Since Connie sucks at being a friend, it seems odd that Elly describes the woman in such glowing terms when it seems obvious to anyone else that Annie had a much better claim on the title of "Best Friend Ever". Sadly, Annie is a victim of Elly's inability to perceive the world clearly. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to list what I think are the reasons for this:
- Rigidity of thinking: Elly has made no secret of the fact that she thinks that there is only one right way of doing things. Since, as an example, she was sat on as a child by Marian (owing to Marian being justifiably concerned that she needed more raising than Phil ever did), she thinks that Annie's more laissez-faire approach is wrong and the direct cause of their wild behavior during their teenaged years; since she's got a poor imagination, she doesn't realize that Richard and Christopher were acting out because of the tension at home. Also, since Connie more or less tyrannized any child she came into contact with, Elly thinks that an insane, narcissistic bully is a great parent.
- Immaturity: As we'll see in the fullness of time, the rest of the Richards family are sort of disgusted that Elly never really grew up and stopped thinking the world rotated around her. Unlike Connie, Annie was less inclined to feed into her victimism. The last thing Elly wanted was another authority figure trying to get her to admit she was wrong.
- Raging Paranoia: Another reason that Connie is better than Annie is that, as I've said, Connie indulges Elly's fantasies of persecution. You'll never, for instance, see Annie try to tell her that her children are trying to steal her brain and reduce her into a mindless husk who can only grin and scrub toilets nor will she say that Elly is right to punish John for something that happened in a dream. What you will see is someone who tries to hold her accountable for her actions and lay a bummer personal responsibility trip on a plastic flower child.
- Moral Cowardice: When Annie finally admitted that Steve had been cheating on her for years, she initially wondered if she herself was somehow to blame; this admission of possible guilt alienated and revolted Elly and resulted in her avoiding her friend at all costs. What's more, Elly totally misunderstood why Anne put her marriage back together; it came as a shock that Anne, despite what Elly believed, neither forgave or forgot Steve. She instead insisted that he live up to his wedding vows and made her demand stick, a thing that is beyond Elly's meager intellect and will. Meanwhile, Connie bounced from one artificial crisis to the next and, since she blamed everyone but herself for the results of her own stupidity and selfishness, Elly was there to help clean up the mess.
- Faulty Memory: I'm going to go into this subject in depth soon enough but, as a teaser, will posit the idea that Elly remembers things not as they happened but how she believes they should have. As an example, she honestly remembers herself as being loving, firm, fair and tough when, as we've seen, she's exactly none of those things. Since she doesn't remember the past as it really happened, she thinks that Connie is a better friend than she actually is.
This inability to see the world as it is isn't just limited to her not being able to recognize who her friends are; it also means that she's a failure as a wife and mother who lives in a state of denial.