For the longest time, it has been nearly impossible to find a TV show where the main hero and the main heroine didn’t end up together. Agents Mulder and Scully? Agent Booth and Doctor Bones? Colonel O’Neil and Captain Carter? These are only some of the infinite number of television’s partners and friends who went on to become a canon ship, and… it’s a little frustrating. If aliens unfamiliar with Earth culture and relationships watched our TV shows to familiarize themselves with the way we interact with one another, they would probably think that men and women working together is impossible – it always ends in a ship that’s canon. Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, despite what “science” might say.
Though I am told that there have been a few studies done that “conclusively proved male/female friendships cannot exist without devolving into a relationship,” my own experiences suggest otherwise. A large number of my friends are male, and this has been the case for years. It’s always annoyed me when people told us boys and girls can’t be friends; it’s always annoyed me when other girls said in high school, “If a girl says she has many guy friends, what she really means is that she sleeps with all of them!” It’s as if pop culture is telling us that this thing is impossible and we shouldn’t even try because we’ll fail – but come on, that’s utter BS. Deep, profound and lasting friendships between men and women are entirely possible and entirely awesome. Sure, some devolve into epic and lengthy love stories. Some devolve into a fedora-clad individual stomping his foot and complaining about the “friend zone”. And some… some just stay friendships. And are awesome.
Which is why I’ve been really excited about recent developments in television over the past couple of years. Suddenly, we get all of these… brotps, man. Bromances where one half is in possession of a pair of female reproductive genitalia, and the other half is in possession of male reproductive genitalia, and those genitalia do not meet, ever. It’s so refreshing. It’s my hope that positive, lasting portrayal of friendships between men and women will help popularize the notion that men and women can cooperate, instead of always adhering to the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” nonsense, and, in turn, help to bring out more realistic and relatable female characters in pop culture.
Here’s a look at a few of TV’s emerging brotps (and what I hope will continue to be brotps) and what I like about them.
Dean Winchester and Charlie Bradbury – Supernatural
Aside from the fact that Felicia Day is God’s gift to mankind and is absolutely flawless in every way (no, I do not have a girl crush in the least, don’t look at me), Charlie Bradbury is absolutely awesome. She’s energetic, skilled, strong, intelligent and unashamed of the things that mean a lot to her. She’s a geek, and quite obviously, she’s the girl pretty much everyone in the Supernatural fandom wishes they were. Oh, are you telling me you don’t want to be a butt-kicking, sword-wielding Queen who gets to *spoilers* waltz off into the land of Oz and hug Dean Winchester and discuss Game of Thrones with Sam Winchester? REALLY? I smell a liar.
I’m not even going to get started on how she’s a lesbian, and that’s cool too. Although, wasn’t there another cute, geeky redheaded lesbian on some other show about things that went bump in the night that Felicia Day was on, way back when dinosaurs walked the earth (aka the ’90s)? Point is, Charlie’s pretty kickass.
The thing I think I love most about the relationship between Dean and Charlie is that Charlie kind of brings out the good side of Dean. She encourages him to acknowledge the geeky side of himself – which, we all knew he had all along but he didn’t really admit to having one. Depending on which Tumblr meta you read, she also may or may not be a subtle hint from the skies above that Dean Winchester’s sexuality can be found in that closet over there… no, go dig a little deeper in… wait… what do you mean, you’ve found Narnia? Dean, in turn, seems to take on a kind of older brother role for Charlie – like, can we talk about his disapproving frowny-face when she says she’s taken up hunting in 9.04? Most of the moments we’ve seen Dean actually be honest with himself (and others) about stuff were when he was interacting with Charlie… although, it’s not saying much, because Dean’s lying pretty much hit legendary levels as of 9.09.
The friendship between Dean and Charlie is a friendship built on mutual respect, a love of out of the way, geeky things, and monster guts. Really, could it get any more awesome?
Some people really don’t like Donna, and I can’t imagine why. Every time someone says the companions aren’t unique enough or normal enough or are all constantly sucking face with Gallifrey’s bad boy, I jump up and down, waving my TEAM DONNA flag. While a friend from the UK who’d grown up on a steady stream of British telly and Doctor Who reruns told me once she wasn’t fond of Donna’s character because it was less a character and more Catherine Tate Show crossing over onto Doctor Who, I’ve never seen it and can’t say if that’s the case. Also, there was a “Which Companion Are You” quiz on BBC America’s homepage a while back, and I totally got Donna, so if I’m a little attached, that’s why. I even have a postcard of the Doctor and Donna hanging to my left, at this very moment!
