20 Most Iconic Female Duos on Television, Ranked

Movies


Engaging character dynamics make up a huge amount of a television series’ entertainment value and dramatic pull, with some of the best shows ever made thriving off the back of central duos who define their series’ appeal to legions of fans around the world. It is easy to envision the likes of Tom and Jerry‘s feuding stars or the Winchester brothers in this regard, but there have been plenty of iconic female duos in television as well.


From mother-daughter pairings like Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) in Gilmore Girls, to workplace BFFs like Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) in Grey’s Anatomy, these depictions of comraderie and compassion between women are among the best ever put to screen in any medium. They also offer ample proof that a well-written friendship between two characters can be just as rewarding as any romantic plot when executed well.


20 Lucia Greco and Mia

‘The White Lotus’ (2021 – )

Image via HBO

The White Lotus has a show with a great ensemble full of fun and fascinating characters, but few hold a light to the lovable Mia (Beatrice Granno) and Lucia (Simona Tabasco). They start with Lucia having arranged a way for her to make some money off an American tourist, while Mia has a harder time engaging in being an escort.

As The White Lotus plays out, while the girls swindle men from their money, they grow closer and find ways to get the future they want. Lucia seduces the concierge, Valentina (Sabrina Imacciatore), to get a spot playing piano at the White Lotus Hotel, and Mia manages to trick a man into paying her tons. The two then walk away, likely the best off, and with their friendship still strong.

The White Lotus

Release Date
July 11, 2021

Creator
Mike White

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
3

Watch on Max

19 Rebecca Bunch and Paula Proctor

‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ (2015 – 2019)

A woman is psyched up by her excited best friend in 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' (2015-2019)
Image via The CW

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend contains many great friendships, but the one that truly takes the cake is the first friend Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) makes in West Covina, Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin). A musical romantic-comedy series, the show follows Rebecca Bunch, a successful though depressed woman in New York who, on the cusp of landing her dream job in a prestigious law firm, uproots her life and moves to California following a chance encounter with her high school boyfriend who she becomes determined to win back.

The thing is, Rebecca’s reasons for getting Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) are to chase after a happier version of herself, being a younger version. Given that Rebecca’s mother was emotionally unavailable, Paula becomes the much-needed older sister, and Rebecca helps Paula feel reinvigorated by life, reconnecting her with the surrounding community.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Release Date
October 12, 2015

Cast
Donna Lynne Champlin , Vincent Rodriguez III , Gabrielle Ruiz , Scott Michael Foster

Seasons
4

Watch on Netflix

18 Melissa Schemmento and Barbara Howard

‘Abbott Elementary’ (2021 – )

Two teachers share a drink at an office party.
Image via ABC

A modern sitcom that has won over fans and critics alike through its first two seasons, Abbott Elementary has excelled as a hilarious and timely comedy series with an astute awareness of class divides and contemporary issues that befall people in the modern day. Set in a school with a predominately black student base, it follows a group of passionate teachers who strive to overcome all obstacles in their way to ensure their students are given a chance to succeed once they graduate.

As the two oldest teachers, Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter) and Barbara Howard (Sheryl Le Ralph) are skeptical of the newer teachers, whose enthusiasm and belief that they can single-handedly fix Abbott is a tad off-putting. Their friendship, defined by humor and compassion in Abbott Elementary, lands as an emotional core of the series, which is set to expand with season three releasing early in 2024.

Watch on Hulu

17 Jen Harding and Judy Hale

‘Dead to Me’ (2019 – 2022)

dead to me christina applegate linda cardellini social featured
Image via Netflix

A morbid comedy which leans on the excellent performances of its two stars to deliver a funny and emotionally rewarding viewing experience, Dead to Me has become a quiet hit of modern comedy television. It follows the relationship that develops between Jen (Christina Applegate), a recently widowed real estate agent struggling to overcome her husband’s hit-and-run tragedy through positive practices, and Judy (Linda Cardellini), a divorcee Jen meets at a support group who claims to be grieving her fiancé’s death and is actually the one responsible for the hit-and-run which killed Jen’s husband.

