When You’re the Best of Friends…
Growing up, everyone had that one friend who could tell you the funniest joke, the one friend who could cheer you up, or the one who was always up for a good time. It’s no different in television either. Some of my favorite shows involve two people who you know without each other probably wouldn’t enjoy life the same way. And with all of the things in life that give us encouragement, hope, and laughter, friendship is something sacred that lasts lifetimes and or generations. There are some duos who are frequently discussed such as Andy and Barney and Lucy and Ethel, so I want to talk about best friends who aren’t talked about but should be.
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Cory and Shawn: Both Sides of the Tracks
Growing up, Boy Meets World was a must-see for those of us who grew up in the prime of TGIF. There was Cory (Ben Savage), his less-than-bright brother Eric (Will Friedle), the love of his life Topanga (Danielle Fischel), and the irreplaceable Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), among others. However, my favorite relationship he had was with his lifelong best friend Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong).
Shawn Hunter was not the best student in the world. He always slept through class, ditched class, or didn’t even bother to come to class. Shawn’s primary interests included girls and/or food, but he never made any qualms about it. He may not have made much of an effort to do his best, but you knew he loved his friend Cory. And Cory loved Shawn. It was one of the best bromances to grace television.
Cory went along with Shawn’s schemes and Shawn supported Cory’s ambitions. Cory was always trying to figure out a new way to make money, charm Mr. Feeny and pursue Topanga. He didn’t always succeed, but he always made an effort and Shawn was always with him along the way.
Shawn and Cory both wanted the same things, even if they didn’t come from the same type of family. Cory’s parents were happily married and his dad was employed while his mom stayed home. Shawn’s parents were barely together and his dad was preoccupied with the coach aside from the occasional job. Cory didn’t always like his sister Morgan (Lily Nicksay/Lindsay Ridgeway) and Eric, but he loved them. Shawn barely knew his older half-brother Jack (Matthew Lawrence). However, Cory’s unwavering faith in Shawn’s potential and Shawn’s devotion to Cory’s persistence kept them together.
A keystone moment has to be the infamous Cory and Topanga breakup in which Cory is caught cheating with another girl. Everyone sides with Topanga in the demise of the relationship, except Shawn. He appreciated that Cory knew Topanga was the love of his life and helped him, even when everyone doubted their reconciliation. Shawn even begins to doubt Cory, but once Cory proves everyone wrong, it was obvious that Shawn had a hard time doubting his best friend.
Another poignant moment has to be Cory and Shawn’s fight right before Cory and Topanga exchange vows. They hated the fact of their friendship changing so much, that it was almost too hard to accept the impending change in their lives. They obviously reconciled and in the very end began the next chapter of their lives together.
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Better Together: Clarissa and Sam
When I was younger, there was one show that always made me happy. Clarissa Explains it All was that show. From the cool theme song to her Alex P. Keaton-esque brother, Ferguson (Jason Zimbler) it was the best show to watch. But my favorite part always came when her best friend, Sam (Sean O’Neal) would swing by to talk.
Clarissa (Melissa Joan Hart) was one of the best teens in television history. She wasn’t totally boy-crazy, silly, or ignorant of everyday life. Clarissa was simply her ambitious and driven to write for the school newspaper, chase her favorite band, or simply stay out of trouble.
Sam, however, was more laid back. He was a west-coast kid at heart, enjoying skateboarding and surfing as well as music. Sam was cute and charming, but it never appeared that he and Clarissa were more than friends until he realized he had feelings for her. However, their friendship won out.
Clarissa and Sam were also passionate about the same types of things, which led to many adventures in and out of school. Clarissa and Sam even became parts of each other’s families especially after Sam’s mom left to pursue her passion.
Their friendship endured several trials, including parents, relationships, school dramas, and other teenage trials. Their bond is one of the premier male-female friendships on television. While they didn’t end up like Harry and Sally, it probably was for the best.
Besides, this was the 90s, not the 1980s.
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Shawn and Gus: Best Buds
I know, I did an entire hub on Psych, but the relationship between Shawn and Gus is worth another look. Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) are on my list mainly because the have a rapport with each other that everyone longs for. Shawn is the eternal youthful optimist, naive and ignorant to the real world, while Gus is the pragmatic and practical voice of reason with great instincts. Together, they give each other a friendship that is irreplaceable.
Shawn and Gus have been friends since they were five years old. They grew up together, got in trouble together, but didn’t go to college together. Shawn opted to see the world and work odd jobs while Gus prepared for his future by getting his degree. They kept in touch and return to their home town to solve crimes together.
