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Romancing the Sro

Bromances! We know them, right? Those boys who would do anything for each other, who would die or kill for each other, who, even in the depths of their hatred for each other, are linked by their broish passion.

Sometimes they involve men who are actually related:

Dean and Sam from Supernatural
Dean and Sam from Supernatural

Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries
Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries

Nick and Alan from the Demon's Lexicon
Nick and Alan from the Demon's Lexicon

Sometimes they involve bros who are unrelated:

Jay and Silent Bob
Jay and Silent Bob

Shawn and Gus from Psych
Shawn and Gus from Psych

John Watson and Sherlock Holmes
John Watson and Sherlock Holmes

Troy and Abed from Community
Troy and Abed from Community

But the bromance goes beyond friendship or fraternal affection. Importantly, however, there is no canonical explicit sexual or romantic relationship in a bromance. That would be a romance. Fandom will often flock to bromances and create fan products presenting them as romances, and that is fine - more than fine! - but when I speak of the bromance, I speak of it in canonical terms.

The Vampire Diaries, in fact, has three canonical bromances - Damon and Stefan (actual brothers), Klaus and Stefan (unrelated and in the past) and Alaric and Damon (unrelated and having a few relationship issues on account of Damon got mad and killed Alaric [he came back!] but they are totally making up). But Stefan and Damon is the bromance to End Them All. It's amazing.

Unfortunately, the lady equivalent is not there. In The Vampire Diaries, Bonnie, Caroline, and Elena are nearly as dedicated to each other, and in fact the show has made gestures towards that triad's bond being almost as strong as Stefan and Damon's a few times. The bit where Bonnie and Elena come around to comfort Caroline in her new vampiness was just ADORABLE and I totally cried. But it's not enough! They don't get to have the same kind of affirmations of love, or talk to each other as often or even always appear in the same episodes! Elena is in every one, but Bonnie and Caroline are frequently not.

Also, Bonnie was kinda ready to let Vamp!Caroline die. It's not really a b/sromance until you're ready to cut through an army of innocents to keep someone alive.

So the other day I was talking to Sarah Rees Brennan about the extremely excellent Parks and Recreation, a show I am pleased to say I made her watch.

"LESLIE AND ANN ARE THE BEST," she proclaimed a few weeks later.

"Yes!" I said. "Basically they are a lady bromance. Hrm. Sismance? Soromance?"

"Sromance?" Sarah said.

"Yes! And that's rare. There are not enough sromances!"

So, how come?

I think part of it is that there are so relatively few ladies in our media, and there are so relatively few ladies who talk to each other. That is why we have the Bechdel Test.

For a movie to pass the Bechdel Test, it must contain:

1) More than one woman, who
2) talk to each other,
3) about something other than men

This test is not a be-all-and-end-all foolproof test of a thing's lady-awesome rating, but it is illustrative that it is sometimes very difficult to find things that pass it.

Also, often ladies are set up, in fiction and in real life, as in competition with each other. Competition for male attention, competition for jobs, competition for being the Most Attractive By Very Narrow Standards Of Beauty. Often ladies are portrayed as hating each other as a result of that competition.

It is impossible to have a sromance if there is only one lady in a thing. It is impossible to have a sromance if the ladies don't talk to each other. And it is hard to have a sromance if the ladies are in competition with each other - not impossible, but difficult.

This must change! We, the people, demand more sromances, for they are awesome. But in the meantime, here are a few superb sromances to be getting on with:

Parks and Recreation

Leslie and Ann

Boo fucking yah. I love these ladies. Leslie! A passionate government employee who is amazingly good at her job and kind of terrifying. Ann! A kind and beautiful nurse who is amazingly good at her job and much less terrifying.

Canonically, Leslie loves Pawnee, Parks, and then Ann. Here is a word cloud of Leslie's email account:

Leslie's word cloud

See how much smaller the name Ben is? That's Leslie's boyfriend, whom she loves to distraction, to the point of risking her job AT the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. But of all the people in the world, she talks about and to Ann most.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena and Gabrielle

Do I even have to talk about this? Xena and Gabrielle are amazing sros. They love each other, fight for each other, raise a kid together, and kind of vaguely get together in the finale only they're reincarnated and Xena's spirit is in a male body so... while that episode is a romance and the series in general goes right up to the sromance/romance line and then dances the tango on it in an extremely sexy way, I am saying that for the MAJORITY of the series it is an epic sromance.

The Middleman

Lacey and Wendy

Lacey is a performance artist. Wendy is a painter and also a trainee secret agent type fighting weird things. They illegally sublet an apartment, make art, fight bad guys, watch terrible zombie movies, and be forever there for each other. Wendy and Lacey: sros for life.

Birds of Prey

Barbara and Dinah

She's a hacker extraordinaire. She's one of the best martial artists in the world. THEY FIGHT CRIME.

Barbara Gordon (Oracle) and Dinah Laurel Lance (Black Canary) are the ultimate sros of superhero comics. How many times have they saved each other's lives? Oh only a ZILLION. Probably they would not cut through an army of innocents for each other, because superheroes, but they have contemplated killing bad guys to save the other, and that is a BIG DEAL.

