joey wears all of Chandler’s clothes. If that episode is one of your favorites, at least half of “Seinfeld’s” episodes have a similar feeling.

Along with “All in the Family,” “In Living Color,” and “South Park,” “Seinfeld” is one of the funniest shows ever made. The humor is full of so many jokes that would no doubt get the show “canceled,”  but they make me laugh so hard, mainly because the characters are horrible people but are still likable. While we try to be decent people, part of us does want to be selfish, and this series manifests those desires into relatable, albeit goofy, people.

While “Friends” is a great show and has done a lot for the sitcom genre, “Seinfeld” is better from the perspectives of character and humor. So, yada yada yada, if I have to choose between the six friends in the purple apartment and the four lunatics in Monk’s Restaurant, I choose the one that has “No Soup For You! Next!” Cue the bass outro.