Monday, July 1, 2013

Top Ten Fictional Platonic Relationships . . .

. . . with an oddly specific set of criteria.

This list is born out of a couple conversations between me and Matthew, talking about how severely under-represented platonic friendships, specifically male/female friendships, are in today's fictional worlds. Everyone wants romance and sexual tension, and it is therefore refreshing to see the few times an author or showrunner or scriptwriter decides to include a purely platonic friendship. So I decided to do a top ten on the best ones out there. My criteria:

1. It has to be a male/female friendship
2. The participants have to be old enough to be romantically aware
3. The participants may not be related to one another (awesome sibling relationships is another list)
4. The participants should be of a similar age to one another (awesome mentorships is another list)
5. The participants should never have shared any sort of canonical romance or sexual tension 
6. I can't ship them outside their canon (Mahoney and the Mutant from Mr. Magorium, for example, would fit this list quite nicely except that I ship them hardcore)

This is my list, my top ten favorites, so feel free to agree or disagree as you will!

10. Sam and Carter from A Cinderella Story
 Yes, I'm a fan of this movie. No looks of judgement, please.

What I love about Sam and Carter is that there is zero romantic tension between them. None. Carter has a crush on the popular girl; Sam is pining after her anonymous IM partner. They heckle each other back and forth about these crushes, but they are also 100% there for each other. They support one another and help and are just great best buds.

          Carter: Rhonda told me where you might be. I thought you could use a friend. Come here.

9. The Tenth Doctor and Donna from Doctor Who

You're all Doctor Who fans; you knew this one was coming, and do I have to explain it? We went from total and complete and excessively obvious romance between Nine and Rose and Ten and Rose, to the unrequited love story of Ten and Martha, but when Donna showed up on the scene? She made it very clear that there would be none of that ridiculousness going on. She became the Doctor's best friend, she shared his burdens, kept him humble (as much as possible), and wasn't afraid to stand up to him and call him out on being an idiot. It was lovely.

        The Doctor: I just want a mate.
        Donna Noble: You just want to mate?
        The Doctor: I just want *a* mate!
        Donna Noble: You're not matin' with me, Sunshine!

8. Lily Aldrin and Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother

I love a lot about HIMYM, and there are a several platonic friendships I could have chosen, but Lily and Barney's has to be my favorite. Yeah, Barney jokes about fantasizing about Lily, but that's more about winding up her and Marshall than ever being really serious. In fact, Lily's the only girl who Barney has ever let spend a night in his apartment without trying to have sex with her. And Lily is the person Barney goes to when he legitimately falls in love, for her advice. Slowly but surely, Lily is helping to turn Barney into a person, and I love how hard, in return, he roots (secretly) for her successful relationship and marriage with Marshall.

        Barney: You- you spooned me against my will!
        Lily: Hey! it takes two to cuddle!

7. CJ Cregg and Toby Ziegler from The West Wing
   God, I love CJ and Toby. I love that they have a history and long standing friendship that existed long before we know them in the series, and I love how much it weathers over the course of the show. They support each other, but not unconditionally, and I love that CJ is never afraid to stand up and tell Toby he's being a jackass; neither is Toby afraid to tell CJ she's acting irrationally. They don't always agree with one another, but they do have each other's backs.

       Toby Ziegler: Listen, I don't know what you're doing for dinner tonight but Josh and Sam and I...
       C.J. Cregg: It's about damn time you asked me! I've been sitting here for two weeks turning down all kinds of very, frankly, glamorous invitations from people I like a lot more than you! You can't ask a girl at the last minute...
      Toby Ziegler: Well, if you can't come...
      C.J. Cregg: No, I can come! I can come! I can come!
      Toby Ziegler: Good.
      C.J. Cregg: Should I bring anything?
     Toby Ziegler: Yeah. Do you know how to, you know, cook food? 

6. Sandy, Tris, Daja, and Briar from The Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce

Picture by vifetoile on Deviant Art

So, you all may or may not be familiar with this one, but this is a great series from Tamora Pierce. The focal characters are three girls and one boy, and over the course of nine books, we follow them from age 10 to age 18, and I love that there is never, never even a hint of romance between any of the girls and Briar. These four go through so much and are bound literally closer than family over the course of it, and that relationship is strained and tested and tried, but it remains steadfast and true.

