Season Two of Faking It ended with Karma once again breaking the heart of her best friend, Amy, who isn’t sure if she’s a lesbian or bisexual or somewhere in-between but knows one thing for sure: she really wants her best friend to be her girlfriend. They’re certainly not the first TV characters to walk this lonely road. Let’s look at other pairs who’ve walked this lonely road and how that worked out for them exactly, on a scale of “Heartbreaking” to “Heart-warming.”
***THIS POST IS CHOCK-FULL OF SPOILERS!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
“Lesbian or Bisexual woman Falls For Her Best Friend” Storylines, Ranked In Order From Most Heartbreaking to Most Heartwarming
9. Alice and Dana, The L Word
The saddest story on this list actually involves two queer characters — Alice (who identified as bisexual) falls for her best friend, Dana, and tells her so after Dana announces to their friends that she’s gonna marry Tanya EVEN THOUGH TANYA KILLED MR. PIDDLES. After months of sexual tension which eventually explodes and becomes a full-fledged sexual affair, Dana finally leaves Tanya, Alice and Dana get together, and Alice has never been happier! They’re the cutest! But Alice quickly finds herself the one slightly more in love, and there is no agony like the agony of being slightly more in love. Oh wait — yeah there is — it’s the agony of your girlfriend leaving you for her ex AND THEN DYING OF CANCER.
8. Sophie and Sian, Coronation Street
Sophie and Sian’s love story snuck up on both of them — they were in the middle of a fight over a boy when Sophie kissed Sian and told her she was more important than any boy could ever be. After a rocky start, their best friendship turned romantic. They basically lived the dream all lesbians have about the best friend they’re in love with — that she returns your feelings, endures all the coming out drama, and looks at you like you’re the best thing that ever happened to her. They worked through a lot of Lesbian Relationship Tropes, sold us on their chemistry… and then broke up ON THEIR WEDDING DAY because Sophie is terrible. Sian left the show. I cried.
7. Shane and Jenny, The L Word
You can’t really blame Shane for responding to Jenny’s confession that she was “just like all those other girls” who’d fallen for Shane. She had no way of knowing Jenny’s character was gonna be written right off the rails in Season Six! Sure, she probably wasn’t your favorite in prior seasons, either (I’m a Jenny fan personally but we don’t have to talk about it) but Season Six, man. SEASON SIX. Then Jenny died and Shane was like, “meh” because nothing about episode 608 made a lick of sense.
6. Jocelyn and Camilla, East Los High
Camilla and Jocelyn had that classic good girl (Jocelyn) bad girl (Camilla) friendship — and then they kissed, and then they made out, and then they made out some more… but the deeper it got, the more Camilla wanted to act like it wasn’t that deep. Then Camilla committed the most mortal lesbian-falls-for-her-best-friend sin — she leaves Jocelyn for a guy (her brother, at that!), makes it clear she’d never actually date a woman, and then OUTS HER BEST FRIEND TO THE ENTIRE SCHOOL. (And, in turn, her slightly homophobic family.) Nothing like a good ‘ol public shaming for daring to have real feelings for a girl! We get a moment of sweet revenge when Jocelyn’s brother finds them in bed together again, and eventually Jocelyn moves on and dates girls who like her back. But that outing, man. Not cool.
5. Kim and Sugar, Sugar Rush
“I’m sexually obsessed with my best friend Sugar,” Kim tells us from the get-go of the short-lived British show Sugar Rush. Kim is more than ready for the trouble Sugar keeps getting her into, and tags along as Sugar blows through drugs, alcohol, boyfriends and hookups. Everybody’s sex-obsessed, everybody has crabs, everybody’s family is a mess, everybody breaks laws, it’s your classic teenage love story. Kim openly manipulates Sugar to get more of her attention, tricks her into kissing her, feels Sugar up while she’s seemingly passed out and sabotages Sugar’s relationships. Not that Sugar’s a pillar of kindness and decency herself — AfterEllen‘s LezBritain called her “the kind of unstable, exciting mess that attracts a disproportionate amount of otherwise sensible lesbians.” Then Sugar figures out the truth — that Kim “fancies” her — and thus begins the endless torturous process of Sugar playing with Kim’s heart. There’s kissing, there’s sex, there’s prison time, jealousy, games, drugs, all of it. When Kim finally moves on and finds another girlfriend, Saint, Sugar’s presence still looms large. I’ve been reminded of these two more than once during Faking It‘s run, although Amy and Karma’s life is practically Amish compared to Kim and Sugar’s. But you know the deal — Sugar always has a man on her arm but can’t stand it when Kim’s got a woman on hers, and if the show had lasted past two seasons, Sugar would’ve had to face her real feelings. But it didn’t, so, the end! At least nobody died.
