A Celebration of Friendships

So far this month, I have celebrated individual characters and touched a little bit on other types of relationships but I haven’t had much to say about friendships on TV yet. I love seeing all the different ways that friendships are portrayed on TV. I love them in all their forms and amount of emphasis on any given show. Some of the ones I’ve chosen to highlight today can also easily be construed as romantic but as they are non-canon and I am of the strong opinion that the best romances grow out of friendships, I’m including them in the friendship category. In (mostly) no particular order, here are 10 of my favorite friendships on TV, past and present.

Leslie and Ann (Parks and Recreation) It will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever spoken to me that this is my favorite friendship on TV. The bond and love that these two share is so special and genuine. Ann grounds Leslie. She acts as an anchor in times of crisis and shares in her joy in times of happiness. She gives her balance and an outlet for all of her passion and excitement for everything. Leslie believes in Ann. While Leslie is very good at knowing who she is and what she wants, it’s something Ann has been working on since the show began. By the sixth season, she had figured out something to make her happy and then pursued that idea to completion despite negative opinions and setbacks, just like Leslie would have. Like any true friendship, they are there for each other in the big moments (like having a baby or buying a house) and the small (sharing opinions about Jennifer Aniston). They may not be alike but they complement each other and help each other be their best self. Above all, they love each other and know the other one is always just a phone call or text away.

Esposito and Ryan (Castle) There are a lot of really great friendships on Castle but the one between Esposito and Ryan may be my favorite. Once again, these two are very different but there is a loyalty and love between them that can’t be beat. Their friendship got a brilliant showcase in season 6’s “Under Fire” as they tried to encourage each other not to lose hope as they were trapped. The small moments of friendship we get between them are often funny but have an underpinning of trust and respect that you can tell goes back a long way. These two are partners and always will be.

Severide and Shay (Chicago Fire) Like Castle, Chicago Fire has a lot of great friendships. The friendship between Severide and Shay has been one of the most constant throughout the first two seasons and one of the most endearing. Like most of my favorite friendships, this one is built on trust and loyalty. These two would do anything for each other and they both know it. They may disagree on the other’s choices at times but the rift never stays for long. It’s clear that they have each other’s best interest at heart and want them to be happy and safe. I would have loved for them to be able to start that family together, but maybe it’ll happen sometime in the future. Assuming that they both survive the events of the s2 finale, that is.

Alison and Felix (Orphan Black) Anyone who has seen Orphan Black knows that Jordan Gavaris and Tatiana Maslany have excellent chemistry with each other, no matter what clone Felix is acting against. Alison and Felix developed an unlikely friendship in season one that ended up being one of the most endearing relationships on the show to me. Felix’s loud way of living was such a contrast to Alison’s tightly controlled world and it was just what she needed as she accepted her lack of control. Though Alison didn’t have as large a role in season two, Felix was there when she needed him, providing comfort and humor to her life.

Abbie and Ichabod (Sleepy Hollow) I’ve written about these two before but they truly are one of the best friendships on TV right now. They have humorous moments (typically when Abbie teaches Ichabod about something modern) as well as heartfelt moments (the end of The Sin Eater or their parting scene in the finale). As Ichabod said, they found each other, despite all the impossibilities, and it’s a relationship both can be grateful for. After years of isolation and the death of Sheriff Corbin, Abbie has someone she can trust. She knows that he’ll be true to her word and come back for her. She knows his importance to him with 100% certainty and Ichabod knows that this is the hope she will need to make it through Purgatory. By promising to return for her, unless they can find another solution, Ichabod knows it will mean losing his wife again. Even Katrina knows this and is ok with that because right now he needs to be with Abbie to save the world, not her. It’s an intense intimacy that doesn’t have a sexual component, not even as a joke. It’s built on trust, devotion, and destiny and it has been beautiful to watch it develop.  

