So True, Bestie (to Lovers)
A love letter to my favourite romance trope for causing me endless brainrot.
Hello and welcome to Hyperfixate! This is a weekly newsletter that publishes every Wednesday covering anything and everything that has taken up residence in my mind. If you haven’t signed up yet, feel free to, it’s free! If you have, welcome back, and thanks for letting me take up space in your email’s mind.
I’m not going to lie to you, I almost blanked this week’s newsletter. I wasn’t sure what to talk about as work and other silly life events suddenly decided to join the party inside my brain. They’ve become well-acquainted with Pedro Pascal at this point, who, to paraphrase my best friend Andrea, has built a 5-star beach resort off the coast of my amygdala and started collecting taxes there.
I’ll cut to the chase: I am a sucker for romance. More specifically, romance fiction. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. I'm not sure why I feel so guilty over it. I think it’s that part of me that was conditioned to make Breaking Bad and pre-MAGA Kanye my entire personality in high school. It has made me yearn for a good old-fashioned, foot-popping kiss. Wouldn’t it be nice to be swept off your feet?
I have a soft spot for a certain trope in the romance genre. Initially, it started as me delving into Enemies to Lovers fics on AO3 my friends recommended in high school. Then it became Enemies to Friends to Lovers. And then I scrapped the Enemies bit all together. I traded tension for safety and comfort, which I think reflects my pattern of behaviour (at least when it comes to dating) over the last few years.
That’s what I want to talk about today. I think we’re all well-aware of the effects of Hollywood romances or the way the genre is marketed that has created a certain skew on our expectations of love, including but not limited to romantic love. But I want to talk about this Best Friends to Lovers trope, which has caused irreversible damage to my psyche that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Call Me Beep Your Name
The earliest example I have of this was on Kim Possible. Kim and Ron have caused me irreparable brain damage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In case you missed it, Kim Possible, basic average girl here to save the world, and her sidekick Ron Stoppable eventually become a couple by the end of the third season. They’d been best friends since kindergarten and have seen each other through everything from swamp monsters at camp and Shego going good. They are adorable together. Kim and Ron represent love everlasting. Enduring.
Kim and Ron are the epitome of girlboss and her malewife. They also, at least in my opinion, have the healthiest TV relationship I’ve ever seen. Sure, they have their bouts of insecurity and need reassurance from each other, but doesn’t everyone? There’s an episode where Ron steals Kim’s supersuit, the blue and white one from the film Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, in order to join the football team. Bonnie got into Ron’s head that since Kim is a senior cheerleader, she should date a jock. The episode, of course, reaches equilibrium by its conclusion; and Kim and Ron return to their happy relationship stronger than ever.
For three seasons, Kim and Ron never had a Bones/Booth or Castle/Beckett will-they won’t-they; in fact, throughout that time, Kim and Ron have been supportive of each other pursuing other relationships up until it was time for the writers to get them together. In Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time, Shego realizes that the reason Kim has been so unbeatable is that Kim and Ron make an unstoppable (pun intended) team, so much so that she the only way to secure her victory by splitting them apart. Of course, Kim and Ron find their way back to each other. Friendship is meant to lift you up, or in Kim’s case, give her a boost before she kickflips on Dr. Drakken’s pasty blue face.
To Nick Miller, Forever Ago
It is with deep sorrow that I announce: I have finished my New Girl rewatch. For the uninitiated, New Girl was a sitcom that aired on FOX between 2011 and 2018, following the adventures of quirky school teacher Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) and her three (to four–Coach inclusive) male roommates as they navigate cohabitation, relationships, and “adulthood” in this bizarre digital age.
New Girl has been dubbed “the internet’s favourite sitcom” and “Friends for Zoomers”, and honestly? I agree. As an alleged “zoomer”, I was taken by New Girl earlier on in my adolescence, with its brilliant jokes wasted on my 12-year-old brain. Flew over my head. Upon revisiting the show, I realized that it’s not only fucking hilarious, but full of heart.
