Mixed company

Many recent films about friendship take as a given that the friends will be all male or all female – think Sex And The City, The Hangover, Grown-Ups and the whole Apatow-esque genre. While I have enjoyed some of these films, I find the single-sex friendship assumption strangely old-fashioned.

I'm not talking about the dang kids with their mixed sex preteen sleepovers and such.
I'm talking about me and everyone I know. I went to a co-ed school. I live in a co-ed neighborhood. I belong to co-ed clubs and work in a co-ed office. It would be weirdly anti-social to befriend only women, or for the guys I know to befriend only men. And it's not just my generation. My dad's book club seems pretty well mixed, and they're all closer to the Greatest Generation than X or Y, or whatever we're up to now.

Still, these movies make money. Some of them make A LOT of money. Maybe my life and my dad's book club are weirder than I think. Or maybe we all secretly long for a bunch of guys to do guy things with or gals to do gal things with, even though most of our friend activities do not involve bachelor parties and shoe shopping.

Or maybe – and this is the reason I find most likely – we are so well programmed to expect romance when two attractive actors meet in a movie, that a writer who wants to focus on friendship has to set up an artificial locker-room world to keep things on target. Friends fall into romance off screen, as well – and it does play hell with the storyline.

That last reason explains why television shows seem to feature more realistic mixed-sex friendships. Television characters hang around for years; we don't expect them to pair off every ninety minutes. Sure, nearly everyone at the end of
Friends wound up in a couple. But it took two hundred and thirty six episodes to get there – plenty of time for the writers to explore other themes.

Speaking of friends – and
Friends – I enjoyed the first season of Cougar Town. I loathed the name and had to be coaxed into watching it, but I enjoy the show and its depiction of mixed-sex friendship, romance and everything in between. And that friend who convinced me to watch it? A guy. We went shooting a few years back for my birthday. With like, guns. 'Cause when you hang with me, it ain't all shoe shopping.

Though, some of it is.

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