September 27, 2021
6 of the greatest female friendships on TV
Happy Monday, Feministas. The season of pumpkin spice and fundamental rights has finally arrived, and we’re kicking things off with a properly feminist celebration of women supporting women, a.k.a. the very best female friendships we’ve ever seen on TV.
It’s no secret that leading ladies haven’t always been well-represented on screen, but that’s finally starting to change, thanks to the groundwork laid by shows like I Love Lucy and Laverne and Shirley. The past decade or so has shown that the chemistry between female characters can be enough to carry a series, and that those relationships are just as compelling, complicated, and important in our lives as romantic love or the more frequently told male-centered stories.
So, without further ado, here are our favorite feminist duos on TV these days. We hope you’ll cozy up with your own BFF and enjoy these stories of sisterhood, hot beverage in hand, falling leaves (and fall of the patriarchy!) on your mind. Let’s get to it.
1. Leslie & Ann, Parks & Rec
Ahh, the queen of on-screen feminist comedy and Deputy Director of Parks & Recreation, Leslie Knope—is there a better place to start? Her on-screen love affair with her bestie Ann Perkins may just be the gold standard in female friendship.
We have these two to thank for Galentine's Day, Leslie's friend-centric holiday creation to celebrate the women in her life—but especially Ann—and droves of fun feminist quotes: "uteruses before duderuses," "breasties before testites," and "less man time, more Ann time."
But more importantly, these two are constantly building each other up and supporting one another in good times and bad. They're a shining example of how meaningful and expansive friendships can be and, sure, you may have seen Parks & Rec already, but a rewatch might be just as refreshing as a cool autumn breeze :P
2. Abbi & Ilana, Broad City
This show started as a web series and eventually found its way to TV with the help of Amy Poehler, who helped Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson amplify their story about two women who platonic, but very real soulmates.
Perhaps their friendship feels so genuine and relatable because the characters are just exaggerated versions of Abbi and Ilana's real relationship, and the struggles and triumphs that they've experienced together as "fronds 'til the ond."
The Wall Street Journal once credited the show with dispelling what they called "sneak-attack feminism," which was their way of saying that those ideals show through in subtle ways, in the midst of all of the undeniably silly and sometimes crude plot and dialogue. To us, that just feels like a natural side effect of a writer's room full of feminists representing a female friendship in all of its beauty and complexity. In the words of Ilana Wexler: YAS KWEEN.
3. Issa & Molly, Insecure
This one's complicated... and we like it that way. These two are an important and authentic reminder that female friendship isn't all sunshine and roses. That the most meaningful relationships in our lives do require work, that sometimes we grow together and sometimes we grow apart.
Insecure debuted in 2016 and gained notoriety for its unflinchingly honest, playful, and insightful depiction of the Black millennial experience. The series is stellar for so many reasons and touches on everything from romantic love and work to family and sisterhood, but Showrunner Prentice Penny calls Issa and Molly the true love story in the show.
According to Penny, "we wanted Issa and Molly to learn these friendships don’t grow on trees and don’t take it for granted... we wanted them to be humbled and be appreciative." It's the ups and downs of their friendship—the misunderstandings and drifting apart—that make it so relatable, and such a welcome reminder to be grateful for the women we love in our lives.
4. Lorelai & Rory, Gilmore Girls
Throwback time. If you’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, now might be the time for a watch. The back-and-forth banter between mom and daughter, Lorelai and Rory, is whip-smart, full of energy, and hits on all of the complicated dynamics between a single mom and her only daughter.
Together and separately, they bravely and boldly navigate their independence, school and work, and the other relationships, all the while supporting one another as well as they can. And for all of you ladies with badass mother figures in your lives, this show proves that friends can be family and family members can also be your friends <3
Oh, and if you're not fully sold, let us add that it's perhaps the most seasonally appropriate of today's faves because the show takes place in a town called Stars Hollow, Connecticut and, as you'll see, autumn looks sooo good on New England.
5. Annie & Fran, Shrill
The best part about Shrill has got to be the relationship between Fran and Annie, played by Lolly Adefope opposite her real-life friend, Aidy Bryant. These two give us all of the inside jokes, passive aggression, and passionate-but-imperfect best friend energy we didn't know we needed to see.
Annie and Fran are roommates navigating adulthood, and we follow the highs and lows of their respective work lives, romantic endeavors, and self-confidence. At their best, they hold each other to high standards and push each other to be better. At their worst, their love for one another makes them resistant to change and growth, and they hold each other back.
Body positive, joyfully feminist undertones aside (and trust us, there are plenty in this show), this friendship feels familiar almost immediately and that's all thanks to the fun-loving, impossible-to-fake, true-friend chemistry between these two actors and characters. If you haven't seen it yet, you're gonna want to hit Hulu and change that, stat.
6. Grace & Frankie, Grace & Frankie
We've talked about Grace & Frankie on this blog before and we're not about to quit them now. The show begins when Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin's characters learn from their husbands that they've secretly been having an affair with one another for years and want to get married.
Their hearts are broken, their marriages are dissolving, and these two women, who formally just tolerated one another because of their husband's friendship, end up leaning on one another to move on and start new, very different chapters in their lives.
These actors are some of the best in the business, but aside from that, their characters' reluctant and eventually vibrant friendship feels like such a lovely tribute to the power of sisterhood in overcoming anything life throws at you, at any stage of life.
Thanks for reading, Feministas. Did we miss any of your faves? Let us know in your comments. Honorable mentions must be made to the ladies of Girlfriends, Golden Girls, Sex and the City, and Friends, of course, but we'd love to hear your ideas.
Otherwise, we'll see you next week for more of The "F" Word, our weekly newsletter and blog on all things feminist, from activism to fashion and beyond. Want it delivered? Scroll down, sign up, and we’ll send it straight to your inbox.