Remembered as one of the best sitcoms of all time, Friends was a story about a group of twenty-somethings living in New York City. The six main characters hilariously navigated the world of young-adulthood through relationships, roommates, and friendship. Sound familiar? Although these themes are present in plenty of modern day comedies, New Girl really captures the spirit that made Friends so special and memorable, and here are just a few of the reasons why.
Both shows are based around the same ideas. They center around a tight-knit group of friends who spend all of their free time together — which is easy since most of them live together — and help each other work through the various weekly problems they face. At the heart of these shows is the idea that friends are the family that you choose.
New Girl and Friends are both centered around a fantastic apartment where the characters spend most of their time. Both of these apartments are unrealistically nice, and in reality, no one with the jobs the characters hold could afford them. Friends explains this through rent control — Monica’s grandmother passed her the apartment illegally, and that’s how she is able to afford it. New Girl has an episode dedicated to the fact that they have one more tenant than legally allowed. In short, both groups afford their lavish pads through less than legal means.
The romantic connections between the core ensembles of these shows are surprisingly similar upon inspection. Schmidt and CeCe, although not as close as Monica and Chandler at the time of their coupling, start their relationship in nearly the exact same way. Both have a “one night mistake” that turns into sneaking around, both are found out first by one of the guys (Joey and Winston) before the rest of the group discovers the relationship, and both relationships ultimately make it the long haul. Both couples even struggle with fertility issues before ultimately having kids (Chandler and Monica adopt and CeCe discovers that she is pregnant in the season 6 finale.) Schmidt and CeCe have had a few more bumps along the way than Monica and Chandler, but their current place on New Girl as the married couple of the group is very reminiscent of Monica and Chandler in the latter half of Friends.
Complimenting the relatively smooth relationships described above are our “rocky” couples. Nick and Jess are New Girl‘s Ross and Rachel for a number of reasons. Firstly, both relationships were established fairly early on and gained a mass following by fans of the shows. Both were heavily hinted at and teased before coming to fruition in season 2 of their shows. Both couples unfortunately break up for one reason or another, with Ross and Rachel getting back together in the series finale, and Nick and Jess reuniting in what may turn out to be New Girl‘s final moments (as of now, New Girl‘s fate is still up in the air.)
Ah, the hangout. Seemingly one of the only places our main cast ever goes outside of the apartment (seriously, do these people ever work?). Although the hangout is a staple of the modern day sitcom, Friends and New Girl‘s favorite spots resemble each other’s more than most. While other shows’ core cast will often visit a certain location daily, it isn’t as integral to their lives as with the two shows in question.
For Friends, Central Perk serves as a central point in the characters lives. In fact, the first ever scene of the show is at the coffee shop! Rachel spends a good portion of the earlier episodes working there, and Joey would later briefly step into the waiter role. Phoebe performs her iconic songs here as well. For the New Girl crew, the bar is just as important. Although initially, it was just Nick’s work place, it has since become a central part of the show. Nick and Schmidt now co-own the bar, and the gang is regularly seen hanging out there. While the New Girl cast doesn’t spend quite as much time at the bar as the Friends do at the coffee shop — for good reason, if they drank as much booze as the Friends did coffee, they’d be dead by now — it’s still an extremely important part of their lives.
The Friendship Origins
The stories of how these friendships were formed are remarkably similar. Two of the guys were college roommates (Nick and Schmidt, Ross and Chandler), while two of the girls have known each other since their junior high and high school days (Jess and Cece, Rachel and Monica). The groups of friends ultimately formed through introductions of these old friends. Jess moves in with the guys and soon introduces them to her longtime best friend Cece; Rachel shows up at the coffee shop in a wedding dress and Monica introduces the gang to one of her oldest friends.
The Character Parallels
Generally speaking, lots of the personality traits present in the New Girl characters are reminiscent of traits found among those of Friends. There’s the borderline obsessive relationship with a pet (Winston’s Ferguson and Ross’s Marcel), the character that struggled with obesity and is now a bit of a control freak (Schmidt and Monica), the character who comes into the pilot straight from a breakup (Jess and Rachel), the commitment-phobe that uses humor as a defense (Nick and Chandler), not to mention the musical friend that can make a song out of anything (Jess and Phoebe), the silly but successful womanizer (Schmidt and Joey), or the character who’s really struggling with where to go next in her career (CeCe and Rachel). Obviously, the New Girl roommates aren’t direct copies of the Friends, but a lot of the issues dealt with by the two groups are similar.
The themes present in these shows are universal to the experience of becoming an adult and joining the real world. By no means are the two shows identical, but they fill a similar space in the culture of their time. New Girl (like Friends in its day) provides people with a weekly dose of humor and friendship. New Girl tows the line of relatable yet hysterical in a way that no show has been able to master in quite the same way since Friends.
Do you agree that New Girl is this generation’s Friends? Did I miss any obvious similarities or parallels? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter! And make sure to check out the TV page for more about New Girl and your other favorite shows!
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