Category Archives: Famous Friendships

Notes on the Golden Globes

credit: NY Mag

The Golden Globes are my favorite awards show of the year. TV + Movies — Boring Sound Editing Awards (sorry sound editors) + Booze = Awesomeness. (My only qualm is that they put supporting roles for mini-series, drama and comedy in one category and call that fair. Monica Potter, Sophia Vergara and {apparently nutso} Jacqueline Bissett should not be lumped together. Apples to oranges. But anyway.)

Last night I was lamenting the fact that I don’t work for Entertainment Weekly (it’s a daily lament, really) and thus have nowhere to publish my incisive critique. Then I remembered… that’s what blogs are for!

Golden Globes 2014. Musings. In no particular order:

1.  Favorite moment of the entire night was during one of those NBC shots before commercial where they try to catch the celebs in candid moments. This one was Sarah Hyland and Taylor Swift air kissing and Sarah says “I love you!” as they part ways. It was like spying on high school girls at prom. With much nicer dresses.

2. Jordan Catalano! I don’t care that Jared Leto has a dirty man bun, he is and always will be Jordan Catalano and he has the piercing blue eyes to prove it. I was just sad that Claire Danes wasn’t nominated for Homeland so we could have the My So-Called Life reunion we’ve all been waiting for.

3. I know I’m not  supposed to say this because these days we’re all expected to talk body acceptance and celebrating real women and all, but OMG the women had the most ridiculously lean and perfectly toned bodies. I feel like I spent half the awards show dissecting their arms and mentally calculating  how much I would have to not eat and how many pushups I would have to do to get them. Even the supposedly “real” bodies of Jennifer Lawrence or Tina Fey were incredible. Thanks, at least, to Tina for acknowledging as much: “For his role for ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ [Matthew McConaughey] lost 45 pounds, or what actresses call, being in a movie.”

4. Tina and Amy are still the celebrity BFFs to beat.

5. The men were unusually handsome. I never understand when red carpet recaps discuss the men, because a tux is a tux is a tux. But this year the boys seemed to glow something extra. Bradley Cooper. Idris Elba. Channing Tatum. Usher. Mark Ruffalo. Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot.

6. That said, I don’t get Johnny Depp. What’s the appeal?

7. Amy Adams’ acceptance speech, when she talked about her daughter, made me cry. I am a giant sap.

8. Emma Thompson took off her shoes and held a martini while she presented. Bravo.

Favorite moments of the night? Did anyone else catch the Hyland-Swift air kiss? Who was snubbed? Who looked great? Let’s recap more below.

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True Story: I Love Kristen Bell

Kristin Bell and Dax Shepard Instagram

You could make a case that I’m a bit of a fair-weather friend when it comes to my imaginary celebrity BFFs.

NPH.

Mindy Kaling.

I play the field a bit, it’s true.

But these days–and forever more–my truest of true celebrity girl-crush won’t-you-be-my-best-friend-pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top is Kristen Bell.

Don’t you just love her?

There’s the whole sloth-adoration thing, which is so amazing that I’m still showing it to people more than a year later.

Then there’s the fact that she is Veronica Mars. But it’s not only that she plays one of the coolest female characters on TV, like, ever. It’s that she loves Veronica as much as I do, and thus campaigned on Kickstarter to get a Veronica Mars movie made. (Coming to theaters in March. Check out the trailer.)

Also, while clearly gorgeous, she didn’t emerge from the first four weeks of motherhood looking as if she never carried a baby. To be clear, she looked hot and fit and quite well-rested for a new mom. But she also looked like maybe she wasn’t quite back to her pre-baby body because, well, she probably had a few more important things to tend to than her six-pack. As she told E! News: “I’m definitely trying to lose [the baby weight] — I want to be clear. But I’m not letting it keep me up at night and I am not letting it become the narrative of my life for the next year.”

And finally, there’s the above photo, of Kristen and hubby Dax Shepard in their Christmas jammies. I love love love them. I love Dax (Crosby!). I love that he got her a sloth for her birthday party. I love that they are in love. Last night when she posted that photo to Instagram I squealed like a schoolgirl and sort of petted my phone in a super stalkery way that made Matt tell me I’d gone to the crazy place.

Oh, and here’s what one friend got me for Christmas. Because she gets me.

Veronica Mars Harry Potter Mug

In this age of Jennifer Lawrence worship, can’t we all just have a Bell moment?

(My next book, Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me: The Pursuit of Happiness One Celebrity at a Time, deals a lot with our celebrity worship culture. Which I clearly buy into. Looking forward to talking shop with you all in these blog parts.)

