When it comes to art and entertainment, inspiration is a common thing. Many artists use inspiration from their idols to perfect their own art. In the same way, many movies and television shows are often a based on another work of art. A win-win situation for both parties, right?
However, there is a fine line between inspiration and outright copying. There exists a difference between being so impressed by someone’s work that you choose to reflect that in your own work, and straight up copying important parts from someone and passing it as your own. While that may seem like a harsh assessment, one such example is How I Met Your Mother, which is supposedly ‘inspired’ from the iconic 90’s sitcom, Friends. Those who have watched both cannot deny that How I Met Your Mother has taken large portions of Friends, be it plot points or characters, and placed them in its own storyline. And if you someone does deny it, make them read this.
- Base Story
To start off, both sitcoms start off with a group of twenty-something friends, living and trying to make it in New York. The main plot revolves around the main character (Ross and Ted) and his love interest (Rachel and Robin). While they’re all involved in some sort of work, at the end of (or even during) the day they assemble at one place to hang out and just chill with the gang (MacLaren’s Pub for How I Met Your Mother, Central Park for Friends). And multiple times during the show, you will wonder whether or not these people even have jobs because they seem to spend all day (and night) in these joints, or doing everything but work.
There are startling similarities between almost all main characters in the two shows. Both have a nerdy guy (Ross and Ted), a formerly rich career woman (Rachel and Robin), a mom friend (Monica and Lily), the funny guy (Chandler and Marshal) and the adorable womanizer (Joey and Barney). Having established that, let’s go into the details of each of these characters and how many traits and incidents have been used for both shows.
- The Nerdy Guy
In the pilot episode, the nerdy guy falls for the career woman believing her to be ‘The One’ and eventually, after a whirlwind of on again, off again romances end up with her. Both characters end up being a professor, and eventually dating a university student, which breaks off later. They’re both know-it-alls and love correcting people, which obviously annoys the group. Both have a long developed obsession each- dinosaurs for Ross and buildings for Ted. Both characters have dated/been married to someone who later turns out to be a lesbian.
- The Career Woman
The career woman in both shows is an outsider of the group, becoming a part of it in the pilot episode of the series. They both have a will they/won’t they situation with the nerdy guy and after an entire season, end up dating him. Both relationships end exactly after a year, a post which they remain friends throughout the series. The last episode of both series shows them finally getting back together again for good. Both are shown to be horrible at cooking at some point in the show. Both Rachel and Robin are portrayed as a very attractive female in the series.
- The Funny Guy
Although in this case, similarities are less, they exist. The funny guy in both series becomes, or is the love interest of the mom friend, and end up marrying her. They both hate their jobs at one point, a post which they quit and stay at home. They join other jobs of their liking soon enough, at very base levels. And of course, they both meet their best friend, the nerdy guy, in college, and remain friends long after that.
- The Womanizer
They’re both playboys, but we cannot hate them anyway. They both have one huge obsession each, food for Joey, and suits for Barney. Both fall for the career woman at some point in the show but hide their feelings because of her and the nerd’s past. They also date the career woman but both relationships fail after a while. And also, both womanizers officiate the funny guy and mom friend’s wedding (and cry while at it, but that could be anybody).
- The Mom Friend
Both shows have a nurturing, dependable friend in the group. They end up marrying the funny guy in the show. Both Monica and Lily love being in control, one more than the other. They’re both obsessed with one thing each- cleaning for Monica and shopping for Lily. Both love cooking. And both have pregnancy problems in their respective marriages.
There are also some mild similarities between Phoebe and Lily. Both had a troubled past, one more than the other of course, leading them to be distant from the remaining members of their respective families. Both characters have had a dark, fearsome reputation as teenagers, as shown on multiple times on the show (Phoebe being a mugger and Lily being a goth punk teen that the neighbourhood children were terrified of).
- Birthday Break up
A small similarity, but one nonetheless. Both Friends and How I Met Your Mother has had an episode wherein a character from the show breaks up with a girl on her birthday. Funnily enough, both these characters have been played by the same actress, Anne Dudek.
- Dating the Therapist
Both the shows have had the main character date a therapist (Roger in Friends and Kevin in How I Met Your Mother) at some point, which obviously included the therapist analyzing the characters’ friends and thereby offending them all.
- Not Moving Away
Remember how Rachel got a job in Paris and almost went through but for Ross and cancelled her plans at the last moment? And remember how Ted was all set to move to Chicago but didn’t because he met Tracy at the wedding? Yeah.
- Sexual Scares
Friends had an episode named ‘The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy’ wherein Rachel played out Ross’s fantasy which was ruined because she turned into his mother (in his head, of course). The episode ‘Noretta’ from How I Met Your Mother had similar plot lines, where many characters experience the same deal (Barney and Nora, Lily and Marshall, Robin and Kevin).
The list could go on and on about many tiny incident details, character similarities, cast repetition, etc. but the point has been made. You can choose your favourite, but the fact remains that How I Met Your Mother can at some point be called hugely inspired by everyone’s beloved Friends.
Getting bored on the weekend, go for a movie binge