Opposite Gender Best Friends In The Media

(Minor Age Of Ultron spoilers)

A mission for you dear readers: please direct me to any TV shows or movies where a girl and a guy who are close long-time friends (with history going back to far before the start of the show/movie) and working/living in close proximity do not end up together as a couple (or even tried). Please.

You see, I have many close male friends, but my best friend is a guy and I am a girl. We’ve been friends since we were babies. And here we are, eighteen years later, still friends. So this is a matter that I can speak about.

Over the years, we’ve had people assume we were brother and sister. That makes sense because we’d go to and from school together (though we don’t look alike), but eventually people just skipped the family assumption and guessed that we were dating. To which we’d both reply with “Ew, no, that’s like dating a sibling. Weird.”

Best friends is all we’ve ever been and all we ever will be. Coolbeans.

However…

That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes enjoy when fiction characters who are best friends end up together. I guess I’m a sucker for fictional romance. Look at Fitzsimmons on Agents Of SHIELD. Through most of S1 I convinced myself that I was totally okay with them being friends. They were such a good science team and their interactions were hilarious. And then Fitz confessed his feelings for her in the S1 finale and I was hooked. Like, yeah I loved them as friends, but he cared about her so much that he was willing to sacrifice himself. But then when S2 began and their relationship was rocky in all aspects, I just wanted them to be friends again. As their friendship heals, I know that it’s only a matter of time before they’re actually for real dating. And I’m looking forward to that day.

I love these two science dorks so so so much. Individually and together.

I also hate myself for it. Because I spent years and years being an advocate for best friends staying just best friends, just to turn around and happily await a Fitzsimmons kiss. Ugh.

Why am I saying this now though? Well, I recently saw Avengers Age Of Ultron, and I was forced to take a look at the relationship of a few characters, thus spawning this discussion.

Okay, so you know in the first Avengers movie when there was serious chemistry between Natasha and Clint (Black Widow and Hawkeye) and the assumption that they were in a romantic relationship of some kind grew? And in Cap2 Nat wore a little arrow necklace?

But then in Age Of Ultron the real romance was between Natasha and Bruce Banner (Hulk). I did not see that one coming, and I don’t think anyone did, actually. And I’m not here to say that I loved it, because it was kind of sudden and awkward, but I didn’t mind that Clintasha (as they’re called) aren’t a thing.

 

Natasha called Clint her best friend in Age Of Ultron. And that’s awesome. Sure, their friendship became when he refuse to kill her when they were younger (she was an enemy assassin), but since then they’ve been partners. And they are the only two Avengers without a super power/power suit (and their own movie), so they’re already in a slightly different league. They’ve got history as a team doing dangerous things. As Victoria Hand said in episode 1×07 of Agents Of SHIELD, “[T]hey never had an extraction plan.” So they obviously have a strong bond by now.

So that’s why I would have been fine if not happy had they ended up as a couple in the end. But they didn’t. In Age Of Ultron, it’s revealed that Clint already has a wife, two kids, and one on the way, all living on a secret farm for their protection. Her name is Laura (so…I guess he doesn’t marry Bobbi as per the comics…). This was brand new information and at first I was surprised. Like, why should I like this new lady when he could be with Natasha? But as the movie went on, I was pleasantly satisfied. Laura turned out to be super nice and supportive of Clint and his line of work and the fact that all the Avengers just crashed there one night out of the blue. And what’s more is that Natasha seemed comfortable with her, and the two kids even knew her as their aunt. Like, YES. That’s what I want. I want Clint’s best friend still having an important role in his life, even if they aren’t romantically linked.

So the romance between Natasha and Bruce was weird and not my favourite, but the friendship between Natasha and Clint was perfect. Yay Marvel.

Because seriously, where else does that happen? I could list you numerous movies where the long time best friend ends up as the soulmate and it’s angering me more and more (13 Going On 30, Something Borrowed, One Day, Valentine’s Day, When Harry Met Sally…). And I’m not upset that this happens because I’m sure it does happen in real life and it’s probably really cute and special. I’m upset that it’s a trope. I’m upset that I feel bad for loving Fitzsimmons and I’m upset that friends staying just friends is so awfully underrepresented.

So seriously. If you know of any movies or TV shows where best friends stay just best friends forever, hook me up because I have a mighty need. Mostly because I just want to know that it exists. I mean, surely I’m not the only one who’s noticed this? Even if you don’t have an opposite gendered best friend like me, you’ve probably noticed it. And if you do have one (or more, that’s cool too) are you bothered by the situation in the media? Let’s discuss!

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16 thoughts on “Opposite Gender Best Friends In The Media

  1. I didn’t like the Bruce/Natasha thing that was going on in Age of Ultron, it seemed so forced.
    But I loved Clint and Natasha’s friendship in the movie. Even though I shipped them when I watched the first Avengers movie, I was totally fine with Clint having a family. His Wife and kids are so sweet and I loved that Natsha is a part of the family too.
    And I gotta say, you’re totally right! Why can’t we see this kind of friendship more often on tv? Love is something magical, I get it, but friendships are magical too, I’d never want to be without my best friend! So why do movies and tv shows always revolve around love/sex?
    I’m not a romance fan anyway, especially friends turning into a couple. When Fitz told Simmons how he feels about her, I was disappoited, I just wanted them to be friends.