4. Poussey and Taystee, Orange is the New Black
Prison is pretty lonely all around, but Poussey, our sensitive soul and eternal crush, seems to feel that even harder than the rest of them. Her best friendship with Taystee is often the only thing that gets her through, and it’s no surprise that she eventually develops a crush. Taystee herself is pretty polite about declining Poussey’s affections — even after Poussey kisses her unexpectedly, she actually apologizes for not being a lesbian and offers to cuddle instead. Taystee could make it a thing, and she actively chooses not to.
Then Vee shows up and makes something tender into something ugly. All Poussey wants to do is protect her best friend from a toxic relationship but Vee blames Poussey’s concern on her lesbianism, scowling, “Taystee will never love you. Not the way you want.” That shit wounds, y’all. Having an unrequited crush is hard enough, but having it thrown in your face to embarrass you when you’re just trying to protect somebody you love, regardless of how they love you back? Cold. So cold. It was a tough season to watch.
Bless us all that Taystee eventually saw the error of her ways and returned to the friendship, and that in the Season Three finale, it looked like Poussey might have found somebody to kiss and cuddle.
3. Fiona and Holly J, Degrassi
Oh, Fiona. Her ex-boyfriend was an abusive douchebag, she’s a loner, she’s a teenager who’s already discovered that she’s an alcoholic and been in and out of rehab — and, through falling in love with her best friend Holly J, she realizes she’s a lesbian. Honestly Holly J put me to sleep from the moment I laid eyes on her, but whatever. She takes it well when Fiona comes out to her, but when a mutual friend reveals to her that Fiona’s got a Big Fat Lesbian Crush on her, she doesn’t really know how to handle it, besides to stop “leading Fiona on,” which manifests itself in cancelled sleepovers and asking somebody else to zip up her dress — which of course, just pisses Fiona off. It could be humiliating, but Fiona rises to the occasion: “I know we’ll never be together, I’m not stupid… stop treating me like a Faberge egg and get over yourself!” She does. Holly J remains the straightest straight girl to ever follow her arrow, Fiona finds other girls to date, and we all grow as human beings.
2. Emily and Alison, Pretty Little Liars
by Heather Hogan
The questions gay girls ask themselves when falling in love with their best friends — could she be queer too? could she like me-like me back? — were even more complicated when Emily Fields started having feelings for Alison DiLaurentis. Why is she such good friends with that old witch? Where’d she get that airplane? Can she freeze time? How come she only owns that one yellow tank top? And then, after Emily kissed her, and Alison invited Emily to move to Paris to be her lesbian lover, things got even more dicey. Is Alison dead? Wait, is she a zombie? Wait, is she immortal? (No, no, maybe.)
By the time Alison rose from the grave, Emily had already answered nearly every question about her own sexuality by dating the hundreds of thousands of lesbians and bisexual women in her high school — but she still wondered if Alison had been for real about having gay feelings for Emily, or if it was all just a part of her tangled web of lies and masks of her own face. So, Alison took matters into her own hands and told Emily that she was serious all those years before she died, and now she was serious post-resurrection: She was never just kissing Emily for practice! And so they kissed again and again and also had some sex.
It maybe could have been forever love, if Emily hadn’t accused Alison of bludgeoning one of their classmates to death and thrown her into jail with her bare hands and then been kidnapped after the murder trial and trapped in an underground bunker with the girl she thought Alison killed pretending to be Alison. Sometimes life just gets in the way, you know?
It didn’t work out super well for Alison and Emily, but their exploratory smooching led to Emily being the most prolific lesbian dater in Pennsylvania and to them sharing one special night and one lifelong bond. You don’t just wear a necklace made of your fake dead fake ex-girlfriend’s fake teeth and come away unchanged.
1. Santana and Brittany, Glee
Santana and Brittany’s best friendship already involved scissoring before Santana’s feelings for Brittany enabled her Big Lesbian Revelation. Luckily, Brittany already knew she swung both ways, but less luckily, was already in a relationship with somebody else (Artie). But that eventually ended, and it was Brittaina time — until Santana left for college and the two drifted apart, eventually breaking up. But they finally got back together and got married just in time for the show to go off the air, leading us all to safely assume that they lived happily ever after. See, kids: one time out of nine, it actually works out!
1.What is this season 6 you speak of? *scrunches eyes shut, puts hands over ears and hums softly while gently rocking herself *
2.Sugar Rush:If you youtube it, you’ll find both full seasons on YT. It’s even got subtitles for ye Americans who have trouble understanding the British, and I promise that you’re going to know if you love it by minute five. You probably will. Very much.
