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How I Met Your Mother is Friends’ little brother

If you know me well (or even a little bit), odds are you know that Friends is my absolute favourite show. I’ve seen every episode of all 10 seasons at least 20 times. I watch the series annually. At least once. Sometimes Noah and I put on the PIVOT! episode, just for a laugh. I could pick out a Friends reference anywhere.

Venessa gave me season one of Big Bang Theory a couple months ago, and I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. But then, she gave me the Twilight books two years ago and I only got to reading them a month ago. I saw How I Met Your Mother on Netflix last week and somehow thought that was the show she gave me. I’d never seen a single episode of HIMYM or Big Bang Theory, so I was apparently oblivious to the fact that they are two separate shows. I tweeted about liking the first couple episodes, but then Venessa tweeted back at me that I was watching the wrong show. Whoops! I love it, though. I’m already on season five. I credit this to a week of sickness and a week of cleaning (I watch/listen to TV when I clean/organize a room, like the disastrous monstrosity the girls’ room was).

When I first started watching HIMYM, I couldn’t put a name to the voice of the narrator. It bugged me, because I KNOW THAT VOICE, but I couldn’t figure it out. I hit up IMDb and then nearly threw myself of a bridge for not realizing it is the voice of Bob Saget. DUH! And while I was looking that up, I totally fell down an IMDb wormhole and learned that Alyson Hannigan is Joss Whedon’s son’s godmother. Because of course Willow is a godmother. And also, Joss’s given name is Joseph. I didn’t see that coming.

It wasn’t long before I was seeing parallels between Friends and HIMYM. Both shows take place in New York, both shows have a meeting spot (Friends’ Central Perk, HIMYM’s … that bar they go to)(and, funnily enough, Central Perk used to be a bar), nobody knew what Chandler did for a living (statistical analysis and data reconfiguration)(not a transponster) and nobody knows what Barney does for a living (unless they find out some time after S5E5), Marshall and Lily are the rock-solid married couple just like Chandler and Monica, Ted/Marshall and Ross/Chandler were college roommates. Those are the only parallels I can think of at the moment (Oh! And Ted just became a professor. Just like Ross.), but the kicker was the episode where Ted dates a super-annoying, talks-way-too-much girl and then after he breaks up with her, he runs into her and her new boyfriend. And the boyfriend is deaf, which is why he can handle to be around her. Exactly like when Ross and Rachel are in the hospital to have Emma and they run into Chandler’s ex Janice and she is married to a deaf guy who thinks he’s the luckiest man in the world.

Oh, and that episode where they point out each others’ faults? The Friends episode was better. Mostly because the sound of Lily chewing was enough to turn me off the entire episode. And the picture representing HIMYM on Netflix is of them in a bed. The stereotypical Friends cast shot is if them in a bed.

Edited to add: in S5E9, Lily’s grandmother is played by Christina Pickles who also plays Monica and Ross’s mom on Friends. Oh! And they keep hanging out on the roof. And in S5E18 they do a trivia thing, just like one of the bestest Friends episodes. S5E19 has a Capuchin monkey (like Marcel).

When I was talking to Erica about the parallels between these two shows yesterday afternoon, I tweeted about it and then figured I’d do some googling to see if anyone else saw these similarities as odd. Apparently I’m a little behind in the world, seeing as I didn’t start watching HIMYM till seven and a half years after it aired, because apparently this similarities-between-Friends-and-HIMYM thing is a thing. The first link I found and clicked on was this one:


I spent a little too much time reading posts/articles on the topic. Apparently I’m not the first person to notice this.

As much as I’m loving HIMYM, though, it will never be as close to my heart as Friends is. Nothing can beat Friends. But, I have been known to like a tribute band or two, and HIMYM is a pretty great (incredibly crude) tribute show, whether they meant to be one or not. Although, how could they not have meant to. There are just way too many similarities.

Tribute show or not, I’m a fan of HIMYM for the exact same reason I’ve always been a fan of Friends. The chemistry between Chandler, Joey, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel, and between Marshall, Ted, Barney, Lily, and Robin is something I’ve always kind of envied. A group of people who do life together, friends, sticking by each other no matter what. Through relationships and breakups and family strife and death and new life and stupidity and mistakes. I’ve had the pleasure of being on the outskirts of such groups at different times in my life and I’ve always envied the inner circle. Friends since kindergarten, roommates in college, a group of friends whose compatibility stands the test of time.

A family built of completely different DNA. Yes, the shows are quite crude, and my parents never let me watch Friends growing up (so I snuck down to the basement and watched it)(and I wonder where my kids get their defiance from), but I find it easy to ignore that stuff (most of it went over my head at the time)(I was only 11 in 1994 when Friends first aired) and focus on the good and the hilarious.

And the I’ll be there for you, ’cause … wait for it … ’cause you’re there for me, too.

Categories: I'm a nerd

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  • Daryl Grunau Friday, January 4, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Ok I see the parallels now. I never did look it up. However, I still hate Friends. Sorry.
    I think maybe it’s Phoebe. CAN’T STAND HER VOICE.

    Plus, NPH is far superior to any actor on Friends. HIMYM wouldn’t be nearly as great, naw, I say even on the air anymore without him. Sorta like The Office without Michael Scott. But I guess they did get a season and half without him.

    • jen Friday, January 4, 2013, 6:07 pm

      I never liked The Office. I can’t stand Steve Carell. I do, however, love Phoebe. And I quite like the other four HIMYM characters, especially Marshall.

