F.R.I.E.N.D.S

About halfway into the just-dropped first season of CLASS OF 07, I realised why I was so compelled to binge this very funny little black comedy from the shores of Australia. I mean, yes – it’s darkly funny and brilliant. And it is set at a fictional Christian boarding high school, something to which I can quite relate. It’s also a survivalist tale, the latest in a wave of what-if ruminations on our capacity (or lack thereof) to survive the unthinkable. Think LORD OR THE FLIES or YELLOWJACKETS, without the snow or creepiness, or almost immediate turn to violence.

COVID brought fresh interest to these tales. We were stuck in our homes and heads for a year or more, living in a slow-motion extinction event so much worse than anything we could have imagined. Out of that darkness come these re-imaginings of the apocalypse, each with its own unique twist. There’s YELLOWJACKETS, which traps a bunch of teenage girls in a private, remote apocalypse as the world passes them by, only to force them to return to that world and live with what happened to them. There’s THE WILDS, which imagines an engineered apocalypse, torturing groups of teenagers (always teenagers – why?) with a fabricated crisis.

Enter CLASS OF 07. A class of twenty-something women become stranded after the end of the world arrives whilst they are at their ten-year high school reunion. I mean as far as doomsday art goes, this is pretty close to a greatest hits compilation as we’ve come yet. As such a premise demands, it’s a comedy, and there are myriad of laughs as we watch these women struggle to survive imminent doom and high school trauma. It’s genius.

Of its many brilliant narrative threads, the most compelling is 07’s examination of the complexities of friendship between women. Much has been written about how not much is written about platonic love, especially between people of the same gender. Sure there’s the pain of unrequited romantic love, of brutal break-ups, of being betrayed through infidelities. But then there’s the hollow language-less, void that comes from breaking up with a friend. Friendships contain these weird, mysterious intimacies that can sometimes only really be understood by the two people who share them. On the basis of those, we weave these beautiful tapestries of connections, making singular parts of our lives richer, and connecting them to other parts. I have work friends who have become my closest confidantes. University friends who are now the best mom friends anyone could hope for. Old friendships that have evolved as I have, and new ones that have sprung from those moments of evolution.

I have lost my fair share of friends, too. Real-life parting of the hearts business that has taken years to process, and that still occupies my 3am what-if ruminations.

So I loved watching the women in 07 figure it all out. There’s Zoe and Amelia, the star-crossed soulmates who have years of secrets and silences to wade through. Phoebe and Renee, whose unlikely new bond is forged in the raging fires of imposters syndrome. There’s recovering bully, Saskia, who becomes tentative friends with Genevieve, her former target. And Tegan and Megan, the resident stoner pair who turn out to have the most affecting story of how to repair rifts that age and distance can create.

Friendship has been on my mind because even though I have all those beautiful platonic loves I described above, I also have friendships within which I still struggle to make sense of the balance between give-and-take in a relationship. I’m still figuring out how to trust the connections and love I feel so keenly in those friendships. And, if I’m frank, I am still struggling with the vulnerability that is required within these friendships.

Although there is admittedly less pop culture dedicated to platonic friendships, if you look or listen hard enough, you’ll find it. One of my favorite examples is JAY-Z’s track, WHY I LOVE YOU. It’s filled with ‘Ides of March’ references and war metaphors but it is a raw meditation on how much it hurts when you love friends and you don’t feel loved in return. As he raps

Showed love to you niggas
You ripped out my heart and you stepped on it
I picked up the pieces ‘fore you swept on it
Goddamn, this shit leaves a mess, don’t it?
Shit feelin’ like death, don’t it?

I find myself tending to agree. Pain and heartbreak in friendship feels absolutely awful. It is so much worse when we don’t have spaces to scream, cry and vent. Even more so when we can’t admit just how much it hurts and changes our hearts. Thank goodness for art that recognises and tries to capture that, before the world’s end.

Featured image by Hannah Rodrigo on Unsplash

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