On a recent episode of the Damn Fine TV podcast, my BFF, Jen, and I discussed our favourite TV friendships. The only real criteria for choosing who we would talk about, was that we both had to know the show and relationship so we could collaborate on the conversation. We wanted it to be a team effort, like all great friendships.
Unfortunately, selecting from shows we were both familiar with meant the pool of choices was significantly narrowed, and our picks wound up lacking some serious diversity. Apart from Bonnie Bennett, a Black character from The Vampire Diaries, all of our choices were White, straight, cis folks.
This was completely unintentional, and I addressed it up front on the show. However, simply acknowledging that there are other BFFs on television that don’t look like the ladies from Sex and the City wasn’t enough. So, as promised on the podcast, this piece will attempt to fill in a few of the gaps we left on the show. It’s certainly not the most comprehensive list, either, but it’s three friendships I absolutely adore and couldn’t resist highlighting.
Issa & Molly – Insecure
Insecure follows the personal and professional lives of Issa and Molly, best friends since college and both nearing the end of their twenties. Up until recently, Issa worked for a non-profit helping middle school students, while Molly is a corporate attorney working her way up the career ladder. These two are never quite on the same page when it comes to both work and dating, but regardless of how in flux the rest of their lives are, their bond remains strong.
A huge part of what draws me to Issa and Molly is their ability to be so real with one another, and not just in terms of dishing out necessary tough love. While Issa or Molly might hold their tongue in very specific situations, these women are completely honest at all times. Even with smaller stuff, like when Issa (or Molly) says she’s going to make a change about an aspect of her life, and Molly (or Issa) calls her out because she can see right through the bullshit. They’re never belittling each other’s goals, but rather keeping things in perspective and shedding the realities of life onto their issues; they know they each thrive on a particular kind of encouragement.
When it does come to tough love, though, Issa and Molly aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said. For the most part, they approach each other in just the right ways to help the other see the deeper truth of a given situation, but sometimes caution must be thrown to the wind for the good of the other. For example, Issa knows Molly isn’t big on therapy but she still pushes the idea because she can see how much her friend could really benefit from it. Issa knows she runs the risk of pushing Molly away – because Molly isn’t ready to hear what she knows is right – but she broaches the subject anyways because of her love for Molly.
Similarly, during season one, Molly could see Issa was on a messy path with Daniel. She questioned her friend’s motivations, to which Issa replied, “Daniel knows I’m with Lawrence” and all Molly had to say was, “Do you?” It may not seem like much, but those two, simple words were enough to bring Issa back down to Earth and reflect on her choices – even if it was only short-lived.
It’s not all about holding each other accountable, though; Issa and Molly know how to have fun. While their intimate honesty is a large part of what makes their friendship so worthy of our time and adoration, I’ll never get tired of watching them get glammed up for a night of dancing, or donning sweats and devouring snacks during a tea-filled sleepover. Let’s hope Issa and Molly can work through the shit they unearthed during their last sleepover at the end of season three, and come out the other side stronger for it.
Desna, Jen, Ann, Polly, & Virginia – Claws
Claws follows a group of nail artists, who enter the world of organized crime when they agree to help launder money for a neighbouring pain clinic run by the Dixie Mafia. Desna owns Nail Artisans, the salon where the five women work; Jen is Desna’s closest friend and married to the nephew of the Mafia’s leader; Ann, sometimes called Quiet Ann, is the salon’s one-woman security detail; Polly is a bubbly “ex” con artist; Virginia, the crew’s newest member, isn’t the brightest of the bunch, but proves her loyalty early on.
Loyalty is a word I use a lot when describing the women of Claws. Their bonds are the most genuine aspect of this campy yet sometimes serious comedy. Their dedication and love for one another are what consistently grounds the more outlandish aspects of the show, while simultaneously elevating material that could easily be straight fluff. The relationships these women have with one another are truly beautiful and Claws wasted no time setting them up; I was in love with the group by the end of the show’s pilot, and I’ve laughed along with them in happier times, and cried during the difficult ones, too.
