Galentine’s Day was introduced on a 2010 episode of the NBC sitcom ‘Parks & Recreation’, a series that was something of a cult hit when it originally aired, but that, thanks to streaming services, seems to have increased in popularity since it ended. The show starred Amy Poehler as determined, optimistic low-level politician Leslie Knope and a large part of the show’s running subplots revolved around her ride-or-die friendship with Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), and the other women in her office April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Donna Meagle (Retta). Galentine’s Day was Leslie’s answer to Valentine’s Day, but was celebrated on February 13, and was meant to celebrate female friendships.
Unfortunately, even today, female friendships are somewhat hard to find in popular media and that includes in science fiction, fantasy, and comics. While there is no shortage of butt-kicking female characters, trying to find two or more female characters that not only interact with one another but do so on a friendly level is a bit harder to find. For obvious reasons, TV had a leg up on movies, as they are allowed much more time to develop its characters and their relationships, but here is a sampling of a few from each medium.
In honor of Galentine’s Day, here are ten standouts!
2016’s ‘Ghostbusters’ had a lot working against it, and ultimately didn’t launch a new franchise, but one area in which it succeeded is the formation of a functional team of women, who were all quirky and unique in their own way and meshed together as a unit. It’s probably impossible to compete with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, but Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones gave it their best and brought their own unique dynamic to this not-sequel.
9. The Handmaids
Some customized families are drawn together out of convenience, but in the case of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, they are forced together in order to survive and possibly achieve freedom. The Handmaids are essentially property– practically livestock– and used to bear children for the upper class, until they start talking to one another and the seeds of rebellion begin growing. But the only way to escape their nightmarish stations in life is to work together.
8. Wayward Sisters, ‘Supernatural’
‘Supernatural’ is all about family, whether it is the literal blood relation of the Winchesters or the found family of their extended supporting cast. While the show tends to be male-heavy, there are several strong women that have played their roles in the battle between good and evil. In 2018, the creators of ‘Supernatural’ crafted the episode “Wayward Sisters,” which was a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff series. Kim Rhodes’ Sherrif Jody Mills was at the center, along with Briana Buckmaster as Sheriff Donna Hanscum, Kathryn Newton as Claire Novak, Katherine Ramdeen as Alex Jones, Clark Backo as Patience Turner and Yadira Guevara-Prip as Kaia Nieves. The episode emphasized the concept that these women could form a functional surrogate family, but also a force for good. Unfortunately, The CW did not order a ‘Wayward Sisters’ series, but the characters are expected to continue popping up on ‘Supernatural’.
7. The Princess Alliance, ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’
The newest project on this list, Netflix’s animated ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’ introduced the Princess Alliance, a loose collective of powerful females, who have, mostly turned their backs on the idea of working together and have accepted the invading Horde as their new masters. But with the arrival of She-Ra, along with her new besties Glimmer and Bow, these self-centered princesses decide to pool their resources and work to free their homeworld.
‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’ has been praised for the diversity of its cast and the complex relationships between them. With a second season on its way, look for deeper exploration of the relationships between these mighty young women.
6. Xena & Gabrielle
Should this be higher on the list? The only reason it’s so low is that the majority of viewers not only “shipped” Xena and Gabrielle as a romantic couple, but so much time has passed that in most people’s minds, they simply ARE a romantic couple. This is great, but that also switches them from a Galentine’s Day celebration of female friendship to a straight-up Valentine’s Day pairing.
5. Birds of Prey/Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy
While female superheroes working together was nothing new, ‘Birds of Prey’ was still innovative, in that Black Canary and Oracle were the stars of their own ongoing series. At first, Black Canary didn’t know who Oracle was, or even if she was male or female. But after she learned the truth, their business partnership flourished into one of the deepest friendships in comics. (I mean seriously, can anyone explain why Superman and Batman are considered friends? Because they’re both popular?)
Harley Quinn was invented for ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ and that was where she first joined forces with Poison Ivy, another Gotham femme fatale. Their partnership has spread into the comics where, much like Black Canary and Oracle, they are not only the best of friends, but their relationship is nuanced and deep. However, it has also been established that they have actually been lovers, so kind of like Xena and Gabrielle, that shifts them to a different list.
However, Harley and Ivy’s relationship changes depending on the story and the writer, so while there is a sexual aspect of their relationship, it’s not constant, so… I guess “friends with benefits” counts for Galentine’s Day.
It remains to be seen how Harley, played by Margot Robbie, interacts with the ‘Birds of Prey’, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as The Huntress, when their live-action movie arrives next February.
4. Female X-Men
Years before ‘Birds of Prey’, Chris Claremont’s run as writer of the ‘X-Men’ comic books was highlighted by the depiction of not just strong female characters, but the relationships between them. Storm was arguably the mightiest of the X-Men, in the power department, but she was also given a deep, mature personality which made her the natural leader of the team. She assumed a sisterly relationship with first Jean Grey, then Kitty Pryde, and Rogue. Storm and Rogue proved to be natural allies, as the trust between them was clearly evident when they went into battle together. Recently, Marvel released an all-female ‘X-Men’ comic book, but honestly, it seemed redundant after the women had been carrying the various books for decades.
The makers of the new reboot of ‘Charmed’ really put their feet in their mouths when they announced this new “feminist” take on the story of three sister witches. After all, the cast of the original series, which ran from 1998 until 2006, weren’t exactly mousy damsels in distress. The original series, starring Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty, Rose McGowan, and Kaley Cuoco, presented a family coven of tough ladies who always had each other’s backs and were willing to stand against seemingly impossible odds. The new series has been recast with Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery, and Madeleine Mantock, but the message of sisterhood remains.
2. Women of the Arrowverse
The women of the Arrowverse are a diverse bunch. Some are superheroes. Some aren’t. But they have bonded with one another and provide a support system whenever one is needed. In fact, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) were even bridesmaids at Iris’ (Candice Patton) wedding. At that same wedding, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and White Canary (Caity Lotz) forged a formidable force against the evil Nazis that crashed the party.
Meanwhile on ‘Legends of Tomorrow’, White Canary/Sarah Lance serves a similar “big sis” role to female teammates Vixen, and Zari.
The women of the Arrowverse are so dedicated to women helping women, that they have created their own nonprofit, Sheroes, which serves as a platform for women to serve as a sounding board for one another, and to encourage their endeavors.
1. Buffy & Willow
Sure, there was Xander, but there was always clearly an indelible connection between the BFFs to end all BFFs, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan). These two went through EVERYTHING together, even death! But at the end of the day, they were always there for one another and set the standard for #squadgoals or any other female friendship on TV.
Like ‘Charmed’, ‘Buffy’ is set to be rebooted for a new generation, and while it may be a Herculean task to find actors that can live up to Gellar, Hannigan and the rest of the stellar cast, it is almost impossible to imagine two actors being able to capture the magic of friendship between the new Buffy and her female bestie, whether her name is Willow or not.
What do you think? Are there any glaring omissions? Do the rankings need to be shuffled?