Friday, August 16, 2013

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 TV Friendships

My longest friendship to date with another person is eleven years.

I moved from Pennsylvania to central Florida when I was thirteen years old (what a great age to uproot your life and form new friendships, right?) and started my new school a month later than everyone else. For those who are unaware, northern schools start in September while schools in Florida start back in August. As an incoming eighth grader, I knew that most students had already formed their friendships and cliques long ago. Being shoved into a new surrounding wasn’t easy for me, as someone who doesn’t like change, and I suffered through my first week of school and first new experience with a bully in my choir class.

As I rode the bus home that day, trying not to cry over the cruel note I had received from another girl in the soprano section, a girl who had also been in my choir class approached me. Gesturing to the empty space next to me, she asked if anyone was sitting beside me. I shook my head and she sat down. I found out that she lived in my neighborhood, got off at the same bus stop I did, and was a pretty nice girl. I tell her to this day that she chose to sit beside me at the exact right moment. Because I really needed a friend and she has been mine for the past eleven years.

There are a lot of wonderful friendships on television, if we’re being honest. And there are a lot of characters that we wish would be OUR best friends. In contemplating this list, I decided to pause and revisit not only the more recent television brotps and friendships, but also ones that defined my childhood. The 90s were, after all, a ripe time for sitcoms and with that came plenty of memorable, solid television friendships.

So whether you’re the outcast or the jock, the overachiever or the nerd, or the Time Lord Victorious and a temp from Chiswick, I hope you find these television friendships to be as inspiring and enjoyable to read about as they were to watch unfold on our television screens! :)

15. Jesse Katsopolis & Joey Gladstone (“Full House”)

I grew up watching a lot of classic 90s television and to this day, I believe I have seen every single episode of Full House that was ever made. One of my absolute favorite elements of the series was the development of the friendship between the characters. No friendship developed further over the course of eight seasons than that of Jesse and Joey. The two began the series at odds – Jesse was a rock ‘n’ roll ladies’ man and Joey was a man-child and comedian. But both found themselves bonded together when they moved into Danny’s home to help raise his three daughters.

Jesse and Joey went from being acquaintances to friends, from friends to best friends, and from best friends to radio deejays and eventual business partners. Though they often bantered (which, let’s be honest, was pretty fantastic) and poked fun of one another, Jesse genuinely cared about Joey and  Joey cared about Jesse. They wanted the best for each other and that’s the mark of a pretty solid friendship.

14. Fran Fine & Niles (“The Nanny”)

Continuing with my theme of 90s television, my next friendship is from another one of my favorite childhood series – The Nanny. I, once again, grew up watching this show and loved the comedy of Fran Drescher. One of the most hilarious elements of this series, however, was Niles and Fran’s relationship. They constantly bonded over making fun of C.C., discussed their lives in the kitchen, and sought out advice from each other over the course of the series. Fran and Niles always treated one another as friends and equals. Even when Fran married Maxwell and became, in a way, Niles’ superior, she still treated him as she had in the past, and their friendship continued to grow.

13. DJ Tanner & Kimmy Gibbler (“Full House”)

Growing up, I desired a friendship like that of DJ Tanner and Kimmy Gibler’s. How awesome it would be, I reasoned, to only be separated from my best friend by a fence, to see them all the time, and grow up with them constantly by my side. DJ and Kimmy’s relationship hit snags across the years – Kimmy abandoned DJ to hang out with cool, older girls, for example – but they ALWAYS remained best friends through it all. DJ was the constant supporter of Kimmy: she took care of her like she took care of her own sisters. And indeed, Kimmy was in DJ’s life so much that she WAS like a sister. And Kimmy? She was constantly loyal. She may have been a bit dense (okay… a lot dense), but she was there when DJ needed her, too, and that’s what made their relationship so strong.

12. Jim Halpert & Dwight Schrute (“The Office”)

In a television series that focuses on relationships in an office setting, it’s only fitting that one of these friendships would make it onto my list. After consulting my resident expert on all things related to The Office (Jaime), I settled on Jim Halpert and Dwight Schrute as my token friendship. While the vast majority of the interactions between the pair are purely comedic and often involve Jim pranking Dwight (“Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica”), there are some amazing moments of deep, real emotion between the two. Dwight – as much as he doesn’t want to admit it – admires and cares about Jim, as evidenced in the final few episodes of the series. Jim genuinely loves Dwight, too, and though he teases and torments him, he is always there when Dwight needs him. The fact that the pair have sparse emotional moments truly illuminates those and makes them even more impactful.