Dealing with ghosts, regrets, and secrets from their pasts while trying to navigate the difficult road forward, both women are at their most compelling when at their most vulnerable. The series ran for three seasons, tying its success to the unconventional and complicated friendship that formed between Judy and Jen which was defined by a genuine and meaningful bond.

Watch on Netflix

16 Ilana Wexler and Abby Abrams

‘Broad City’ (2014 – 2019)

Abbi and Ilana walking down the street in Broad City.
Image via Comedy Central

Based on the web series of the same name which saw stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson star as fictionalized versions of themselves, Broad City was a refreshing hit of slacker comedy throughout its five-season run. It follows the two twenty-somethings through their life experiences and chaotic misadventures as they work low-paying jobs in New York City.

Taking inspiration from the duo’s real-life friendship and experiences as they tried to make it as filmmakers in New York, Broad City is a wonderful ode to female friendship which excels with the characters’ laid-back attitudes, wacky antics, and their unwavering moral support of each other. Ilana and Abbi may not be among the most lavish or strikingly successful female characters audiences have seen, but they are two of the most lovable, and they make for an underrated duo, defining of the social whirlwind many young adults find themselves in.

Watch on Hulu

15 Miriam “Midge” Maisel and Susie Myerson

‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ (2017 – 2023)

Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan in 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' (2017-2023)
Image via Amazon Prime Video

A modern sensation of dramedy television, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won constant acclaim throughout its five-season tenure as it followed Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a young mother in the 1950s who, after being left by her husband, discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy. Her excellence as a comic is recognized by Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), the manager of The Gaslight Café who becomes Miriam’s manager and mentors her throughout her career.

With Amy Sherman-Palladino‘s trademark dialogue running with a fast-paced wit, Brosnahan and Borstein were given plenty of brilliant material to make their own, as their characters’ sweet though fraught friendship defined by their shared sense of humor and their love of good fun. Both actresses won multiple Primetime Emmys for their performances in the series which can be reflected as being one of the greatest television shows of the modern era.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

After her husband leaves her, young mother of two Miriam “Midge” Maisel discovers that she has a talent for stand-up comedy. Could this be her calling?

Release Date
March 17, 2017

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
5

Watch on Amazon Prime

14 Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell

‘Sister, Sister’ (1994 – 1999)

Twins Tia and Tamara
Image via The WB

As part of the golden age of wholesome TGIF sitcoms, Sister, Sister was a 90s hit thanks to its two stars, real-life twin sisters, Tia Mowry and Tamera Mowry. The actresses played Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell respectively, twin sisters separated at birth who reunite as teenagers with completely opposing personalities, with Tia an honest and respectable straight-A student, while Tamera is more impulsive and erratic with no qualms whatsoever about speaking her mind.

The odd-couple appeal of the series saw it become a lovable phenomenon, one which only grew more engaging and entertaining as the characters’ friendship in Sister, Sister grew stronger. Sister, Sister remains a beloved sitcom, thanks to the main characters and their wholesome complicity that cements them as one of the most iconic female duos on television.

Sister, Sister

Release Date
April 1, 1994

Cast
Tia Mowry , Tamera Mowry , Jackée Harry , marqueshouston , Tim Reid

Seasons
6

Watch on Hulu

13 Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie

‘The Simple Life’ (2003 – 2007)

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in 'The Simple Life' (2003-2007)
Image via E!

Even amid the meteoric rise of reality TV which transpired in the early 2000s, The Simple Life was a popular standout of the genre, one which was a major catalyst for the litany of celebrity lifestyle reality programs to follow. The series showcased two spoiled and vapid heiresses in Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, following the high-profile socialities as they undertake menial, low-paying jobs, from serving meals in fast food restaurants to working as farm hands.

