Growing up, there were a lot of pretty girls on TV to worship. Girls like Kelly Kapowski, Brenda Walsh, Brooke McQueen, Julia Salinger, Felicity Porter, and Marissa Cooper. These girls – usually the stars of their respective shows – were beautiful, so whether or not their peers had quite become aware of them yet, as a viewer it was fairly obvious that there were going to be boys, dates, dances, and first kisses in their blossoming futures. But I didn’t relate to those girls. In real life, my best friend was the cute one and I was the one guys would call to find out if she was interested in them. So when it came to my favorite TV shows, I usually related to the funny, less attractive (and sometimes not-at-all attractive) best friends.
Confession: when I first watched Gilmore Girls, Lane sort of got on my nerves. But as my love for this show developed over the years like a fine, quirky wine, I’ve come to realize what an amazing character and friend we have in Lane Kim. At the beginning of the series, Lane is a socially awkward band geek with an insanely strict religious mother and no friends other than (the often selfish) Rory. Over the next seven seasons, she rebels against (but also comes to respect) her mother, tries her hand at cheerleading, dyes her hair purple, falls in love TWICE, follows her dreams of becoming a drummer, gets married, and starts a family. But above all, she finds herself, and a heck of a lot more quickly than Rory does. Lane knows what she wants and is brave enough to go for it, whether that means dating a white guy instead of Korean, or moving in with her bandmates when she’s supposed to be at college. Lane is also an amazing friend to Rory. She gives Rory room to make new friends and boyfriends without ever shutting her out. When Rory is depressed about her falling-out with Lorelai, Lane is the one who comforts her – despite the fact that she hasn’t heard from Rory in months. One of my favorite moments is when, at Lane’s wedding, her new husband Zach describes her as “the coolest girl on the planet.” I couldn’t agree more.
Oddly, Sharon from My So-Called Life is one of the TV characters to whom I most related when I was younger. Although my best friend and I never had a falling out like the one she experiences with Angela, there was something so painfully real to me about Sharon’s sadness as she watches Angela move past her and into a cooler group of friends, attaching herself to the edgy Rayanne and Rickie. This pain is evident from the very first episode, when Angela dyes her hair without talking to Sharon about it first. In the rules of high school BFF-dom, that is a majorly bad sign. Angela’s pretty much a dick to Sharon for much of the one-season series, with some tender moments like when Angela finally, finally, finally comforts Sharon after her father’s heart attack (“Squeeze my hand as hard as it hurts”). But, in true underrated best friend awesomeness, Sharon stays loyal to Angela throughout. I always thought it was poetic justice that Sharon gets attention around school for having amazing boobs AND that she gets to have sex way before Angela does. She even bonds with Rayanne by the end. Who’s the dork now, huh?!
Oh, Millie. Much like Sharon Cherski, Millie of Freaks and Geeks is quickly ditched by her best friend Lindsay Weir for a more exciting group of friends. The thing about Millie is that she’s undeniably dorky. I’m not going to try to redeem her a la Lane Kim. There are no punk rock records hidden in the floorboards of Millie’s room. She’s more into Christian music, like the Jesus anthems she belts out at a keg party. Of course, she does rebel a little when her dog dies and Kim Kelly guiltily befriends her, but Kim stops her before she goes too far by drinking her first beer. As opposed to the kind of dorky BFF that is secretly cool, Millie is important for what she represents to Lindsay. Millie is Lindsay’s childhood, her innocence, her happy past. Nothing breaks my heart more than the episode where Lindsay briefly returns to the math team and attends a slumber party at Millie’s. For a few minutes, she recaptures the fun she used to have when Millie was her best friend. But, of course, it can’t last, and she sneaks out of the slumber party to meet up with her new friends instead.
Bear with me on this one. Yes, Kimmy Gibbler of Full House is notoriously one of the most irritating television characters ever to grace the small screen. Yes, she snores and has smelly feet. And yes, most of the characters on the show openly hate her. BUT: she is D.J. Tanner’s best friend throughout the entire series, and what a best friend she is. Everyone needs a friend like Kimmy. Unlike the other underrated BFFs on this list, Kimmy isn’t a good girl. She gets drunk and needs rescuing. She foolishly ditches D.J. for some older, cooler girls (paging Lindsay Weir and Angela Chase). She’s not afraid to tease Uncle Jesse about his hair. But these foibles are what makes her a well-rounded friend. For every problem Kimmy causes, there’s an episode where D.J. forgets her birthday or chooses a boyfriend over her. Their friendship has very realistic ups and downs. More than anytihng, Kimmy loves D.J. and is a really good best friend to her, comforting her when she needs it, forgiving her when she doesn’t deserve it, and sending Steve to her doorstep to take her to prom. Let’s not forget that Kimmy’s parents are pretty much absentee, and that in a flash forward episode “Those Better Not Be The Days”, we see that she grows up to be a super-hot, put-together woman. D.J. is right to stick by Kimmy despite her family’s protestations. Plus, nobody rocks a feather-trimmed leopard-print unitard like this girl can.
Of course, for every Kimmy there’s also a super-hot TV sidekick like Summer Roberts or Kelly Taylor. Those chicks are awesome, too, but they don’t tug at my heartstrings the way the girls on this list do. There’s something brutally compelling about the underdog best friends, destined always to trail behind the prettier, more popular, and infinitely cooler star of the show.
Who are your favorite television BFFs?