11. Lizzie McGuire & David “Gordo” Gordon (“Lizzie McGuire”)

I grew up desiring to become Lizzie McGuire. She had a pretty awesome wardrobe, her own room, and her life was narrated by a cartoon version of herself in her head. She had a crazy family, but they loved her. And she had two wonderful best friends: Miranda and David “Gordo” Gordon. My first “ship” when I was younger was Gordo/Lizzie and the two make my list because of how amazing their friendship was. Gordo constantly supported Lizzie throughout her struggles and triumphs. He was always there to encourage her, to remind her that she was more than good enough (especially when she got her heart broken), and always wanted to impress her. ("Clue-Less" is, to this day, one of my favorite episodes.) But this wasn’t a one-sided friendship, either. Lizzie supported Gordo when during his Bar Mitzvah, when Parker rejected him, and when he went to high school to take classes before she and Miranda did. This friendship was one of the rare male-female bonds that developed on a children’s television series and it was quite wonderful because of that.

10. Nick Miller & Schmidt (“New Girl”)

Nick Miller and Schmidt have been friends for ten years (they celebrated this in “Tinfinity”) and they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Schmidt is obsessed with his appearance and says things that necessitate a “douchebag jar” to be present in the loft. Nick Miller is a bartender who is often lazy and cheap. It’s baffling, then, that these two managed to become friends at all in college and even more astounding that they STAYED friends for ten years. Sometimes the two genuinely dislike one another and grate each other’s nerves. But the truth is this: when one person is hurting (see: Schmidt at the end of “Tinfinity” or Nick in “Chicago”), the other will go to great lengths to be there for their friend. Nick and Schmidt will never understand one another, really. They’re far too different. But I don’t think that characters NEED to necessarily understand what makes each other tick in order to have a solid friendship. I think that the only thing that is necessary is for there to be support, love, and acceptance. And Nick and Schmidt? Well, they definitely have that.

9. Harvey Specter and Mike Ross (“Suits”)

Harvey Specter values loyalty more than nearly anything else in the world. And Mike Ross seeks out the same quality in his friendships. Harvey and Mike trust one another, in spite of the fact that they’re often thrown head-first into a realm of lies and half-truths. Mike always seeks Harvey’s approval, and though others (like Louis) compare their relationship to that of a parent and child, I’ve always found Harvey and Mike to function more like two halves of a whole (yes, it’s cheesy and cliché but it’s also late here, so let’s roll with it). Donna Paulsen will ALWAYS be Harvey’s other half – he’s said before that he cannot be himself without her – but Mike is one person who Harvey cannot quite function without, either. These two need one another to become better because the fact is that apart, they’re okay characters. Together, they become better and grow. Mike reminds Harvey, often, of the bigger picture in life. Too many times, Harvey becomes enveloped in his own world and forgets that other people exist besides himself. Harvey, conversely, teaches Mike to grow up: he forces him to make difficult decisions because life isn’t interested in coddling Mike and neither is Harvey. And the two genuinely learn and grow from one another, which is what lands them onto my list of favorite television friendships.

8. Cory Matthews & Shawn Hunter (“Boy Meets World”)

No list of favorite television friendships would be complete without Boy Meets World’s Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter. Growing up watching this series made me realize how much the two genuinely cared about one another. They were typical best friends – Shawn, of course, became more like family than anything else to the Matthews clan. But the true test of friendship is during the moments where everything is falling apart and the only constant is that friend. Cory and Shawn always had that relationship. Whether it was when Cory and Topanga were broken up or when Shawn’s father passed away, Cory was always the constant in Shawn’s life, and Shawn was the constant in Cory’s. Much like the relationship between DJ and Kimmy, Cory served as Shawn’s protector, and Shawn served as Cory’s loyal friend, always supportive and reassuring. Even through their low periods, these two were an amazing example of what it looks like to become a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