  • Kristan Friday, January 4, 2013, 5:21 pm

    My brother has been on me to watch HIMYM with him so I’ll be watching it soon. I love that you say there are so many similarities because I LOVE Friends sooo much. I never started watching it until it was already off the air, but now I own the box set of the series and have watched it through multiple times.

    Mine and Steve’s go to episode for a laugh is the one with the grant review, where Charlie’s ex boyfriend is interviewing Ross for the grant…priceless.

    • jen Friday, January 4, 2013, 6:09 pm

      Oh man, I love Greg Kinnear!!

  • Becca Friday, January 4, 2013, 5:46 pm

    The bar in HIMYM is MacLaren’s. I think the spelling is right on that.

    I too have always envied Friend’s (and now HIMYM) for the group of friends that always stick together. I always say, I want a friend like _____ (mostly Pheobe, hardly ever Rachel. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever said Rachel or Ross, hmm). I came close to having the close friend group for a bit in high school, but the friend that bound the group together died and then so did the group.

    Monica’s apartment is above the coffee shop, and HIMYM’s apartment is above the bar… another similarity.

    • jen Friday, January 4, 2013, 6:12 pm

      That is SO SAD. One of my best friends in high school was the pilar of the group, but I never hung out with anyone else if he wasn’t there. I’d love a friend like Phoebe, too. Although, she can be a total jerk sometimes! She is my favourite, though. She and Chandler. Could he BE any more awesome?

      And, oh! Brilliant! I didn’t even realize that!

  • Adriene B Saturday, January 5, 2013, 12:13 am

    I’ve described HIMYM as “Friends for the next generation”, since it kind of has the same “of-the-moment” type of feel.
    though I do love ALL OF THE WHEDON from HIMYM: Alyson Hannigan, Alexis Denisof, Neil Patrick Harris, SETH GREEN, now Cobie Smulders…
    OOH AND! Scooter, like, Lily’s weirdo highschool boyfriend? he’s played by NPH’s fiance/husband! which warms my heart.

    also I was helping my boyfriend’s parents move furniture to their attic last month, and it was ALL I could do to not keep going “PIVOT!!!”

    • jen Saturday, January 5, 2013, 12:32 am

      I totally didn’t realize that Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof were married until I fell down that IMDb wormhole. And SETH GREEN makes an appearance? REALLY?! When? And what does Cobie Smulders do in the Whedonverse? I should really look that up. I love it when spouses do guest-starring roles, like Denisof and David Burtka. And back in the day when Brad Pitt was on Friends, back when Brad Pitt was cool.

      I cannot move without a little PIVOT! action.

      • Adriene B Saturday, January 5, 2013, 12:43 am

        I know!!!! they’re married and they have the cutest children ever. I love that he plays a sleazy orange dude on HIMYM. and Seth Green shows up in the most recent season so you’ll see him once you get there! and Cobie Smulders was in Avengers!
        also speaking of Whedon, did you ever watch “Veronica Mars”? because Charisma Carpenter was in it, and Joss himself has a cameo!

        also last night I watched an old SNL episode that was hosted by Sarah Michelle Geller and both David Boreanaz and Seth Green had surprise guest spots and I LOST IT. it was the GREATEST.

        • jen Saturday, January 5, 2013, 12:51 am

          Oh, Avengers! I haven’t seen it yet. I suck at seeing movies in a timely fashion.

          I haven’t seen Veronica Mars. I mean, I’ve seen a couple episodes, but that was a very long time ago. I may have to check it out. And I’m going to check out that SNL episode!

          • Adriene B Saturday, January 5, 2013, 1:06 am

            Avengers is wonderful. not as wonderful as Cabin In The Woods, but wonderful. Mr. Whedon is king of the ensemble.

            and oh my goodness Veronica Mars. seriously such a great show. it was like Buffy The Second, but this time a brilliant cross between Nancy Drew noir and The OC. and SO MANY PEOPLE ARE ON IT! Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Max Greenfield, Krysten Ritter, Paris Hilton (no seriously), Alyson Hannigan, the girl from Napoleon Dynamite, Kevin Smith, Michael Cera… it’s almost worth it just for the “hey it’s that person!” factor alone but not really ’cause it’s also just amazing (first and second seasons mostly).

          • jen Sunday, January 6, 2013, 4:37 pm

            I’m adding it to my must-watch list now. :)

  • keri Saturday, January 5, 2013, 8:55 pm

    There is also the similar Ross/Rachel relationship between Ted/Robin. They date on and off a few times and are seen as “should be together” even when Robin is dating Barney (just like when Rachel dates Joey). Also when Robin dates Barney they break up because it is “for the best” (just like when Joey and Rachel break up).

    Mark and I talk about this all the time because we both LOVE HIMYM and Friends.

    Welcome to the dark side.

    • jen Saturday, January 5, 2013, 8:52 pm

      You’re totally right! And as much as I was so disappointed when Rachel dated Joey, I wasn’t as disappointed when Robin dated Barney because we know that she is not The Mother, as Future Ted refers to her as “Aunt Robin”. I did like her better with Ted, though. :)

  • jessica Monday, January 7, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I’ve only seen one episode of HIMYM, but I’m a Friends fan too (lately I’ve had season one on while I’m working… hilarious, and I think I’ll always be in love with Chandler), so you’ve convinced me to give it another try.

    • jen Monday, January 7, 2013, 12:44 pm

      It’s incredibly crude, but it’s also incredibly funny. :)

  • Meg Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 1:47 pm

    I’ve never been big on Friends, but I keep hearing how awesome HIMYM is. Will have to watch a few episodes!