A Note on TV’s Lady Besties in 2015
I have two long distance best friends. Two pillars of love and light that have helped me mine the quarter-life sagas of situationships, family illnesses, and (f)unemployment. While they’re hunkered down in grad school libraries in Columbia, SC and New Orleans most of the year, we make it work with birthday visits, three way calls that rival the run-time of Titanic, and budget vacations. We cheer the mundane (ambitious meal plan for the week- “ok, girl!”) and the grand (4.0 semester- “yasssss queen”). We celebrate each other.
Growing up I could see female friendships like my own, and some that were dysfunctional, playful, and co-dependent featured prominently on the boob tube. These days there’s a dearth of those dynamics in television. In the somewhat distant past, female friendships in television were the axis on which some television shows existed. Laverne and Shirley. Mary and Rhoda (The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Jane and Daria (Daria). Alex and Sarah (OJBG) Lane and Rory (Gilmore Girls). Joan, Toni, Maya, and Lynn (Girlfriends). In these shows, the female relationships weren’t on the periphery. There were no bag holders. Or best friends reduced to a gladiator-in-a-suit protecting the honor of a fixer in a dingy white hat. Each lady had agency. They were central to the story.
In 2015, women in television hold court as CIA operatives, polarizing attorneys, and ballsy record label executives. Gone are the scenes of a damsel nursing heartbreak with a pint of ice cream and a viewing of Terms of Endearment. But with all this power, the female best friend, confidante and bosom buddy has faded from our screens. In defiance of this trend, I hold tightly to the female friendships of my favorite shows. Here are my picks from the last few television seasons.
Broad City Abbi and Illana
Greys Anatomy Meredith and Christina
Orange is the New Black Pennsatucky and Boo
Parks and Recreation Anne and Leslie
The Good Wife Alicia and Kalinda
Maybe our tastes as a culture have changed, leaving less room for scripts with women braving this world in concert with one another. Still, female friendships are revelatory and mold us in ways our romantic relationships sometimes can’t. I’d like to see my friendships and those like it reflected more on the small screen. Do it for Lucy and Ethel.