The Bible

Ruth and Naomi

Ruth 1: 15-17: And [Naomi] said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Some people read lesbians, the same way the historical bromance of Jonathan and David is read as gay, but I am going back to my core definition here. No canonical romance? Biblical sros.

Josie and the Pussycats

Okay, here is where I just talk and talk because NO ONE CAN MAKE ME SHUT UP ON MY OWN BLOG. This is often a comfort.

Josie and the Pussycats has brilliant commentary on branding and commercialism, tight writing, catchy tunes, hilarious dialogue and it's criminally underrated. 5.1 on IMDB? What is wrong with people?

Not coincidental in my enjoyment is that this movie features my favourite movie sromance. The Pussycats, Josie, Val and Melody, are musicians with a dream. Sure, they're currently playing in the gutters - literally, at the local bowling alley - but they have faith in their craft and each other.

Melody, Josie and Val

"Who's a rock star?" Val asks a forlorn Josie, after some Mean Girls have been Mean. "Who's a rock star?"

"I am," Josie replies, smiling a big huge Rachel Leigh Cook smile and then Val hugs her and kisses her forehead while Melody beams.


Of course, there is about to be trouble in Poor But Honest paradise, and it comes in the form of evil producers who take the girls to number one, but are Secretly Brainwashing teenagers into buying stuff through subliminal messaging in their hit singles!

But that is not the main bad thing. The main bad thing is that they brainwash Josie into thinking she doesn't love her friends! They brainwash her into thinking the sromance is gone! And it is overcoming that and loving her friends again that provides the emotional climax of the film.

Josie, having discovered the Evil Brainwashing, challenges the producers, refusing to play in their debut gig. But Val and Melody are held hostage against her good behaviour, and for love of them, Josie agrees to play.

Melody: "See, Val, she still likes us!"

Josie: "Of course I still like you! You guys are my best friends on the planet! Look, I know that friends don't treat each other the way I treated you guys, but you've got to believe me, if I could just go back in time I'd take it all back."

Mel: "That'd be cool. If I could go back in time, I'd wanna meet Snoopy."

Josie: "Mel, I love that about you! I love that you think everything is possible and this world is such a great place, because you know what? It is. And I'm so sorry if for one second I made you think that it wasn't. And Val! Val. You bought me my first guitar. And you know, we may have started this band together, but the only reason we've come this far is because of you. Now look, I don't care if we're Josie and the Pussycats, or Valerie and the Pussycats, or whoever and the Pussycats. It doesn't matter, as long as we're together. You're my sister, Val. I love you."

Val: "I love you too, Jos."

Mel: "And I love you, Val."

Val: "And I love you, Mel."

Mel: "And I love you, Josie!"


With the handy distraction of a badly injured boy band, the Pussycats get a chance to fight back. They triumph, naturally, and it turns out that Evil Fiona is only brainwashing people because... she wants sros of her own!

Then the Pussycats do the concert after all, with a message of being yourself and loving your sros and I grin for a solid week.

There is a romance, and it's cute and all, but the boy in question is like Liv Tyler in That Thing You Do. He is the nice eye-candy extra to the story of a band Making It, Faking It and Breaking Up. But the Pussycats, unlike the Wonders, get back together after the Breaking Up, because they are total sros and they believe in sisterhood forever.

And Rosario Dawson clothelines Alan Cumming! It's beautiful.

In conclusion, sromances are the best, I definitely have to write some, and I wanna see more on my TV and movies. If you have suggestions, I should love to hear them. Internets, bring me your finest sros!


( 45 — comment )
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Jan. 12th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BLOG (including the criminally underrated Josie and the Pussycats! I loved that movie. I also loved the singer who dubbed Josie's voice, Kay Hanley, who fronted a band called Letters to Cleo). My friend and I were talking the other day about girl friendships in fiction (I am not really a consumer of TV media, alas) for...reasons, but we were having some difficulties thinking of twosomes. A lot of female relationships in books (or in the books I devoured as a young girl) were ACTUAL sisters: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Jane and Eliza Bennet, the March sisters, etc. (I LOOOOOOVE the dynamic of the March girls), the best friend/bosom buddy/"kindred spirits" (as Anne Shirley would say) was less prominent.

However, I shall give you my list of favourite sromances!
1. Anne and Diana from Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
2. The March girls (all four of them--yes, including Amy)
3. Ruby and Chloe (actual sisters) from Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls
4. Berie and Sils from Lorrie Moore's Who Will Run the Frog Hospital

Other known sromances (that I am less familiar with):
1. Thelma and Louise
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
Ladymances are my FAVORITE thing, and it's depressing that they happen so rarely.

Want to BLOW YOUR MIND? Alan M from Josie and the Pussycats is Nolan from Revenge.
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
I actually knew that, and it is indeed MINDBLOWING.

He's so wee! His cheekbones, still so prominent!
(no subject) - fox1013 - Jan. 12th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - Jan. 13th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jan. 15th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
I love this entry!