3.Emison: I ships it.
I’m very excited about the East Los High inclusion. Love that show, love Jocelyn. I wish they’d continued to follow her in the most recent season (I mean she’s still there, but just occasionally popping up as a student teacher and spouter of “today’s important lesson about acceptance”)
The crab episode was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in my life.
The Taystee/ Poussey storyline still is gut punch, even two years later.
Have you ever read this? Ugh, so so so good:
I’ll never get into Emison, I fear. My Paige loving heart just won’t allow it.
And Glee’s terribleness aside, Brittana Forever.
This is a very good list and some very good/very funny writing! I was also actually shockingly attached to Sophie and Sian. They super, duper broke my heart. There was like a full year when I was watching Coronation Street every single day. I learned so much about being English. I drank so much tea to deal with the emotional turmoil.
But did you dunk a digestive biscuit in your tea and endure the agony of half of it dropping off…to really cement that British experience you know.
I absolutely did. I watched YouTube videos about the perfect dunking technique and how long to leave it in the tea.
Riese…. If you like Jenny, I think we do need to talk about it.
Having said that, I actually thought her and Jenny hooking up was cute at first. (But then the rest of season 6 happened and blah)
And by that… I meant her and *Shane*.
Yes, that’s definitely something we need to talk about!
Riese, you’ve proven to be a very reasonable human, so as a Jenny loather I’d really like to hear more about your perspective from the impossibly distant land of Jenny fandom.
I guess the romantic tension that was always there disqualified South of Nowhere?
Yeah I thought about them (they were gonna be number 2, actually, with Brittany & Santana at 1) but I felt like it didn’t quite fit — I was looking more at people who became platonic best friends first and then one of them realized their desire for the other — I feel like with Spencer and Ashley, the romantic tension existed from day one, and both girls kinda fell for each other at the same time? Unless I’m remembering it wrong. I guess it might also just be how their story was framed by the show itself — from the get-go we as viewers knew that Spencer and Ashley were falling in love with each other, like that was The Story this show was gonna tell. Like Lois and Clark — yeah, they were friends first, but only because that was the obvious first step towards the relationship we knew they’d eventually have, which was central to the entire story of the show.
So for this I was looking at pairs where one was straight and the other was gay with a crush OR, if they were both gay, they had an established platonic relationship before the romantic one began or one fell for the other first.
After going back over the list, that’s what I expected. There was definitely an inevitability to Spashley from the get go that wasn’t in the other pairings.
Which goes back to how rare it is that f/f pairings are unplanned, and developed because of actor chemistry. (Although it does seem to be more likely in animation.) There’s a much more rigid enforcement of the Best Friend and Love Interest being two different characters, compared to their m/f counterparts, where a romance arc (even if temporary) is near inevitable.
Right! I think that’s what shocked me about Brittany and Santana’s eventual relationship — I was like wait this is happening? Really? This doesn’t happen to f/f pairings, ever! And we have gotten so used to knowing that these stories would never go that way unless that path was prescribed on day one. I was also surprised they actually had Emily and Allison hook up eventually too. (Even now, we hear about new lesbian or bi characters being introduced as a love interest to a main character specifically, and the moments where I love tv the most are when an f/f pairing of any kind seems to come out of the blue)
Also thank you for understanding the strict and specific conditions of inclusion for my list, people are always being like “where is (person) (show) (couple) (book)?” And I’m like “listen when I pick a theme, I COMMIT to very strict parameters and that is just one degree outside of them trust me this is the only way it can be.” I think this is the first time somebody has guessed the reason even before I explained it!
On the down-side, Glee only did it because Ryan Murphy and Co. do not give a shit about long-term characterization, and write things on a whim. It kind of reminds me of Whedon, actually, where they’ll write whacked out plots and ignore character history just to showcase an actor’s range that they liked.
So basically we can thank Naya and Heather for keeping the fair-weather writers interested enough to keep writing them.
The fact that Brittana was the only couple on the list that ended up together kind of tipped me off, hah. While racking my brain for other examples, it stood out that Spashley seemed to only end up together because the creators went in with that ending in mind.
I cannot believe that Glee of all shows is #1 on a list like that. That show was so unbelievably bad, especially towards the end but somehow they managed to do this one perfect thing where a girl falls for her best friend and they actually make it. As in getting together, getting married, riding into the sunset together, BEING HAPPY!!! I need to stop, I’m getting emotional all over again.
Anyway, great list. Even if 90% of it is kinda depressing ;)
Sugar Rush man… That was a painful, weird, and oddly compelling thing to watch. Also Hex anyone? Britishers? Aaaand Naomily… *sob* happy ending ripped away…or are we pretending Fire didn’t happen? I’m game if you are.
