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:
Sometimes they involve bros who are unrelated:
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
Boo 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:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
“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
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!