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TLO Recommends: Our Favorite Fictional Friendships    

TLO Recommends: Our Favorite Fictional Friendships

By Hallie Belle Sheinbaum

Fictional friendships from movies and television can feel so real that we actually become emotionally invested in them. We root for them, laugh with them, and even cry with them, no matter how unrealistic what we’re watching may be (see: 6 best friends living together and spending every second together on Friends). But despite the fact that these friendships don’t really exist, they can inspire us and offer a roadmap for what we want our IRL friendships to look like.

In honor of our monthly theme of friendship, and our latest Madhappy collection in partnership with Disney & Pixar’s Toy Story (a heartfelt tribute to the power of friendship), we asked our team to choose their favorite on-screen friendship and tell us what makes these fictional duos so special.

Joy and Sadness, Inside Out

There are a lot of onscreen friendships that I love, but I don’t think any of them have impacted my perspective as much as the relationship between Joy and Sadness in Inside Out. At the beginning of the film, it seems obvious that Joy is the goal for any of us. She’s full of life, she’s always optimistic, and she’s fearless – but her relationship with Sadness is strained. In the end, Pixar does a wonderful job of bringing these characters together and using friendship to encapsulate the moral of the story: life needs balance. Joy needs sadness and sadness needs joy. It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music. - Alex Brands, Head of Marketing

Abbi Abrams & Ilana Wexler, Broad City

I want it to be on record how particularly challenging this question is because my brain immediately wants to take so many different routes. A larger-than-I’d-like-to-admit side of me wants to curate a perfectly clever and intelligent literary duo that’s just the right amount of pretentious. Another part of me thinks I should just say Mary-Kate and Ashley to satisfy my inner child's nostalgia. But, at the end of the day, I have to give it to the girls who defined my twenties: Abbi and Ilana. Broad City came to me at the perfect time in my life, during the end of my college career and beginning of my “real life” while, just like the characters, I was living in a city with my best friend and had to navigate the world one hilarious fuck up at a time. In fact, to this day I have a Broad City note on my phone with all the shenanigans said bestie and I got into that we thought would make for some great sketches for the show. But it’s really the niche accuracy of an early twenties female friendship in the 2010s that makes Broad City my comfort show. The undeniable support, the room for error, the way they grow together and apart – it fills my heart up with memories from the same phase in my life and for that, they’ll be my girls for life. (But also, Keeley and Rebecca from Ted Lasso are my very close second!) - Meadowlark Monaghan, Mental Health Lead

Larry David & Leon Black, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Of the many iconic fictional friendships that exist, my favorite is that of Larry David & Leon Black’s (played by Larry David & J.B. Smoove) on Curb Your Enthusiasm. The beauty of Curb is that it speaks to the incredibly mundane and minute social conventions that we all face in life, and finds its best moments when confronting those conventions (usually, in an incredibly cringey way). Leon’s introduction onto Curb was one of the best things that happened to the show, particularly because of his dynamic with Larry. On paper, their friendship shouldn’t make sense. Larry wanted nothing to do with Leon & his family upon their introduction to the plot, and even up to current episodes, Leon still lives in Larry’s house rent-free. But the beauty of their relationship lies in the subtle ways they complete each other, or the hilarious reasons they often find themselves on the same page. They are the epitome of an unconventional, opposites attract friendship. We can only hope to all someday find the Leon to our Larry. - Ravi Shah, Brand Marketing Manager

Philip Jennings & Stan Beeman, The Americans

What’s worse, that I couldn’t think of a great fictional female friendship or that this one stands out for being such a rare depiction of non-hyper masculine friendship between two men? Regardless, I love these guys. It might seem weird to pick a relationship predicated on a big fat lie (for the uninitiated, Philip is a KGB spy cosplaying as a boring suburban dad who befriends his FBI-working neighbor, Stan) so let me explain. Throughout the show, they become unexpectedly close confidantes – having honest discussions with each other about their relationships, kids, existential dread, etc. Although they’re technically enemies fighting for entirely different causes on paper, there’s this palpable love between them that ultimately transcends what they’re fighting for. It’s a complicated, nuanced relationship that feels very human to me, even if the stakes are TV-level high. Without revealing too much, what Stan does (or really doesn’t do) in the series finale (arguably one of the best episodes of television ever made) feels like the ultimate depiction of loyalty and forgiveness to me, two ingredients that, IMO, are what makes a good friendship great. - Jessica Schiffer, Managing Editor

Meredith Grey & Cristina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy

“Dance it out!” That’s what Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang would do on Grey’s Anatomy when they were feeling stressed, anxious, or sad. When I was in college, I actually stole their invention of “dancing it out” with my best friend whenever we felt worked up, homesick or stressed. I swear it works. Meredith and Cristina’s friendship can be complicated and messy at times, as two women working together in a highly competitive field as surgeons, but it is also so real and relatable. And in fact, they’re friends in real life, which makes me love them even more. We see them yell at each other and fight like sisters, and then we see them laugh their asses off, drink together, and love each other. As a young woman, I find Mer and Cristina’s friendship inspiring: two incredibly strong, powerful women who are high achievers, extremely smart, different in many ways, carrying a lot of their own baggage, and are also best friends. They are honest with each other (sometimes too honest), encouraging, and supportive. If you have watched Grey’s Anatomy, you know that no friends have each other’s back as much as Mer and Cristina do. They are truly a great depiction of what friendship is all about. - Hallie Belle Sheinbaum, Project Manager

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414 and subscribing to our bi-monthly newsletter here.