Female friendships are awesome and amazing and very supportive. That is all true. They can also be ugly, petty, and filled with why-can’t-I-have-what-she’s-having jealousy. Now, I’m not talking about pseudo-friendships or frenemies. Take that tired trope of BS about female friendships and feed it to the wolves. Nope, I’m talking about real friendships that have more depth than your grandma’s best seven-layer salad.
Fiction, whether in books, TV or movies, doesn’t always depict the true multidimensional nature of real women’s friendships. Shocker alert: We don’t only get together to talk about boys and nail polish nor do we always get along. I know, I totally should have warned you to sit down before breaking that news to you. However, one of my favorite fictional representations of actual female friendship (the good, the bad, and the fake blow job hand and tongue gestures) is Bridesmaids.
What helps the movie get it right is the fact that it was written by women (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo). Wiig does double duty staring as the protagonist, Annie, whose life is circling the failure drain when her more successful best friend announces that she’s getting married. Don’t let that set up fool you, the heart of this movie isn’t in tulle and pearl-studded lace. It is a testament to the power of women’s friendships.
“It’s not a wedding movie,” Maya Rudolph, who plays Annie’s best friend since childhood Lillian, told The Mercury News before the movie’s release. “The wedding is the backdrop. I have a girlfriend who says that every woman needs a wife. That’s how important it is to have other females in your life. That’s what we wanted to talk about.”
So, let’s dive right into Bridesmaids and my top three friendship moments.
Full warning, spoilers ahead.
1. When Annie and Lillian have breakfast after getting busted for scamming on a boot camp in the park class.
This scene has it all. The inside jokes, the oh-my-God-our-lives-are-crazy-busy catching up talk AND the “Oh, honey!” Not familiar with the “Oh, honey”? I snatched it from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ Sarah Wendell, who used it to describe that moment you have to call a friend on her bullshit. That’s exactly what Lilian does when Annie starts talking about the Prince of Jack Hammering (played by Jon Hamm). This is what a good friend will do, tell you that you’re acting like an idiot but in a way that is less judgmental and more supportive.
2. The bridal shower when Annie’s jealousy about Lillian’s friendship with Helen overflows into a giant cookie-breaking tirade
Let’s face it, real friendships aren’t always pretty, and this scene is excruciating to watch for those of us with a second-hand embarrassment problem. All of Annie’s resentment and jealousy comes out in front of everyone, and it is U.G.L.Y. ugly. However, what it’s not is another plank in the women-are-too-catty-to-be-friends trope. At no point in time do I doubt that while Annie is happy for Lillian, it’s just that her own misery won’t let her move past the fact that her life has not turned out how she’d expected. It’s not cattiness. It’s depression. Even in the middle of such a horrible meltdown, Annie would still throw herself in front of a speeding train to save Lillian. Bonus points: When Megan (played by Melissa McCarthy) tracks down Annie and gives her the best suck-it-up-buttercup speech about friendship… plus, PUPPIES!
3. When Lillian goes AWOL before her wedding, Helen (played by Rose Byrne) and Annie have to find her together
Of course, only Helen and Annie could find Lillian. There was no way this movie could end with those two still trying to prove to each other who is Lillian’s real best friend. Their hunt includes one of the best bits of dialogue in a movie filled with quotables (“Oh, you’re Helen… I’ve heard a lot about you”) and ends with the two of them embarking on a friendship of their own. After they find Lillian, she and Annie have a heart-to-heart. It might be the PMS talking, but this is the part that always gives me the sniffles, even as I’m laughing. Why? Because it shows the amazing strength of real female friendship and how hard it is to sever that bond. Sure, it may fray a bit here and there, but that adds character and depth.
And now for some extra fun:
My Favorite Quote from the Movie:
Annie: Hi, I can’t get off the couch. I got fired from my job. I got kicked out of my apartment. I can’t pay any of my bills. My car is a piece of shit, I don’t have any friends…
Megan: [gets right in Annie’s face] You know what I find interesting about that, Annie? It’s interesting to me that you have absolutely no friends. Do you know why that’s interesting? Here’s a friend standing directly in front of you, trying to talk to you, and you choose to talk about having no friends.
My Favorite Book About Friendship:
Only one? I know, that seems impossible, and that’s true. It’s actually a seven-book series. If you’re looking for a really fun series where the women’s friendships don’t only exist on the page so that heroines can gab about their heroes, check out Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series. A fun, fast-paced contemporary romance series, the Knitting in the City series will make you want to move to Chicago and take up knitting so that you can join their circle.