Should we make a Veronica Mars for President thing happen? Are you all with me? Do you think she’ll read this and come calling? All valid questions, I think. Sound off below.

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Why Doesn’t Bella Have Any Friends?

So, yeah. I saw Eclipse last night. I clearly enjoyed myself—well, duh—though I maintain that any movie that makes the entire audience laugh during what are supposed to be the really serious parts has perhaps not totally succeeded. But I got what I came for. Taylor Lautner’s my-jaw-actually-dropped-when-I-saw-them abs. Robert Pattinson’s charming-dazzling-winning-all-those-swoony-adjectives smile. (I’ve got nothing to say about Kristen Stewart here because she is just so awkward that she makes me awkward. Seriously. Except that I think she might be gorgeous. Jury’s still out.)

Looking back on the movie as I write this blog, it occurs to me that there is one pretty large void in Bella’s life: Friends. She’s so busy being in love with Edward, and loving-but-not-loving Jacob, that she’s never carved out any time for making pals. (You might argue that Alice is her friend, and I guess she’s the closest thing, but theirs is more of a sisterly relationship, don’t you think?)

Bella almost had friends when she first moved to Forks, but as soon as her man came into the picture she pretty much dropped them. Classmates Jessica and Angela didn’t understand her undying love for Edward (which is fair considering how they knew each other all of, like, a week) and she couldn’t tell them about his real, um, situation.

A friend of mine often reflects on the unhealthy nature of Bella and Edward’s relationship (we do a lot of Twilight analysis, clearly). The codependency, the neediness, the general creepiness of him watching her sleep. In Entertainment Weekly, writer Tina Jordan explains that “as a feminist and a mom” she has some issues with the Twilight series, “namely, their depiction of women and relationships.” It seems to me that the biggest problem with women and relationships in these movies (and books) is that most only have the romantic kind. In the most recent installment, the only moment of real friendship during the whole two hours is a fleeting one between Jessica and Angela (two very peripheral characters) at a graduation party.

So why did Stephenie Meyer choose to make her leading lady friendless? Bella moved from Phoenix, where she had a seemingly good life, but we never hear about her BFFs from back home. In Forks, when Edward breaks her heart, she rejects any possibility of getting over it with a girls night, and instead finds solace with the other guy who’s head-over-heels for her. Perhaps Meyer made this choice because she wanted Edward to be literally everything to Bella, and if there were friends in the picture, their relationship would be less, well, intense. But I think there was an opportunity for a worthwhile BFF story there—the real-life issues that arise when you need to keep a secret from your best friend, the friend vs. boyfriend teenage drama, all that good stuff. Giving Bella just one true pal, even someone from her past life in Arizona, could have rounded out her character nicely. And maybe a BFF could have softened her awkward jagged edges. (The Kristen Stewart/Bella Swan awkwardness thing is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. Whose painful-to-watch uncomfortableness around other humans came first??)

Hello, Twihards. Have you ever noticed Bella’s lack of BFFs? Why doesn’t she have any friends? Think it was a conscious choice by Stephenie Meyer? Would giving her a best friend or two would have hurt or helped the story?

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Famous Friendships: The Golden Girls

A discussion about The Golden Girls is long overdue on this blog, and not just because of Betty White’s incredible career resurgence or Rue McClanahan’s death last week. Aside from being a work of comic genius, it’s a fabulous reminder of why friendship is important at any—and every—age.

Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia are the kind of friends I hope to have one day. They don’t always get along. They call each other out on pretty much everything. But they’ve got each other’s backs, and they’re fiercely loyal. If Blossom and Six had the kind of BFFship I wish I’d had as a kid (I even bought one of those hats!) then the Golden Girls are who I want to be when I grow up.

I didn’t know until tonight—thanks Wikipedia—that Blanche, Rose and Dorothy weren’t lifelong friends. They met when each responded to a room-for-rent ad—Blanch and Rose were widows, Dorothy was divorced. It certainly got me thinking about what life can throw at you. And how much easier it gets when friends—new or old—are in the trenches by your side.

So to honor the show, and also the brilliant women who made up the cast (only Betty White survives) I spent the last hour on youtube watching clips. This is not an endeavor I recommend if you’re trying to get any work done today. They’re addicting. And amazing.

The final scene (if you’re reading this in an email or feed, you’ll have to click through to see the video) is pretty much perfect. A real thank you for being a friend moment. Makes me want to buy  a condo in Miami solely for group hugs.

