According to Harry Burns in When Harry Met Sally, men and women can never be just friends. This classic rom-com has been a staple for pretty much every rom-com that’s followed, making you question “can men and women ever be just friends?”. Well, these TV friendships beg to differ. They prove that men and women can in fact be just, if not best, friends.
Alex and Meredith, Grey’s Anatomy
Having to summarise this amazing friendship without writing an essay is difficult, as Alex and Meredith’s friendship has blessed my screen for 16 long seasons. Alex begins as an obnoxious, unlikeable intern whose amazing character development throughout the show was only possible by the consistency of his completely platonic friendship with pal, Mer.
Grey’s Anatomy never lacks in drama and it is through love, loss and disaster that these two have really got each other’s backs. Whether it be a plane crash; a death or disappearance of a significant other; or if it is just just a shoulder to cry on, they always pull through.
One of my favourite moments was when Alex saved Meredith from losing her medical license, as he gathered hundreds of patients she had treated in the past to speak on her behalf.
A more comical moment was when they shared a house and Meredith started to offload her latest problems to Alex while he was showering. Without flinching, she flippantly says, “yes, your junk is spectacular…but can we get back to me now”; this only proves how comfortable they are as friends.
It became evident that the Meredith/Alex friendship was the one everybody really cared about
Eventually, Meredith gives him the ultimate friendship honour of being her ‘person’: a pivotal point in the show as the special position was originally dedicated to sassy, straight-talking Cristina Yang. But, with Cristina becoming a distant memory, it became evident that the Meredith/Alex friendship was the one everybody really cared about.
It is heart-breaking that Alex has now left before the show’s finale (damn you, Justin Chambers) because, for those die-hard fans out there like me, they were the one male/female relationship I was rooting for until the very end.
J.P. and Vod, Fresh Meat
One of the annoying aspects of shows that span multiple series is the typical ‘male/female friendship suddenly becomes romance’ plotline. While this can drive the action forward, it often feels contrived. Worse, it furthers the irritating idea that male/female friendships are neither interesting nor possible without some potential for romance.
Fresh Meat is a series clearly guilty of this: Kingsley and Josie’s endless ‘will they/won’t they’ confusion, Oregon falling for practically every man she meets. Josie and J.P.’s sudden decision to enter a serious relationship in the final episode feels particularly clumsy.
Snippets of understanding for each other across the class divide allows for an intimate connection
Yet the show simultaneously disproves the ‘girl + boy = attraction’ lie with the characters of Vod and J.P.. Their relationship never veers into romantic territory, but refuses to shy away from displaying affection: she (albeit grudgingly) cares for him when he is sick, he brings out her softer side. They share real insight about their difficult home lives, with J.P. even admitting to her that he had a ‘crying step’ when he was young. A far cry from the carefully crafted personas they usually display, they are able to be vulnerable and open with one another.
Their friendship offers serious insight beneath the comedy. In particular, snippets of understanding for each other across the class divide (his emotionally disconnected father, her emotionally traumatising mother) allows for an intimate connection which includes physical comfort, but isn’t devalued by an unbelievable love storyline.
Leslie and Ron, Parks and Recreation
I couldn’t do this without talking about Leslie and Ron. I literally love them so much, they’re the unlikely friendship duo that I needed in my life. On paper, Leslie and Ron should detest one another because they’re the polar opposites of each other- Leslie is optimistic and loves her job, Ron hates the government and is pessimistic about pretty much everything except woodwork, his passion for red meat and Scotch. However, despite their differing personalities, they manage to make one of the most compelling relationships in the show.
They both learn a lot from each other as the show progresses
Sure, Leslie and Ron have their ups and downs, their morals often conflicting. However, they both grow to have a level of respect for each other, despite their differences. They always have each other’s backs and come to each other’s aid when needed. For instance, Leslie helps Ron deal with his manipulative ex-wife Tammy 2, and Ron normally comforts Leslie in his own way when she needs guidance because he knows she values his opinion.
They both learn a lot from each other as the show progresses, and whilst they have their difficulties (particularly in the last season), they always work something out in the end because they care about each other. Plus, they both love breakfast food (and Lil Sebastian), and everything can be fixed with a good breakfast.
Boyle and Rosa, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
What happens when unreciprocated love fails your expectations? Well, I know you are not thinking anything positive, but what if I told you that sometimes, friendship is better than love! At least, that’s what Boyle and Rosa show us. I love the ship so much I combined their names and came up with Royal and, their duo is precisely that, in terms of friendship to say the least! I have always disliked the concept of men relentlessly pursuing women despite being aware of their disinterest. When I started Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Boyle’s smitten attitude seemed to be taking an obsessive turn. However, when he realized that Rosa might never like him back, he happily transitioned to being friends with her instead.
we can learn some key points of a healthy friendship from Boyle and Diaz
Their growing friendship was one of the most appealing aspects of the show. Not only did he help Diaz in becoming emotionally expressive but also helped her win Marcus! If that doesn’t qualify as an astounding example of healthy love-to-friendship dynamic, I don’t know what does. What is even better is that Boyle and Diaz are polar different in their personalities. Boyle can hardly tell a white lie, whereas hardly anyone knows the intimate details of Diaz’s life. Yet, they are both wholesome and come together like yin-yang when it comes to being a supportive best friend. In a nutshell, we can learn some key points of a healthy friendship from Boyle and Diaz. It includes appreciating differences, embracing new things, keeping healthy boundaries and give a whole lotta love (and it’s totally up to you what your version of love looks like!).
Robin and Steve, Stranger Things
This unlikely duo seemed to fit all the typical clichés when Robin was introduced in season three of Stranger Things. I think I can speak for everyone when I thought that Robin was being set up as a new love interest for Steve, particularly after he went through one of the swiftest character development plots. Steve progressed from an arrogant jerk to a nerdy adoptive mother of six kids (Stranger Things fans will get it).
The creators flipped this stereotypical love story on its head
After working together at Scoops Ahoy over the summer, it’s obvious Robin and Steve share a bond, mainly consisting of sarcastic banter from Robin’s end. It also seemed that this was what the Duffer brothers were setting up for the audience, with the newly transformed Steve finally seeing the quirky girl he didn’t notice in high school. But, in an unexpected turn of events, the creators flipped this stereotypical love story on its head. Of course, I’m referring to Robin’s coming out to Steve after they have escaped the Russians under the Starcourt Mall. When Steve starts to realise that he may harbour feelings for Robin, she has to do what she feared: she has to break his heart. Instead, Steve is supportive of Robin and they have nothing more than a friendship which has grown stronger through shared trauma and a genuine interest in one another.
Their friendship (along with Dustin) was one of the highlights of season three for me, and I can’t wait to see what they get up to in season four.
Featured image credits – Screen outline and sunset background: pixabay.com. Blank warning sign: freesvg.com. Maya Hawke, Nick Offerman, Amy Poehler and Joe Keery: IMDb.
Last modified: 3rd August 2020