There was a time when F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was the biggest show on TV. When the show runner announced their decision to end in 2004, many felt that its popularity will remain unmatched by any future show. If any other current show has gone on to achieve mainstream appeal like friends did, it is The Big Bang Theory. It is now the biggest show on TV. It tells the story of four geeks whose lives are turned upside down when a beautiful girl comes into the picture. We love the show. There is no doubt about that but let us call a spade, spade. There can be no overlooking the fact that it steals a lot of ideas from Friends; to the extent that some characters even feel like parallels with only slight variations. Once the similarities are noticed, they’re impossible to ignore.
1. Leonard and Penny Can be Likened to Ross and Rachel
Let’s get the main plot straight – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. initially revolved around the potential relationship between Ross and Rachel. They had known each other since high school, and Ross had a crush on Rachel almost the whole time but the sentiment was not mutual. She did like him, but it was obvious that she didn’t view him as a relationship material, someone she could date. A huge chunk of the early seasons showed Ross chasing after Rachel, while she dated around almost completely oblivious to his feelings for her.
A parallel of that is found in The Big Bang Theory with the only real difference being that he never met her until adulthood. The lovable nerd spent the first few seasons chasing after Penny. After a while, both the shows reversed the situation, with the girl eventually chasing after the guy. Even once both sets of couples finally got together, they had a couple of false starts and bumps along the way until they eventually settle. Both Ross and Leonard were scholars with PhD while both Rachel and Penny were penniless (pardon the pun) waitresses who occasionally come across as ditzy airheads. The only difference is that Penny’s hair didn’t become its own style. When Women in the ’90s went to their hairstylist, they would ask for ‘The Rachel,’ but nobody ever asked their barber for a Penny.
This is a thing that occurs fairly commonly on a lot of shows, but it’s pretty blatant and obvious on these two shows. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and The Big Bang Theory both have as their subjects the social lives of a group of people in their twenties who are living in the city. Yes, one show takes place on the west coast (California) while the other takes place on the east (New York), but there is really where the differences end.
Also to be noted is that, the guys on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. were never fully portrayed as nerds,but they certainly weren’t jocks. Ross and Chandler especially exhibited geeky tendencies. As the show progressed, both shows evolved into groups of friends navigating together through the ups and downs of relationships. However, the casts of both shows ended up mostly dating each other. The Big Bang Theory did skip the part where they were a group of friends first. After dating their respective geeks, Bernadette and Amy completely gave up their previous social lives. They got assimilated into this new group. They always hung out together and could be always found in the same places. The function of Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment is essentially Monica and Rachel’s with just few variations such as more toys hanging around.