Reaching ten seasons is a tremendous deal in television. While many shows have done it over time, it is rare for a glossy sitcom with big-budget actors to make the grade. Rarely does a show go for ten seasons without having important cast members replaced, being switch from network to network or producer to producer, or have stars quit. Many shows run until their viewership fades and are then cancelled, often with little fanfare.
“Friends” is the paramount of the modern-day, big-budget sitcom. It ran for ten seasons, remained popular throughout, and granted its stars a million dollars an episode during the last two seasons. The show ended during my freshman year of college and I remember the entire dorm floor converging on the common room to watch the series finale.
“How I Met Your Mother” is today’s reigning sitcom champion and has been renewed for a ninth season, reports deadline.com. The hit CBS show was apparently resurrected when cast member Jason Segel agreed to return for another season, rescuing the show from disappearing. Fans rejoice! And now many undoubtedly wonder whether or not “How I Met Your Mother” can match “Friends” for a ten-season run I mean, if you’ve already done nine seasons it would be a tragedy to not consider a tenth, tying sitcom’s all-time champion for longevity.
What has kept “How I Met Your Mother” in the network game as long as “Friends”? Can it go another two seasons to reach a perfect 10?
First of all, both shows featured characters in a good, popular age range, aging them gracefully from mid-twenties to mid-thirties. The characters are old enough to have meaningful lives and drama but young enough to retain youthful appear and juvenile hijinks. Teens can envision life as immature young adults and middle-age viewers can still look fondly on the recent past they wish they had had, giving a show with adultolescent 30-year-olds a wide viewership.
Both shows were set in New York City (as was, of course, other reigning champion “Seinfeld”) and apparently a city that never sleeps provides infinite fodder for sitcom plotlines. Shows set in less metropolitan locations, like “That ’70s Show,” fizzled much more quickly. Penultimate longevity champ “Law and Order” is also set in NYC. Advice to aspiring sitcom writers: Set your show in New York.
“Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” both developed characters from similar archetypes, establishing their greatest strengths. Ross from “Friends” and Ted from “How I Met Your Mother” were nerdy academics, working on college faculties and annoying their friends with overbearing intelligentsia-ness. “Friends'” Joey and “How I Met Your Mother’s” Barney were ladies’ men. HIMYM’s Robin matches the female trio from “Friends” for hapless romantic pursuits. But eventually Monica from “Friends” married fellow Friend Chandler, creating a married couple archetype…same as HIMYM’s Marshall and Lily. Apparently a good show involves a credentialed nerd, a goofy ladies’ man, lots of hapless romantic pursuits, and a married couple who remain cemented in their single friends’ lives.