Think it’d be possible to have a real life Golden Girls gang? And, if not, who do you think are the most realistic TV BFFs?

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Rachel, Jo and Lisbeth=BFF-4-Ever

Today kicks off Memorial Day weekend, which in turn (unofficially) kicks off summer. Which means… drumroll…it’s summer reading season! I realized a few days ago that I have twelve—twelve!—plane rides scheduled between now and Labor Day weekend. So while many of you will be laying on the beach, Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest in one hand and margarita in the other, I will be getting my literary nourishment in the stale air and cramped seats of American Airlines. (All these scheduled trips are for happy occasions and I’m glad to be going, but twelve flights? It’s kind of hard to make local BFFs when you’re never local…)

On my summer reading list? Hornet’s Nest, of course, plus a mile-high stack of friendship books—both fiction and non—and whatever my book club demands of me. Also, Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley, one of my very first blog friends. I could go on, but thinking too much about all the to-be-read books on my shelves makes me anxious that I should stop blogging and start curling up in my book nook, pronto.

So to usher in the holiday weekend, something light, bookish and BFFish. I present to you the literary characters (aside from the members of the BSC) with whom I would most like to be best friends:

1) Boy, The Giving Tree. Some say he’s selfish and greedy, I say he’s lonely. He loves his tree. He could use a BFF.

2) Jo March, Little Women. Or maybe Beth. For one of my college applications, I had to name which fictional character I most identified with. I chose Jo. But I wonder if we could really be best friends? We might be too similar. As much as I love her, I could see us bumping heads. I might benefit more from Beth’s warm heart… You know, before her gutwrenching end.

3) Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter series. She’s awesome. Half badass, half girly. Not as goody-two-shoes as Hermione, but just as brave. I can totally picture us whispering together in the corner.

4) Alice Cullen, Twilight. Whimsical, fiercely loyal, and loves to play dress up. That she can see into the future doesn’t hurt.

5) Harriet the Spy/Nancy Drew. I really wanted to be a child detective back in the day. Sadly, there were very few (read: zero) mysteries that needed solving in my hometown. But I would still very much like to be the sleuthy sidekick.

6) Lisbeth Salander, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and sequels). I would not want to be on her bad side. But she is crazy protective of her friends, could dig up dirt on anyone at anytime, and would be one of those never-a-dull-moment BFFs.

7) Skeeter Phelan, The Help. She’s passionate, determined, sneaky when she has to be. I think we could be good writing buddies. Read each other’s work, give honest critiques, take breaks to discuss Hilly’s horribleness.

8 ) Oskar Schell, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I’m aware that most people think Jonathan Safran Foer’s first book, Everything is Illuminated, is his best. But I fell in love with Oskar, and this novel, early on. He’s eager and vulnerable and precocious… and he’s just really funny. I mean, he plays the tambourine and invents things like talking teakettles. Who wouldn’t want to be his BFF?

9) Bridget Jones, Bridget Jones’ Diary. I was on the fence about her at first. Isn’t she kind of a hot mess? But as my very wise coworker reminded me, “You need a friend to get drunk with. And who’s more f’ed up than you.” Fair point.

Did I miss anyone? Who’d be your literary BFF? Happy long weekend…

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The Hard Facts: Realistic or Not, Friends Want “Sex”

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Ticket sales for the sequel to ‘Sex and the City’ are currently 81 percent of ticket sales happening on Fandango.com. … According to a survey Fandango issued Monday of more than 2,000 ticket buyers—of which 94% were women, the statement noted—nearly 80 percent of the moviegoers are going in groups with other women, while only 7 percent are going to bring a date.” (CNN.com, “’Sex and the City 2’ Ticket Sales ‘Looking Good’” May 25, 2010)

It cannot go unnoticed on this blog that Sex and the City 2 comes out at midnight tonight. These days, I feel like SATC—not the characters so much as the entire franchise—is at once my BFF and my nemesis. It’s perhaps the single most in-your-face pop culture model of female friendship, and thus serves as both the pinnacle of what I’m striving for as well as the driving force behind my without-gals-to-brunch-with-I-am-nothing-ness.

I’m not the only person who gets mixed messages from Carrie and friends. Feminists seem to vascillate between celebrating the show for empowering women and hating it for focusing so much on the need for a man. Upon the 2004 series finale, The Guardian wrote a piece in which a number of experts spoke out on the show’s impact and the only thing they each seemed to agree on was that ultimately it was more about friendship than it was about love:

“It’s almost given [women] permission to have female friendships that are more important than anything else.”