With that said, I’m quite glad that Donna never mated with the Doctor, because I really like them better together as mates in the British sense of the word and not in the love story sense of the word, or, worse yet, the A/B/O dynamics sense of the word. They were awesome together – snarky banter, witty comebacks, lots of humor and adventure, none of it tinged by any of that romance nonsense – was it really that necessary for the Doctor and Amy to kiss? I don’t think so. I think that the show could use more companions like Donna – real, solid people, like you and I, people we could imagine meeting on the street and having a normal conversation with, who kick butt without having to be some sort of mystical “Girl Who Did A Thing”. There really is no better way to describe the relationship that Doctor and Donna had; it was most definitely a bromance. I want more of it.
There are things I loved about Sleepy Hollow right from the start – the fact that the pilot played Rolling Stones might be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s definitely not the most important. The relationship between Ichabod and Abbie is awesome. People ship them, a lot – Ichabbie is a major non-canon OTP right now on Tumblr. UG and I actually came two panels early to the Sleepy Hollow panel NYCC had this year, and hearing Tom Mison say that Ichabbie was intended to remain a brotp in the foreseeable future was worth it. So worth it.
I love the dynamic Abbie and Ichabod have, so very much. I’ll admit that currently I’m about half a season behind due to life, the universe and everything, but the past six episodes have done nothing to convince me that Ichabod and Abbie should be BFFs for like, the next forever. Abbie serves as Ichabod’s guide in the modern world, and Ichabod serves as Abbie’s guide in the world of Things That Dean Winchester Hunts For A Living. They’re partners, they’re witnesses to the unraveling of the world, and sure, that could be romantic in some way, I guess – if you stand together as the world falls apart around you, people are bound to ship it like it’s tea, tobacco or bananas. However, to me, it feels as if their connection is not that of fated lovers
waiting for his wife to be killed off the show finally come together in love and harmony amongst evil and darkness. To me, Ichabod and Abbie are warriors, comrades in arms joining a common cause, and they should stay that way.
Also, Ichabod is married and as far as I know Katrina isn’t dead yet so umm that could be really awkward, especially since they seemed to be quite in love in those flashbacks. Ick, married men.
Of course, you might be sitting there and going, “Well, gee, FG, that’s great that you’re so passionate about dudes being friends with chicks, but why is this so important? Why should I care?” There isn’t really a simple answer, because this is kind of a personal thing of mine, and I’m not good with personal things. I’m not good at explaining my feelings. If it’s anything beyond why I ship Debriel like there’s no tomorrow, I can’t express it in words, because Dean Winchester is my spirit animal. Please bear with me while I attempt to explain it through grimaces, manly gestures, angry chewing, stabbing motions and interpretive dance.
The personal part? That much is obvious. Though I identify as genderfluid, I am still (and have lived all my life so far) as a biological female. As such, my interactions with others involve me generally being percieved as a female. I have dude friends, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t a genderfluid thing. It’s a “50% of the world is made up of people who are biologically male and you are bound to befriend some” thing. While I no longer encounter the “men and women can’t be friends” mentality or the “if a girl has guy friends she’s probably banging them all” mentality because my friends are, for the most part, mature enough to handle friendships without dissolving into a fear of cooties, it’s a thing that’s stuck with me since high school days, and I’d really like it if other girls didn’t have to go through that either.
I also feel that accurate portrayal of realistic platonic relationships between men and women will help to get rid of the dreaded “friend zone” thing. Guys, there’s nothing wrong with being friends. Friendship is magic. Friendship is fun. Friendship is eating chocolate while watching Ghostbusters together at 2am. Friendship is wandering around for hours trying to find a church in which to get condemned. Friendship is stopping the horsemen of the apocalypse while wearing a crown and a wedding gown. There’s nothing bad about the friend zone. EMBRACE FRIENDSHIP. FRIENDSHIP IS AWESOME.
A part of me hopes that, as heterosexual platonic relationships become more common on television (and elsewhere) it will affect how women are portrayed overall, and, in turn affect how women are treated in real life, because life tends to copy art a lot. In friendships such as those above, both parties are portrayed as being equal, neither of them burdened with having to play to their respective gender roles or whatever bullshit. They can kill demons together and go on awesome escapades through time and space together and they can save the world together… and there’s none of that romance nonsense. A lot of good stories got ruined by misplaced romance, and it’s done nothing to dissolve the idea that if a man and a woman have a close working relationship and intimate chemistry, then they need to be together, and if they aren’t together in the romantic sense, he’s being “friend zoned.” In that sort of situation, the female is reduced to nothing more than another trophy to be won. Real life doesn’t work that way. Instead, if TV were to portray platonic connections between men and women as being profound and rewarding, it would dispel a lot of myth about how women are unable to be friends with men, unless they’re gay or in the “friend zone” and wouldn’t the world be a nice place if we had more things that portray men and women as being equal and equally capable at doing things? We don’t have enough of that.