The show is driven by the relationships among the characters; they’ve grown to become best friends after living in that offensively large loft for years. I think New Girl has the most interesting portrayals of friendship regardless of the characters’ gender or romantic entanglements. Each set of friends have their own emotional quirks and depths, all eventually growing to love each other wholly whether they want to admit it or not.
One example that comes to mind, and that has also permanently parked their car next to Pedro’s resort in my mind, is the friendship and eventual romance between Jess and Nick Miller (Jake Johnson).
This article on New Girl’s best episodes called Nick Miller “a man with no redeeming qualities but is somehow a sex symbol”, and that writer was absolutely correct. Very on the nose. One of my favourite authors and New Girl historian, Bolu Babalola, has described Jake Johnson’s nose and therefore Nick Miller’s nose as a ‘salt of the earth nose’, a ‘nose that will always be there for you’. And much like Nick’s nose, he’ll always be there for you, too.
Nick Miller exclusively wears plaid and carries a plastic bag in place of a wallet. He will build you an IKEA dresser, but he might also abandon you on a train to San Diego. Nick Miller is equal parts my dream man and my worst nightmare. I think the reason Nick has developed such a cult following is because of the way he loves. He loves his friends and paramours with his own signature fervor, both full of sacrifice and fear that forces him to grow.
Jess, on the other hand, is there for you in a way that often goes underappreciated. Much like me, Jessica Day is a type-A knitting machine in chunky glasses. She’s a planner, she’s hypercritical, she likes her world According to Jess. She wants to make sure all her friends are not just okay, but are their best selves. She wants the best for everyone and will do everything in her power, whether they like it or not, to make it happen for them. Jess wants the best for Nick, and will do anything to help him, even if he won’t take the help.
There’s an episode that stands out to me where Nick calls the loft to a vote; to decide whether or not his girlfriend Reagan (Megan Fox) should move in with him. Despite Jess’ feelings for him, she buries them deep enough to whip everyone else’s votes in Nick’s favour. Jess was willing to sacrifice her own happiness for Nick’s. That’s a back and forth with them, they’re willing to give something up for the other and it happens throughout both their friendship and romantic relationship.
I’d be remiss not to talk about Nick and Jess’ iconic kiss. It’s one of the best on-screen kisses in the last ten years. Nick kisses Jess oh so passionately after a failed drinking game dare whilst she’s still dating Doctor Sam (David Walton). It’s such a great kiss that it leaves Jess, and probably Zooey Deschanel, in a daze. So true, bestie.
Despite not working out the first time, they do get back together and stay together. Nick and Jess get their happily ever after, even though it was hard-won. It’s realistic by sitcom standards; the protagonists gain social mobility as the story progresses–all the flatmates save for Jess and Nick move out and get their own houses, get married, and have children, Jess and Nick are able to live in the loft with Nick’s best-selling author money. Their biggest problems become whether or not they’re going to get the dog they wanted, and whether or not their marriage will be doomed. They’ve grown up in some way. Nick and Jess are the closest a fairy tale will ever get to real life.
To All The Other Best Friends to Lovers I’ve Loved Before
There are a few other bestie babes that have really affected me growing up. The most notable being Lizzie and Gordo from Lizzie McGuire. I didn’t just give the Oligarch Mouse my money just to stream The Mandalorian, it was also to sing along to What Dreams Are Made Of when Isabella finally gets Paolo’s snake ass in The Lizzie McGuire Movie. The film was also where Lizzie and Gordo finally kissed! I think about that montage where they’re on the plane a lot, where Gordo wakes up to find Lizzie asleep on his shoulder. I miss my friends, and I miss when they would fall asleep on my shoulder on a long journey.
Other pairs that have caused me brainrot: Nina and Fabian from House of Anubis, Jo and Laurie in Little Women (2019) where Laurie confesses to Jo and Jo shoots him down, and Taylor Swift and Lucas Till. What are some of your favourite on-screen/in print Friends to Lovers couples? Let me know in the comments.
