Sunday, February 15, 2015

Five Fandom Friday on Sunday: Best Friends

I'm late on the train with this 5 Fandom Friday, too. Originally about the top 5 couples that you "ship," I avoided it because I'm allergic to fanfiction and romance.

I understand wanting to celebrate and even interact with a narrative you've enjoyed and maybe even internalized, and I also understand the desire for smut, so I'm okay with fanfiction existing somewhere out there in the vague and and hazy ether of the Internet. But it's a thing that is definitely Not For Me, and it chafes me that 50 Shades of Grey and The Mortal Instruments (series that started life as Twilight and Harry Potter fanfiction, respectively) are setting up an inherently Ooribosean closed model: no new input, just constant regurgitation of the same or all-too-similar worlds because that is what the fannish hivemind will buy.

More than that, it bums me out that people would rather spend their creative energy playing with someone else's toys, so to speak, than to create new ones. Imagine if everyone slaving away over their 90-chapter Draco/Harry slash was instead slaving away over an entirely new story. (Not that writing fanfiction precludes you from writing original material; I know people who write both.)

There is an academic "pro fanfic" angle you take, and I grant that—authors have been cribbing off each other since novels were invented, "steal like an artist," etc. I respect that, and I say it still doesn't negate the inherent ick factor of fanfic (fanfick?) for me.

My unpopular geek opinion!

So all of this is to say I was not really excited about this week's 5 Fandom Friday, and then I saw other ladies in the Female Geek Bloggers community posting different interpretations of it, and it became much more palatable! I present my take on it: my top 5 Fictional Best Friendships.

1. Dante and Randall

Whether they're in black and white, working at Mooby's, animated, running the Quick Stop and video rental, or in color, you just know that Dante and Randall's friendship will survive anything. Plus their relationship reflects a lot of real-life best friends: both have character flaws and strengths that complement each other and ultimately help each other grow. Randall's cavalier, "fuck this shit" attitude and confidence helps Dante take risks and move out of his comfort zone, while Dante's responsibility and maturity reign in Randall's impulsive immaturity. More importantly, they care a lot about each other and (nearly) always do their best to help their buddy grow into a better version of themselves. These guys are like the OGs of BFF-hood.

2. Daria and Jane

What 90s kid couldn't relate to the detached and sarcastic Daria? I've been compared to Daria on more than one occasion, I presume because of my glasses and tendency for snarkiness. Their girl friendship was noteworthy for being based on mutual interests and shared character traits rather than catty gossip and boy-chasing. Unfortunately the writers took Daria and Jane's rock-solid friendship down a hackneyed, cliched path when they spent a few episodes on the outs because of a stupid boy, but in the end, uteruses triumphed over duderuses. 

3. Enid and Becky

Comics Enid and Becky, at any rate. I've never seen the movie, and I don't know if I want to because I get the impression that a lot of the nuance and tenderness of the novel was cut in favor of wacky on-screen shenanigans. They were a proto-Daria and proto-Jane, but also different. A lot of the conversations they had were echoes of ones between myself and my best friend. Unlike Daria and Jane, though, their friendship seems to start dissolving once they graduate high school. Sad, but probably more realistic than Daria and Jane's future.

4. Nancy, George, and Bess

Okay, maybe not the most heartwarming of friendships here. Just solving mysteries together like badasses. These were some of my favorite books when I was a kid; at some point after I finish the TIME Top 100 list, I'd like to reread these all again, just for shits and giggles. Fun fact: these books are where I learned the word "amateur."

5. Jeff and Shirley

While Troy and Abed's Cloud Cuckoolander antics were many fans' favorite part of Community, after Season 3's "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" Jeff and Shirley became my favorite pair in the group. I wish Yvette Nicole Brown had stayed on, because I would have loved to see more of Shirley, as well as her friendship with Jeff. They weren't BFFs by any stretch, but they could have been if the show hadn't been under constant threat of cancellation and if Brown hadn't ultimately left it. After all, they've known each other for longer than anyone else in the study group. Their reconciliation over the foosball table and the tyranny of the German exchange students was something like a friendship version of kintsugi: the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with precious metal lacquer. 

Who are your favorite fictional BFFs?


  1. I love this spin! I've never minded Valentine's Day because it was never a "romantic" holiday in my world. I bought gift for my parents and all of my best friends. There are more kinds of ships outside of romantic relationships. Also, Daria and Jane for the win!

    1. For real, I've always associated Valentine's Day with lighthearted friend stuff and candy just as much as with romance, so I'm cool with it. Besides, I've always been more ~touched~ by The Power of Friendship TM than by The Power of Love TM. I think it's important to remember that friendship is just as powerful as romantic love!

      Daria and Jane: so 90s, yet so timeless.