Best Friend For Never: Why Characters Like Iris West Need Best Friends
Fun fact: We all need somebody to lean on.
If you sang the song, you get. You understand the importance of having a friend to help shoulder the heavy things. Life is pretty freaking hard. But it’s a little less hard with someone to sympathize your problems.
Someone you don’t have to explain things to because they already know. A relationship that won’t fail no matter what you tell them. A bond that will never be broken. This person is not just any friend, this is a best friend. I have one and you probably do as well.
Women of Color characters like Flash’s Iris West deserve best friends too.
Why? Realism. Audiences want to see characters that not only resemble them but also people they know in their own lives. People like family members and wait for it…friends. If we see characters we love struggle, we’d probably want to see other characters who love them (not romantically), help them through said struggle.
Iris (Candice Patton) has seen her share of drama. She’s been kidnapped multiple times, in constant danger of dying, recently engaged to be married but the wedding was postponed…maybe for good. And now her younger brother is missing! Stressful right? There is only one character who would understand Iris’ situation completely. Linda Park.
The pair has come a long way from being Flash’s love interests. A journalist like Iris, they bonded outside of work when Linda (Malese Jow) was targeted by her dopplegänger villain. Iris supported a scared, confused Linda through it all. Now Iris needs that same care and attention but Linda has all but disappeared. She hasn’t been mentioned or hinted at returning for future episodes. This isn’t fair to characters like Iris West, who are multi-faceted and capable in their own right but do require the consistent comfort of an on-screen BFF. Needing someone doesn’t make them weak. It makes them real and gives them relatable dimensions because truth is, we all need help sometimes.
But more WoC characters than DC’s leading lady, have run into this same deficit.
Suits-Paralegal Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) found herself fianceé-less, ridiculed by classmates and without a best friend to share her burdens with. Additionally, THE boss, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) was never seen with a female comrade on-screen during her long stint on the show even though a Black woman owning a prestigious NY law firm proved ruthless episode after episode.
Empire-From jail to hell, Cookie Lyon (Taraji Henson) has seen and survived much more than prison. She’s mother to a child battling Bipolar Disorder. She’s a driven record label CEO and is often surrounded by money hungry acquaintances but not friends. With an ex-husband like Luscious, she could use a real one.
Jane The Virgin-Jane ’s (Gina Rodriguez) old bestie Lina (Diane Gurrero) helped her through an epically baffling accidental pregnancy. She vanished after they had one disagreement about a forgotten birthday celebration. Sigh. News flash TV, women argue and we do get over it.
Take Scandal’s Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) for example. They had an unshakeable friendship in the beginning, but over the years that bond has been repeatedly tested and ultimately strained. But it still exists.
Similar to Iris & Linda’s organic character growth is Agents of Shields’ Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennett), who not only work together in espionage but lean on each other to get through tumultuous missions and backstabbing betrayals. It wasn’t always smooth sailing but now the U.S.S. Bestie is headed for clear blue skiesWhen WoC characters have female friends it reminds the world that women do not hate each other and don’t compete as much as the world may be lead to believe.
Life was already difficult for these characters and many more. If that load is lessened by laughing with or crying on the shoulder of not just any friend but a best friend, it’s the least their storylines deserve.