Fighting, crying, laughing, loving, Lane and Michelle share their favorite female friendships and moments on screen in 2016. 

Michelle’s List

1. Cameron Howe/Donna Clark (Halt and Catch Fire)

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Donna and Cameron have had an interesting dynamic over the course of three seasons. They’ve been competitive, judgmental, distant, supportive, opposing, vengeful, and more. Donna had often taken on the role as a surrogate mother to Cameron and the boys of Mutiny once she joined the team, and Cameron followed suit by maintain her rebellious, angst towards Donna’s supervision and contribution. Season 3 shows their dynamic shift a bit, as we see Cameron living with the Clark family once they move to California. They seem civil and cooperative and Mutiny is heading for success with this union. But as the company grows, so do the tensions and the two find themselves acknowledging their friendship and adoration for one another, but facing the conflicting nature of business. Cameron tells Donna in a heartfelt scene that opens as an argument that she anchors her, and Donna pulls her in for a hug when she gestures for a handshake. You can’t deny there isn’t love between the two, but how far will love and respect take you when success is on the line? Their friendship feels like a budding love story by the time we reach season 3, but with most love stories comes a level of heartbreak, and the friendship between Donna and Cameron can’t escape that. Individually, they are each unstoppable forces of brilliance and creativity, but together they’re what drives Halt and Catch Fire. It’s the men who continue to receive credit, but Donna and Cameron both are virtually responsible for every major step in the show. In a devastating moment feature in “The Threshold,” the tensions and resentment towards one another prove to be too much and the two severe their ties to one another. It’s a hard scene to watch, because you can feel the pain and difficulty behind the scene emanating from the screen, but it’s an extraordinary performance by Kerry Bishe and Mackenzie Davis.

2. Issa/Molly (Insecure)

The relationships between Issa and Molly is important for many reasons, but especially for the representation of the strong female. Insecure deals with relationships, work, race, adulthood, etc. but its central focus is on the female friendship. Issa and Molly are a realistic, accurate depiction of long term best friends who know everything about one another, support one another, talk daily, and answer the call for help. Sometimes the friendship seems one-sided when Issa acts a bit selfish and disregards Molly’s real problems, but regardless of the issues the two go through, they come back to each other and remain best friends. It removes itself from the clichés of friendships that are drawn out in television and film by existing as a flawed, genuine relationship between two women.

3. Abbi Abrams/Ilana Wexler (Broad City)

Abbi and Ilana might be the most fun couple of this list, because they are constantly getting into ridiculous scenarios and making us die of laughter with each episode. But in the third season of Broad City, the two start to experience problems within their friendship. In the 8th episode of the season, the two hit a rough patch in their friendship when Abbi withholds information of who she is dating from Ilana and assumes she’s upset about it, but Ilana is actually dealing with a personal issue after a break up from Lincoln that Abbi didn’t recognize. It’s the first time in the show’s existence where the two are giving heartfelt performances that borders a break up. It’s a realistic interpretation of female friendship and those imperfect moments when you have to sit down and think about the value of your friendship above the issue at hand, and figure out if it’s worth it.

