Platonic Love Is Not a Consolation Prize

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15 Aug, 2021
Elle
 
 
Romantic soulmates get plenty of play on screen and IRL, but finding friends who love you unconditionally is just as worthy an end game.
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Platonic Love Is Not a Consolation Prize
 
Twenty years ago, Sex and the City’s Charlotte (Kristin Davis) sat down with her three best friends—Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon)—at a diner in the middle of the night. She had a radical proposal: “Maybe we can be each other’s soulmates,” she said. “And let men be these great, nice guys to have fun with.”

This overture began with the disclaimer “Don’t laugh,” because the very notion that women could abandon the idea of a fairytale romance for their platonic friendships sounded ridiculous in 2001. But in 2021, after we were deprived of the physical presence of some of our closest relationships for more than a year, those connections seem to have been reprioritized—at least onscreen.

The final season of Shrill offers the most intentional example. Created by Aidy Bryant, Alexandra Rushfield, and Lindy West (and based on her bestselling book of the same name), the series began in 2019 with a familiar premise: A young woman named Annie (Bryant) aims to navigate life, love, and work without changing—or losing—herself in the process. But by its third and final season, the series leaves us with a poignant image of Annie and her best friend Fran (Lolly Adefope) toasting their relationship with each other after leaving their respective romantic partners.

Though it isn’t as explicit as Charlotte’s suggestion, Annie and Fran’s sweet celebration of each other is just as earnest and loving. More importantly, though, it’s not a consolation for having not found their romantic soulmates, as Charlotte’s offer could be interpreted. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that what they have together is beautiful and mutually meaningful—the foundation of any healthy relationship.

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