No Right ExplanationFriends vs Seinfeld
Last week Chris and Dan have a debate for all you kids of the 90s: which sitcom reigns supreme, Friends vs. Seinfeld. Since the debates you see are only a small slice of the discussions and decisions that make up an entire episode. With that in mind, we're allowing Chris and Kyle and Dan the chance to bring a bit more context in a new(ish) follow-up feature, No Right Explanation. Enjoy!
Chris: In a surprise twist that no one really saw as a surprise, Dan decided to throw in a debate that was, for all intents and purposes, purely a troll on all our loyal fans (fan?). Best Sitcom Ever? What a topic! What an episode! What a- what, Dan already picked Seinfeld? Damn! Guess I'll have to go with something a bit 90's-friendly.
An uphill battle, even when fought with Friends, is an uphill battle. Dan had far too much to steamroll me with, and for some reason he held his tongue and allowed me to bumble my way through my points like Ross bumbling his way through a marriage ceremony. Strangely, he did not decide to really dive into the two aspects that Seinfeld has over most other sitcoms: Breadth of memorable characters and permeation of pop culture.
Few other TV shows have introduced characters so readily and so intelligently as Seinfeld, with the only major exception being The Simpsons. Why then did Dan fail to just spew half a dozen Seinfeld regulars (Newman, David Putty, Jerry's Parents, Uncle Leo, J. Peterman) and then ask me to bring up all of Friends' most amazing supporting characters (Ugly Naked Guy...uh...Bruce Willis...)? Springing that on me could very well have resulted in an avalanche of points in his favor, but no, I was able to ski briskly through the snowy hills of 90's sitcoms un 'lanched.
A closer argument would have been how much pop culture has soaked up each show. Seinfeld, no contest, has introduced probably around 50 new words to the world's lexicon such as Low Talker, Jimmy Legs, Man Hands, Anti-dentite, Yada yada yada- Motherf#cking Yada yada yada! How did Dan fail to yada yada yada over my points? Seinfeld added a word to the dictionary; Friends added a farcical example of a typical New York waitress' apartment and lifestyle.
This is just plain difficult to look at as I'm pained by my display of crapulence. It was very clear on a rewatch that I was holding the Idiot Ball this week, but Dan didn't seem to decide it was right to throw me to the ground and laugh at my poor life choices. I suppose that means our friendship will last after all, but my reputation has been rather tarnished. Screw it, I'm changing my answer to All In The Family. At least then commenters will assume I'm just a bigot instead of a stone-cold dimwit.
Ah, who am I kidding? I can't stay mad at Friends. They were there for me, and I'll be there for them too!
Kyle: Well, since I didn't debate for this episode or do the point assigning, I'll give some points I thought both fellows missed. Let's start with Chris.
Chris does his best to defend Friends, which many people consider junk food television. One bit that he could have brought up: Friends pulled in a lot of special guests and cameos that were big names (or soon to be). And on top of that, it gave certain actors the chance to just go silly and be a sitcom actor, regardless of their image. Bruce Willis sang a falsetto "Love Machine," Tom Selleck finally acknowledged the power of his mustache, Charlton Heston walked in on another guy in the shower...these people would never get to have this much fun and show us their sense of humor if not for this show.
Another point that Chris neglected was the comfort associated with Friends. The title was no accident, nor was the theme song "I'll Be There For You." This is a show that, for the better part of a decade was an institution of television. You didn't even need to watch it every week, but you knew it would be there, and nothing big would ever change. Like meatloaf, it's comforting because it never deviates. You can zone out completely when watching it, if that's what you need.
As far as Dan's argument for Seinfeld, there were a few things that I would have mentioned as well. For instance, this show did not require the usual relationship crap. While Friends had to keep people on a string of "Who will Aniston end up with" and "When are they getting married," the show about nothing remained a show about nothing. There was no need for event episodes.
As a matter of fact, each episode of Seinfeld could stand alone, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Friends had so many double episodes, hanging storylines, and a parade of clip-shows. I swear, that show had a clip-show midway through every season.
But in the end, I stand by my ruling. How I Met Your Mother is the perfect blend of camaraderie from Friends, in-jokes and language permeating our vernacular like Seinfeld, and a dash of Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel on top. You just can't go wrong.