The 'Second Best Friend': the new age 'Single White Female'?

The 'Second Best Friend': the new age 'Single White Female'?

The ever enjoyable Urban Dictionary defines "second best friend" as "a best friend you can always relay [sic] on, if your actual best friend is not around, or not available for the time being. You often talk to them on Facebook or text them a lot."

Interestingly the phrase is not included in the Oxford Dictionaries Online however "vajazzle" now is.

There is one place though where both terms are used and understood, that place is Fountain Lakes. The home of Australia's bogan pin ups and not so yummy mummies Kath Day-Knight, Kim Craig (nee Day) and single side kick Sharon Strzelecki.

"You couldn't ask for a better friend than Sharon. She's one of those people that make you feel better by just being around. You know, by comparison," Kim said in the mockumentary's first episode which debuted a decade ago.

The leader of the "second best friend" movement: Sharon Strzelecki, who enjoys indoor cricket and crushing on married men.

The leader of the "second best friend" movement: Sharon Strzelecki, who enjoys indoor cricket and crushing on married men.


Fast forward a few seasons, a made-for-TV-movie and a new feature film, Kath and Kimderella, the jokes may be wearing a little thin but Sharon - the woman joined to Kim’s hip - is still the silver medallist in the best friend Games.

"Sharon lacks self confidence and perhaps this is one reason why she is prepared to accept being constantly told she is Kim's second best friend. I suspect that for many viewers there is an echo in this. It speaks to our own insecurities," Professor of Cultural Studies at Curtin University Jon Stratton said.

What Professor Stratton said next made me run a quick friend stocktake.

"Do we really know what our friends think of us? We may think someone is our best friend but find this is not reciprocated, that someone else is their best friend and we are relegated to someone they talk with when their best friend isn't around."

Although it's used in a comedic context, in reality there's a small amount of truth to it, particularly when it comes to the aforementioned Facebook.

Hands up who is or has been "friends" (second best or any other position) with someone thanks to (and in some instances) solely because of Zuckerberg's interface?

Like Sharon does for Kim, has someone on the social network made you feel at least 0.01 per cent better about yourself? Either by merely liking your status or perhaps their photos give you a confidence boost because they've been so Photoshopped you can't tell if they're human or just recovering from a botched 'tits and teeth' tour of Thailand.

Whatever the reason, making mates online is pretty easy (and can be done in your pyjamas). My mates will testify sometimes I'm more captivating within 140 characters than in real life.

Since the phrase was thrown into the Aussie vernacular by these "horn bags" we have begun to socialise more electronically than emotionally, so could "second best friends" be an emerging relationship trend?

"Kath and Kim have become vehicles for commenting on pop cultural changes. Something similar can be said about Barry Humphries' character, Dame Edna Everage. Humphries invented the character in the late 1950s as a satirical take on Melbourne suburban life. Over the last 50 or so years he has continually updated Edna and uses her to comment on pop cultural life in all its manifestations," Prof Stratton added.

"The Kath and Kim characters may be used similarly. Whether this will happen depends on what [creators and stars] Jane Turner and Gina Riley decide to do with them.

"They can turn the characters inwards and become preoccupied with storylines that simply feature aspects of the characters' lives or, like Humphries did, they can focus the characters outwards so that they keep their bogan-like views of the world and use them to reference and discuss aspects of pop culture and Australian culture more generally."

After putting the question out to the Twitterverse and dissecting the Kath and Kim back catalogue here are some possible KPI's for the role of "second best friend":

  • Be available to shop, stalk an ex, sip Sauvignon "Plonk" at a minute's notice.
  • Only use positive adjectives when describing your appearance, weight and attitude.
  • Know which foods you have intolerance to/dislike of.
  • Never look at, speak to and flirt with a man/woman you have ever called "cute".
  • Be happy to be the 4am taxi (and even call through the Macca’s drive thru on the way home).
  • Carry you up the stairs.
  • Carry your luggage/shopping bags.
  • "They should be available 24/7, the same size as me so I can raid their closet and who won't eat the last Frankfurt!!" @jomacarther said.
  • "Be on call for when your bestie is busy!" @BrookeLingard added.
  • "Be crazier, have more outrageous opinions on what I should do/say/wear. She's like the 'fun aunty'," @megan_bilaloski suggested.

Now let's compare them with KPI's for the role of "best friend":

  • Will tell you to pull your head out of your backside when you deserve it.
  • Will always have your back.

Do second best friends exist? Would you ever rank your friends?

Kath and Kimderella opens in cinemas on September 6.

Jenna Clarke

Jenna Clarke is fashion and lifestyle writer/editor with Fairfax Media.

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