4. Marnie Michaels/Hannah Horvath (Girls)

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The relationship between Marnie Michaels and Hannah Horvath of Girls has been a tough one to watch over five seasons. It can sometimes come off as frustrating and played out, but for some reason, we’re still watching. Friendship is not as easy to navigate through like a romantic relationship. For instance, there’s no real handbook or set up on how they form, develop, etc. I think Hannah and Marnie’s relationship reinforces this notion. A friendship that started in college and has carried over into their adult lives has felt rich yet dull, strong yet weak, energetic yet exhausted, but it has lasted over the course of distance, both physical and emotional. The root of their issues is change and the friendship running its course, at least in the state it was in when they were younger. They’ve forced connectivity and reconciled over repetitive apologies and default comfort and security in one another. Season 5 curates these elements between the two and puts them on display in an exhibition like never before. The four seasons prior showed the two friends working towards either full departure or resolution for the years of explicit negligence and narcissism. But season 5 shows some growth in the characters. Hannah and Marnie still face the same issues as they have before, but it feels like there is minimal effort to acknowledge it or fight it. During Marnie’s wedding in the opening episode, Hannah is being extremely difficult (typical) but realizes she’s being too much and apologizes to Marnie. She declares that she’ll be a better friend and will always go through it with her, but when Marnie asks Hannah if marrying Desi is a mistake, we see Hannah act in her normal fashion of withholding her true feelings and just complying to avoid any further confrontation. The episodes following show the two on speaking terms and acting as “best friends” would, but they are only giving surface value context into their lives. There is a loss of genuine concern and interest in their complaints and celebrations. This feels like the manufactured set of behaviors as friends the two have had in the entire series. However, after Marnie has a draining, but refreshing episode in “The Panic of Central Park,” she ends up making her way to Hannah’s to sneak into bed and cuddle with her best friend, as she used to find comfort in doing. I think there is a key problem in the weight of the identity as someone’s “best friend” and I think this is evident for Marnie and Hannah. They contradict the term with their manipulation and selfishness, yet try to redeem themselves when it matters most. But can simply “being there” do the trick or is a mutual exchange of effort and consideration necessary for maintaining and exemplifying the relationship of best friends? Their friendship is complex, and I could talk for days about this because it actually holds a great deal of meaning to me. I’ve been there with friendships. I’ve had that toxicity plague my relationships with people who I loved deeply, but it was personal growth, distance, physical changes, etc. that strained our seemingly indestructible bond. The hardest part of managing a friendship like Marnie and Hannah’s is that there isn’t a clear, concise way to rectify the problems or “break up.” No one wants to be the initiator, so you hope for an easy dissolve and mutual transition from best friends to acquaintances. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Feelings are hurt, truths are revealed, resentment dwells, and the vicious cycle of trying to make something work that might have reached its expiration point continues. In conclusion, I think Girls accurately depicts the complexities of female friendship, especially between college-aged women, and on that note I’ll wrap this up with one of my favorite quotes ever from the show that speaks in volumes to this topic: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.”

5. Poussey/Taystee (Orange Is the New Black)

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Another example of black female friendship on television. Unlike Issa and Molly of Insecure, Taystee and Poussey’s relationship is established out of circumstance. They have met inside the walls of Litchfield Correctional Facility and have in one another a support system. Both women are intelligent, personable, lively, cultured, beautiful, and complementary of one another. They are beyond supportive of the other and they are real with each other. Similar to other pairings in Orange Is the New Black, their friendship extends into a sisterhood like relationship. Their survival in jail is rooted not in physical protection, but the bond the two have formed. It serves as a protection over some of the horrifying things we’ve seen related to racism, sexism, and the lack of consideration for humanity. What I love about their friendship is the naturality that it exhibits. Danielle Brooks and Samira Wiley’s chemistry is undeniable and evident, and it really brings life to their on screen friendship. Season 4 is a pivotal season for their friendship, and it will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, but through it all and after you’ve acknowledged the breathtaking performances of Brooks and Wiley in “The Animals”, you’ll understand the alluring quality of their friendship.

Lane’s List

1. Cameron/Donna (Halt and Catch Fire)

Power couple. Business co-owners. BAMFs. ^See Michelle’s blurb^

2. Van/Jayde (Atlanta)

I know, I can’t say enough about Atlanta. Donald Glover and his team were able to take one episode and develop a complex relationship between Earn’s baby momma and her friend Jayde.

3. Gretchen/Lindsay (You’re the Worst)

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I find myself saying “Gretch!” in Lindsay’s voice constantly. I tried finding a YouTube compilation video but apparently that’s too niche. Gretch and Linds have been through some shit. We haven’t seen a lot, but their dialogue conveys their bond. They’re probably terrible for each other, but they have the strongest and healthiest friendship on this list.

4. Rory/Lorelai and Rory/Lane (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)

This year I came to terms with how TERRIBLE Rory is to her female friends, her mother included. She lies, dominates the conversation, has zero empathy. Lane, a character who could be incredibly interesting and complex, is reduced to one-dimension because Rory won’t stop complaining to her. Lorelai’s worst scenes are with her own daughter. I have nothing positive to say about it, so why include it on my list? I grew up with this show and used to dream for Rory’s life. This is proof of my dreams shattering in front of me… while showing how I’ve grown into a better adult than Rory Gilmore.

5. Issa/Mollie (Insecure)

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These women tell each other the truth head-on and that terrifies me. But, great to see on television. Issa and Mollie make me face my fear of confronting people I like.