“Before feminism, women were told that they had to be wary of other women because they would steal your man. But what feminism was in part about was friendship between women, which is what Sex and the City shows.”

“What made Sex and the City worm its way into so many women’s hearts, I think, is the way that it foregrounds female friendship. That sounds counter-intuitive, given that it is meant to be about the hunt for a good man, but this show is intensely idealistic about the way that women can get unconditional love from one another.”

Let me be clear. I loved Sex and the City when it was on. I enjoyed the last movie, and already have plans to see the new one. I’m part of the nearly 80% going with friends—the same Chicago ladies I saw the last one with—though we might wear sweat pants as a general stand against stilettos at the movie theater. (According to that Fandango study, 53% percent of ticket buyers plan to dress up for the occasion, and I just can’t think of much that sounds less comfortable than watching a movie in heels. Yes, I know I’ll be sitting, but still.)

I’m excited to revisit my old onscreen friends, though nervous I might leave feeling more unfulfilled friendwise than when I got there. And this isn’t just my craziness. Social comparison theory says that “there is a drive within individuals to look to outside images in order to evaluate their own opinions and abilities.” The SATC gang is an image which many women use to evaluate their own friend situations. And though I think the deep friendships between all four women might not be entirely realistic, that doesn’t stop me from striving for something similar. I’m optimistic. I mean, I’m here, aren’t I?

Do you think the Sex and the City friendships are possible? Does watching the show/movie make you more satisfied with your female friendships or less? And would you ever be one of the 7% who are bringing a date??

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Ann M. Martin’s Infinite Wisdom

I like to consider myself something of a pop culturist. But you already know that. So it’s no big surprise that there are bits of popular culture that have largely (mis)informed my expectations of friendship. When I’m old, I want to live like the Golden Girls. In my 30s, I figure I should be brunching on Sundays a la Carrie Bradshaw and co. I watch these TV shows (and Friends, and How I Met Your Mother, even Meredith and Christina on Grey’s) and I think it’s completely expected for my life to be filled with Serious Unbreakable See-You-Everyday Friendships.

As I’ve written previously, it all started with The Babysitters Club. I read the BSC books when I was a wee lass and learned early  that true friendships could withstand any boy, clothing or babysitting charge drama. They got together twice a week, lived on the same street and sent flashlight messages from each others’ bedrooms in the evenings. What more could a girl want?

It had been about 15 years since I’d read a BSC book until recently when I read the new prequel, The Babysitter’s Club: The Summer Before. Considering the book was written for 12 years olds, I was a tad surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Like, stay-up-past-bedtime-reading levels of enjoyment.  Yes, it’s for young adults—children, even—but ultimately The Summer Before is a story of friendship. Given my search, this seemed the perfect escape novel.

Approximately three days after I started, I reached the end (200 pages written for 10-year-olds move at a quick clip). As I took in the final pages, I realized that either a) issues of friendship don’t change as we get older—the circumstances may be different (we’re arguing over wedding party scandals rather than cafeteria seating arrangements) but the underlying emotions are constant, or b) I act like a pre-teen and need to grow up. Either way, it was the perfect light read for me at this very moment.

Thanks to the wonder that is Google Alerts, BSC author Ann M. Martin’s publicist caught wind of my Ode to BSC post a few months back and asked me if I’d be interested in interviewing her. Ummm, yes please. I had a total nerdfest rock star moment. Ann M. Martin??  Talking to me? I worship modern technology.

During our interview, I asked Ann why the friendships between the girls were so universally adored. Something she said stuck with me. Sure, Kristy and the gang were each very different, so every young girl could relate to at least one, if not all, of them. But more importantly, she said, “They’re not perfect friendships. I think that’s how most friendships are, they’re imperfect. Maybe that’s why they seem even more important to us. The girls fight, but then it’s important to them to make up, and they always do. Sometimes it takes a couple of books, sometimes it’s a chapter or two, but they always make up. I think that’s important for girls and women to know, that maybe your best friend isn’t somebody that you’re always on good terms with. I think maybe a best friend is somebody you feel comfortable enough to have a fight with, and then make up with.

Defining the term “best friend” is perhaps the hardest and most important factor of my quest. I love Ann’s take. It’s a perfect measuring tool. So often we think our best friends are the people we’d never fight with, those relationships that are always easy. But there are only a few people in my life that I’m confident I’d make up with no matter how bad a fight got. Those just happen to be the same people I consider my closest friends. It’s an interesting and insightful spin.

What do you think of Ann’s definition? How do you define BFF? And are you so excited about the return of the BSC? Do you like reading books about friendship?

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