The “bromance” movie may have had its heyday, but look anywhere in the media and you’re still far more likely to see depictions of male friendship and bonding than you are women. In fact, when it comes to women, you’re most likely to see them being pitted against each other: who’s more desirable? Who is, ostensibly, “doing better”? Who wore it best? Take one look at any gossip magazine, or sites with features like the Daily Mail’s so-called sidebar of shame, and you’ll see countless examples.
In light of this, it becomes genuinely refreshing to see awesome representations of female friendship on TV, although they’re still depressingly few and far between. Think of recent successful TV shows and movies, and you’ll still see a whole lot of the The Smurfette Principle – that is, an ensemble cast made up of men and one, single female. Media is getting better, but genuine representations of female friendship, especially ones that form the main focus rather than playing second fiddle to male characters, deserve more recognition.
1. ‘Broad City’: Abbi and Ilana
Abbi and Ilana are the best friends dreams are made of. From talking to each other while they’re on the toilet to discussing every detail of their sexual escapades, this is female friendship at its finest: boundary-less, full of TMI moments, and hilarious with it.
Despite the ridiculous shenanigans they get into in each episode, there’s something very real about Abbi and Ilana. They see each other at, arguably, their worst – from peeing out condoms to being maced into handling poo. Broad City doesn’t shy away from all those aspects of being a woman that the media often likes to ignore (because let’s face it – sometimes, it can be gross). And yet throughout everything, Abbi and Ilana still eternally see the best in each other.
What more could you want out of a best friend?
2. ‘Parks and Recreaction’: Leslie and Ann
Two words: Galentine’s Day!
Is there anyone in the world who loves their friends more than Leslie Knope? Leslie dedicates February 13th to celebrating her lady friends, rendering Valentine’s Day something of a dull, overrated sequel to Galentine’s Day, which – in Leslie’s words – should be a national holiday. And really, who are we to say she’s wrong? What would you choose? An overpriced pink card with a terrible, mass-produced poem inside, or a carefully crafted handmade gift celebrating your best qualities?
The good news is that you can have both. The beauty of Parks and Rec is that it doesn’t pit friendship and romance against each other in the way we see in so many other depictions of female friendship. In fact, Leslie and her best friend Ann fight “over boys” just once across all seven seasons, and underneath it all, it’s really more about Leslie’s sometimes overbearing nature. It’s a stupid fight, fuelled by a drink that is “basically rat poison” – the show doesn’t try to make it anything more than that.
Parks and Rec does a great job of showing the women fighting each other over men trope for what it is: ridiculous.
As Leslie says: it’s all about “uteruses before duderuses, ovaries before broviaries.”
3. ‘Some Girls’: Viva, Saz, Holli & Amber
The friends you make in school are unlike any others, and Some Girls is the perfect example of this. On the surface, Viva, Saz, Holli and Amber have very little in common, other than the fact they’ve been friends all throughout their time at school.
And they’re all a bit… strange.
But this is what makes the show so special. You’ll recognise these girls from your own school days. From navigating relationships, sex, families, and choices about the future, the girls are there for each other. Their differences are what make them work so well together, and it’s that ironclad friendship – not to mention the clumsy, often mortifying, always hilarious journey into adulthood – that Some Girls portrays perfectly.
Some Girls has been described as “the female Inbetweeners“, and the comparisons are there. Both shows focus on a group of four friends, and both groups are of the same age, set in the UK. But, even as an Inbetweeners fan, I have to call that a criminal undersell. It falls into the trap of thinking that something with female characters is a version only for girls, while male characters are somehow always universal, which is far from the case. Some Girls stands on its own.
4. ‘Absolutely Fabulous’: Edina and Patsy
Neither Edina nor Patsy is a particular likable person. For all their endearments – “sweetie, darling” – they’re often cruel, generally callous, and almost always drunk. And yet you can’t help but enjoy watching. There’s something almost (almost) heartwarming about the way they’ll stick up for each other, even as they scoff and look down on the unfashionable masses getting between them and their Lacroix, sweetie, Lacroix. These are two friends who are together no matter what.
At the heart of it, Edina and Patsy are every wine-soaked bitch session you and your friends have ever had, and they’re equally cathartic.
With a movie set to be released later this year, Ab Fab has been on and off our screens since 1992 – proof that you can’t keep a good friendship down.
5. ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’: Amy, Rosa & Gina
We so often see career-orientated women portrayed as cold and backstabbing, without time for friendships. Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s ambitious but well-rounded, developed characters buck the trend.
Written by Chelsey Lang.
Please take note of Fanny Pack’s Comments Policy before commenting on this article.