I started watching Claws under the assumption that it was going to be a fun but ultimately hollow show. One of the characters is named Uncle-Daddy, so I expected the kind of narrative one might assume would come along with such a name. And while the show can certainly be ridiculous, it also has a lot of heart thanks to the friendships at its core. I am consistently moved by how these women will drop everything to be at one another’s sides, no matter the cost.
Even amidst a truly chaotic time in season two, the crew put their troubles aside to help Polly get through her mental breakdown. Ann found love in a very unlikely relationship – with a cop – and though it’s one of the most difficult things she’d ever done, she called it quits when the woman became a threat to Desna and the crew. Even while Jen was furious with Desna, for kicking off a series of complex events that led Jen’s husband to murder an innocent couple, she still stood by her BFF’s side when it really counted.
What truly stands out for me here isn’t that these women can cast aside their anger or pain and come together, it’s that they can do so while still being angry or hurt. They support each other against the world, but once the world is taken care of, they still deal with the underlying issues. So far, it’s only ever made their bonds stronger, and that much more enviable.
Kat, Jane, & Sutton – The Bold Type
The Bold Type follows three, twenty-something ladies who all work for a women’s magazine, Scarlet. Kat is the publication’s head of social media, Jane is a features writer, and Sutton is an assistant in the fashion department. While the professional lives of these three can often feel a little unrealistic, the social issues tackled on the show – sexuality, gun violence, race, sexual assault, etc. – are very true to life and always handled with nuance and sincerity. It’s because these issues are examined through the lens of Kat, Jane, and Sutton’s friendship that the show never feels like an After School Special, and is consistently relatable. Their problems look a lot like ours, just a bit glossier.
While The Bold Type isn’t afraid to shine a light on important and serious topical issues, the overall goal of the show seems to be promoting positivity; in a healthy, realistic way. Kat, Jane, and Sutton confront challenging situations on a weekly basis, and the way they always get through them is by relying on each other, which, ultimately, reminds them to believe in themselves. These three have a seemingly endless supply of support for one another, both personally and professionally.
Can it get a little corny sometimes? Sure. But, more than anything, it’s inspirational to see such young women hustle so hard for everything in their lives. The best part is, they prove women can be incredibly successful without being cutthroat, and that female friends are capable of working alongside one another without any petty competition holding them back or coming between them. (Which shouldn’t need proving in 2018, but, sadly, still does.)
Kat, Jane, and Sutton push one another to be the best they can, and always lead by example by pushing themselves to be better in their own right. However, they also recognize the importance of self-care; how it’s crucial to know that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. In a season two episode, Jane was up for a writing award, but told Kat and Sutton not to attend the ceremony because she knew they were both going through something emotionally taxing; her besties’ mental health meant more to her than an award. It was a touching sacrifice, which was only surpassed by Kat and Sutton when they surprised Jane by attending the ceremony anyways.
Most of all, I love the open dialogue between these three women. Literally, no subject is off limits between them. This makes for lighter conversations, like when Kat is exploring her bisexuality or when Jane admits to never having had an orgasm before. But there are also tough conversations, like when Kat doesn’t let a racist comment from Jane slide, or when Jane forces Sutton to interrogate why she’s so hung up on keeping a gun in their apartment. What’s more, The Bold Type doesn’t shy away from making its opinions on these subjects clear – racism is never okay, female pleasure is important, guns are stupid – which elevates it from other shows of its ilk, just ticking off the social commentary boxes without actually offering any food for thought. Again, it’s how these topics are explored that give Kat, Jane, and Sutton such a fantastic and desirable dynamic.
I know there are likely still a ton of fantastic TV friendships that remain overlooked by both my podcast and this article, so, please, sound off in the comments and let me know which BFFs we should be paying attention to! Whose crew would you want to be part of? What duos and cliques would you want to be in on a group text with? Which TV BFFs remind you of you and your bestie?