Poussey and Taystee…oh man. Samara Wiley must be an amazing actress because her face, she can break your heart with just the broken look on her face.
Poor Poussey did NOT have a good time last season. I hope things get better for her. A sad Poussey is like sad puppy, somehow — just wrong.
I really wanna rewatch Sugar Rush right now and start watching PLL. I miss The L Word and I hated Shane with Jenny but at least they gave that gossip moment when all the girls find out that was hilarious. I love this article so much!
Wait, wasn’t it Dana who was less in love not Alice??
YES sorry i phrased that wrong IT HAS BEEN FIXED
Phew! I thought I was seriously misremembering the L Word.
Fiona and Holly J were so boring that I literally forgot that happened BUT their inclusion here made me remember PAIGE AND ALEX aka one of the most exciting television developments of my youth. If only Alex hadn’t become a stripper and ruined Paige’s job’s fancy dresses.
Palex > Fiona/Holly J (Folly?)
i loved paige and alex so hard, they meant so much to me, i could talk about palex forever
Palex was the couple that I was watching right around the time I was figuring out my sexuality. They were my first lgbt ship and will always have a special place in my heart. I’m forever pissed that they got ruined, but forever thankful to degrassi for making me feel better when I was having a hard time
Sugar Rush is just sooooo good =)
It’s okay Riese. I don’t mind having my heart ripped from my chest first thing in the morning. It’s cool.
Remember when we did the worst breakups in tv history though that was more brutal I feel.
Rude, Autostraddle, rude. Stop hurting my feelings.
By the way another couple that came into my mind that I think could be included in the list are Betty and Kate from Bomb Girls.
We’re they friends first? Or did Betty fall for Kate right from the get go? If we do include count them, I’d put them just below Alice and Dana – they were freaking heartbreaking.
I think they fall into the category gay girl in love with straight best friend? If I remember correctly, as much as I wanted them to be together, Kate was always played as straight.
And yeah, they were heartbreaking.
Yeah Betty and Kate. If there is any single tv character who needed a cup of tea, a kitten and someone to carefully explain straight girls to her, it was Betty.
OMG THAT WAS THE COUPLE I REMEMBERED TO INCLUDE ON MY DRIVE HOME FROM THE GYM THAT I COULDN’T REMEMBER WHEN I SAT DOWN AT MY LAPTOP
God dammit now I want to go back and watch Glee! I had managed to say goodbye to that show.
I love the beauty that is talking about an S2/S3 LWord relationship v. an S6 LWord relationship in the same article, because everyone is able to collectively embrace the idea that when using adverbs, ‘Alice and Dana BFF-love plot is gorgeous and developmental and devastating! Jenny and Shane BFF-love plot is… season six. Season six is an adverb.’
I feel like the fact that Glee features our “Yay, this is great!” relationship is a sign that something is horribly wrong, both with our expectations of TV and TV itself.
Fiona and Imogen were a pair that I enjoyed while it lasted. But no Degrassi couple will ever mean as much to me as Paige and Alex. I always liked them individually and it blew my mind when they became friends.I was like in 8th grade and my little baby gay heart exploded.
Not on this list:Sam and Jennifer from the short lived Exes & Ohs.
Also I loved Jenny but hated Shane so their little what ever you’d call it did nothing for me.
Paige and Alex from Degrassi! The episode where someone’s in cowboy boots and they play gay to get into the club and then they dance together and kiss is and will forever be the only episode I have ever bought on iTunes.
Okay now I have a strong desire to watch the l word but I have exams next week so that is not an option )’:
I just have one minor adjustment *clears throat*
Ugh, Sugar Rush was such a great show! I’ll be forever bitter that it got cancelled after only two seasons. I recently re-watched the whole series and it was really interesting to look at Sugar and Kim’s relationship now, that I’m older, compared to when I first watched it when I was like 14 and still figuring out my sexuality. I think their relationship is very toxic, like… you can’t say it is healthy at all, even if you ship them. But it’s also *very* real. Because at some point we’ve all had that friend we’d do anything for, even if they don’t exactly seem to feel the same way about us. And in a way, I think Sugar did feel the same, but was just too scared to admit it. So yeah, it’s a shame we didn’t get a third season, because not only was it hilarious but it could’ve gone deeper into Sugar’s feelings and develop her character more.
For a 30+ woman I was shockingly invested with Sophie & Sian. Even though it was tropey it was very well done. Their coming out arc was heart-punchingly real.
I’ll never forgive you Sopheh!
10 bonus points to you Annie for that user pic!
Don’t forget Bomb Girls! I will never get over that heartbreak. Oh, Betty…