I remember watching Little Women and being shaken to my core. I always had identified with Jo both in the book and the film adaptations. Maybe it was Timothée or maybe it was the magic of Greta Gerwig’s invisible hand but for the first time ever I felt Laurie on every plane and level. I knew exactly what he was going through.
The rejection hurts, but that’s not really what the crux of that feeling is. It’s being vulnerable with someone you’ve always been vulnerable with, thinking it’s all meant to be because that’s how things are “supposed to go” it makes the most “sense” to you and the people around you, but that’s not the reality of the situation. It just wasn’t meant to be. And in time, that’ll be okay. Eventually, Laurie finds Amy. And Jo, or at least Jo in the story that she wrote, backtracks to feel something for Laurie but finds love with Louis Garrel, the French Jacob Elordi.
But I don’t want to live in a world where I’m not at least a little bit in love with all my friends. Because I really am. How can I not be? I’m surrounded by spectacular people; lucky to be loved by them and to be a part of their lives in whatever capacity I can be. The last year had been incredibly isolating, and it’s been difficult to stay in touch with everyone, but slowly but surely I’d like to think we’re re-strengthening our bonds in someway, learning to give ourselves some space too. One of my resolutions this year and every year is to learn to be a better friend.
I’m a hopeless romantic. I always have been but I think I’ve only tried to come to terms with it recently. I’ve had my heart broken enough to know how hard it is out there. I’ve loved and will continue to love, and that journey has only just begun for me in the grand scheme of things. But I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of really good role models for functional and healthy relationships that I know I’ll be okay regardless of when or if I’ll ever be in another romantic relationship. I’m going to enjoy doing Hot Girl Shit while I can.
I recently rewatched the film Battleship (2012), starring Sam Rockwell Sans Sauce, Taylor Kitsch. I confused this film with Battle: Los Angeles, a film starring Aaron Eckhart. I always thought Rihanna shared screen time with Aaron Eckhart, but to my surprise and delight, she shares screen time with a young Jesse Plemons.
Plemons and Robyn Rihanna Fenty are sprinkled in as pockets of comedic relief, muttering commentary under their breath whenever their superiors (Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgård) try to move the plot along. I didn’t pay much attention to the film itself, but I can’t stop thinking about whether or not Rihanna and Jesse Plemons kept in touch after filming. I hope they did. I hope they text each other congratulatory messages on all their continued success. I wonder if this is something Leonardo DiCaprio thinks about as well.
#WeLovePedroPascal So Freakin’ Much
Sometimes, Stan Twitter has its redeeming and wholesome moments. Like yesterday, March 2nd, when #WeLovePedroPascal trended WORLDWIDE with fanart, edits, fancams–you name it. All in the name of everyone’s favourite on-screen dead single father.
I couldn’t partake, as I was swamped with work and other life troubles, but it was nice to lurk a little bit and see not just the love for Pedro, but the love the fans had for each other as well. At least for the most part. I’ve noticed a lot of fan spaces on Twitter have an odd middle school mentality about them where everything has to be a competition. I’m not sure whether to attribute that to the culture perpetuated by bigger internet fandoms back in the day like the One Direction fandom, or the not-so-surprising number of middle schoolers online. An investigation for another time.
The only thing I have to contribute is this dot-connecting between this specific image of Pedro for Esquire Spain and this screenshot of Prince from the season three episode of New Girl entitled ‘Prince’. Pedro is a huge fan of Prince.
Some Personal News-ish
I’ll be performing some music and some stand-up for Rumah Khai’s Welcome to My Crying Party later this month, on the 27th! I’m really excited to perform in a space that celebrates Asian creatives alongside some really incredible workshops and self-care routines.
You can get your tickets here!
One of last month’s Patreon episodes of The Pod Charles Cinecast enabled me to do what I do best: make my friends watch Triple Frontier and engage with that brainrot. The Pedro Pascalification continues. A big thank you to Jonathan for being such a good sport about it.
That’s all for now, see you next week!