Jaime and Brienne (Game of Thrones) These two have something incredibly rare in Westeros – a friendship based on trust and respect. The beginning of their relationship was antagonistic. Brienne despised what the man she thought Jaime was and she was acting as Jaime’s captor so he wasn’t too fond of her either. Things changed. Jaime confessed what really happened the day he killed Aerys and Brienne saw the man he had been and still was deep down. He did have honor and loyalty, even if they weren’t necessarily toward the people he was expected to have them toward. He saw her as holding all the qualities of the knights she wanted to be. She reminded Jaime of his honor and of the good that comes from making and keeping the right oaths. He then trusted her with that honor when he sent her off with Oathkeeper to find Sansa and Arya. We don’t yet know if their paths will cross again but for a brief moment, they saved each other and forged a bond that will outlast their physical distance.

Brennan and Angela (Bones) These two could not be any more different in the way they see or relate to the world, but that has never stopped them from being best friends. Brennan has never been great at opening up to others but she feels comfortable enough with Angela to confide in her. As a result, Angela is very protective of Brennan. If you hurt her, you’ll have Angela to answer to. As the show has progressed, we’ve seen less of these two than I would like, but I know their friendship is always there and strong even if we don’t see it onscreen.

Cory and Shawn (Boy Meets World) There’s nothing quite like the bond between people who have grown up together and have chosen to carry that friendship through their adult lives. Cory and Shawn have been friends for their entire lives. They have been there for each other through pipe bombs, cults, births, deaths, falling in love, starting school, and moving on with their lives. Because Shawn didn’t have much of a family of their own, the Matthews family adopted him as their own. They have looked out for him, protected him, and loved him. Shawn and Cory aren’t related in blood but they are brothers in every other sense.

Arthur and Merlin (Merlin) Like Abbie and Ichabod, the bond between these two was destined to be. It was Merlin’s role to protect Arthur so that he could one day bring back magic and reunite Albion. They hated each other on first sight but then Merlin saved Arthur’s life and became his servant and the two grew to be friends. It was the most loyal, most constant relationship in Arthur’s life. When Arthur’s father did, Merlin sat outside the door all night so Arthur “wouldn’t feel he was alone”. When Merlin’s old village was struggling against a warlord, Arthur was right there with Merlin fighting. It was a relationship based on a lie – Arthur didn’t find out about Merlin’s magic until the final episode – but finding out the truth didn’t change anything. Merlin was still proud to be Arthur’s servant and Arthur just wanted Merlin by his side. Even after death, Merlin waited for Arthur for hundreds of years to rise again and take his place as the Once and Future King.

Taystee and Poussey (Orange is the New Black) We first saw how beautiful this friendship could be in season 1 when Taystee was released and then brought back to prison. Poussey was sad to see her friend leave but she believed in her ability to succeed outside of prison. When she was brought back, Poussey was disappointed that it didn’t work out but her friend was back. In season 2, this friendship devasted everyone as they were pulled apart by Vee. These two have always been great at laughing together and making the most out of their time in prison but we also got to see some more emotional moments between them. Speaking from the heart may not be Taystee’s strong point but it was something she knew she had to do because of how badly she had hurt Poussey. They are back and may still be rebuilding that trust between them but I have no doubt that they’ll be as close as ever before long. They are too important to each other not to get there.

Who are your favorite friendships?

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4 thoughts on “A Celebration of Friendships

  1. You already cited half the ones I would have, so I spent a lot of time just nodding along and enjoying your keen perspective about the aspects of friendships on display from the various duos you pointed out.

    There are a few I would add to the mix from my TV viewing days and in no particular order they include:

    Lucy & Ethel (I Love Lucy) – My first TV friendship remains the lasting one. Through all the antics and silly capers there was always a constant for this duo. There was no greater pleasure in my childhood than watching these two get in and out of jams whether it was candy making, hiding a full side of meat or rebuilding an outdoor grill these two were in it together. Without ever saying so, they knew they couldn’t live without one another and it made their bond special and always believable.

    Kip & Henry (Bosom Buddies) – Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari sold this absurd comedy about a cross-dressing advertising duo because the perfect tone of authenticity that came out of their performance. It was often harebrained hi jinks and slap stick plots but throughout the series we were given moments to look at this pair through a prism of failure. The circumstances they faced were driven by bad luck and the missed opportunities and it offered the ability to see a friendship that wasn’t without its strained moments, but that always managed to understand that they were better together than apart and ultimately they brought out the best in the other.