There was an undeniable intelligence to the facades that Richie and Hilton put up, with the two women exaggerating their naive personas to make it all the more rewarding to see them forced into everyday jobs. Upon reflection, it is easy to see how they capitalized off a more overtly misogynistic culture of the time, playing up the dumb blonde stereotype with a brand of humor that made Hilton and Richie a hell of a lot of money and established them as an iconic television duo, one which has thrived in the social media age as reaction GIFs and memes.

Buy on Apple TV

12 Grace Hanson and Frances “Frankie” Bergstein

‘Grace and Frankie’ (2015 – 2022)

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie
Image via Netflix

With Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin already established Hollywood icons long before they appeared together in Grace and Frankie, it is perhaps no surprise that the titular duo became as renowned as they did in the Netflix comedy series. The plot follows the two women who become best friends as their husbands announce that they are divorcing them and getting together as a gay couple.

The dynamic duo of Grace and Frankie is chaotic and hysterical. Tomlin’s erratic comedy is a perfect and much-appreciated match for Fonda’s acidic style, resulting in a beautifully balanced comedic duo that makes this show a brilliant and humorous take on adulthood and navigating one’s senior years. The plots were always wacky, but Fonda and Tomlin carried them with grace and dignity to the show’s benefit.

Watch on Netflix

11 Jessica Day and Cece Parekh

‘New Girl’ (2011 – 2018)

Hannah Simone and Zooey Deschanel in 'New Girl' (2011-2018)
Image via Fox

Through all the ups and downs in relationships in the Fox series New Girl, best friends Cece (Hannah Simone) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) stuck together through thick and thin. When a newly dumped Jess embarks on a search for roommates, she accidentally comes across three men to move in with, and while her friendship with them is arguably the center of the story, her friendship with Cece remains the most touching and relatable.

Jess spent her life in Cece’s shadow, always feeling like the ugly friend, but Cece never made Jess feel bad and always helped her feel beautiful. Meanwhile, Cece spent her life feeling valued only by her looks. Jess and Cece’s love for each other kept the series afloat, and through all their troubles with boys, their loyalty was always true.

New Girl

Release Date
September 20, 2011

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
7

Watch on Hulu

10 Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins

‘Parks and Recreation’ (2009 – 2015)

Ann and Leslie - ‘Parks and Recreation’ (1)
Image via NBC

Parks and Recreation starts with a town hall meeting, where Leslie (Amy Poehler), a city employee, meets Ann (Rashida Jones), a citizen trying to fill a massive pit next to her home, and it’s love at first sight. Ann’s pragmatic and laid-back nature balances Leslie’s idealistic and workaholic nature.

Leslie is famously one of television’s most wholesome characters, and while her enthusiasm takes Ann aback, she’s also validated by it. Beyond that, Leslie emphasizes Ann’s best qualities, including her hard-working and caring nature as a nurse, and helps Ann feel affirmed in leaving relationships that hold her back. Ann makes sure to get Leslie to live a little, encouraging her to date, drink, and look up from her work to embrace her life beyond politics.

Parks and Recreation

Release Date
April 9, 2009

Creator
Greg Daniels, Michael Schur

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
7

Watch on Peacock

9 Serena van der Woodson and Blair Waldorf

‘Gossip Girl’ (2007 – 2012)

Leighton Meister and Blake Lively in 'Gossip Girl' (2007-2012)
Image via The CW

As the beating heart of Gossip Girl, the friendship that Serena (Blake Lively) and Blair (Leighton Meester) share is a thorny one to say the least, erratically straying from tight-knit sisterhood to catty scheming in a manner that gave the series much of its intriguing appeal. Purposely excessive to the point of surrealism, the show explores the privileged lives of the teenagers on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with gripping melodrama and a treacherous web of social politics.

