Where Have All The Sidekicks Gone?

sidekicksTo the tune of Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

Where is my Willow?
Where are her witchy skills?
Where is my Dr. Watson?
Where have all the sidekicks gone?

When Claire found out I had never watched Gilmore Girls, she was horrified. And when it started streaming on Netflix, I knew it was finally time. I’m at the end of season one, and I’m really enjoying the show. And Claire and I have been talking about how much we can relate to the characters (and if you’ve ever been around Claire and I, you realize that “Life’s Short. Talk Fast.” is pretty fitting). Teenage me relates most to Lane, and adult me relates most to Sookie (minus the cooking).

It’s at this point that I realized I’ve always identified with the sidekick in a show, and that I’m the sidekick in my story. I feel like I have to stop now and because I can almost hear you saying “don’t say that, you’re awesome!” For some reason we don’t appreciate the sidekick. Sidekicks are amazing. Let’s get a few things clear about sidekick:

Sidekicks are loyal. You need someone to be there when it matters most. When you get earth-shaking news and you need someone to devise a plan, and actually help you execute it, you call the sidekick.

Sidekicks are equals. They’re called sidekicks because they’re standing beside the hero. Not behind. If a sidekick isn’t equal they’re really more of a protégé, or a mentor/mentee relationship (think Walter and Jesse).

Sidekicks are tough. No one stands up to a hero quite like a sidekick. Look at Dr. Watson; he’s the only one who can keep Sherlock in line. (Or Wilson in House. But let’s face it, House is Sherlock in a hospital.)

Sidekicks are smart. Vampire attacking Sunnydale? Who do you send to do the research? You call Willow. Need to know the history of strange phenomenon around an X-File your’re working on? Call the Lone Gunmen. There’s a lot of work to be done before the action can start taking place. You have to know what you’re fighting to win.

Sidekicks can be the star. Don’t believe me? Look at Boy Meets World. Let’s face it, Cory is Shawn’s sidekick. Things don’t happen to Cory so much as they happen to Shawn (or because of Shawn) and Cory is there to help his best friend through all of it.

You can’t have Lucy without Ethel. You can’t have Zoe without Wash. You can’t have Hogwarts without Hufflepuff (who don’t get as much credit as they deserve). Which is why I find our latest crop of TV shows without sidekicks disappointing. The only shows with sidekicks are either based on comic books, or are cop shows. As much as I love Friends, I blame it for much of this. It’s when relationships in sitcoms changed. We went from a few stars, to a group of stars. And while it was refreshing at the time, I want to see our sidekicks reemerge as the force I know they are.

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