Multiple Mayhem author Elise Allen joins us today to talk about the best female partnerships in all of pop culture. Did your favorites make the list?
About ‘Multiple Mayhem’ by Elise Allen and Daryle Conners
Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, Sitter to the Unsittables, has proven herself an integral member of A.L.I.E.N. — the Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors. She has amassed an impressive roster of alien clients, and is a trusted babysitter among humans and intergalactics alike. We here at A.L.I.E.N. are proud to call her one of our greatest success stories, and believe she is ready to take on more responsibility.
Which is why Gabby has now been entrusted with the care of one of our most volatile charges. His name is One and he’s a member of the Tridecalleon species. While One and his parents present the appearance of a normal, human family, they have some intriguing qualities that make caring for their young a unique challenge. And while, under normal circumstances, inviting outsiders to aid an agent with an Unsittable job would be strictly forbidden, we have decided to forgive Gabby calling in her friends Satchel and Zee in this case. After all, a babysitter only has so many hands. (Unless, of course, he or she is a Flarknartian.)
Making this highly unstable situation an even greater challenge? Gabby has also been assigned to protect a very dangerous object — one that, if it falls into the wrong hands, could cause the destruction of Earth itself. It remains to be seen whether Gabby and her friends are able to handle the demands of 11 . . . wait, 12 . . . no, 13 babies, while ensuring the safety of the world at the same time. All we can do is wait, and hope, and trust. And ready our escape pods.
The best female partnerships in pop culture
Batman and Robin. Han Solo and Chewbacca. Key and Peele.
It’s easy to rattle off gazillions of great male partnerships. Even male/female pairs roll easily off the tongue. Like Mulder and Scully. Ron and Hermione. The Doctor and his latest companion.
But what about great female partnerships? I’m not talking about female ensembles, like the women of Friends, or the cast of Girls, or the frenemies of Pretty Little Liars. I mean female partnerships — two women who compliment each other perfectly, and have each other’s back through thick and thin.
The topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve written a bunch of books, but I’ve never had as much fun as I did working with Daryle Conners on our middle grades series Gabby Duran and the Unsittables. We even put a female partnership at the center of the series. Sure, Gabby Duran is a super-sitter who’s so spectacular at her job that she’s recruited to babysit aliens living secretly among us, but she’d be utterly lost without her tech genius best friend Zee to help her out when things get intergalactically wild.
So given that I have female partnerships on the brain (and given that I have all kinds of writing assignments that could really use some quality procrastination), I had to ask myself — what are pop culture’s best female partnerships, and what makes them so terrific?
Well, after much research, debate, and the aforementioned procrastination, I came up with my top five, which I’ll list in the very scientific and not at all narcissistic order of how much they’ve influenced me.
TEAM ONE: Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz
The ones who started it all! Oh sure, I Love Lucy was ostensibly about Lucy and Ricky, but that was just to sell the network. Really it was about Lucy and her dubious-but-always-willing co-hort, and all the madcap madness they got into. Sure, the show was very much of its time, with the men ruling the roost and the women sneaking around behind the scenes to craftily do the things they want, but it’s the first major television show — at least the first one I can think of — to showcase two women driving the action. And better still, in real life Lucille Ball wasn’t sneaking around behind her man to get things done at all. She was a powerhouse in the middle of male-driven Hollywood. She was the one approached by CBS to develop a show for them, and she was the first female head of a production company Desilu.
TEAM TWO: Lorelai and Rory Gilmore
Seriously, if you’re female, it’s impossible to watch this show without wishing you had this kind of relationship with your mother or daughter. Lorelai and Rory share everything, they’re brilliantly quippy, they call one another on their garbage, and when they fight they fight hard because they know each other inside and out… but they always recognize their mistakes and come back to one another stronger than ever. Lorelai and Rory aren’t just mother and daughter, they’re a team — a true united front against whatever the world throws at them.
TEAM THREE: Rachel Goldberg and Quinn King
If these names mean nothing to you, you need to start watching UnREAL. Like immediately. I’ll wait. Okay, are you back? Are you totally blown away? These two characters are beyond damaged, and their relationship is tempestuous, destructive… and completely vital to them both. Rachel and Quinn are complex, nuanced, layered, and endlessly fascinating. I can’t get enough of UnREAL for a million reasons, but the biggest is that it centers around these two strong, ambitious, morally ambiguous women who completely break the mold of what we’re used to seeing on TV. Major kudos to Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby for their brilliantly honest portrayals. In lesser hands Rachel and Quinn could be unlikable; as it is, I root for them every step of the way, no matter how deep the mire they’ve created.
TEAM FOUR: Rebecca Bunch and Paula Proctor
Are you watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? You must! Come for the biting satire in their laugh-out-loud brilliant songs; stay for the unique and meaningful relationships between some of the most neurotic and the most real characters on television. Sure, the title makes it sound like it’s all about Rebecca and her ex-BF, but the true core relationship is between Rebecca and Paula — a twisted but beautiful pseudo-mother-and-daughter partnership that gives the seriously funny show its heart and moral compass. Rebecca and Paula are both damaged — they’ve lost dreams, they’ve made mistakes, and even though they’re both extremely strong women, they both keep falling into the trap of trying to be what other people want them to be. But what they do have — even when they went through a rough patch last season — is a true love for one another that gives them the strength to face all the rest of life’s craziness.
TEAM FIVE: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey!!!!!
Yes, I’m aware they’re not fictional, but Tina and Amy are my own personal Jesus. In a world where women are expected to make beauty their top priority, Tiny and Amy led with their brilliance and talent. They both happen to be gorgeous (which I mention not because it’s important but because I know even the most enlightened feminists among us still want to be attractive), but from the second they stepped in front of the camera at SNL they wowed us with fearlessly biting wit (Tina on Weekend Update) and daringly out-there characters (Amy Poehler’s one-legged farting machine Amber). From minute one, these women demanded to be heard, not just seen. They don’t stand on soapboxes, they simply make incredible, side-splitting art that empowers and inspires women everywhere. And in an industry where women are far too often pitted against one another for those few token roles on screen or in the writers’ room, Amy and Tina live the example of unselfish sisterhood. Honestly, I could write a whole treatise on these two women, but instead I’ll just deliver a wholehearted thank you!
So that’s my top five, and kudos to them! They’re all testaments to the power of women working together to achieve greatness!
Your turn now — what do you think? Do we share a top five? Are there incredible pairs I left out? Shoot me a note in the comments and let me know — I’d love to hear your thoughts!
About Elise Allen
Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times best-selling author Elise Allen made a name for herself with her acclaimed young adult novel Populazzi (Harcourt), and the Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters chapter books (Bloomsbury). She also co-wrote Hilary Duff’s best-selling Elixir series (Simon and Schuster), and Bella Thorne’s series Autumn Falls (Random House). In television, she has written for talent ranging from Madeline Kahn to Kermit the Frog, and is currently writing for the new Disney Junior show The Lion Guard. Her dog may or may not secretly be from another planet.