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The Mystery of Friendship


(L–R) Mae Whitman and York Walker in "The Mystery of Love & Sex" at the Mark Taper Forum.

Photo by Craig Schwartz

The Mystery of Love & Sex, playing the Mark Taper Forum through March 20, 2016, centers on the long, loving, and frequently fractious friendship between Charlotte and Jonny. So closely bound that they are practically family, they are also divided by religion, race, upbringing, and…well, you’ll just have to experience the play to find out the rest. In honor of their friendship and the boundaries it transcends, here are five other unexpected pairings that have challenged each person involved to be their best (whatever that may be), and whose differences have changed the way each sees the world.

Nicki Minaj and Anna Wintour

The music diva is known for her outrageous outfits, and the mercurial editor is known for her iron grip on fashion. The rapper name-dropped the Vogue editor-in-chief on “Muny,” a bonus track on her 2010 album Pink Friday: “Hey, yo, Anna, hey yo Anna Wintour / I’ma need that cover baby girl / It’s Pink Friday, ya dig?”  Then, in 2011, the pair was spotted sitting next to each other at two New York Fashion Week shows; it later emerged that Minaj was Wintour’s guest. Both take charge and suffer no fools. Though their styles are disparate to be sure, they each say emphatically, “I am the boss.”

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un

One is a despotic dictator of a nuclear armed hedge-kingdom, the other is a renowned bad-boy sportsman. North Korean men have been urged to copy Jong-Un’s hairstyle; Rodman was once as famous for his rebounding and defensive skills as he was for his multicolored ’do. Rodman first visited Kim in 2013, and has returned to North Korea several times since for basketball and diplomatic missions. He has called Kim a “friend for life” and often encourages world leaders to be more welcoming of the dictator.

Rihanna and Jim Parsons

The singer and actor first met when they starred in last year’s animated movie Home as a pair of mismatched friends from different species and planets. Parsons’ straight-laced mannerisms and dry humor contrast wonderfully with Rihanna’s free spirit and edgy style. Over the past year, they have been sighted at fashion shows and other high-profile events, hinting at a budding, if unexpected, friendship.


A photo posted by Jim Parsons (@therealjimparsons) on

Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia

The Notorious RBG, a Clinton appointee, and the late champion of constitutional originalism, a Reagan appointee, could not have held more differing views on America’s laws. However, the discourse that arose out of their disagreements led to a long and fruitful friendship. They often vacationed together, had an annual fete on December 31 to ring in the New Year, and their relationship even inspired an opera.


A photo posted by Notorious RBG (@notoriousrbg) on

Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton

Despite facing off in a heated election in 1992, the two are now nearly family, with their friendship described by some as a father-son relationship. They began working together in earnest during relief efforts following the 2005 Asian tsunami and continued to collaborate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina the next year. And with Jeb Bush out of the presidential race, their visits to each other’s homes need not come to an end.