Male friendships

In watching tv series on cable, I’ve been struck by the variety in the forms that close male friendships take (something similar can be said for close female friendships, though I suspect that the dynamics are different in the two cases, so here I’ll look only at the men). These are social relationships closer than those with people we refer to as acquaintances, and even closer than the bulk of relationships with people we refer to as friends, in that the men involved see them as central to their lives.

The three cases that I’m going to look at are all free of romantic or sexual involvement; all were established via the characters’ work, in some form of a law enforcement setting; and in all three cases the men are involved in one another’s lives outside the workplace. These are:

(1) the relationships (which I would chaacterize as basic close male friendships) between the central character Nick Burkhardt  in the series Grimm (set in Portland OR) and his partner in police work Hank Griffin and also his personal friend (and in a sense collaborator) Monroe (the series posted about here);

(2) the relationship (which I would describe as a “best buddy” relationship) between team leader Greg Parker and team member Ed Lane on the crisis response unit drama Flashpoint (set in Toronto ON) (the series posted about here);

and (3) the relationship (which I would characterize as brotherly, incorporating the common competitiveness and rivalry between brothers) between team commander Steve McGarrett and his partner Danno Williams in the state police force drama Hawaii Five-0 (set in Honolulu HI) (the series posted about here).

A background note on friendship from Wikipedia:

Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.

While there is no practical limit on what types of people can form a friendship, friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests, and have similar demographics.

Grimm. The two central friendships on the show are between Nick and Hank (who work together officially) and Nick and Monroe (who work together unofficially). Both friendships span differences: Nick is white, Hank black (though I don’t recall anything being made of their racial difference on the show); Nick is a Grimm, Monroe is a Wesen (and much is made of the fact that they have have to surmount the ancient enmity between Grimms and Wesen to establish their friendship, which enables them to work together for the good of humankind).

The central ingredients of both friendships are trust, respect, and sympathy. Aside from their working together, both pairs clearly enjoy each other’s company — yielding what I think of as your basic close friendship.

(Photos of the pairs in my earlier posting.)

Flashpoint. Here we have Enrico Colantoni as Sgt. Gregory “Greg” Parker (leader of the Strategic Response Unit’s Team One and its chief negotiator) and Hugh Dillon as Edward “Ed” Lane (the team’s tactical leader in the field). The two men are physically very similar, as you can see in this photo:


The characters Parker and Lane; Parker has the squarer face (and usually wears a cap), Lane is taller and has green/blue eyes, while Parker’s are brown.

and temperamentally they are pretty similar too: both are solid and steady, highly competent at what they do.

These guys are not just buddies, but “best buddies”: their relationship is the most important one in their lives (other than each man’s relationship with his son), and they are openly supportive of one another. They have each other’s backs, and are not shy about saying “I love you, man”.

Hawaii Five-0. From my posting about the show:

The team is headed by Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett, USNR [Alex O’Loughlin] as it investigates crimes ranging from terrorism to kidnapping. McGarrett chooses as his partner Honolulu P.D. Detective Danny “Danno” Williams [Scott Caan].

Steve is the more cautious of the pair, Danno the headstrong and impulsive one. They quarrel like brothers, but stand together when they need to. They are also both hunks, deeply into physical fitness and sports, and rarely in repose.

In a photo:


The characters Danno and Steve. Danno’s hair is lighter, Steve is taller. Both have blue eyes, but Steve’s are a dark blue-green while Danno’s are lighter.

The characters act towards one another like high-spirited brothers, fraternity brothers, or teammates: competitive with one another, challenging one another, ragging on one another, but nevertheless functioning as a team. And they are affectionate when they have gotten through some great challenge together. It’s a guy thing.

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