It also served as the major breakthrough for both of its stars, with Meester and Lively going on to become Hollywood stars thanks to their wonderfully iconic performances. Despite their numerous fights and often confrontational relationship, Blair and Serena had a genuine love for each other, making them one of modern television’s most famous female duos.

Gossip Girl

Release Date
September 19, 2007

Seasons
6

Watch on Max

8 Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (2005 – )

Sandra Oh and Ellen Pompeo in 'Grey's Anatomy' (1994-)
Image via ABC

While Grey’s Anatomy may be known for its long-running and iconic romance between Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey), the first few seasons center around the friendships between the new interns. The most notable of these friendships on Grey’s Anatomy was between Meredith and Cristina (Sandra Oh), with the two facing off against unavoidable workplace tragedies together and helping one another as they must make great sacrifices to be the best surgeons they can possibly be.

The TV show is notorious for its constant heartbreak and death, and the romances and friendships remain the bright spots that keep the audience invested. While Meredith’s trials and tribulations in the dating world are fascinating, her friendship with Cristina, and the knowledge that, no matter what she goes through, she has someone to lean on, is the emotional centerpiece of the series.

Watch on Netflix

7 Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

‘Saturday Night Live’ (1975 – )

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey on 'Saturday Night Live' segment
Image via NBC

Amy Poehler has already appeared on this list with her credit as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation, but her comedic impact on the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live alongside Tina Fey deserves special recognition. Many Weekend Update co-hosts have come and gone throughout the series’ near 50-year-long stint on television, but few have left as refreshing a mark on the show as Fey and Poehler.

As a comedy duo, Poehler and Fey were effortlessly spectacular together, sharing a sharp banter that was simultaneously familiar and subversive and new. Their shared sense of humor, and their understanding of one another as comedians, saw their skits work a treat consistently. Fey and Poehler developed a now-iconic friendship off-screen as well, leading them to headline two feature films together and co-host the Golden Globes on three separate occasions, cementing themselves as arguably the greatest comedy duo of the 21st century.

Saturday Night Live

Release Date
October 11, 1975

Seasons
49

Studio
NBC

Watch on Peacock

6 Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey

‘Cagney & Lacey’ (1981 – 1988)

Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless in 'Cagney & Lacey' (1982-1988)
Image via CBS

A hit police procedural series that ran for seven seasons through the 1980s – and led to four follow-up TV films through the 1990s – Cagney & Lacey is one of the most memorable cop shows to feature women in prominent, starring roles. Ahead of its time, it became a cult hit for CBS as it followed Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless), a career-oriented woman, and Mary Beth Lacey (Tyne Daley), a married mother on the force, as they worked together to persevere in a male-dominated and misogynistic environment.

The characters’ relationship was a fascinating one to watch, as they weren’t necessarily friends with each other, but, with the demanding nature of their work on Cagney & Lacey and the fact they were isolated as women in the police force, they formed a partnership built on support, encouragement, and loyalty. Cagney & Lacey won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for six of its seven seasons, with Daley winning on four occasions, while Gless won twice.

Watch on Fubo

5 Lorelai and Rory

‘Gilmore Girls’ (2000 – 2007)

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in Gilmore Girls
Image via The CW.

Another iconic female duo from a show created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the mother-daughter pairing of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore as the idyllic relationship between a mother and her child with the duo confiding in each other and practically living as best friends. Gilmore Girls revolves around the unique relationship between the 32-year-old single mother and her teenage daughter living in the small and eclectic town of Stars Hollow.

A love letter to female dynamics in storytelling, and an underrated yet beautiful display of motherhood, Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons with its sincerity and wit defining characteristics of the series. Through each of the protagonists, the show became a beloved hit that could appeal to adult audiences and younger viewers alike.

