Harvey and Mike have a smart-ass relationship and work very hard at not showing vulnerability or looking as if they love each other. But they do love each other — as friends — and that breaks through the wise-cracking one-upmanship every now and then. It's not an uncommon type of male friendship and Harvey and Mike (Gabriel and Patrick) are very good at it.
There are a couple of other male relationships that I've observed lately, very different from Harvey and Mike's.
I started watching Community because William (my son) thought I would enjoy it. He's right. I did enjoy it. It's probably not considered to be in the top-tier of sitcoms but it has a lot going for it. When William first plopped his tablet down on my desk and said, "Watch this," and showed me a clip from the show, my first post-clip comment was, "Is that Chevy Chase?" Indeed it was but I decided to watch Community in spite of that.
The show is about a group of wildly diverse students at a community college who join together and form a study group. That's about it. Each episode involves a "situation" that the group gets into or has to get out of — hence, the "comedy." There are a few other characters — the dean, a couple of instructors, other students who aren't in the group.
But the reason it remains memorable for me is because of the relation between these two:
Donald Glover and Danny Pudi as Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir
Troy was a football star and prom king in high school and feels a little lost at community college. Abed had a difficult childhood. His father is a Palestinian from Gaza and his mother Polish American. He probably has Asperger's syndrome, reflected in his inability to pick up on social or emotional cues. He's intelligent, fluent in three languages (English, Polish and Arabic) and possesses keen observational skills.
He's been immersed all his life in pop culture and often sees things as scenes from movies or TV. He's the most interesting character in the group.
Troy and Abed have the most adorable relationship. After they get to know each other, they develop an interdependence which is cute and funny and so loving. They finish each others sentences and they understand each other in every strange situation. You know the relationship will have to change as their lives move on but you can only hope they will find a way to preserve the beauty of their friendship while moving out into the real world.
I love Troy and Abed.
Another TV show that couldn't be more different but is also about male friendships comes from BBC Four. It's called The Detectorists and it's about the "lives, loves and detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance, members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club." It's not a sitcom, by any means. I've seen it described as a "gentle comedy" and it's certainly that. There's not a lot of action but once again, there's an endearing relationship between two men.
Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones as Andy and Lance.
There's a lot of lovely rural England scenery as Andy and Lance meander around farmers' fields with their metal detectors. They occasionally go to meetings of the club — the club meeting room is so true to life — and both men have lives away from their detecting. But when they're together, they talk. It's chit-chat but it's about their lives — hopes and dreams, relationships, life's frustrations. They care about each other in such a natural way.
I take an interest in male friendships because of what I see all around me. One of my favourite photo combinations is a pair of pictures I took in my own living room. I post these pictures to Facebook every now and then and without fail, the boys in the pictures show up on my Facebook page to give a "like" or make a comment. Their comments always speak of true friendship and these boys, most of whom have been friends since grade primary, love each other like brothers.
The top picture is what inspired me to take the photo. The bottom is after I asked them to turn around.
They are, counter-clockwise from left: Rhett, Sebastian C., Sebastian K., Thomas S. and our William. They're all 20 and 21 years old now. When this photo was taken, they were 18 and 19.
Life moves on.