Friends vs Cheers - Which is better?

There’s a few episodes like that are anachronistic, but I think Cheers because it keeps so much of its focus on “human interactions in a bar” manages to avoid some of that time dating stuff to a much better degree than most sitcoms of the era. Like there are bars I can go into right now near my house that don’t look or feel that different from Cheers. I think to some degree Friends is in that same boat, I just think Friends doesn’t compare as favorably.

Yes, it’s like M*A*S*H in that respect.

As others said above, I really don’t care to watch a show about bar curmudgeons; they don’t need a platform. Friends feels, well, friendlier. Plus the actors were more pleasant to look at (hey, that doesn’t hurt).

I’m surprised no one has mentioned How I Met Your Mother as being in the same vein. I think it’s better than Cheers but not as re-watchable as Friends.

(I’m loving the CNN Sitcom series - highly recommended.)

This, this, a million times this. To anyone who has ever lived in NYC, those apartments–even in a Rent Controlled building–were NOT affordable by those numbskulls. And their hangout? Yeah, I am going to allow people to just hangout in 4000 sq ft retail space for hours for a cup of coffee; in Manhattan, in mid-town, in the go-go 90’s.

I’ve never been particularly impressed with the frequent criticism of NYC based sitcoms “these characters could never afford that apartment!” primarily because television sitcoms are about entertaining, they aren’t documentaries on NYC real estate. If they actually filmed on sets the size of a real NYC apartment a relatively minor comedian (as Jerry was at the start of Seinfeld) or the various states of minimally implied many of the Friends were, you wouldn’t be able to do the scenes correctly. In this instance accuracy would have actively interfered with the show.

Edit: And I’m a little skeptical you’d be driven out of a coffee shop for hanging out in the mid-90s in NYC. While I wasn’t going to NYC super frequently I traveled all over the major cities of the East Coast throughout the 90s for work reasons and have had meetings, gatherings etc in coffee shops in that era. Coffee shops as opposed to restaurants have basically always been about such lounging and milling about, you certainly wouldn’t be able to occupy a 4-top in a buy Manhattan restaurant (then or now) for hours only sipping coffee. But a dedicated coffee shop? I dunno, I’ve been in coffee shops all over the United States and have never seen them be anything but accommodating of people hanging out, reading the newspaper, using a laptop, holding impromptu business meetings etc.

I suppose it’s what you’re used to. To me, the Cheers characters are by far the ones I find more believable, lovable, and people who would actually be my friends in real life. I don’t find the show to be about “bar curmudgeons” in the least. Friends – they don’t remind me of any types of actual friends I have or would want to have. Granted, that is based on half-watching maybe a dozen episodes of Friends, but I find the Cheers crew more realistic and more tender.

I think the demographics are different. My take on the Friends crew is they are mostly from upper middle class to upper class backgrounds, and most were college educated. They were in their 20-somethings and at the beginning of the series were floundering professionally, not quite hitting their grooves in adulthood yet. By the end of the series most of the characters have jobs that would be seen as very high paying.

Cheers the core bar group were more working class and middle aged (Woody being an exception–he was very working class but was younger.) Norm started the series as an accountant and had a college degree, but was from the Midwest and had a very clear working class background (and he ultimately failed out of his accounting career.) The only clear counterpoints were Diane, who came from an upper class background but was mostly a professional failure, and Frasier who kind of came into his own after Diane left the show because he was basically serving the same purpose she did–the “outsider” from the upper echelons of society who would clash with the gang. Frasier of Cheers was able to pull this off without ever devolving into being a true snob, and in fact Frasier became more down to earth and more “one of the guys” as the series progressed. It was funny they somewhat undid much of that for the Frasier standalone sitcom, Frasier is portrayed as looking down his nose at his dad’s beer drinking ways, when Frasier was happily quaffing tankards of whatever Sam had on tap for like 9 years on Cheers.

I should add I was a fan of Friends, but it never hit me the same way as Cheers. I think it’s probably a top 10 sitcom for me but not a top 5. I think part of what I liked about Cheers is similar to what I just mentioned about being more blue collar, that’s one reason I liked All in the Family too. Most of my life going back to my childhood sitcoms were massively dominated by family oriented sitcoms where the dad was basically a 1%er level of blue blood, and it was portrayed as just “normal” for Americans to enjoy such high level of professional and economic security. That just wasn’t something I identified much with as an American from a lower class background. But seeing guys like Archie actually worry about inflation eating away his income and how he’s going to afford things when laid off, and the guys on Cheers worrying about being able to afford rent and car repairs resonated more with me than the Friends cast who never seemed very strained financially. Even the “struggling” characters who were usually Joey, Rachel and Phoebe just never seemed to really be in much actual trouble. Joey spends half the series as a well paid soaps actor so his periods of financial instability mostly are gone by the middle seasons, and Rachel has long stints of success in corporate fashion jobs as well, so it really just ends up being Phoebe that is always in a career malaise, but they kind of ignore Phoebe’s economic situation for most of the show (it’s reminiscent of Kramer where it’s never really explained how Phoebe even exists in NYC.)

Hell, I’ve been in a Starbucks which kept a small supply of board games on-hand.

I don’t think this stuff really bothers people, some people just seem to need to point it out. Just because I happen to know how far apart two NY landmarks are, you have to remember that 97.542% of the population that watches the show will never even visit NY, much less navigate around it on their own. Television and movies use shortcuts for time reasons and large apartments are for ease of filming reasons.

I also don’t see Cheers as curmudgeons. Diane and Backseat Becky were young. Sam was Boston’s hottest bachelor for awhile and was seen as quite the catch for most of the show. And of course Woody. No way were Cliff or Norm curmudgeons they were always having long, often nonsensical, light hearted conversations. The only one I would describe as a curmudgeon was the background guy in the fedora that looked like he was 150 years old.

I watched the entire Friends series and enjoyed most of it. I think having Ross and Phoebe hook up early on and move out of town, or be hit by a bus, would have improved the show considerably. It’s still way below Cheers.

As an aside about Seinfeld. I still don’t know why he objected to wearing the puffy shirt when his regular wardrobe was mom jeans and turtlenecks. Puffy shirts couldn’t have make him look any worse. In a way, his daily wardrobe was dated while the show was still on the air.

Are we talking about the same show?

Norm: Bars can be very sad places. Some people spend their whole lives in bars. Just yesterday, someone sat next to me for 11 hours.

Norm: Embarrass yourself? You’re playing poker with a bunch of guys who can’t bet and chew gum at the same time.

That’s less than 2 minutes into a funniest Norm moments compilation on youtube.