In a time when women are so often pitted against each other for career goals, the attention of others, and countless other things, Quantico’s Alex and Shelby are showing us that there’s another way.
Given the competitive atmosphere that was fostered at Quantico, right from the start, it would have been so easy for Alex and Shelby to be rivals. In so many other shows, and even in real life, their relationship could’ve easily turned into a girl-on-girl power struggle, with each of them vying for the top spot in the class and the affection of the other NATs and their instructors.
Alex Parrish and Shelby Wyatt have definitely both experienced that kind of competition, at Quantico and in their lives before and since. However, in each other, they were able to find something so much more valuable. They’ve forged a friendship based on trust, support, and never having to prove themselves. Together, they make Alby, and it’s unequivocally one of the best female friendships on television.
Nobody was more surprised than Alex and Shelby that they became friends. Being two incredibly smart, talented, and beautiful women, they’d had their whole lives to get used to the environment of distrust and competition that’s ubiquitously fostered between women, and also the threat that their power often posed to others (read: ignorant males).
In Quantico season 1, they admitted to each other that they’ve never really had any friends before, which just makes their bond with each other even more beautiful. They could easily have been hardened by their past experiences with others, but they recognized something special in each other. Something that was worth opening up and taking a risk for.
Even though Shelby was sometimes overlooked at Quantico because she lacked some of the physical strength of the burlier NATs, she still sought to befriend Alex, who was quickly pegged as the star pupil. She was never threatened by the woman who was climbing her way to the top of the class. She recognized Alex as a person with both strengths and weaknesses, and wanted that person to be a part of her life.
The shoe is on the other foot in Quantico season 2. Shelby basically took over Alex’s assignment through her relationship with León. Alex, who could’ve blamed Shelby for threatening her FBI career, still supported her friend. The two of them, together, are now essentially leading the charge against the AIC in both timelines!
It’s not that these two aren’t competitive. We constantly see both of them competing with the men in their lives, as well as the other NATs and recruits. Also, they’re definitely not afraid to have a little friendly competition between the two of them. They just wouldn’t be Alex and Shelby if they didn’t! At the end of the day, though, they greatly value the other’s strengths and realize that together, they’re so much stronger.
Now, Alex and Shelby trust each other in a way that neither of them has found with their significant others, other friends, or even their families. They’ve learned from their mistakes when they’ve doubted each other, in the past. They know they can completely count on each other to get the job done, no matter how high the stakes (and the stakes really couldn’t get much higher).
With Alex on the inside of the hostage crisis and Shelby impressively leading the charge from the FBI headquarters, these two have never had to rely on each other more. Their individual power combined with the faith that they have in each other is what’s gotten them this far, and what will probably/hopefully get everybody out of this messy situation alive!
Of course, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows between Alex and Shelby. There was that whole “holding each other at gunpoint” incident in season 1, and quite a few hiccups in between then and now. Two individuals who are as strong willed and minded as Alex Parrish and Shelby Wyatt are bound to butt heads, occasionally. There’s just no getting around it!
When they have fought, however, it’s never been over the attention of a man or because one is jealous of the other’s success. Their disagreements have occurred because they’re both amazing at their jobs and have wanted to make sure that they’re doing everything possible to protect their country. Despite being involved in some incredibly heated exchanges, they’ve always had the ability to listen to each other and come to the right conclusion, together.
Quantico is all about women breaking through the glass ceiling, not tearing each other down to be the one who makes the first crack. By supporting each other, Alex and Shelby are helping everyone get that much closer to the change they want to see. They’re a shining example for women, and all humans everywhere, of what can happen when we combine forces and work towards a common goal.