7. The Tenth Doctor & Donna Noble (“Doctor Who”)

What is there that I can possibly say about these partners in crime in order to convince you that they belong on this list? For one, I quite enjoy that Donna Noble is the only companion who has never been remotely attracted to the Doctor. In fact, the platonic nature of Ten/Donna is one of the best moves that Doctor Who ever made as a series, in my humble opinion. Their lack of romantic entanglement allowed for them to develop their relationship into an amazing, solid, and wonderful friendship. Donna was never afraid to tell Ten (or anyone else, let’s be honest) what was on her mind. She spoke brashly, sometimes, but she ALWAYS spoke truth. And Ten NEEDED Donna, because he needed a person to talk sense into him, needed a person to humanize him, and needed a best friend to support him when others wouldn’t. Truly, that is what Ten/Donna boiled down to, in the end. He loved her so much as his best friend, and she loved him. And it is intensely painful that she will never remember how much her presence meant to him and to the entire universe.

6. Ted Mosby, Barney Stinson, Robin Scherbatsky, Lily Aldrin & Marshall Eriksen (“How I  Met Your Mother”)

I slightly cheated on my number six choice for television friendships and am including the entire How I Met Your Mother gang in my list, since it was so difficult to choose just ONE friendship from the group. Really, the best part about  How I Met Your Mother is that, much like Friends, every character on this series has a different relationship with every other character. Barney and Ted’s friendship is different than Lily and Robin’s. Ted and Lily’s is not the same as Marshall and Robin’s. But if there is one thing that HIMYM has taught me over the years, it’s this: just because a friendship may be based on different likes and dislikes does not mean that it is of any less consequence than another friendship. Ted and Marshall’s friendship is powerful: it’s built on years of struggles and successes, and on heartbreaks and triumphs, and of fights and resolutions. And even though the rest of the group may not have met one another in college, this fact doesn’t negate the power of their bonds. Truly, however, How I Met Your Mother isn’t a show about the friendships between Ted and Marshall or Barney and Ted or Robin and Lily – it’s a story about the friendship of the group and the significance of their love for one another as a whole. THAT is why all five of the characters make it onto my list.

5. Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz (“I Love Lucy”)

If it hadn’t been for the stellar input of Audrey, I would have completely neglected to add this iconic female friendship to my list. As it stands, I am glad that she tweeted Hot Switch with this suggestion, because I Love Lucy is one of the best television comedies of all time, and the friendship between Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz is – in a word – flawless. Lucy and Ethel paved the way for female friendships on television comedies (and actually paved the way for a friendship that is represented not far down this list). It’s not, of course, to say that female friendships did not exist on television prior to I Love Lucy, because they did. However, Lucy’s constant involvement in comedic shenanigans and Ethel’s reluctant participation in those shenanigans is what lands these two so high on my list. Lucy and Ethel treated each other more like family than most families did on television back in that time. The Ricardos and the Mertzes were fairly inseparable, and whenever Lucy needed a partner in crime, Ethel was by her side, no matter how wacky the idea. Beyond their comedic pratfalls and wacky disguises, Lucy and Ethel truly loved and cared about one another. They treated each other like sisters, and one was simply incomplete without the other. And you always knew that even if they fought and slammed doors, it wouldn’t be long before one would apologize and the friendship would be restored. So you can partially thank Lucy and Ethel, dear readers, for the friendships that exist on television today!

4. Troy Barnes & Abed Nadir (“Community”)

I would write an essay about how much I love the friendship between Troy and Abed on Community but… well, I don’t have that kind of time (today). Instead, I’ll briefly discuss what I love most about this relationship. Troy began the series as a self-centered jock, and Abed was merely someone who he made fun of and treated as an unequal. But Abed began to humble Troy, and he started to think about what friendship really looked like, rather than his skewed view. What he discovered was that Abed was selfless and giving and he was not. In order to prove to himself and to Abed that their friendship actually meant something, in “Environmental Science,” Troy sought out Abed and their lost lab rat and serenaded the critter with “Somewhere Out There.” This was the first true example of Troy learning to become a friend to someone and learning to care about them as a result of that friendship. Quickly, the pair became inseparable, with Troy taking care of Abed (notice in my friendships that typically there is a “caretaker” in the pairing and a “taken care of” individual) and defending him against outsiders and their own study group friends. Troy looks after Abed, but Abed learns and grows from Troy as well. He becomes a more well-rounded individual who is becoming conscious of the effects that his behavior has on those around him. He cares deeply about Troy as well, sacrificing himself in “Epidemiology” so that Troy could escape the zombies and confronting Britta in “Basic Human Anatomy” so that Troy would not have to. These two are the epitome of friendship – they laugh, they love, they give, they fight, and they make up.