Gus is the good kid that every parent wants you to befriend. The problem is he’s a little too good. His coordinated outfits, mentions of stock options, and grandfatherly dress are off-putting, but beyond the surface he’s a good friend. Even though he doesn’t understand Shawn’s need to prance around as a faux-psychic, he definitely supports his friend to the extent most of us wouldn’t venture to.
Shawn, on the other hand, is the kid on the playground your mom probably eyed in case he tried to take your Juicy Juice. He’s careless, self-centered, and doesn’t have a real car. Shawn seems like the guy Cosmo would tell you to leave alone, but deeper than that he’s insightful, observant, and witty. He can’t see why Gus would want to slum it in the real world, but understands his friends needs.
As a crime-fighting team, Shawn sees the clues and Gus connects the dots. They go undercover, frequent suspect hangouts and eat alot of good looking food. And while they don’t always agree on how to solve the crime, the job always gets done. Shawn, more or less uses Gus for his car and sometimes his super-sniffer but beyond that Gus is his biggest fan outside of Shawn’s dad (Corbin Bernsen).
They both have a hard time sustaining romances because of the other’s jealousy and as a result keep secrets from each other when they do start seeing someone. Remember when Gus hid the fact he was married or when Shawn tried to make it look like he valued Gus over his girlfriend because he felt guilty? Regardless, they have a hard time sustaining commitments because their biggest one is to each other. Now that Shawn is involved with Juliet (Maggie Lawson), who knows what will happen?
No matter what, I’m sure they’ll find some way to continue their lifelong bond over 1980s pop culture, food, or old times.
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To the End: Rhoda and Mary
I always loved watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary Richards was smart, she was funny, she was stylish but most of all she knew what she wanted. Or at least she tried to look that way. And then she met Rhoda (Valerie Harper), equally funny, smart, and stylish with a little bit of New York sass. She was honest to a fault, but she had trouble being honest with herself.
Mary was like the class president and Rhoda was like the wisecracking secretary. Even though Mary had more power and autonomy in her career, she was always depended on the advice of Rhoda to get her through tough days at the station.
And as confident as Rhoda was, she still thought of herself as the eternally chubby best friend. Even after entering a beauty pageant, Mary had to tell her how much she had really had to offer as a person.
They both endured Phyllis’s (Cloris Leachman) schemes and deceptions as tenants. But the most refreshing part had to be their appreciation of each other. Even though Mary was technically the star, she never treated Rhoda as less than her equal
Rhoda and Mary remained friends through Rhoda’s voyage back home, her disastrous marriage and Mary finally leaving the station. And fortunately for television fans, they reunited onscreen in a television movie several years later.
To this day, they serve as a premiere example of female friendships onscreen. There was never any backbiting, snarkiness, or unneccessary catfighting. They were just two strong, well-rounded women who knew how to go for what they want.
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Shared Connection: Chris and Greg
Coming from a different neighborhood to a new school is rough. It’s especially rough when you’re the only person from your neighborhood, let alone race to go that new school on a long bus ride five days away. Not to mention getting pounded on a red-headed bully or getting dumped before you can ask out a girl. No matter his troubles, Chris (Tyler James Williams) could always rely on Greg (Vincent Martella) for moral support.
Chris is the quintessential fish-out-of-water. He lived in one neighborhood, but went to school in another school. Chris is the only minority in the school and only has his cunning abilities to rely on until he meets Greg. Greg is an amiable student who’s has about the same popularity as Chris. They bond over their mutual distaste for Caruso (Travis Flory) and their classes.
Greg does the right thing and is usually right, at least in his mind. Chris does the easy thing and is usually caught and says he was trying to be right. Greg uses logic to think things through, Chris uses street smarts and hatred of his mom’s spankings to get out of situations. One thing they both have enormous trouble with is girls. Remember the episode where Chris asked a less popular girl to the dance and then ditched her only to ask her out again? Or when Greg desperately wanted to impress a girl by taking her to the dance and then finds out he was a decoy for her own agenda?
They do teach each other things. Greg explained his allowance to Chris, who didn’t understand it because his dad (Terry Crews) was too cheap to give him one. Or when Chris explained snitching to Greg because he didn’t want to mess up with Jerome (Kevontay Jackson after he robbed Doc’s (Antonio Vargas) store.
Their bond is tested when they go to separate high schools, but of course end up back together because Chris’s new best friend turns out to be bad news. At the end of the series when Chris considers dropping out of school, he and Greg still seem to be good friends.
Who’s Your Favorite Pair Mentioned in this Hub?
Corey and Shawn
Clarissa and Sam
Shawn and Gus
Rhoda and Mary
Chris and Greg
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