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How The Big Bang Theory Is A Lot Like Friends

The biggest sitcom on TV right now is definitely The Big Bang Theory. It tells the story of four geeks whose lives are turned upside down when a beautiful girl comes into the picture. As much as we love the show, we have to admit it steals a lot of ideas from Friends, the biggest sitcom ever. Once you notice the similarities, they're impossible to ignore.

Leonard and Penny are Ross and Rachel...

Let's get the obvious out of the way: Friends was initially built off the potential relationship between Ross and Rachel. The two had known each other since high school, and Ross had a crush on Rachel almost the whole time. While she liked Ross, Rachel clearly didn't view him as someone she could date. The early seasons of the show heavily focused on Ross chasing after Rachel, while she dated and acted almost completely oblivious to his feelings. Meanwhile, on The Big Bang Theory, Leonard spent the first few seasons chasing after Penny. Sure, he didn't meet her until adulthood, but that's really the only difference. Also, both shows switched up the situation, with the girl eventually chasing after the guy. Even once they got together, they had a couple of false starts until eventually settling. Both Ross and Leonard are doctors, while both Rachel and Penny were waitresses. The only difference is that Penny's hair didn't become its own style. Women in the '90s were all about the Rachel, but nobody ever asked their barber for a Penny.

...And the rest of the cast is dating

This is a thing that happens on a lot of shows, but it's pretty blatant on these two shows. Friends and The Big Bang Theory both started off dealing with the social lives of a group of single, young, twenty somethings living in the city. Sure, one show takes place on the west coast while the other takes place on the east, but there isn't really that much of a difference. Also, the guys on Friends were never fully described as nerds, but they certainly weren't jocks. Ross and Chandler especially displayed geeky tendencies. Within a few seasons, however, both shows evolved into groups of friends navigating steady relationships together. The casts of both shows ended up mostly dating each other, although The Big Bang Theory skipped the part where they were a group of friends first. Essentially, Bernadette and Amy started dating their respective geeks and completely gave up their previous social lives. They were assimilated into this new group that always hangs out together all the time, and always in the same places. Leonard and Sheldon's apartment is essentially Monica and Rachel's apartment, just with more toys hanging around.

Penny's career

When she was first introduced, Penny was an aspiring actress. She had moved to California to make it in movies, but things weren't happening so she started working as a waitress to pay the bills. One of the most refreshing parts of The Big Bang Theory is the fact that Penny never became a big star. However, it is a little surprising that she's able to afford such a nice apartment on a waitress' salary. The show tries to play this off by making jokes about how broke she is, just like what Friends would do with Joey. He was a struggling actor, and despite one role on a soap opera, he spent much of the show looking for work. Also, similar to Penny's situation with Leonard, Joey received a lot of financial help from Chandler. Penny is just swiping from Joey, her career path is basically exactly the same as Rachel's. The Friends character started off working as a waitress while she sought out something a little more glamourous. Rachel eventually found a well paying job, quickly turning her financial situation around. The moral of both stories is the same: if you chase your dreams long enough, you'll eventually end up with some random job that probably doesn't have anything to do with your passion.

They somehow have a permanent table at a restaurant

Anyone who's ever lived in New York City knows that the most unrealistic part of Friends is the fact that they were always able to get the same couch at their favorite coffee shop. Though less blatant, the gang on The Big Bang Theory is always able to essentially get the same table whenever they go to The Cheesecake Factory. It's a common trope in sitcoms, because the set department isn't going to build a brand new table every time the show needs a scene at a restaurant. It should still be noted that both shows regularly rely on the entire cast meeting at the same restaurant and always having enough space open to fit their exact needs. The restaurant is always super busy except for where the characters need to be specifically. Both shows could be retitled The Luckiest Customers on the Planet.

Stuart is Gunther

Often times, sitcoms will have a popular background character who is actually super depressing. For Friends, there's Gunther. He was the manager of the coffee shop that the majority of the show took place in, and he had a huge crush on Rachel. He wasn't just attracted to her, he had an unhealthy obsession with her. For example, he once bought all of Ross' used furniture just because Rachel had used it. He was also a failed actor, and many of the jokes involving him revolved around his life being pretty sad and lonely. Which is basically the same situation that Stuart finds himself in on The Big Bang Theory. He owns the comic book shop that the nerds all frequent, and all of the humor around him has to do with how sad and lonely he is. He doesn't have a big crush on any of the women in particular, but he has showed interest in each one of them. The main difference between Stuart and Gunther is that we've gotten to know a lot more about Stuart, and it's quite depressing. At least with Gunther we can imagine he has a very happy life outside the coffee shop, but with Stuart we know there's no hope. Cue the laugh track.