Created By: MartyD82 on May 27, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 13, 2014

Strictly Same-Sex Friends

The tendency for married people on television to have no opposite sex friends besides their spouses.

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In real life, it's pretty normal for married people (and, for that matter, people in romantic relationships) to have opposite-sex friends other than their spouses. Most will even tell you that it's healthy to have other opposite-sex friends, provided of course that you don't become romantically involved with any of them.

Television and film, however, seem to think otherwise. In many shows, a married man's only female friend is his wife. Similarly, a married female's only male friend is her husband. If either one (especially the man) is found even ASSOCIATING with another person from the opposite sex, you can expect immediate suspicion and/or accusations of "cheating" from his/her significant other.

This is particularly common in television shows made before the 70's, no doubt due to censorship policies and television's at-the-time emphasis on "wholesome family values." This is also common in family sitcoms targeted towards children and young adolescents, probably for the latter reason.

No Real Life examples, please. This page is dedicated strictly to its tendency in fictional works.

Examples

Film
  • Analyzed and de-constructed in When Harry Met Sally.... Though it may actually be more supportive than subversive of this trope, since it concludes that a sexless male/female relationship is ultimately impossible.
  • Temporarily played straight in The Incredibles, when Mr. and Mrs. Incredible are married and living a "traditional" (read: boring) family life. This is later averted, though, when Mr. Incredible returns to superhero work, at which he's basically forced to associate with several females.

Live-Action TV
  • The Honeymooners
  • Bewitched
  • Friends
    • Mainly Averted. Even when Monica and Chandler get married, they remain good friends with Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross.
    • Deconstructed when Ross and Rachel "go on a break." The break is ultimately fueled by Ross's lack of trust in Rachel when she becomes good friends with her co-worker Mark.
  • Family Matters
    • We never see Carl with any female friends other than Harriette.
    • Come to think of it, we witness Harriette with very few friends (let alone male friends) other than Carl, Rachel, the Winslow kids and Urkel.
  • Played with on My So-Called Life.
    • When Graham takes a cooking class, he strikes a friendship with Hallie Lowenthal, who convinces him to open up his own restaurant. This leads to Patti becoming suspicious that he might be having an affair (even though he isn't).
    • Angela, despite her eventual relationship with Jordan, remains good friends with Rickie and (to a lesser extent) Brian.

Video Games
  • Averted in the Final Fantasy series. Even when romantic relationships develop between certain characters, they still remain close to the gender-mixed group.

Western Animation
  • Played completely straight on The Flintstones. Witness, for example, Fred's birthday party in "The Swimming Pool." Tons of people attend, and not a single one of them (except, of course, for Betty and Wilma) is a female.
  • I'm pretty sure The Jetsons also played this trope straight (I haven't seen enough episodes to really know, though).
  • Surprisingly, South Park plays this trope straight sometimes. Particularly with the Marsh parents.
  • Ditto to The Simpsons (at least in the very early episodes).
  • Averted on an episode of Rugrats. Charlotte (Angelica's mother) throws a costume party and invites an equal number of men and women. It's made pretty clear that she knows and is friends (or relatives) with all of them. Except maybe for Cousin Bucky (who seems like a pedophilic party crasher).

Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • May 27, 2012
    captainpat
    See Not A Subversion. None of the examples you're calling out subversions.
  • May 27, 2012
    MartyD82
    Thanks for the correction. You're absolutely right.
  • May 27, 2012
    lexicon
    There are too many aversions. I don't think Friends should count as an aversion because they were all friends before the characters got married. This sounds like it only applies to character who are all ready married. The Incredibles doesn't sound like an aversion because they're co-workers, not friends, and most people work with others of both genders. The 'deconstructed' and 'played with' on Friends and My So Called Life sound like they're played straight.

    Having all of the played with examples makes it sound like maybe there isn't a trope here after all.
  • May 27, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Justified in media aimed at or depicting children because, well, kids usually think the other gender is gross. As everyone else said, needs more real examples to be a real trope.
  • May 27, 2012
    captainpat
    ^ That's not what a Justified Trope means. A Justified Trope means that there is an in-story reason for a trope.
  • May 27, 2012
    jatay3
    Averted in Blue Bloods. Danny's best friend is Jackie.
  • May 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Married With Children: Al's only friends are his buddies in NO MA'AM. And I think Peggy's only friend is Marcie.
  • May 28, 2012
    MartyD82
    • Home Improvement: Tim's only real friends are Al and Wilson. Both of whom are male.

    @Lexicon: Friends deconstructs this trope by having Ross become hideously jealous once Rachel starts spending more time with Mark, at which she tries to convince him that there's nothing wrong with her having other male friends ("Okay, then I might as well stop hanging around Joey and Chandler, huh?"). The whole arc paints Ross as a real ass, and the main idea behind this trope is shows/movies with the underlying message that "having other opposite sex friends is bad." '

    'My So Called Life'', to be fair, plays it a little more straight. But it definitely plays it with more ambiguity than the others on this list (since Graham is never explicitly condemned for becoming friends with Hallie - Patti just becomes a little suspicious once he starts spending more time with her).

    Perhaps this falls more under the Discredited Trope category, since it seems to have died with the "traditional family sitcom." Until then, however, it was basically standard family show practice.
  • May 28, 2012
    randomtroper89
    Isn't this because there are few non-romantic friendships between people of opposite genders in Hollywood at all, and what ones there are are either a) involving at least one gay person or b) Platonic Life Partners/Like Brother And Sister?
  • May 28, 2012
    MartyD82
    Yeah, I was thinking that too. It's pretty much become engrained in our minds that, if any two people of the opposite sex interact in movies, romantic sparks automatically fly. So it makes sense that family shows, in particular, would shy away from depicting married people with opposite-sex friends to sidestep any suspicions of cheating.
  • May 28, 2012
    dyson88
    Averted in at least one episode of The Jeffersons. Louise has a male friend she takes French classes with. George is jealous but Louise tells him they're just friends and he should try having a female friend. George takes out one of his coworkers to dinner and they have a great time, but Louise's friend starts to coming on to her. George decides he wants to hang out with his friend more often, but now Louise forbids it.
  • February 12, 2014
    XFllo
    Bumping to see if it leads anywhere. I personally don't like this proposal. It seems too co-incidental and there are actually many various "friend patterns" in fiction.
  • February 13, 2014
    Arivne

    The Honeymooners and Bewitched are Zero Context Examples.
  • February 13, 2014
    DAN004
    Title needs to change to reflect a married guy.
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