According to Lisa Kudrow, Jerry Seinfeld Believed ‘Seinfeld’ Was Responsible for the Success of ‘Friends’

Seinfeld and Friends remain two of NBC’s biggest sitcoms, even decades after they originally aired. The shows had a fair bit in common. Both were about a group of friends, and both were based in New York. Seinfeld came first, airing its first episode in 1989. Friends premiered several years later in 1994. There are a lot of different reasons that the two shows succeeded. However, Jerry Seinfeld did like to take a bit of credit for Friends’ success, revealed Lisa Kudrow.

Jerry Seinfeld preemptively accepted thanks for the success of ‘Friends’ from Lisa Kudrow 

Lisa Kudrow sat down for an interview with the Daily Beast. During the chat, she explained that she ran into Jerry Seinfeld at a party shortly after season 1 of Friends wrapped. The Comeback star recalled that she said hello to Seinfeld, and he said “You’re welcome” in response. Kudrow remembered she was a bit confused and questioned Seinfeld about the statement. She explained that the famed comedian told her, “You’re on after us in the summer, and you’re welcome.”

Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer in a promotional photo for 'Seinfeld'
Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer | George Lange/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

It’s hard to establish whether Seinfeld was just being funny, arrogant, or a combination of both. Kudrow doesn’t seem to think it matters since, ultimately, Seinfeld’s statement turned out to be rather predictive. The famous show about nothing did help Friends succeed. Well, sort of.  

Lisa Kudrow concedes that ‘Seinfeld’ did help ‘Friends’ 

Even if Seinfeld was joking when he happily took credit for the success of Friends, there was some truth to his statement. Season 2 of Friends was more successful than the show’s first season. Kudrow herself concedes that the show’s popularity might have been bolstered by appearing, during the summer, after Seinfeld

David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, and Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani pose for promotional photos for 'Friends'
The cast of ‘Friends’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

While Friends was certainly well-written and the chemistry of the cast played a massive role in its success, having a lead-in that was so popular didn’t hurt. At the very least, it helped new fans discover the show. Many of them stayed on long-term. Kudrow told the Daily Beast, “It was in the summer when we were in reruns after Seinfeld, where Seinfeld was our lead-in, where we exploded.” 

What show was on before ‘Friends’ during its early seasons? 

Seinfeld might have helped new fans find the series. Kudrow is right; the show’s second season was incredibly successful, following the summer reruns. Still, the series was set up for success from the start. Its season 1 ratings weren’t anything to sneeze at either. 

Friends didn’t exactly have a bad lead-in early in its tenure. Before landing a time slot after Seinfeld for the summer, Friends followed Mad About You. Seinfeld took up the slot after Friends in the show’s first season. Being sandwiched between two popular shows during its first year helped Friends establish itself with viewers. 

While Mad About You wasn’t as popular as Seinfeld, the series did draw a good crowd, ranking as the 11th most watched series in the 1994-1995 TV season. Mad About You trailed hits like ER and Home Improvement but beat out other popular shows like Murphy Brown and The Nanny.

After season 1, Friends slipped into the 8 p.m. time slot that Mad About You had previously occupied. Mad About You was moved around for the rest of its run. The series aired its finale in 1999 after eight seasons. Seinfeld wrapped with a controversial finale in 1998. Friends continued until 2004.  

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