Women's Friendships in Film and Television
From Anne and Dianna traipsing through the green valleys of Avonlea, to Leslie and Ann trying to build a city park, to Sister Monica Joan and Evangelina, some of my favourite stories are about women's friendships. In my own life, my friendships with other women have been profoundly formative, helping me grow in all areas of my life: emotional, intellectual, social, and physical. The fellowship, delight, and power of women bonding together in friendship cannot be overstated.
This week, my best friend Elena and I look at depictions of women's friendships in film, and point out some principles and wisdom for our own friendships.
Elena is my go-to film and television expert. She studies politics and religion as a masters student at Harvard University. She also works in film, specialising in screenwriting for television. Perhaps also loves bunnies, and was my college roommate, partner in competitive debate, and general shenanigan compatriot.
For pithy thought and lots of pictures of cute cafes and cute bunnies, follow her at the following links...
PSA: I'm writing a book! Keep your eyes peeled for announcements about "Girls Club," a book about friendship. I'm writing it with my mother and sister, and I can't wait to share it with you all.
Without further ado, enjoy this week's episode looking at different sorts of friendships in teleivion and film.
1. Sidekick Friendship:
In this sort of friendship, one friend is the hero or important one, and the other is the sidekick. The hero in these stories is seen as the interesting one, with a complex internal world, and a high stakes storyline. The sidekick is seen positively, but we only know her and care about her by her relationship to the hero. This is one of the most commonly depicted friendships.
- Anne Shirley and Dianna Barry, “Anne of Green Gables” (1989)
- Leslie Know and Ann, “Parks and Recreation (2009)
- Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith, “Emma” (2009)
Friendship tip: Friendships should be equal. Friends should see each other as equally important, interesting and worthwhile, and should actively seek to support one another in their own stories.
2. Co-dependent or Amoeba Friendship:
These friendships are when characters are knowable only as a pair or group and not as independent individuals. The issue with these friendships is that there’s a confusion with where one friend ends and the other begins. They both need each other, but the both resent each other, whether subliminally or overtly, a little for needing each other.
- Lorelei and Rory Gilmore, “Gilmore Girls” (2000).
Friendship tip: Friends should acknowledge and love one another’s seperateness, encouraging each other towards a full expression of who they are uniquely created to be.
3. Mean Girls Friendship:
This is a friendship founded around power, manipulation, and, particularly, competition. The depiction of these sorts of friendships are often about young women, and marketed at young women. We think this is because young womanhood is a time when we are learning to navigate social life and learning to master their sense of power and agency. While this depiction is pervasive, we think it is more incidental than fundamental. We have all encountered mean girls, but it needn’t become a fundamental reality of women’s connections.
- Mean Girls
- Pretty Little Liars
- Lady Bird
Friendship tip: Don’t be a mean girl! In friendship, value cooperation over competition. Value honesty over impressiveness. Refuse to enter the fray.
4. Kindred Spirit Friendship:
These are friendships developed around a common goal or experience. It is a friendship about something, whether that be a social movement, the ups and downs of life, or a deep love of poetry. These friendships are developed by two (or more!) people who bring all that they are to the table, and celebrate each other's personality, gifts, and independence. They stick through life as fellow travelers.
Friendship Tip: Make your friendships about something bigger than you, be it learning, taking care of your community, or conquering the challenges of life. Celebrate victories, mourn losses, and enjoy the mundane.
That's all for this week, friends! I'm praying for you all.
Joy and Elena