TV Shows, Pop Culture

8 of the best female friendships on TV

My friends have been some of the most influential people in my life.

I get sentimental — mushy, even — when I talk about my best friends. I was one of those annoyingly lucky people who made good friends in middle and high school. We met in Spanish class, in after school programs and during terrible Chemistry labs. I spent my formative years laughing with them, crying about my many, many bad, teenage relationships, and learning from them.

I’ve always been the “sensitive one,” a trait that I jokingly attribute to my astrological sign (“I am a Pisces. I feel. Shut up.”) and for that reason, I don’t always tell my friends exactly how much they mean to me, how much I’ve learned from them. I get tired of crying all of the time.

I got a reminder of how much their opinions mean to me when one of my oldest and best friends was in town on business last week. One of my college friends asked her if my personality had changed since high school. She took a moment to think and answered “Lauren’s really the same. She’s always been very humble. Always been quick to speak up for someone who is being bullied.”

I was touched and I had to make a quick joke to prevent myself from crying into my sandwich. This is a person I’ve known since I was 12. We’ve never had the occasion to talk about what she thinks of me before (it’s just not something someone discusses during sleepovers and bio classes) and I was genuinely touched by what she said. I want to see myself the way she sees me.

The entire exchange got me to thinking about great female friendships and how truly important they are to one’s life/happiness/ability to get through the more dreadful things about adulthood. Here’s a list of these friendship types illustrated by – what else – fictional TV characters.

Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins/April Ludgate, “Parks & Recreation”

Leslie Knope is one of my fictional role models for a number of reasons. She’s incredibly tenacious, outspokenly feminist, almost super-humanly good at her job/baking/being a Scout leader/basically everything. But most of all, she is a remarkably great friend. She hones in on the good in each of her friends and loves them with an intensity that is sometimes difficult for them to reciprocate (see: the gifting incident in “Article Two”).

Two standout examples of Leslie’s friendship prowess are 1) the time he pushed Ann to a job as Public Relations Director for Pawnee’s Health Department (even if it meant she and Ann would end up having a drunken fight at Tom’s party) and 2) the way she wormed her way into the lovably surly April’s heart simply by being kind to her.

Khadijah James, Maxine Shaw, Regina “Régine” Hunter, and Synclaire James-Jones, “Living Single”

“Living Single” is one of the few ’90s sitcoms that I still wholeheartedly love today. It was funny and relatable, with a cast of characters whose friendships seem grounded in mutual respect. (It was also the blueprint for “Sex and the City” and anyone who tells you any different is a liar.) Even characters who clashed, like Régine and Max, were there for one another when needed.

Synclaire was compassionate, loving and adept at settling conflicts, Khadijah (a character who had such an impact on me that I literally modeled my life after her by attending her alma mater, Howard University, and becoming a journalist) was able to dish out both great advice and tough love, Max was funny, honest and quick to stand up for others, and Régine was great at lending both moral support and fashion advice. They didn’t fall into any of the annoying female-friendship-stereotypes by being co-dependent frenemies (Here’s looking at you, “Gossip Girl.”) but instead seemed like four, very different women who simply enjoyed each other’s company. 

“The Golden Girls”

Four women of a certain age, living under one roof? Who have active dating lives past age 40? And gather around in the middle of the night over cheesecake and stories about Sicily and St. Olaf? Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia are the blueprint.

Jane and Xiomara, “Jane the Virgin”

When most TV lovers talk about great mother-daughter friendships, they mention Rory and Lorelai of “Gilmore Girls,” but to me, Jane and Xo have one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever seen. Xo and Jane’s differences bring out the best in each other. They give each other dating, career and life advice, they make sacrifices for each other and each one will go to great lengths to protect the others feelings. Jane tempers Xo’s flair for the dramatic and Xo convinces the Jane to take risks. Also — and this has to be said — there are not many moms who could make talking about sex dreams not awkward.

Abby and Olivia, “Scandal”

Olivia once took a tire iron to Abby’s abusive ex-husband. Olivia Pope. The lover of all-white suits and fine wine. TOOK A TIRE IRON TO ABBY’S ABUSIVE EX-HUSBAND. There is so much story that we do not know about their years-long friendship, but that factoid alone tells me that the relationship is deep.

I mean, just watch this:

Jessica and Trish, “Jessica Jones”

Yes, Jessica Jones has superhuman strength and Trish Walker is a child star-turned-radio host who studies Krav Maga. However, the adoptive sisters’ relationship is truly remarkable for the way that they care for one another. Trish is the one who urges Jessica to use her abilities and Jessica would rather isolate herself from Trish than put her in danger. They are a great example of old friends, who have known each other for so long that they are not afraid of hurting each other’s feelings if the situation calls for it. There is so much love there, even when they’re severely pissed at each other.

Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, “Grey’s Anatomy”

The phrase “You’re my person” is one of the sweetest testament of friendship I’ve ever heard. Meredith and Cristina clicked almost instantly when they began interning at Seattle Grace Hospital. And after surviving several tragedies together (the Seattle Grace team has gone through an accidental bombing, a shooting and a host of other terrible incidents that I won’t list in the interest of not spoiling it for anyone who is on a Netflix binge), their bond only grew stronger.

Taystee and Poussey, “Orange Is the New Black”

Really, all you need to about Taystee and Poussey boils down to this one scene: