The trouble with rom-com friendships
If you watch enough rom-coms, you'll start to notice something peculiar about the roles that women seem to inhabit onscreen. When it comes to showing more than one woman at a time, two strange categories begin to emerge: The Leading Lady or The Best Friend.
This idea of the Leading Lady versus the Best Friend sets up an invisible line that shouldn't be there. Traditionally, the role of the Best Friend is there to simply bolster the role of the Leading Lady. The Best Friend is sassy, funny, and seemingly only exists to slap sense into the Leading Lady. She has no problems of her own. She is carefree and witty. She has no shame. She will hatch crazy schemes with you and make a complete fool of herself to help the Leading Lady obtain her goal. The worst part is that usually the Best Friend is thought to be the less attractive, less desirable of the pair. This idea is ridiculous, and we all know it.
On the other side of the fence, the Leading Lady is fairly perfect but she is defined by one or a few fatal flaws. Perhaps she just got dumped, is in love with the wrong man, just got fired or is having your average existential crisis. The Leading Lady is smart, beautiful, strong, and full of gumption but she forgets all of this during the course of the drama. Enter: The Best Friend.
The Best Friend's job is to slap the Leading Lady across the face and snap her out of it. She is there provide snacks/magazines/movies/booze, to remind her friend of all the things that make her incredible, to help pull her out of the rut and go cause a ruckus. The Best Friend is sassy, funny, and seemingly only exists to slap sense into the Leading Lady. She has no problems of her own. She is carefree and witty. She will hatch crazy schemes with you and make a complete fool of herself to help the Leading Lady obtain her goal. Bless the Best Friend. We've all been one, we've all had one. However, the divide between those two roles isn't a real one.
The Leading Lady and the Best Friend should be one in the same. Kate Winslet said it best in The Holiday: "You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life for god's sake!" She's right. You are supposed to be the Leading Lady in your life. However, I firmly believe that being the Leading Lady also means being the Best Friend as well.
If we believe that these two women have to be separate entities, then we have to believe that the Leading Ladies are these selfish creatures who go through life really only caring about themselves, and that Best Friend's are these mystical creatures who only exist for comic relief and have no real problems of their own. This is just untrue.
While labels are harsh and defining and are best just tossed in the trash, the label of Leading Lady or Best Friend is different. Neither one is bad or untrue of women. As women, we possess all the qualities of both the Leading Lady and the Best Friend, which is why it makes sense that these two ideals should be combined into one role and not divided onscreen as it seems to be in every rom-com. Every woman should be both the Best Friend and the Leading Lady.
You can have all the goofy qualities of that Best Friend while still maintaining the serious gumption of the Leading Lady. You can have serious problems of your own while still recognizing and helping your friends through their problems. The most comforting thought of floundering as a young woman is that we are not alone. Our friends are all around, floundering with us. We are all the Leading Lady and the Best Friend.