6 of TV's Newest Female Friendships—and the Lesbian Continuum
By Chloe Fitzpatrick
Parks and Recreation: Leslie & Ann
Let's begin with one of the more popular network TV pairings. On Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) take the cake when it comes to showing affection to their on-screen best friend. Between poetic pet names including, “Ann, you beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox,” and, “Ann, you beautiful, naive, sophisticated newborn baby,” and affirmations like “Ann, you’re beautiful, and you’re organized!” the Pawnee Goddesses express their love for one another by assisting in the creation of online dating profiles, drunkenly yelling through their differences until they collapse in tearful apologies, nursing hangovers together, protecting each other from unhealthy romantic relationships, supporting each other’s professional careers, celebrating Galentine's Day, and always putting ovaries before bro-varies. The clip of Leslie expressing her love for her bestie via impression. Best line from Leslie Knope: "We have to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, and work. But work has to come third."
The Mindy Project: Mindy and Gwen
Similarly to Amy Poehler, I consider Mindy Kaling to be one of the great teachers of modern television friendship with the creation of her eponymous character on The Mindy Project. (Sidebar anecdote: When Mindy was writing for SNL and tried to shy away from going to an afterparty, Amy came to her office, walked her to the party, and gently forced Mindy to put herself out there without every really saying it. Truly, a woman who knows how to be a great friend.) In her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling made a complete list of Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities including, “I Can Ditch You, Within Reason,” “When I Take A Shower At Your Place, I Won’t Drop The Towel On The Floor,” “I Will Take Care of Your Kid If You Die” and “I Will Try To Like Your Boyfriend Five Times.” It’s a great guide for anyone existing within the lesbian continuum.
Mindy’s best friend on The Mindy Project is Gwen Gandy, a slightly more put-together, less adventuresome, married-with-children gal who has known Mindy since college. The character seems to be based on her real life best friend from college, Brenda Withers, with whom she wrote and performed critically acclaimed play Matt And Ben, a celebration of the friendship between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Mindy played Ben, Brenda played Matt. Though they are currently at different points in their lives (Mindy is wearing sparkly dresses, crashing frat parties, and exploring her sexuality through approximately one million dates per season, while Gwen is spending her days in a quiet house with her quiet family), the pair constantly encourage each other, work out their differences and support one another. While Mindy does struggle with sharing Gwen with her daughter, she ultimately has a great sense of what it means to be a true friend.
In the episode “Harry and Mindy,” she brings up another best friend from college and her co-worker asks, “How many best friends from college do you have?” Mindy replies with one of the best lines of all time, “Best Friend isn’t a person, Danny. It’s a tier.”