TV friendships that subvert the usual ‘gay best friend’ trope – their friendships are built on trust and respect, not just because it’s funny or ‘edgy’ to have a token gay on-screen.
For decades, TV attempted to bring gay men into the limelight as funny and camp – portraying the ‘GBF’ as a desexualised man who enjoyed musicals and fashion and bitched about others who weren’t his ‘fag hag’. The ‘gay best friend’ was also usually the subject of homophobia or jokes at their own expense.
Thank God, things are now much different in TV land…
Liam/Shane – Faking It
Teenagers Shane and Liam of Faking It do not care for your heteronormative expectations. One is straight, one is gay, and they have even slow-danced at the homecoming dance together. They share their lives and worries and share a place in the ‘popular circle’ amongst their peers. It’s a nice change from the ‘bullied gay’ or the ‘tough jock’.
Willow/Buffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The friendship of Buffy and Willow is, and always has been, one of the greatest female friendships on television. From the first episode, their friendship was set in stone and they endured all kinds of general teenage angst – you know, relationships, exams, vampires, studying, death… Regardless of the issue, be it Willow’s burgeoning powers or Buffy’s affair with a vampire (or two), they got through it all and, most importantly, did it together.
Kimmy/Titus – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Main characters of Tina Fey’s new series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt established a quick friendship based upon necessity – Kimmy needed a place to stay, Titus needed her money. Subverting the ‘GBF’ trope, Titus helped socially ignorant Kimmy navigate the world of friendships, relationships, and work. Though Titus is technically Kimmy’s ‘GBF’, he has an entire life and backstory separate to her, unlike the gay best friends in shows like Sex and the City.
Kalinda/ Alicia – The Good Wife
Though private investigator Kalinda is fiercely private, with few friends, she soon becomes a friend and confidant to Alicia. However, Alicia eventually discovers that Kalinda had an affair with her husband Peter. Since this revelation, their friendship has been strained but it’s clear that they are still protective of each other.
Jake/Ray – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ray is the stoic Police Captain, the subject of constant jokes due to his robotic outward appearance. In spite of this, he is kind and supportive of his team and the precinct while in turn being supported by the officers. In one instance, Jake took it upon himself to defend his Captain’s honour by immediately calling out homophobia – it was awesome.
Fitz/Cyrus – Scandal
Their friendship is based on lies and untruths and betrayal; Fitz is the Republican US President, Cyrus is his gay, married Chief of Staff who eventually adopts a child. Through thick and thin, though their friendship can be volatile, they have always supported each other and have each other’s best interests at heart – Fitz was the one to encourage Cyrus to publicly come out so he could dance with his partner at the White House.
Angela/Bones – Bones
Angela has had mainly heterosexual relationships but was then portrayed as having a relationship with a woman she had previously met in college. She and Bones have always had a strong relationship, each supporting the other in all aspects of their lives. Angela and Bones have both revealed secrets and neither person ever judged the other.
Lincoln/Jaime – Broad City
Ilana’s drug dealing, immigrant roommate Jaime could be perceived as a brash stereotype but as his character developed, and his friendships grew, it was clear that he was lovable and more than just a ‘gay best friend’ trope. He feels immense guilt for transgressions that are usually minor and is unashamed in his sexuality. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with Lincoln, Ilana’s part-time sexual partner. Their interactions are usually both hilarious and sweet.
Jack/Karen – Will & Grace
Though Jack and Karen was one of the first examples of the ‘Pet Homosexual’ trope, their friendship is special. It was clear from the start that their friendship wasn’t based on their sexualities or Jack being Karen’s sidekick, it is based on them being two of the most repulsive people in New York City.
Emily/Hannah/Spencer/Aria – Pretty Little Liars
Emily came out in the first season of the never-ending teenage mystery show, Pretty Little Liars. Having had a boyfriend as the series started, she ended her relationship and became friends with new neighbor Maya. Emily’s sexuality is eventually revealed and she begins a relationship with Maya while her friends didn’t bat an eyelid. In fairness, they had sadistic, murderous psychos to deal with.
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