The Absolute Best Female Friendships On Your Screens
The Debrief: As Broad City starts in the UK, here's the other very excellent lady friendships on screen
In all honesty, I don’t think I’m the world’s best friend. I’m flaky, lazy, impatient, easily distracted and bad at compromise. I’m getting married in October and thank bloody Christ that I can force my five sisters to be my bridesmaids - if I were to ask any of my chums, I’d worry that they’d look stricken and mutter: ‘But I didn’t think we were that… close?’ In fact, I could blame my sisters for my friendship failings, and I’m going to. When there are five people in your life who are forced to be your friends, even if you ask them meaningfully when they’re going to start using Jolene bleach, or find yourself calling them a cunt and throwing a paper napkin at them over a bad curry in Clapham, you really don’t have to make much of an effort, pal wise.
This might be why I’m obsessed with Broad City, coming soon to Comedy Central, and its main characters and writers, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Their relationship is a perfect post-millennial love story, but neither seem to obsess over making it work, it just does. Abbi is mainly concerned with overcoming a vague professional nervousness, Ilana basically just wants to hotbox her flat, and doesn’t want anyone getting in the way of her good time - not even Abbi. I don’t think they ever go to brunch - at least, they might get an egg-based sandwich at around 11AM, but they do it because they’re hungry (from all the weed) - there is no reservation system, Instagramming or mimosa emoji.
Growing up, my telly friendship education was Friends and Sex And The City. Neither show ever claimed to be an authentic look at love and friendship in an urban setting, but we could only suspend our disbelief so far. You’re a professional writer/waitress/masseuse who can afford to live in a smart part of Manhattan? OK. You’re getting off with Alanis Morissette at a Spin The Bottle party? Sure! You’re an adult with a full-time job and a fairly active sex life, yet you can hang out with your mates pretty much all day, and you constantly go for coffee, massages or cocktails in the middle of the afternoon but no one has fired you? No one ever blows off drinks because they have a big meeting, no one ever says:‘I really can’t go out this week, I have exactly eight seventy two until I get paid and I’m living on office birthday cake’, and no one is ever hanging out with their other friends? Broad City isn’t perfect, but when they fail and fuck up, they’re doing it in a way I can relate to and no one is nicking handbags off Lucy Liu.
Female friendship is bloody hard. I think we hold each other to higher standards than we do of men, and men do of each other. We say stuff like ‘Great friends are just there’ and ‘boys come and go, but friends last forever’ when hanging out with my boyfriend is easy and stress free, but I could reel off fifty friends I’d love to know better but maybe see every three to four months, signing off with ‘Next time we’ll have a proper catch up’. But then I think about the girls I love, the mates who make my heart swell, the ones who make me think about quitting my job so I can spend my afternoons with them, a modest bifta and a bottle of Pinot Blush. For them, and for Abbi and Illana, here are my top telly friendships.
Ann and Leslie, Parks and Recreation
The Leslie/Ann Perkins love affair requires such a great suspension of disbelief that you really need to get a harness in. Leslie works a 75-hour week, yet doesn’t do what the rest of us would with our free time - namely get into a bath with a 15-inch pizza and refuse to talk to anyone until we had to go back into the office. She lovebombs Ann into acquiescence, and Ann never questions the intensity of Leslie’s friendship. They just eat lots and lots of waffles. Endless, maple syrup-fuelled loyalty abounds.
Hannah and Marnie, Girls
Marnie Michaels and Hannah Horvath have a friendship that predates any other relationship on the show - and at times, it’s painful to watch. It’s something we can all recognise - the friend who has crystallised you at 19 and doesn’t want to deal with the reality of you at 24. The one you’re closest to, and most capable of hurting, who is much easier to get along with when neither of you are getting what you want. When Hannah discovered her ex Adam was living with someone else, Adam’s betrayal didn’t feel like the hardest one that Hannah had to face - it was Marnie’s failure to respond or reply to a message. Yet this is a relationship that will outlast boys, and marriage, and jobs and moves and whole television networks.
Cher and Dionne, Clueless
There’s a chance that this is the most chill friendship on the list. Cher and Dionne don’t live in each other’s pockets, Cher doesn’t resent Dionne’s relationship with her boyfriend Murray, and Dionne isn’t obsessed with getting Cher to hook up with someone. Their friendship easily survives the intervention of a third party - they can hang out with Tai without anyone accusing anyone else of ‘ditching’ them and weeping into their labcoat during a Biology practical, as happened to… um, this girl I know. Also, these two are super calm about landmark events like losing your virginity and taking your first driving test.
Liz and Jenna, 30 Rock
This is a relationship we can all relate to - built on glorious, panicked co-dependence. Jenna might be a nightmare diva with an ego that needs its own separate dressing room, but Liz built it, and Liz can kill whenever she chooses. Both women need each other, and use each other, and manipulate each other - which is what true friends do, we just don’t want to admit it. They treat each other like family.
Emma and Maggie, Playing House
This might be my favourite couple on the list, because they’re the only duo where one fancies the other if they stick on a ginger beard, a plaid shirt and trucker cap and demand to be called Bosephus. When pregnant Maggie discovered her husband is cheating on her with a German cam girl, high school BFF rushes from her high powered job in Hong Kong to be by her side. Emma is less use than a poncho with a sewn-up neck hole, but the borderline romantic chemistry between the two leads makes them impossible not to friend-ship.
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