As a long-time lover of the 10-season, world’s best show ever, Friends, I notice their gags elsewhere in life. In conversation, in other TV shows – wherever these jokes may occur, I’m hip to their jive. Like when Raising Hope said four-oh-one-kei (instead of 401K), a joke Phoebe made 15 years before. When anyone ever says “smelly cat,” “How you doin’?” or “I’m a doctor.” And yes (sigh) when similar jokes were done on Seinfeld, a show I also love, but preceded the chummiest of sitcoms.
So when a show uses multiple Friends scenarios, attempting to pass them off as their own, I not only notice, I write an entire blog about it. Were these writers Friends lovers themselves? Did they previously hear the jokes, forget, and then – light bulb – pull them from the depths of their brains? Or do they genuinely think no one will notice? Like the number of licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop, we’ll probably never know. But it the meantime, we can bust them out publicly.
The show in question? New Girl, a program I actually enjoy. It stars Zooey Deschanel, of whom I’m a fan, despite my indifference for her namesake, Zooey Glass (Salinger anyone?). Sure there’s a few inconsistencies, like the main character being a huge tramp in spite of her child-like nature. And maybe they overdo the quirk factor every now and again. But overall, it’s a winner – not Friends status winning (yet), but I’d happily clear it a spot in the DVR.
- Friends started with a runaway bride, signaling the end of a relationship. New Girl stars with the title character (Jess) looking for a new living situation … after a break up. While Monica was hesitant to allow Rachel to move in, Jess’s future roommates put her acceptance to a vote, which is left to the final cast.
- Bonus likeness: the respective ex-fiancé and the ex-boyfriend were cheaters.
- Both shows feature significant roommate turnover. Where Phoebe once lived with Monica (F), Winston and Coach formerly lived with Nick and Schmidt (NG). Coach has moved on, and Winston has reappeared, while Jess makes her rookie loft debut. Friends also featured other combos, including roommates Phoebe and Rachel, Phoebe and Ross, Phoebe and Joey, Monica and Chandler, Rachel and Joey, and before the show took place, Ross and Monica. NG has just the single change-up, but hey, it’s season two.
- Secret relationships offer a main storyline. Monica and Chandler hid their hook ups (and later full-on courtship) for months. Cece and Schmidt left their friends in the dark on their rendezvous as well. In both instances, the couples were caught in the act.
- One guy is a huge mooch, due to questionable employment leaving them broke. Joey was forever an unemployed actor (although he made a jump in tax brackets later on), relying on Chandler for food, rent, and virtually every aspect of living. Nick, a bartender, also has little-to-zero funds.
- There’s a character who is forever making up songs and awkward lyrics. (Phoebe/Jess)
- One roommate used to be obese; flashbacks of these “fat years” are displayed for proof. The same roommate is now OCD, controlling, and a huge neat freak. (Monica/Schmidt)
- There’s a guy with a weird name, of which he’s made fun of and given even weirder nicknames. (Chandler/Winston)
- Romantic tension occurs between two characters for multiple seasons. (Ross and Rachel/Jess and Nick)
- Both shows have childhood besties who are still close during the show – one who was a nerd-turned-pretty, and one who was always cute and popular. (Rachel and Monica/Cece and Jess) Also, the popular friend has unrealistic memories, casting the nerd in a more flattering light.
- Jess dated Gavin from Friends. Older and all responsible now, Dermot Mulroney played Russell and Gavin respectively. He didn’t last long in either scenario.
- NG writer, Ryan Koh, also writes for Cougar Town, which stars Courteney Cox.
- Brett Baer and Dave Finkel, writers for NG, also wrote for the flop Friends spinoff, Joey.
Other notable references:
- A main female character sleeps with a crier (Bruce Willis, F and Justin Long, NG)
- She also dates a rich man, helps a man cheat on another woman, and “backslides” to a former, unhealthy relationship. (Rachel/Jess)
- She is fired and forced to work embarrassing, somewhat relevant jobs (to her former career). (Monica/Jess)
- The characters create entire games, complete with intricate rules, when they are bored. (Fire Ball, Phoebe “It doesn’t have a name” Ball/American Hero, Feely Cup)
How They Are Different
- There’s not an equal ratio of men and women.
- Races other than Caucasian are regularly shown on screen.
- The mooch character has a respectable IQ.
- They’re on different networks.
- The wardrobe is far less 90s-y, and there’s a huge age difference between shows. Perhaps New Girl is the annoying, tag along sister Friends never wanted around. Only future ratings will tell. That and if they get a reeking pet; that’d be a give away for sure.
Update! 2-5-13: It was revealed that the New Girl costume designer also worked on Friends.