‘Little Women,’ ‘Fleabag,’ ‘Arcane’ and the unbreakable bond of sisters

My sisters are the truest love of my life. So much so that even saying these words feels like condensing the ocean into a single drop. There are no words for its breadth, the depth of the connection, and “love” barely scratches the surface.

So, if words fail when it comes to sisters, perhaps visual storytelling can fall short. Film and TV have always been places where my sisters and I could connect, put aside our petty fights and just be together. Essentially, we see ourselves in the media we consume. Capturing the ambiguous depths of this complex relationship is no small feat, but many artists have managed to create raw, honest portrayals that reveal much about the unique bond of brotherhood.

The March sisters from “Little Women” are perhaps the most famous, favorite example of this subtle relationship. Girls comb each other’s hair and laugh when the hair gets burnt. They perform for the family and nurture each other’s talents. When they spend their entire childhood in the same house with the same parents but with vastly different personalities, endless beautiful memories are created. Jo (Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”) and Amy (Florence Pugh, “Midsommar”) have polarized personalities that serve as a recipe for endless bickering. When Jo offers Amy a chance to go to the theater with her and Meg (Emma Watson, “The Bling Ring”), Amy’s anger leads her to retaliate by burning Jo’s novel manuscript, but when she When she sees how sad someone is, she feels remorse. Loss.

The injustice that Amy feels in this situation is completely relatable; Equality is difficult to achieve in any household, regardless of age difference. Jo’s reaction is equally relatable, as she swears that she will “hate[Amy]forever” after what she did – a claim that every sibling has made at least once in their lives. But he forgives her when he remembers how much Amy means to him. Their anger at each other is a clear indication of their closeness. These characters understand each other like no one else, so they know how to hurt each other like no one else. This understanding, though it can be weaponized, ultimately holds them together despite life’s difficulties. When Jo begins to cry quietly over her hair loss, Amy consoles her, saying she “would feel the same way.” Deep down, they’re basically the same ambitious young women, and that shared experience allows them to validate each other.

However, in adulthood, when girls are no longer bound under one roof, their love shines differently. While Amy is painting in Europe, Joe is writing in New York and Meg has her own house; Still, they all check out each other. When Jo returns home without her fourth sister, Beth (Eliza Scanlen, “Babyteeth”), after she passes away, it’s the first time she feels truly alone. Lost in the attic where she once played with her sister, the absence of such an important person becomes painful for Jo. Losing someone who was supposed to be with him for the rest of his life is obviously painful. During this time, she finds solace in the rest of her sisters rather than pushing them away. She resolves her differences with Amy, and reinforces the lesson she learned years earlier that “life is too short to be angry at your sisters.”

Similarly, “Fleabag” beautifully explores the nuances of these childhood sisters’ relationships into adulthood. Although Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Crashing”) and Claire (Sian Clifford, “Unstable”) are polar opposites, their love story is the heartbeat of the series. Claire’s repressed Type A personality as well as Fleabag’s pathological need for distraction with humor make it nearly impossible for them to express their love in a healthy way. Like many sets of sisters, they too rarely Embrace each other, and if the opportunity presents itself, one of them will jerk away or resort to violence in retaliation. But they don’t need to give voice to their love to feel its unspoken depth. It can be heard in every laugh they share, in every walk through the cemetery to meet their mother, and in every sacrifice they make to support each other. Fleabag takes responsibility for Claire’s miscarriage to avoid criticism at a family dinner; When Claire is in financial trouble, she lends money to Fleabag to help her stay afloat. They do not need to ask for these favors—they are freely received.

Even with such committed support, the sisters draw arbitrary boundaries. In the opening episode, Fleabag discovers that she is wearing one of Claire’s shirts which she believed she had lost. Claire, naturally, forces him to return it immediately. It depicts the classic little sister kidnapping and big sister cleavage faithfully. As the older daughter, Claire plays the role of stickler in the mud, but she is secretly jealous of Fleabag’s ability to be carefree and humorous. Meanwhile, Fleabag is jealous of how his sister gets along, leading them both to try to learn from each other’s perspectives. Claire’s declaration that Fleabag is “the only person[she’s]ever walked through an airport for” is the show’s equivalent of a blanket declaration of soul-level love despite their differences.

Netflix’s “Arcane” features a similar dynamic between an older and younger sister. The story of Brawler V (Hailee Steinfeld, “The Edge of Seventeen”) and her fabulous younger sister Powder (Ella Purnell, “Yellowjackets”) begins with their best performance yet. In his childhood, Vi is able to protect Powder from the dangers and hardships of their dystopian world. Vi puts herself at risk fighting enemies twice her size to ensure Powder never has to hurt herself, but Powder looks up to her older sister and wants to be like her. Wants nothing else. As is always the case, they fundamentally match each other. Powder can’t fight like Vi, but he can create sophisticated weapons. When she tries to use her skills without thinking strategically like Vi, the powder undoes all of Vi’s hard work and destroys their family.

Children make mistakes, and sometimes their caregivers resent having to pay for them, but that doesn’t negate the love that lives forever in everyone. I saw her flogged after an accident caused by the powder and she calmed down with the intention of coming back to care for her sister despite the massacre. Sadly, that chance is taken away from him when he is kidnapped and imprisoned for several years. The only thing that keeps him from the abuse of imprisonment is the idea of ​​being reunited with his sister. During that time, Powder is possessed by a ruthless killer who turns her into “Jinx”, a wild card that causes harm to everyone around her. Vi becomes upset upon seeing her on strangers’ faces, but upon reuniting with her sister she immediately returns to her old self. Despite spending so many years apart and enduring horror, the two find strength and solace in each other.

Just as Vi protects Powder, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, “No Hard Feelings”) protects her sister Primrose (Willow Shields, “Spinning Out”) at great personal cost in “The Hunger Games.” The whole reason Katniss willingly enters the actual death match is to make sure her little sister doesn’t have to do the same. The value of this other person is greater than his own life; Furthermore, Katniss has promised to try to win the game for Prim. So, not only is he willing to die for her, but he is willing to kill for the love of his sister. The hope and strength he gets from seeing his sister again motivates him to survive at any cost. It speaks to the inherent devotion of this relationship that its preservation outweighs all other existential or moral instincts.

While a sister can be one’s closest ally, she can also be one’s biggest rival. “The Good Place” explores the turmoil between Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil, “Poker Face”) and her older sister Kamila (Rebecca Hazlewood, “Kissing Cousins”), who has always been effortlessly excellent. Is visible and garners prestigious accolades. his parents. Tahani spends her entire life trying to surpass her sister until she actually kills her. When she realizes how the rift between them has harmed both parties, she extends an olive branch that leads to reconciliation and lasting personal peace. Their entire arc beautifully shows that life is really too short to be angry at one’s sisters.

Sisterhood is incredibly complex. Sure, I would die for my sisters, but that doesn’t mean I’ll let them borrow my clothes. Yes, we know each other better than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean we won’t use this knowledge against each other. During every difficulty, a sister is the one who holds your hand with an iron grip and makes fun of you for needing a hand to hold. Joy and playfulness, rage and jealousy swirl at the center of this bond. No two sisters are alike, no two relationships are alike, but this dynamic on screen is a shining pillar to this unique relationship explored; This is the greatest love story out there.

Daily Arts writer Mina Tobya can be contacted at mtobya@umich.edu,

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