25 Nearest and Dearest 24/25
Undercover Agents (Graceland)
There are countless TV friendships that could’ve made it onto this list, but Graceland has always been a special series here at MGcircles. And while the six agents weren’t always the best of friends, the series at its core was always about their in-house dynamics. It’s why the series differed from general FBI dramas — it focused on problems within the house more than it did on the outside. At times, it was incredibly toxic and full of secrets, but when they were good, they were great. If the series had gone on for longer than three seasons, I’m certain these friendships would’ve grown towards the better. Paul Briggs, Mike Warren, Johnny Tuturro, Paige Arkin, Dale Jakes, and Charlie DeMarco needed each other. They were better together than they were apart and though they’ve brought life threatening harm to one another, they’ve learned, and in the end, they’d do anything to protect each other. We don’t choose our family, but we choose our team, and this group of agents would choose each other over and over again.
Charlie DeMarco and Paul Briggs for example were a couple I never particularly “shipped”. I wanted to, but I couldn’t — there were too many secrets between the two and for that reason, their romantic relationship could never be healthy. However, they often served as the parental figures in the house; they were great at making decisions together. They were great at reasoning, and beyond that, they were great at taking care of their team. They were great at settling disputes, and when need be, they were great at working together. Through thick and thin, Charlie and Briggs were best friends and despite the fact that they weren’t great at being a couple, they were phenomenal as friends. When Mike was addicted to pain killers, it was both Charlie and Briggs who did everything they could to help him. They allowed themselves to get completely vulnerable in order to encourage him through the difficult process, and that’s the thing, as toxic as they were as a couple, as friends, they were incredible — they knew exactly how to inspire their team to be stronger. In a strange way, functioning as the parental figures suited them.
Next up we have the complicated relationship between Mike and Briggs. The two have had more quarrels than they’ve had actual agreements, but at the end of the day, they’ve stood up for one another. They’ve believed in each other. They may not have always respected the steps they took towards a case, but deep down, they knew exactly where the other’s heart was. In a lot of ways, Briggs looked up to Mike — despite the fact that it’s never something he’s said out loud. It was easy for the two of them to clash because Briggs’ life had forced him down unforgivable paths and his choices have led him to terrible place. However, he was just like Mike — just as wise and innocent at one point, and when he arrived to Graceland, Mike was the perfect reminder of what Briggs used to be. Despite the fact that the men were complete opposites at the time we met them, they protected one another like brothers. And it’s through this complex friendship where they were able to learn things about themselves they may not have otherwise been able to.
And then we have my absolute favorite friendships — Jakes/Charlie plus Jakes/Paige. Dale Jakes was introduced to us as Graceland’s version of Grumpy (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves), but over the years he became much more. He became the most reliable, exceptional friend. The way Jakes was able to help Charlie through her miscarriage and Paige through the sex trafficking case made for some of the strongest scenes on the series. Humans are flawed, it’s a given, but an incredibly rare quality only some possess is the ability to talk to people in a way that puts them ease. And that’s exactly what Jakes was able to do — he may have been grumpy in hysterical ways sometimes, but he always knew how to comfort people. He was there, through the good and the bad to protect the ladies from the devastations they’d faced on the daily. He understood them, listened to them, and protected them because they were his family — his sisters.
Speaking of the ladies, Paige and Charlie were wonderfully badass together — supporting one another through everything and continuously reminding the men how it’s done. They didn’t always have scenes together, but when they did, they were always incredible. They were always willing to listen and protect, reminding the other of what they deserved.
Another dysfunctional couple on the series was Mike and Paige, but before all the chaos between them, their friendship was superb. Paige understood Mike — she was there for him from the very beginning supporting each of his decisions as she stood by him as a partner. And he cared so deeply for her, he didn’t know how not to protect her. A lot went on between the two I’d much rather not get into, but in the end, the most important element in a friendship is forgiveness and loyalty. The closest people have a way of hurting each other the most, but Mike was able to forgive Paige — he was able to understand her pain and the regrets she faced after what she’d done. In spite of all this, in the end, the two continued working with one another faithfully being there to remind the other when they’re crossing lines. At their very best, Mike and Paige had fun together, it was easy to be themselves around one another, it was easy to be a kid, to laugh and cry. And in the very end, the two continued valuing one another as an important part of their team. Graceland wasn’t whole without either them — and deep down, neither could ever let the other go. It’s the goodbye they’d dreaded most.
Lastly, the very heart of Graceland — Johnny Tuturro. Johnny was the epitome of a friend. And in every way he could’ve, Johnny brought light into the dark world of crimes. He gave and gave every second despite the amount of times he was rejected and pushed aside. Johnny fought to protect everyone — whether physically or emotionally, he was a moral compass in Graceland. He was Mike’s first friend. He had steadfast faith in Briggs. He looked out for Charlie and Paige. He tried to help Jakes every chance he was able to. Johnny saw the house as a family — he authenticated the very fact that families have unwavering loyalty to one another. And when he wasn’t bringing jumpers for parties, he was trying to find little ways to make their house a home. In all the most effortless ways, Johnny was the sunshine the series needed, and no matter how much he was shut off, and how dark his life became, when things got ugly, he never gave up.
When Graceland was good, we had sauce nights, bonfires at the beach, and tree decorating jokes. When a group of greatly flawed people get together, clashing is bound to occur. As Briggs states in the season two finale:
“The reason why we are living in this house together is because there are certain missions we can’t be expected to handle alone. Alone we come untethered. Alone we lose control. Now at some point along the way we lost sight of our purpose of what led sanctity to these walls. We don’t guard Graceland, guys. Graceland doesn’t guard us. We guard each other. And when systems are failing, that’s exactly when we need each other the most.”
During the finale, I had also said: The agents are supposed to fight to make the world a better place, but they’re also supposed to fight for one another. And they’re supposed to do everything in their power to combine their expertise in order for situations not to spiral out of control. They’re a family. They fight like cats and dogs, but at the end of the day, when one’s in trouble, they’re the first to defend them. And no matter how many emotions sprinkle the air like motes of dust, they’re placed there in order to build one another up. They’re meant to bring out the best in each other, but they can also bring out the worst. Individually they’re great, but together they’re unstoppable.” And that is exactly what they’ve done. They’ve adopted each other — a joke’s even made about it in the very first season about Mike. No one knows or understands this group of individuals the way they understand each other, and it’s that very understanding which makes them such a strong team. Along with that strength comes the ability to hurt each other, but the horrifying mistakes don’t define them, their ceaseless love and willingness to better themselves does. Graceland’s a special series, it was the one thing on TV I always looked forward to in the Summer, but most importantly, these imperfectly compelling friendships made it so special. If the series had continued, we know they’d put everything aside to go after Jakes. We know they wouldn’t have ever given up bringing each other home. You knew that no matter what happened, they were stuck together — flaws and all they accepted one another.