    Jack & Janet (Three’s Company) – Three’s Company was a straight up and down typical 70s comedy, high on physical prat falls and innuendo and low on sustained substance. Except when it came to the friendship of Janet and Jack. Yes, Jack was a skirt chaser and yes Janet as the brunette was the foil to his foolhardiness. However, because both actors remained on the show for the duration and the talents of Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter exceeded the material we were treated to a friendship that often resembled a sibling rivalry of one upmanship but that ultimately was deeply rooted in sincere caring. My favorite moment of the series is when Janet is hurt by a man who has lied to her and convinced her that her dreams of being a dancer are real only as a path to come onto her. At the end of the episode, Jack is there to pick up the pieces and in doing so supports the beauty of her dreams, not the shame of having been blind to what was obvious.

    Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte & Miranda (Sex and the City) – “Don’t laugh at me, but maybe we could be each other’s soul mates. Then we could let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.” enough said.

    Joey & Chandler (Friends) – Of all the pairings on this show, this was the one I felt closest to and protective of because it was innocent. It was a friendship without ulterior motive and one that was based in kindness. Yes there was sarcasm, yes there was competitiveness, but there was also unabashed love. It was the anchor friendship of the show and the one that provided the most pure joy.

    Jack & Chloe (24) – The close of this most recent season of 24 reinforced what I always knew and felt about this unlikely duo which was that they were a misfit pair. Chloe’s abrasive genius was a Jiminy Cricket conscience to Jack’s Pinocchio renegade justice methods. She disagreed and fought with Jack throughout the series in the high stakes espionage games they were at the center of without ever wavering the one thing Jack was in short supply of, trust and loyalty. Chloe braved the fire for Jack on more than one occasion and did so defiantly. She was the truest of friends through her actions, not her words.

    Meredith & Christina (Grey’s Anatomy) – Everyone needs a person. I have one, you have one. The person who is the one human being who can see you at your darkest, ugliest, nonredeemable self and know when it is simply time to hold your hand in the darkness or to help point out the light. They know when to help pull the covers over your head in unified misery and know when you need to just dance it out. Over the 10 years of this show Grey’s has done it’s share of great and not so great things. The one thing it did perfectly was establish, nurture and honor the friendship that does not fear the underbelly of who we are at our darkest moments but accepts our entire personage lock, stock and barrel.

    1. There is something about the way you describe shows that makes me want to watch everything you mention. I love the sound of all of these friendships that I haven’t seen and for the ones I have seen, you describe them perfectly.

      I completely agree with you that Joey and Chandler were the anchor friendship of the series and not only because Chandler is my favorite. There’s pure affection there that was a joy to watch.

      Your description of Meredith and Cristina is also wonderful. Hearing about their fantastic friendship is what made me really want to start the show and you captured them perfectly.

  2. Reading this list made me even more excited to see you tomorrow, which I didn’t think was possible at this point. 😉 Nothing warms my heart like a good TV friendship, so I loved picking my own 10 favorites. I’m kind of falling asleep at my computer, so I won’t really elaborate on them for now—but here’s my list!

    1.) Leslie and Ann (Parks and Rec)
    2.) Zoe and Mal (Firefly)
    3.) Jaime and Brienne (Game of Thrones)
    4.) Ryan and Esposito (Castle)
    5.) Cory and Shawn (Boy Meets World)
    6.) Chuck and Morgan (Chuck)
    7.) Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha (Sex and the City)
    8.) Sydney and Francie (Alias)
    9.) Rory and Lane (Gilmore Girls)
    10.) Alison and Felix (Orphan Black)

    1. This is a fantastic list of friends. I’ll forever love your affection for Rory and Lane because I always think they get neglected in favorite of Rory and Paris. Lane was always there for Rory and they were such a good example of friends who took different paths in life but always kept their love for each other.

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