Gilmore Girls

Release Date
October 5, 2000

Rating
TV-PG

Seasons
7

Watch on Netflix

4 Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney

‘Laverne & Shirley’ (1976 – 1983)

Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall in 'Laverne & Shirley' (1976-1983)
Image via ABC

Along with the Robin Williams‘ series Mork & Mindy which had its own, unique sci-fi quirk, Laverne & Shirley excelled as one of the best spin-off series from the hit 70s sitcom Happy Days. The series followed the titular duo in Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), roommates and co-workers at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee who, despite being polar opposites in terms of their personalities, live as best friends who constantly lift each other’s spirits.

Made distinct by its physical comedy, Laverne & Shirley became a huge hit thanks to its two comic stars who elevated every storyline with the chemistry and energetic presence which made them television icons. The series ran for eight seasons in total, and it underwent an ambitious shift in season six as the two girls – and many of their neighborhood friends – moved to California with dreams of making it in the film industry.

Laverne & Shirley

Release Date
January 27, 1976

Seasons
8

Watch on Pluto

3 Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern

‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ (1970 – 1977)

Valerie Harper and Mary Tyler Moore as Rhoda and Mary in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Image via CBS

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a milestone of female-led television, excelling in the era of second-wave feminism when independent women were seldom seen in entertainment. The now-legendary Mary Tyler Moore starred as Mary Richards, an unmarried, career-driven woman working as an associate producer of a local news show in Minneapolis in the 1970s. Valerie Harper played Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary’s best friend and upstairs neighbor.

Mary and Rhoda have one of television’s all-time great friendships. A classic opposites-attract story, the polite Mary and the brash Rhoda develop a close bond despite their obvious differences. Moore and Harper each won three Emmys for their roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but Mary and Rhoda’s influence goes beyond awards. The pair have become synonymous with friendship, securing their place in the annals of pop culture.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Release Date
September 19, 1970

Creator
James L. Brooks, Allan Burns

Rating
TV-PG

Seasons
7

Watch on Hulu

2 Fleabag and Claire

‘Fleabag’ (2016 – 2019)

Sian Clifford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Claire and Fleabag looking at the camera with confused expressions in Fleabag
Image via BBC One

One of the most celebrated series of recent years, Fleabag thrived as an acidic, witty, and ferociously sharp dramedy following Fleabag’s (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) navigation of romance, life, and grief. One of its most famous aspects is the titular character’s budding relationship with The Priest (Andrew Scott), but it is actually the complicated and oddly sweet bond she shares with her sister that shines as the beating heart of the show.

Despite Fleabag‘s short run of just 12 episodes across two seasons, the series presents a poignant and beautiful story of Fleabag and Claire (Sian Clifford) getting closer as Claire starts developing feelings for a co-worker and confides in Fleabag. Wonderfully messy, painfully awkward at times, and derived from two complicated and imperfect yet wholly lovable characters, the relationship between Fleabag and Claire is one of the most brilliant and iconic in modern television.

Fleabag

Release Date
September 16, 2016

Creator
Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
2

Watch on Prime Video

1 Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz

‘I Love Lucy’ (1951-1957)

Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance in 'I Love Lucy' (1951-1957)
Image via CBS

One of the most iconic titles in television history, I Love Lucy was a significant cultural milestone in a great many ways given it placed women at the center of a major comedy series in the starring role. It would go on to bring about more major changes in entertainment as well, breaking TV codes about on-air pregnancy and providing an unshakable platform for other out-of-the-box female characters all while serving as a stepping stone for positive female interactions in media, starting with Lucy (Lucille Ball) and her best friend, Ethel (Vivian Vance).

The series focuses on Lucy’s ceaseless efforts to break into showbiz despite lacking the skills to thrive in the industry, an endeavor that has a tendency to land her and her husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) in trouble. Her friendship with Ethel was both empowering and vitally important, as the two women worked together not only in an effort to lead happy lives, but to pursue the jobs they wanted in a male-dominated world. I Love Lucy portrayed women being themselves and having their own comedic moments.

I Love Lucy

Release Date
October 15, 1951

Seasons
6

Watch on Paramount+

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