Bridesmaids is the blockbuster of the summer - cue that patronising discussion (too idiotic to engage with) about women having the capability to be funny. It is also gaining accolades for its portrayal of women's friendships. Yes, it is the friendship between the film's lead characters that is the focus of the film and yes, women wrote this film. This is good news.
But somehow Bridesmaids left me cold. While trying to figure out why, I had a realisation. It isn't so much the wedding setting - although overdone weddings do have a lot of comic potential (see the Philadelphia Story / High Society). It is more that the women in this film are never shown having fun together. Apart from the very first scene in the café and the last Wilson Philips sing-along moment, the film is pretty much wall-to-wall misery, competing with each other, failure in their personal lives, and bitching. Disappointingly the bit that promised to be fun, the Vegas hen night, never happens.
This is what we expect in mainstream Hollywood movies. Anyone who sat through the entirely mirth-free Bride Wars will be used to the combination of bouquet bashing and sentimental hogwash dished out and presented as the way female friends behave towards one another. The happy ending is always a wedding. Bridesmaids is more of the same but written by women and with slightly better jokes. This is particularly disappointing given that in the last decade television has delivered so much more in terms of the portrayal of women's relationships. In Sex and the City, the characters at least had fun together. And who could forget the beautiful and complex rendering of the mother-daughter relationship of Claire and Ruth Fisher in Six Feet Under? But the best one is ongoing and on now.
Nurse Jackie is a female Don Draper or Tony Soprano. She has secrets, she is capable of great kindness and manipulation, she has light and dark. She also has a best friend, O'Hara. We've seen them drinking whiskey, having lunch, being harsh with one another, having a laugh. O'Hara is a doctor. O'Hara doesn't have children. O'Hara lives in a hotel, in Manhattan. O'Hara has the best fringe on TV. O'Hara has relationships with men and women.
The portrayal of this friendship is one of the great strengths of the programme. The lunch encounter between the two, where Jackie tries to make amends ('If I ever needed a friend, it's now' Season 3, Episode 2) is one of the show's most poignant moments thus far. We believe O'Hara when she tells Jackie she has broken her heart. This is a deep friendship and a longstanding one. There are no fallings out over men and no bloody weddings. More of this on the big screen please.