Why Ralph Macchio Keeps Comparing ‘Cobra Kai’ to This Hit Sitcom

The cast of "Friends."

Getty The cast of NBC's "Friends" in 1999.

Netflix’s hit new series “Cobra Kai” has proven to be one of the streaming platform’s most popular shows of all time. It is no wonder, then, why it is being compared to another staple of popular culture by the show’s biggest star.

The relationship dynamic between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) has been a focus of interest among fans not only since the series began in 2018, but for decades, ever since their rivalry was established back in the original “Karate Kid.” As we get a more objective view of Johnny – “The Karate Kid’s” bully – in “Cobra Kai,” we get to see Daniel become more friendly with him too, as season 3 came to an end. This is despite their relationship becoming even more strained after Johnny’s car is damaged in a hit-and-run by a car containing Daniel’s daughter Sam (Mary Mouser), and Daniel unknowingly begins mentoring Johnny’s estranged son Robby (Tanner Buchanan) in karate.

It is mostly because of this complex relationship which is why Ralph Macchio keeps comparing “Cobra Kai” to Ross and Rachel of NBC’s “Friends.”

Like ‘Friends,’ ‘Cobra Kai’ Is ‘Keeping the Ball Up in the Air’

"Cobra Kai" season 3 finale.

YouTubeDaniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence join forces in the season 3 finale of “Cobra Kai.”

In a 2021 interview with EW, Macchio was asked about why he believed the third season was the right time to bring back fan favorite characters such as Chozen and Kumiko (Yuki Okumoto and Tamlyn Tomita, respectively). Macchio responded by saying that “Cobra Kai” was best at keeping the audience on their toes, thereby having them question who would appear or what would happen next. He compared this to the famous “Ross and Rachel” storyline on NBC’s hit sitcom “Friends,” given that the audience never quite knew how the famous on-again-off-again relationship would turn out:

We always talk about, you know, the Ross and Rachels of “[Cobra Kai].” You want to get to them, but you don’t want to put them together — so we’re constantly keeping that ball up in the air.

He went on to say that the writers “do a brilliant job providing fan service and the Easter eggs, and the feels, and the comedy, and yet slowly peppering in those moments that we’re waiting for.”

Daniel & Johnny Are Also Like Ross & Rachel

Ross and Rachel on "Friends."

GettyDavid Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston as Ross and Rachel on “Friends” (1996).

Later in the EW interview, Macchio went on to compare the show to Ross and Rachel once more. After he was asked about Daniel and Johnny uniting their Miyagi Do and Eagle Fang dojos in defeat of their common enemy (John Kreese’s Cobra Kai), Macchio responded with the same analogy: the audience never knows where Daniel and Johnny stand, just like the “Friends” couple. He explained:

Therein lies our Ross and Rachel thing… Johnny and Daniel, we love to see them have a few beers and be simpatico, and then we also love to see them at each other’s throats. Another thing that works so well in the show is the audience can see the different-but-same elements of these guys. It’s sometimes frustrating because you just want to put them in a room together and pour a drink and just say, “Get over it.”

When asked in a Men’s Health interview in January 2021 to tease the relationship development between Johnny and Daniel, Macchio gave a similar tease, using the “Friends” analogy once again:

It’s basically a match-cut from the end. That’s the plan as of now. We talk about the Ross and Rachel of our show being Daniel and Johnny—you love them together but you love it when they’re at each other’s throats, and you’ve got to keep that ball up in the air.

Currently, the ball is up in the air as to how Daniel and Johnny’s relationship will continue to develop, and to what end they will be willing to work together. Will Miyagi Do and Eagle Fang’s alliance be a noble match against the battle-hardened Cobra Kai? How will Daniel and Johnny’s relationship end? Find out on season 4 of “Cobra Kai,” set to be released on Netflix Dec. 31.

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