So, which one is better?
Comparing the two is not something that should be done, for the two belong to two completely different sets of viewers, IMO. I, personally, am in for Seinfeld. Having watched both the series multiple times, I can assume that the more you age, the better Seinfeld gets!
As per my experience, I believe that the more something is watchable the better it gets than anything that is, say, exceptionally reviewed or globally recognized.
Seinfeld is pure excellence. Completely character driven, with very little or no slapstick humor, immensely well written, almost no cliches, low on emotional content and keeping it real every time.
Friends is good in a sit home – relax for a bit – switch to something else kind of a way. Seinfeld is meant for ‘the’ binge watch. There is no denying the fact that Seinfeld keeps it real, more than Friends which seems to make it a tad over the top. Seinfeld, with the passage of seasons, gets better. One of the very few series where the supporting cast, somehow, gets the better of the main players. When you watch a Seinfeld episode where the plot circulates around, say, a Newman or a Frank Costanza, you know you are gonna spill into laughter.
The sheer chemistry between Newman and Kramer is what is indescribable. For instance, the episode where Kramer asks Newman to assist him with all of Newman’s rhetoric one liners to propose a girl and in the middle of the whole act the girl says something against mailmen (which is Newman’s job). The fact that Newman leaves his purpose of helping Kramer aside, albeit shortly, to counter the girl’s point and then switches back to the job when Kramer reminds him is something that is so tastefully done. Brilliance written all over it!
One of my favorite episodes, not only on Seinfeld, but on TV will always be The Merv Griffin Show. Hilarious from tip of the hair to nail of the toe. If you wanna see what Kramer is to Seinfeld, watch the episode!
On the contrary, in Friends, you cannot really recall any scintillating chemistry going on among the supporting cast. Other than the main cast members, I could recall only a few encounters that can be touted to be funny. Gunther and Joe’s conversation is good and so is the one where Chandler and Richard face each other. Other than that, it is all about the main six characters.
Moreover, many times it feels that the producers/writers are trying to impose a character on the audience. For instance, when the phase ‘Its so Monica’ or ‘You are so being Ross’ are used, more than comedy, it looks like they are being burdened on the viewers, something that looks like is being forced upon us to accept. These characters might be stereotypical to the producers or even to the viewers, but it surely is not definite. This is where Seinfeld buries Friends. They never boast their characters off. There never is a catchphrase that uses the characters for the audience to gulp. It all comes natural to us.
Yes, Seinfeld is more natural than Friends and hence, to me, makes it a bit more watchable than Friends.