Modern Family and Friends are both long-running sitcoms about a group of people that consider themselves very close and are involved in each other’s day-to-day lives. Both series won numerous awards and both have influenced other television shows that came after them.
While Friends has been off the air for a long time, it’s more relevant than ever. It remains to be seen how Modern Family influences pop culture years from now as the series is still airing new episodes. But there are some things Modern Family does better than Friends and vice versa. Let’s take a look!
10 Modern Family is more relatable for the average person
Modern Family is easier to relate to the average person due to the nature of the series. It tries to encompass characters from different walks of life, although if you’re not a white American you may find the show as a whole difficult to get into. That can be said for both sitcoms.
Still, Friends is pretty unrealistic in a lot of ways. It’s not likely that in today’s economy, a group of young adults could live together in a nice apartment in New York the way Rachel and Monica do. Whereas on Modern Family, you’re likely to find more similarities between the daily life of parents raising multiple children and the way families interfere in each other’s lives.
9 Friends does a better job at long-term character development
Overall, Friends does a much better job at developing its core cast of six characters than Modern Family does. While the characters on Modern Family certainly undergo their fair share of character development and growth, it’s not quite to the same degree of what we see on Friends.
Friends tackles numerous heavy topics such as divorce, infertility, and beyond. Surprisingly, they’re able to navigate the comedy and drama very well. Modern Family occasionally goes down more dramatic paths but it’s very rare.
8 Modern Family creates more family-oriented stories
Obviously, considering the title of the series, it’s easy to understand how and why Modern Family does a better job at writing stories about family. Friends has its own familial units but they tend to come and go.
They receive much less focus than what we see on Modern Family where the family is literally at the core of every episode. There is quite a bit of nuance to the amount of family drama and comedy we see on a regular basis on the ABC sitcom.
7 Friends is better at remaining culturally relevant
It’s a little difficult to judge how Modern Family will resonate years from now since the show is still on the air, but it’s going to be hard for the sitcom to beat Friends. Despite being off the air for more than a decade, Friends is arguably the most popular sitcom of all time. It remains a trending topic and is still watched by millions each year through streaming services.
Modern Family captured the zeitgeist when it first premiered and raked in several Emmys, but since then it has faded in popularity. The show is still beloved by many, but rarely does it capture national attention, become the basis of trending memes, or fill the pages of Buzzfeed the way Friends does.
6 Modern Family is more inclusive and politically correct
Given the time period that Friends aired, it’s not surprising that watching it now might occasionally leave a bad taste in your mouth. A lot of the jokes and one-liners on Friends are distasteful and offensive nowadays.
Modern Family suffers from the same problem sometimes, especially in the early seasons. That said, it does a much better job overall of being politically correct than the older sitcom.
5 Friends teaches the value of friendship
If Modern Family is better with family relationships, then Friends is much better at friendship! We rarely see friendships depicted with non-family members on Modern Family.
It makes sense given the show’s focus is on the Dunphy, Pritchett, and Tucker-Pritchett clans, but in that sense, we don’t get the enriching found-family feeling we get when watching Friends and seeing six people come together from completely different families (sans Monica and Ross, obviously).
4 Modern Family is more realistic
As we mentioned before, Friends is a little hard to believe. Hundreds of think pieces and articles have been written about how “implausible” the storylines and set-up of Friends is, especially when you look at it from the context of our current social and economic era.
Modern Family is a series written specifically to appeal to the average American. It exceeds at realism for the most part. Even if some of the hijinks are too over-the-top and the occasional plot doesn’t add up, most people can relate to at least one element of the show, especially if you live in the suburbs.
3 Friends is more consistent
You pretty much always know what to expect when you turn on a random episode of Friends. Most episodes follow a formulaic arrangement of storylines. The same can be said for Modern Family and most television series. But it’s even more true for Friends when the same few sets are often used.
If you’re watching Friends you know they’ll likely spend a good portion of time in Rachel and Monica’s apartment or down at Central Perk. There is a sense of predictability on Friends due to the fact they filmed in front of a live studio audience that you won’t get on Modern Family.
2 Modern Family is better at sibling rivalry
Modern Family is extremely realistic when it comes to portraying relationships between siblings. Whether it’s between Alex, Haley, and Luke, or Claire and Mitchell, or even between in-laws, you can always expect to see something bracingly realistic and extremely hilarious between the many sibling relationships on the series.
Friends does a good job with sibling relationships when they arise, mainly between Monica and Ross, but Modern Family definitely beats the other sitcom here.
1 Friends is better at escapism
Again, Friends has elements to its plot that are totally unheard of, but they provide the audience with a level of escapism. It’s great fun to watch Friends and forget about your problems in real life.
Instead, you can watch a group of six gorgeous young adults get into scandalous relationships, flit from job to job, and somehow afford extremely nice and roomy apartments in the heart of New York City.