I also love:

Sookie and Lorelei in The Gilmore Girls, who are best friends who love each other and go into business with each other and support each other through everything (also, Lorelei and Rory, whose relationship is the most important in the show - although since they're mother-daughter, I don't know if they count as a sromance?);

Kate and Cecy in the SORCERY AND CECILIA trilogy, especially THE GRAND TOUR (where they get to be together fighting crime instead of just writing witty, wonderful letters to each other about it);

Stella, Roz and Hayley in Nora Roberts's IN THE GARDEN trilogy. Each woman gets a romance in her individual book, but their developing sisterhood is treated as every bit as important and long-lasting. (I love that Nora Roberts does that a lot, too - the idea that making life-impacting female friendships is at least as important as romance is one of the big themes she repeats a lot in her work.)

But I want more books and movies and TV shows that are mostly ABOUT those sromances!
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
Kalinda and Alicia from the Good Wife are the BEST BESTIESTS. As individuals they are incredibly rich and complex and AWESOME characters; as a duo they are the best thing on television!

And Robin and Lily on How I Met Your Mother, for all the fact that there are a lot of flaws in how they are portrayed, are a wonderful sromance.

I love Cathy and Diane from the MacDonald Hall books, even though they don't get as much screen time as the boys.
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
I've been enjoying Rizzole and Isles when I can catch it, TNT's newish procedural show in the Cagney and Lacey tradition, and it's pretty sromance. Nothing else immediately comes to mind in media.

You're right, it is quite tough to think of them (it's something Jennifer Kesler from Hathor has brought up from time to time).

Jan. 12th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
OK SO: sromances!

Firstly, Daria WHICH YOU MUST SEE: Daria and Jane, outcast BFFs forever, BEST SHOW EVER, etc etc, YES.

Secondly: Patsy and Edwina from Absolutely Fabulous are seriously awesome. The entire show is just the two of them being besties and fucking around together.

Thirdly: May and Doris from A League of Their Own, which is an awesome film about women's baseball. May is played by Madonna; Doris is played by Rosie O'Donnell, and there is definitely some sromance going on. If you haven't ever seen this, DO SO IMMEDIATELY.

Also: Tris, Daja and Sandry from Tamora Pierce's Winding Circle series; cousins Cat and Bea from Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy; and Brennan and Angela from Bones.

Jan. 12th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)
Dittoing the Gilmore Girls: Lorelei and Sookie, also Rory and her friend. (I just started watching and don't remember her name.)

Drop Dead Diva: Jane/Deb and Stacy are awesome BFFs.

Make It or Break It: has a lot of guys, but is all about the relationships between the four main girls.

Buffy and Willow!!!

Cleopatra 2525: 3 awesome women, Hel, Sarge, and Cleo.

Gotta go to work, but I could definitely find more.
Jan. 15th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
YES to Cleopatra 2525.
Jan. 12th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched the second season yet, but Kenzi and Bo on Lost Girl were pretty dedicated to each other. Hmm, I think I'll just go marathon the second season to check.
Jan. 12th, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
Okay okay okay, they're rereleasing the Sailor Moon manga, right, with big fancy art and actually good translation and it made me re-read all my copies from when I was a wee girl, and SO MUCH SROMANCE. Basically, everybody is in a sromance with everybody else. It's amazing!

Seriously, I was writing a paper about it for a comics class (college: amaaaazing) and I DIDN'T HAVE SPACE EVEN TO LIST ALL THE SROMANCES. But I will try to do it, for you! Chibi-usa/Saturn, Uranus/Usagi, Venus/Usagi, Venus/Mars, Jupiter/Neptune, Jupiter/Uranus, Chibi-usa/Pluto, Uranus&Neptune/Pluto, EVERYBODY/Usagi. Uranus&Neptune aren't slash because they're actually canon, which, lemme tell you, EVEN BETTER.

Everybody should buy the fancy new Sailor Moon manga and then we will all melt demons with the power of our friendship and WORLD PEACE.
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(no subject) - mealesbia - Jan. 12th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - Jan. 13th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
I'm beginning to quite like Joyce and Dorothy from the webcomic dumbing of age.

One's a naive home-schooled evangelical on a husband-hunt and the other's feminist & atheist & aiming for Yale and for all that they're oddly adorable together.

Edited at 2012-01-12 06:53 pm (UTC)
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Jan. 12th, 2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
I think that friendships are not the same as sromances - while I agree that the British Skins ladies are friends, I also don't think they are presented with the same loyalty and deep affection for each other that we see in a classic sromance.
Jan. 12th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC)
Josie and the Pussycats was even better than Spiceworld.
Jan. 12th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, The Middleman. How I miss thee. *sob*

I think Xena is kind of iffy sromance-wise, though, with regard to the canonical thing, given that the producers were well aware of the slashy side the fans were enjoying and played up to it. Semi-official slash implications tip it into another category IMO.
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC)
Supernatural's disqualified then too, though...
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 13th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - Jan. 13th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 12th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
I've noticed before a lack of sromances in fiction so sadly I have none to add to the list but I love seeing the examples everyone else is giving!
Jan. 12th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
Does Harley and Ivy count? I figured that'd be a more obvious example than Oracle and Canary, but then again there's the whole Joker obsession...
Jan. 12th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, and ART CRAWL! \o/
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