Who do you want by your side when the world goes to hell?
Apparently, we’re all going to die in December. This may or may not be fixed now because someone opportunely discovered that there’s a room no one saw that means the whole dying thing is a miscommunication by the Mayans, so Don’t Panic.
In theory, though, if we do end up in some sort of frozen wasteland/attacked by zombies/abducted by aliens/perishing in a sudden meteor attack, or Obama turns out to be the Antichrist, we’re going to need to rely on each other a little bit more if we ever hope to make it through.
There are a few of us who do not have a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, lifemate or otherwise that they can shove in the general direction of any menacing alien/asteroid/Godzilla types that may or may not show up come December and go “Take them!”
So what are us single types to do?
There’s a movie coming out on this subject starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightly called Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. It’s about the unlikely friendship that develops between two neighbours once the news comes that the mission to save earth from an asteroid has failed, and we all have 21 days to live.
It’s an interesting concept. Despite what every movie with the plot line Girl meets Boy, Girl Hates Boy, Boy takes off Shirt, Girl decides she quite fancies Boy, Boy screws up but fixes in a clichéd yet adorable Ryan Gosling Level kind of way, Girl and Boy ride off into sunset (cue poppy yet slightly indie music) would have us believe, not everyone is hooked up, happily or otherwise.
So our mission should we choose to accept it, is to find some equally single mates, and tell them applications are now open for the position of End of the World Friend.
What does one look for in an End of the World Friend? I think the qualities are fairly similar to a best friend.
You need someone that will have your back, no matter what happens- flesh eating zombies? No worries. Outbreak of mass hysteria? Not a problem. Someone who will aid in the looting of The Warehouse, preferably has some handy camping skills should you need to hightail it to live off the land in the Waitaks, and who will listen to you whine about the fact that Twitter is down permanently.
In the course of ‘research’ for this blog (IMDB, Wiki) I was going to give examples of true blue friendship from the telly and draw some comparisons, because if art imitates life and life imitates art, when the end of the world does hit we’re going to need some guidelines from the media we most often consume –which is still television.
I realised there is just one show on at the moment that I genuinely want to do that for – that I feel truly reflects/incorporates and has friendship at the core of the show’s themes and storyline.
The show I’m talking about is Rizzoli & Isles. It’s billed as a procedural crime-solving drama, and follows Medical Examiner Doctor Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) and Detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) as they roam Boston solving gritty murders and catching bad guys. It’s based on Tess Gerritsen’s novels, which are a lot darker. While the characters in the books have a definite arc, the intelligent and in-depth plot twists and turns are the focus.
The open secret about Rizzoli & Isles is that it is a lot lighter and comedic than it first appears - the buzz in the US (and the reason it is now in its 3rd season) concerns the interaction between the two leads.
This team could be the new Mulder and Scully. It has elements of “Bad Guy of the Week”, but it’s not solely about how they solve the crime – it’s a vehicle to explore the friendship and the journey they take together. These characters are kept fairly light in keeping with the tone of the show – but they are definitely battered and bruised and have demons and ghosts (metaphorical ones) and flaws.
It’s about how they relate to each other in spite and because of these hang ups – how they reveal and hide who they are. This is why, similar to The X-Files, the fan buy-in has been steadily snowballing since the first episode.Jane Rizzoli is a tough female detective in a male-dominated environment. Harmon plays Jane as being ‘one-of-the-boys’ here but there have been some great moments when the character struggles with this and with appearing vulnerable. Rizzoli’s family feature heavily in her life and while she loves and protects them, she’s slightly removed from them by the nature of her job and personality both. By contrast Maura Isles is a highly skilled and intelligent Medical Examiner who interacts with others by spouting facts incessantly. She has very limited family connections and is awkward and off-hand - not unfeeling, but more adrift in a sea of social interaction without a paddle.
They are both smart, successful women in their fields, but they are both alone – and in need of a friend. This is where the great writing (and helpful guidelines for the end of the world) comes in. These are such strong characters that the round-table plot discussions: “Who backs down today?”, “Who says sorry first?” “Let’s put them in a burning building, who saves the day and how?” have got to be entertaining.
I can imagine the frustration for show creator/writer Janet Tamaro, sitting in a room full of executives who just want her to blow stuff up – make ‘good’ television and stop worrying about crafting two characters who happen to have a deep connection to each other – and who aren’t sleeping together.
It has to be hard, justifying again and again a commitment to depict female friendship as a main theme – and write it without sacrificing to convention and cliché, and I applaud Tamaro as one of the few female writers/executive producers in the US television business for doing so.
It’s hard, in 20 or 40 minutes of air time to convey a person, and sometimes the surface shows are the ones we need, too- to escape reality, to tune out.
Me, I just like the human interaction – and I think the depiction of a female friendship is one of the best on television right now. Rizzoli & Isles is intense, at times raw, and funny, ridiculous, surprising. It is constantly evolving and there are still miles and miles and grey area to explore. We need this. We need stories of people who take a chance, who connect, who aren’t afraid to call each other on their idiocy. Who aren’t all about solving the crime, getting the boy or the girl, (and if you’re Lost - trying to figure out why, exactly, that polar bear was on that tropical island) all the while pretending to be three-dimensional.
With Rizzoli & Isles I can take a piece away from to carry with me, and that’s why I’m advocating it as an End of the World Friend map – I see myself in Maura, I see my friends in Jane.
It gives me hope that whatever the future holds, we haven’t completely lost our way.
Rizzoli & Isles isn’t currently playing in New Zealand. Sorry. But if you’re curious, this is cool.
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