TV Comedy’s 10 Best Best Friends
The return of Somebody Somewhere, the second season of which began last night, has reunited audiences with Sam and Joel (Bridget Everett and Jeff Hiller). Though the two were barely acquainted during their time together as high school classmates, circumstances have not just brought them back into each other’s lives, it’s made them best friends. The premiere alone sees them competing over their daily step counts; playing “pound or pass” about strangers in a town park; setting a safe word before dining with Sam’s sister Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison); and closing an evening with Teeny ’Tinis — martinis, that is — complete with a celebratory Teeny ’Tini theme song. It might be going too far to say they’re obsessed with each other; it also… might not.
Joel and Sam’s friendship, with its regularly scheduled non-carnal sleepovers and pants-optional cocktail hours, is deeply aspirational. And it’s not the only one: Here are 10 more of TV comedy’s best best friends, all of which you can stream right now…
Abbi and Ilana in ‘Broad City’
Broad City (streaming on Hulu) is about a lot of things — the specific hassles of living in New York City; frustrated ambition; weed — but it’s mostly about the devoted friendship of Abbi and Ilana (Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, who adapted the series from their early 2010s web videos). While Abbi is generally more levelheaded (except when she drinks enough for her brassy alter ego Val to come out), it doesn’t take much for her to get on board with Ilana’s craziest impulses. For her part, Ilana’s love for Abbi nearly approaches hero-worship levels.
Abe and Gandhi in ‘Clone High’
The very long-awaited second season of Clone High is coming in May, so for those who haven’t regularly re-watched the first since its 2003 premiere, the time is right to stream it on HBO Max (where you’ll also find the second season, eventually) and get to know the adolescent clones of Abraham Lincoln (voice of Will Forte) and Gandhi (Michael McDonald). Much like the venerated world leaders who provided the DNA that “secret government employees,” per the theme song, used to create them, nerdy Abe is desperately in love with Clone High queen bee Cleopatra (Christa Miller), and Gandhi is a horny live wire constantly demanding high-fives. Teen boys make bad choices, so their relationship isn’t entirely free of conflict, but they never stay apart for long.
Sam and Tim in ‘Detroiters’
The Detroit of the late 2010s is in a rebuilding phase: lots of local businesses require ads, but may not have the budget to hire the very best. Enter Cramblin Duvet Advertising, ready to produce commercials that aren’t going to win awards, but also won’t break the bank. Detroiters (streaming on Paramount+) chronicles the goofy adventures of the agency’s titular co-heads: Tim Cramblin (Tim Robinson) and Sam Duvet (Sam Richardson), such good friends that after they work together all day, they go out drinking together at night, then return to their homes, next door to each other.
Issa and Molly in ‘Insecure’
Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) have been friends for a decade-plus as we meet them in the premiere of Insecure (streaming on HBO Max, and co-created by Rae, who adapted it from her web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl). The downside of a friendship of such long-standing is that when Molly and Issa fight, they each know where to strike to do the most damage: Molly comes for Issa’s selfishness; Issa attacks Molly’s unhappy singleness. The benefit is that even an estrangement of significant length can end when one of them is vulnerable enough to admit they need the other. (That, and no one else can make either of them laugh as hard.) No spoilers, but while men come and go for each of them, Issa and Molly end the series affirming their love for each other.
Doug and Deacon in ‘The King of Queens’
The King of Queens (streaming on Peacock) is primarily about Doug (Kevin James), his wife Carrie (Leah Remini) and the many disruptions to their lives and home by Carrie’s erratic father, Arthur (Jerry Stiller), who moves into their basement when his latest ex-wife kicks him out. However, as the series goes on, Carrie and Doug mostly relate by fighting, leaving Doug to get most of his emotional sustenance from his best friend Deacon (Victor Williams). In addition to working the same job, as delivery drivers for a courier company, Deacon and Doug share Mets and Jets sports fandom, and a talent for hassling their nerdy friend Spence (Patton Oswalt). Carrie may be Doug’s spouse as far as the state is concerned, but she may not be the true partner in his heart.
Leslie and Ann in ‘Parks and Recreation’
The acquaintance of Ann (Rashida Jones) and Leslie (Amy Poehler) on Parks & Recreation (streaming on Peacock) starts inauspiciously: City government employee Leslie is holding a public meeting, and Ann attends to complain about the large pit next to her home. Determined to make it right, Leslie stays in touch with Ann, and before long is honoring her with increasingly elaborate compliments. Not even Ann’s choice to date Leslie’s ex, Mark (Paul Schneider) can drive apart these galentines.
Maggie and Emma in ‘Playing House’
UCB alumnae Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair are so closely identified by their friendship that their first sitcom was called Best Friends Forever. They returned three years later with Playing House (streaming on the Roku Channel). Emma (St. Clair) returns to her hometown to attend a baby shower for her childhood friend Maggie (Parham). When Maggie discovers her husband’s infidelity, she kicks him out, and Emma immediately resigns her high-powered job in China to move in with Maggie and help with the baby. Devotion has a new name: Emma.
Turk and J.D. in ‘Scrubs’
J.D. (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison) have been friends through college and medical school; as Scrubs (streaming on Hulu) begins, they’re still roommates while going through their internships at Sacred Heart Hospital. Some of the language around their intensely close friendship hasn’t aged well since the show’s 2001 premiere — as a culture, we more readily understand that men can express platonic love without yelling that they are straight — but overall, the purity of their affection for each other is still more sweet than sour.
Simon and Kareme in ‘South Side’
South Side (streaming on Max) largely revolves around a usurious rent-to-own establishment in the titular Chicago neighborhood. Two of Rent-T-Own’s staffers are Simon (Sultan Salahuddin) and Kareme (Kareme Young), who tolerate their repo jobs while exploring other opportunities. As a community college grad with a business degree, Simon tries to set up side hustles from flipping rare sneakers to selling bootleg popcorn outside a movie theater; astronomy grad Kareme has loftier goals, like publishing a sci-fi novel or just dominating his astronomy message board. No matter how doomed any pursuit may seem, each supports the other well past the point of reason.
Jack and Karen in ‘Will & Grace’
Will & Grace (streaming on Hulu) may seem like it’s about its eponymous leads, until you watch the show and see how mean they are to each other. It’s a lot more fun to watch their sidekicks. Jack (Sean Hayes) imposed his friendship on Will (Eric McCormack) when he was a high school student trying to get in with the student at NYU; Karen (Megan Mullally) is a socialite only technically employed by Grace (Debra Messing) so that Grace can try to turn her connections into clients. The show doesn’t truly lock in until sassy diva Karen and gay sycophant Jack meet in Grace’s office: It’s friend-love at first sight. One million double entendres ensue.