    • Bruce and Natasha came out of nowhere and had there been buildup over a movie or two (even one line in Cap2 would suffice), I probably would have enjoyed them more.
      You’re right on when you say that friendship isn’t focused on. It’s like, friendship isn’t a building block, it’s the endgame in most cases. Friends are so important because I’d totally bet that most people would rather have 50 awesome friends than just 1 lover.
      To contrast Bruce/Nat, there was a small bit of Fitzsimmons buildup. At the start I just wanted them as friends too but the more I saw them, I just wanted them together….like I said, I’m a sucker for it…. 😛

      • Yeah, with buildup they could have been a great couple, after all both characters struggle with a lot of misery, she because of her past and he because he’s always afraid to turn into the Hulk. It makes sense that they would have a strong connection. It would have been okay, if there had just been a bit of flirting in Age of Ultron but nothing more. But I guess that’s easier accomplished in tv shows than in movies, after all there’s a lot more time to explore the characters and their relationship.
        I don’t mind the idea of Fitzsimmons as a couple, but I would have prefered it if they were just friends. But maybe that’s because I ship Skimmons xD

  2. I feel the same way about male/female besties in media. I get so annoyed when you’re presented with two best friends and you can look at it and be like “welp, I know what’s gonna happen here.” Do you watch Elementary? One of their main goals when they were creating it was to show that men and women can be friends without anything romantic or sexual between them. And it’s SUPERB.

    The thing with FitzSimmons though is, while they’re the cutest dorkheads in the world, it’s pretty clear from the get go (at least it was for obsessive me) that they have some kind of feelings for each other other than friendship but are too comfortable with what they have (and totally awkward) to do anything about it. But, while I’m usually like “UGH, STOP WITH THE ROMANCE CRAP” FitzSimmons was done so subtly and organically and just preciously that, oh man, I was on board the second neither one said “I love you” and neither one kissed the other. Probably my favorite thing about their friendship is that was so tight it was practically romantic anyway. I was thinking about this the other day actually: they’re more physically close as eternal best friends then as romantic partners. There could be an entire empty couch and they’d sit on the same cushion like come on guys. But once they both admit how they feel they pretty much don’t even touch. It’s like they have to re-find that intimacy of friendship. And, on the one hand, yeah having another example of male/female best friends would be great because there aren’t enough but they weren’t so cut and dried to begin with. So, in that respect, I don’t feel so bad about shipping the crap out of them because it’s not like it came out of nowhere. They came in with some baggage. And the show is really careful to also give both of them friends and relationships outside of their thing, so they aren’t isolated or 100% wrapped up in each other. Okay, rambling now so I’ll stop.

    I’m not even going to touch Age of Ultron because I think the whole thing was a disaster.

    • No, I don’t watch Elementary. I had figured that since it’s a Sherlock thing and people are already so hung up on romance between the BBC Sherlock peoples, Elementary would be even worse because it’s a male and female. But I’m so glad to hear it’s not!
      I completely agree with what you said on Fitzsimmons. Their friendship is next level. I just think about that time they highfived without even looking and that just proves how close they were and how solid their bond is.
      When the show first started, I was like “ugh, forced romance, here we go,” but then for a few episodes Fitz seemed to almost have a crush on Skye, which was interesting. Then ‘FZZT’ happened and it was clear that Simmons was all he cared about, and you’re right, it’s being presented in such a great way. 🙂

      • Deeeefinitely check out Elementary. Joan (Watson) and Sherlock even have discussions about their romantic and sexual lives without a hint of suggestion. It’s also so so soooo much better than BBC Sherlock with respect to any possible real life issue. They respectfully and realistically portray everything from drug addiction to transgender characters. It’s the only crime/police show I can watch because even if some of the cases are kind of lame the characters are really well done.

        Wrt to Fitz and Simmons I also love that Simmons is completely oblivious about romance. Someone has to overtly flirt with her and even then she usually just shrugs it off. Even at the end of S2 she can’t figure out Fitz is asking her on a date. Meanwhile she loves romantic stories (even creepy ones, like with Audrey and her stalker) but is like totally blind to her own. That Fitz is the actual romantic makes me so happy.

  3. Warehouse 13 — the two main characters altered between being just friends to maybe more to a sibling type thing. Also two of the secondary characters, a girl and a guy, were always platonic, but almost like siblings, as the guy had same sex attraction, and they were both missing a sibling they lost or that lived far away.

    I also like when it’s not a typical or expected relationship. Both my husbands weren’t friends first, just acquaintances and it developed from there. So I can’t really say on that front. But I’d say, if you have a great friend since childhood (Clary and Simon in The Mortal Instruments?), that’s precious, and cherish it as it is.

    • Love doesn’t have to ruin everything, and I’m frustrated that the media always portrays differently. Things would get super weird if I fell in love with all my guy friends…

  4. Awesome article! Throughout my life I’ve had a lot of male friends — and I quickly grew tired of the “Are you guys dating?” question. My best friend in college was male, and he and I used to place bets on whether or not wait staff at restaurants would assume we were dating. Out of a group of seven people, a waitress once pulled me and him aside and asked if we were dating. And though the group was mixed gender, she didn’t ask anyone else. HUH!?

    But regardless, you’re right. Movies/books often have mixed gendered friends fall in love. In real life, it doesn’t always work that way, and it’s unfortunate that media doesn’t reflect that reality.

    Awesome post. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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