W&G. Thread closed.
No, seriously, Friends was lame. It literally had some of the best writers, highest salaries and budgets for scenes/sets, and still failed to get the laughs. Literally, I challenge any Friends fan to list 3 funny lines or scenes from Friends that everyone will recognize. The gueststars on Friends were all necessary because of cross-tie ins and contracts, nobody wanted to be on that show because the producers openly admitted to not liking gueststars and because the cast thought it took away their screentime. But Friends failed to address ANY issue of substance. In short, it was an overpriced meatloaf.
W&G on the other hand, while not a laugh riot, delivered consistent and witty jokes. Karen's alcoholism and pill popping was a constant source of joy and laughs. Here are just a few of the lines readily recognizable as W&G:
Karen: (pointing to her tits, then vagina and ass) "milk, milk, lemonade...in the bad, fudge is made."
Karen unwraps her wet hair, shakes it and it's perfectly in place. Amazed, Grace asks "How did you do that?" Karen nonchalantly and without turning to respond says, "Money."
(fight breaks out in the cowboy themed gay bar) Beverly Leslie jumps over the bar in his boots and hat and rings the bell screaming "bar fight, bar fight!"
Despite a hugely smaller budget, ACTUAL TALENT actively WANTED to be featured on the show. Actors literally wrote to solicit to be on (as opposed to producers usually begging). And most of the stars W&G landed weren't some flash-in-the-pan or flavor of the month, but critically acclaimed legends in their field. The list includes, but is not limited to Alec Baldwin, Barry Manilow, Blythe Danner, Britney Spears, Candice Bergen, Cher, Debbie Reynolds, Demi Moore, Dylan McDermott, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Gene Wilder, Glenn Close, Jack Black, Woody Harelson, James Earl Jones, Janet Jackson, Jeff Goldbloom, J Lo, Joan Collins, Katie Couric, Kevin Bacon, Mackuley Calkin, Patty Lapone, Madonna---yes Madonna, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Minnie Driver, Patrick Demsey, Neil Patrick Harris, Parker Posie, Rip Taylor, Rudy Galindo, Sandra Bernhard, Sharon Osbourne, Taye Diggs, Tom Skerritt, and Wanda Sykes. And the list is more than 3 times that length.
Substantively, W&G was groundbreaking in that it was the FIRST show to feature a gay character to mainstream America on a broadcast network. It pioneered even before Queer as Folk on Showtime in 2001. Substantively, the show dealt not only with a first time main gay character, but dealt head-on with the issues of homophobia, bullying, substance abuse, gay for pay prostitutes, drag queens, safe sex, interracial dating (the first gay interracial kiss, by the way with Taye Diggs), racism in the gay community, sexism in the gay community, "hags," marriage rights, gay gentrification, and countless other issues. No other show dared touch that.
To put W&G in the same ballpark as Friends is a disservice to a groundbreaking show, that consistently delivered laughs and had a gueststar list the red carpet is envious of. Friends is a narcissistic show that wasn't all that funny and followed the curiously messed-up lives of 6 white privileged 20-somethings who couldn't pull their head out of their rear to get their careers and love life in order. There really is no comparison.