The hopeless romantic in us all can surely agree that a friends to lovers plot is simply heartwarming: you know they work well together and that they truly feel a depth of love for one another. As we approach Christmas, the season of nights in watching The Holiday begins. Now, whilst many focus on Jude Law (Graham) when it comes to the film’s romance, here I want to draw your attention to Iris (Kate Winslet) and Miles (Jack Black). Iris escapes from Surrey to LA for her Christmas holiday (though this is less about having a warm December and more about avoiding her newly engaged ex). Many can sympathise with Iris here – unrequited love is quite possibly the worst kind of love. But fear not, for in LA she meets Miles. The two quickly become friends, bonding over how they are to celebrate Christmas alone, and it’s just lovely to watch them blossom from acquaintances to friends, and friends to lovers.
But there is more to this trope than we give it credit for. Sometimes films with friends to lovers are genuinely just an easy watch, or a cosy romcom, however the plots aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. Many storylines with friends to lovers can be exciting, tense and powerful. Over the course of a film, or several episodes/seasons of a series, we are often taken on a rollercoaster of emotions, with the build up to the characters’ inevitable happy ending being heart-wrenching, thrilling, soul-stirring and topped off with a healthy dose of drama.
Many storylines with friends to lovers can be exciting, tense and powerful.
Here’s a classic: the sitcom series Friends. Monica and Chandler, and Ross and Rachel, may end up together at the end of the series, but anyone who knows anything about the show will know the amount of drama the latter relationship especially caused, is huge. Their friendship group was so close-knit. Had Monica and Chandler called it quits or Ross and Rachel never got over the whole ‘we were on a break’ situation, the group dynamics could have been changed forever, and friendships between couples could have been lost. The issues they face are the same as any viewer’s who has fallen for a friend. The depth of the decision to go for it or to keep those feelings buried away are as true of real life as they are in our favourite shows.
Take Harvey Specter and Donna Paulsen from Suits as another example. Donna is Harvey’s assistant in the fictional legal show, and when the series begins, they have already been friends for years. Donna knows Harvey better than he knows himself, and the two are a perfect balance of one another. Yet it is not until season eight that we finally see either take proper action in terms of getting together. Like with the characters in Friends, the two have a lot to lose – friendship, the possibility of creating an awkward environment for their friends and so on. But they also have the added drama of being work colleagues, and one being the other’s (former) boss. We may know the two will end up happy together, but in the meantime the trope causes a great wealth of drama.
Donna knows Harvey better than he knows himself, and the two are a perfect balance of one another. Yet it is not until season eight that we finally see either take proper action in terms of getting together.
I hope to have highlighted here that the friends to lovers trope isn’t simply a basic one. It can be a comfort film or an easy watch, but it can also provide the foundations of a plot and create the tension and drama we love to watch. The power of this trope is therefore not one to go unnoticed.