By JORDAN LUSINK, Communications Coordinator
In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the film Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and in anticipation of our upcoming musical production of the same name, we’re celebrating some of our favorite female friendships, both in pop culture and in real life.
Oprah and Gayle
Gayle is Oprah’s right-hand woman. The Hamilton to Oprah’s George Washington. Their friendship has survived over 30 years, through marriages and divorces and kids and talk shows and magazines and basically everything. The fact that there are still rumors about whether they are in a more-than-platonic relationship (which both of them have stressed they would be super open about if they were “together,” or, as Oprah put it in an interview, “All my stuff is out there. People think I’d be so ashamed of being gay that I wouldn’t admit it? Oh please”) just emphasizes how important it is to talk about and celebrate non-adversarial, platonic female friendships.
Anne and Diana
One of my favorite things to do each year, and it has been for over a decade, is watch the mini-series version of Anne of Green Gables. (RIP Jonathan Crombie. You’ll always be Gilbert Blythe to me.) This adaptation of one of my favorite book series about one of my favorite bookworms will always hold a special place in my heart, and one of the biggest reasons for that is the relationship between Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. They got up to some shenanigans, but when it came right down to it, they were there for each other. Diana defended Anne to her mother when she thought that Anne was a bad influence on Diana, and pushed Anne when her melodramatic inclinations got in her own way. Anne helped to bring excitement and drama, and was the first to call Diana a kindred spirit and her bosom friend, swearing eternal friendship.
Mary and Rhoda
The ladies behind the well-known quote from Romy and Michele, “I’m the Mary, you’re the Rhoda,” Mary and Rhoda first appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary (played by Mary Tyler Moore, obviously) was the eponymous lead who was a lead producer for the evening news. Her bestie, Rhoda (played by Valerie Harper), lived just upstairs from Mary and worked as a window dresser at a department store. These two thirty-somethings were both single and spent a fair amount of time talking about their dating lives. The pair reunited in 2000 for the made-for-TV film Mary and Rhoda. Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper were also close friends in real life.
Khadijah, Synclaire, Max and Régine of Living Single
Living Single was a TV show in the 90s about four professional women living in a Brooklyn brownstone. (Okay, technically three of them lived in the brownstone, and Max was a frequent guest at their abode.) Well before Sex and the City, these women were kickass and independent, focused on their jobs as professional women in the city and also trying to have relationships. (The title of the show IS Living Single.) This focus on relationships included maintaining friendships with each other, some of which began in childhood. The show launched Queen Latifah as Khadijah, an editor and publisher of a monthly magazine. Queen Latifah recently announced that a revision of the show with the original cast is in the works!
The Golden Girls (Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia)
Way before Sex and the City and Living Single, there was The Golden Girls. The show had and continues to be critically acclaimed, with each of the four stars have received an Emmy Award sometime during the seven seasons. The show centered on four older women living together, and was pretty clear in advancing and advocating for progressive values. Not only did the show have a pretty revolutionary portrayal of aging, the messages of feminism, advocacy for gay rights, and conversations about race and disability were common throughout the series. The legacy of the show continues to this day, though it’s been off the air for 25 years. (Issa Rae recently compared her new HBO series Insecure to The Golden Girls.) Reruns are played in syndication, and the entire series was recently added to Hulu so that a wider audience, including people who may have never seen the show before, can enjoy. Plus, everyone still knows the words to that theme song.
Jess and Cece
Whether you love or hate New Girl, Jess and Cece have one of the most awesome and supportive friendships on television. (Though most people don’t have a best friend who is a supermodel…) Though they are pretty close to being opposites, that just means they balance each other well. They’re also really good at calling each other on their BS. Their entire friendship is grounded in middle-school, and how they both felt like weirdos and outcasts, which is pretty much the basis for the best friendships.
Penelope and Salma
These two ladies have been friends for over 20 years. (For example, remember that show Punk’d with everyone’s favorite prankster Ashton Kutcher? Salma was pranked by Penelope in a restaurant in a 2005 episode.) They celebrated their friendship this January with matching Instagram posts, and there’s a long history of supportive and loving statements from and about each other. They’ve even shared the screen in the 2006 movie Bandidas, during the filming of which they almost died in a plane crash. Cruz said, “A thought came across my mind that if I were to die at that moment at least I’d die with my best friend.” Awwww.
Laverne and Shirley
“Schlemiel! Shchlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” Laverne and Shirley actually began their lives on Happy Days, originally introduced as Fonzie’s acquaintances before getting their own spinoff. The ladies were single roommates who works as bottlecappers and got into all sorts of shenanigans together, including a surprising amount of musical numbers throughout the years.
Tia and Tamera in Sister, Sister
Okay, so they’re actually twin sisters separated at birth and adopted by different families. The nature of that beginning often translated to their relationship focusing more on the friendship aspect of their sisterhood. As one of several series in the mid-90s focused on young adults (i.e. Boy Meets World, Brotherly Love, Moesha, the list could go on), the show often addressed issues that young adults would deal with, including peer pressure and fitting in. A unique viewpoint from Sister, Sister, though, was the difficulty of the expectations people put on twins, and establishing an identity independent of a twin.
Romy and Michele
And last but certainly not least, one of our absolute top favorite duos: Romy and Michele. Much has been written about these two friends recently in celebration of the 20th anniversary, especially taking a look at what makes their friendship so strong. The two are super supportive of each other, endlessly positive and mostly content to be independent thinkers, regardless of what other people think about them. Though some may see them as merely dumb blondes, they are able to come up with a completely realistic formula for Post-It glue, their created backstories to explain the last 10 years are that of businesswomen (rather than saying they married rich or inherited money) and (spoiler) they parley their business skills and fashion acumen into a successful clothing store. Ultimately, the story is really about celebrating friendship, fashion and accepting yourself as you are.
What are your favorite female friendships? Let us know in the comments!
Click here to find out more and purchase tickets to the World Premiere of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion: The Musical.