In the somewhat erratic fifth season of The Vampire Diaries, one dynamic has stayed thoroughly compelling, inspiring, and entertaining: the friendship between Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola). Here is why their bestie status is the best thing on TV.

On a show focused on a turbulent and always-changing central love triangle, the Steroline friendship is like an anchor in a storm of adolescent(ish) angst. It began when Stefan first taught Caroline how to be a vampire, and evolved into a relationship of caring equals when Caroline becomes Stefan’s “sober sponsor,” offering her support when Stefan was struggling with his bloodlust. Basically, these two rock. They are always there for one another — even when Stefan has amnesia and can’t remember who to trust — and don’t let the supernatural shenanigans and interpersonal drama that so often affect the other relationships on this show ruin their mutual love and respect for one another. Their friendship has been a constant yet ever-deepening throughline on a show that fuels its narrative with the cycle of love and betrayal of its romantic relationships. Though this probably highlights a troubling pattern in TVD’s portrayal of romantic partnership, it also highlights just how awesome the Steroline friendship is. The most recent example coming in the form of Stefan’s defense of Caroline — not only to Tyler, but to Caroline — when she slept with Klaus. He reminded her it was OK to make mistakes when no one else would. Or, you know, to have sex with whomever she wants and not be judged by it. Go ahead, watch these scenes again. They’re awesome. 

On a more formal level, the Steroline friendship is an example of a male/female platonic friendship dynamic not seen often enough on television. TV shows, especially those geared towards the teenage and young adult female demographics, tend to be heavy on the romance. And, don’t get us wrong, we love our epic love stories, triangles, squares, etc., but they can result in a serious lack of platonic friendship between male and female characters. As TV viewers, we’re trained to think that every male and female character dynamic is just a possible romance waiting to happen, which is problematic on many levels. Firstly, it says something about just how heteronormative television tends to be. Secondly, it sets some weird examples for what viewers actual lives should look like — like how female and male viewers should interact with and view the opposite sex. We’re not saying that every television viewer is so easily impressionable, but the narratives we consume are part of our respective processes of trying to understand the world and our places in it. Give us some more dynamic diversity, TV! In the meantime, we’ll be watching Steroline.

Do you love Steroline’s friendship as much as we do? Can you think of other examples of awesome cross-gender friendships on TV? Sound off in the comments below!

Catch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, March 20 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!