Quote: (from The Will of the Empress)

Lady Sandrilene fa Toren sat in the room that was her study in her uncle's palace. In her hands she held a thread circle, one that included four lumps spaced equally apart. It was a symbol not just of her first magical working, but of the magical bond she shared with her foster-brother and two foster-sisters, who had been away from home for months. Today was Sandry's birthday, and she missed them. Normally she could have reached out through their connection without even touching the thread, and spoken with them, magic to magic, but not in the last two years.

5. Archie and Patrice from 13 the Musical

The main relationship in this musical (romantically speaking) is between Patrice and Evan, but long before Evan shows up, Patrice's best friend is Archie, a social outcast like her who suffers from muscular dystrophy. But this isn't a friendship of pity or mutual outcast status. Archie and Patrice are the only students in their grade who are above, in many ways, the popularity race. Archie's fatal disease gives him a unique perspective on middle school life, and Patrice is old beyond her years, and that's why they get along. Archie helps patch things up between Patrice and Evan when they need to be fixed, and Patrice sticks by Archie when everyone else looks down on him.

        Patrice: I got your text. But what does ‘CQDBTIOE’ mean?
        Archie: Come quick! Danger beckons! Time is our enemy!

4. Fitz Williams and Gigi Darcy from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

So, the LBD is my new favorite thing, and by far my favorite characters in it are Fitz and Gigi, master meddlers and matchmakers. Their antics are wonderful, and their relationship just makes me happy. They almost didn't make it onto the list because Fitz is gay, but these are awesome enough that I don't even care. Based in the books, Fitz is the one person besides Darcy who knows everything that Gigi went through with Wickham, and because of that, in this version, they have a close and powerful bond. Fitz looks out for Gigi, but in a less over-protective way than her brother, and watching these two help Lizzie and Darcy get together is just amazing.

        Gigi: Just give me the number! And don’t tell my brother!
        Fitz: Okay, yeah, that convinced me. I’m just gonna get right on that.

3. Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne from Firefly

Mal and Zoe are amazing, as I hope I don't have to tell all of you. They may have a relationship that Zoe's husband gets jealous of, but it's not because of any romantic implications, which is made perfectly clear over the course of the series. The only two surviving members of their company during the war, these two trust each other without even thinking about it, a trust and team of leadership that is instinctual. Zoe heckles Mal and questions him and is amazingly sarcastic in a way that makes Mal a better Captain, but when it comes to his orders, she obeys as any good lieutenant would. And in return, he respects Zoe's opinion and skills and uses them to his crew's best advantage, always.

       Mal: Your husband has demanded that we sleep together.
        Zoë: Really?
        Wash: What? Mal, come on...
        Mal: He seems to think it would get all this burning sexual tension out in the open.
            You know, make a fair fight for your womanly affections.
        Wash: No! That was the torture talking. Remember? The torture?
        Mal: I know it's a difficult mission, but you and I have to get it on.
        Zoë: I understand. We have no choice. Take me, sir. Take me hard.

2. Pete Latimer and Myka Bering from Warehouse 13
 These days, it seems like no crime-type drama is complete without a male/female partnership and a healthy dose of sexual tension, which is part of the reason why I adore Pete and Myka so much. Because there's none of that, and it is so refreshing. They start from the predictable Odd Couple beginning -- Myka is straight-laced, by the book, while Pete is much more casual and go-with-the-flow. But they quickly become the type of partners who depend on each other entirely, complementing one another perfectly, and saving each others' lives on more than one occasion. And when they're not rescuing the world from dangerous artifacts, they go back to bickering and pestering each other, but like siblings rather than an old married couple. And completely supportive of the other's romantic pursuits.

            Pete: Use your feminine wiles. Smile. You're pretty when you smile.
            Myka: I am?
            Pete: Yeah.
            Myka: So what does that make me when I'm not smiling?
            Pete: Kind of frightening.

1. Harry and Hermione from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Okay, you guys knew this one was coming, right? I mean, it's Harry and Hermione. How much do I really have to explain? They are a perfect platonic friendship, the best example I have to offer, and I love, love, love that the strength of their relationship lies in the very fact that there has never been anything remotely romantic about it. 

Quote (from Order of the Phoenix):

'You should have told her differently,' said Hermione, still with that maddeningly patient air. 'You should have said it was really annoying, but I'd made you promise to come along to the Three Broomsticks, and you really didn't want to go, you'd much rather spend the whole day with her, but unfortunately you thought you really ought to meet me and would she please, please come along with you, and hopefully you'd be able to get away more quickly? And it might have been a good idea to mention how ugly you think I am too,' Hermione added as an afterthought.
'But I don't think you're ugly,' said Harry, bemused.
Hermione laughed.

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