If you took your cues from the Real Housewives franchise or other such shows, it would appear that female friendships are full of constant bickering, going behind each other’s backs and betrayal. Whenever I see relationships between women represented this way, I cringe. I think of my own female friendships and just how far they are from this version of so-called friendship we see on TV. I know reality shows and other programs that play up the antagonism in relationships are doing so to build drama, but such representations of friendships between women unfortunately reinforce the stereotype that women are catty, petty and will stop at nothing to tear another person down.
I have some amazing female friends. We have been through ups and downs together, and even when we disagree about something or get into an argument, it is never petty and vindictive and usually ends with a quick resolution that involves profuse apologies. These are relationships full of laughing together, crying together and being unconditionally supportive. So, rather than spending any more time on the negative representations of female friendships, let’s take some time to celebrate some of my favorite fictional female friendships.
Leslie Knope & Ann Perkins
I love Parks & Recreation so much that I even wrote about HR lessons that could be learned from the show. The show is peppered with excellent examples of powerful friendship, but at the heart of it all is the friendship between Leslie and Ann. What I like is how easily these two accept each other’s flaws and are there through whatever life throws at each of them. There is no jealousy or bitterness. Leslie is such a fan of her awesome friends that she throws Galentine’s Day every year on February 13 to celebrate female friendship.
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
Anne Shirley & Diana Barry
I can’t avoid mentioning “bosom friends” Anne and Diana from the Anne of Green Gables series. These two form a friendship right away and their loyalty toward each other has brought joy to readers for years. What I like about this friendship is that it was formed so easily. Some of my closest friendships started in this effortless way where we became friends because life brought us together.
Celie, Shug Avery & Sisterhood in The Color Purple
Sisterhood is a powerful theme in Alice Walker’s novel. Celie is at the center of this story, but the novel has other strong female characters in Shug, Nettie and Sofia. And each gains awareness of her own situation through their relationships with other women. These women experience difficult struggles through the course of the story, but their friendships endure. The book even ends with a touching reunion that further emphasizes how sisterhood can endure.
Idgie Threadgoode & Ruth Jamison
We meet Idgie and Ruth in Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, which was eventually made into a movie. The two are very different but form a tight friendship that spans the book. Flagg’s novel also shows us the development of the friendship between Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgoode.
The Mothers of The Joy Luck Club
I recently read Amy Tan’s book, so this one is fresh in my mind. The novel goes back and forth between the lives of four mothers and four daughters. The mothers are Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jobg and Ying-Ying St. Clair. At the center of the story is Jing-Mei “June” Woo, whose mother recently died. The other mothers tell her the story of the twin baby girls her mother left behind long ago in China, and they help June to get to China to meet her older half sisters. Through this action, you see the deep bond these four women formed.
The Women of Gilmore Girls
Like Parks & Rec, Gilmore Girls gives us some dynamic female friendships on TV. Really, we can easily say that the relationship between mother and daughter is the heart of the show, but each of these women has strong female friendships as well. Whether it’s Rory’s friends Lane and Paris or Lorelei’s friendship with Sookie (just to name a few), the women of Star’s Hollow would be more than ready for a crossover that involves Leslie Knope arriving to throw a big Galentine’s celebration in Stars Hollow.
Of course there are many more female friendships. These are just a few. Be sure to share your favorites in the comments.