Plus, they have a secret handshake and an awesome apartment, so what more could you possibly want?

3. Leslie Knope & Ann Perkins (“Parks and Recreation”)

Leslie Knope went from being “that parks lady” to being the person Ann Perkins considers her best friend over the trajectory of a few seasons on Parks and Recreation. There are few female comedic friendships as strong as this one on television these days, and it’s hard to think of one better than that of Leslie/Ann. What I love most about this particular relationship is the constant support that is offered from both sides of the friendship. Leslie loves people and becomes attached to them quite easily and quickly. Ann is Leslie’s beautiful tropical fish, and she absolutely adores the woman. What I truly love, however, about the relationship between Leslie and Ann is how little time it took for Ann to truly warm up to and befriend Leslie. Ann could have easily walked away from “the parks lady” and dismissed her as aloof or odd. But the truth is that Ann was drawn to Leslie as a person because she demonstrated how much she cared for the town of Pawnee and how much she cared about Ann as a person. That’s what makes Leslie such an amazing friend – the fact that she gives and gives everything that she has freely to the people around her. Ann, similarly, loves Leslie and always serves as Leslie’s encourager. Ann is the ultimate cheerleader, the driven and devoted friend, and Leslie’s other half. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. Chandler Bing & Joey Tribbiani (“Friends”)

Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani have the kind of friendship that most people spend their entire lives longing to find. They’re roommates and best friends who connect with and understand one another, but who also aren’t afraid to call each other out when the situation demands it. Chandler and Joey both have faults, and they seek to encourage each other to tackle those weak areas and improve in the process. These two were truly the best of friends, were nearly inseparable, and were so close that they knew nearly every secret about each other. There’s a personal intimacy that exists in the Chandler/Joey friendship that would usually be isolated to strictly female friendships, but I absolutely love that Friends’ (arguably) most widely discussed friendship is one between two of the male friends. Chandler and Joey fight, disagree, and act absurdly. Chandler is a commitment-phobe, while Joey basically dates half of New York City during the series’ run. In spite of their differences in personalities, or perhaps because of them, these two friends function so well together and balance one another out. Moreover, they’re not afraid of their friendship or love for each other (Monica and Chandler discuss making a room above their new home’s garage in upstate New York so that Joey can live there), which makes them all the more endearing.

It’s difficult to classify exactly what it is about Chandler and Joey that makes them such amazing friends, but there is no doubt in my mind that these two deserve to be on my list and deserve the penultimate spot on it, to boot.

1. J.D. & Turk (“Scrubs”)

There will never be a friendship on television that I enjoy more than J.D. and Turk’s. I cannot even properly put into words how wonderful and amazing these two are, so I’ll just let them sing about their friendship and love for each other while you mull over their amazing relationship.

The truth is that in a show as absurd and wacky as Scrubs often was, J.D. and Turk’s friendship aided that insanity, but it also managed to ground the series. These two weren’t afraid to fight, to disagree, and to get real with each other. Some of the most powerful moments of the series occurred when they were together, and some of the funniest did also. The best part of the relationship between J.D. and Turk was that they were ALWAYS on the same page: they could finish each other’s sentences, Turk knew what J.D. was imagining and narrating in his head, and even Carla – Turk’s wife – knew that no one would ever love her husband more than J.D. did. They constantly supported and cared for one another, and whether that entailed real, emotional conversations or insane shenanigans, these two always came through for each other.

And that’s why they’ll forever remain my #1 television friendship. Also, BuzzFeed agrees with me, so you KNOW I’m right! ;)

There you have it, folks! Did your favorite television friendship make my cut? What kind of friendships do you think are the strongest on television, past and present? Hit the comments below and let me know your thoughts. :)

Until next time, folks!


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