Love amongst the workplace, the suburbs…parallel universes, the supernatural, and murder.
When done correctly, I adore TV couples, but they have to be really, really good to work. It takes just the right amount of good writing, good acting, chemistry, likable faces, relatability, and a good backdrop.
When writers create TV couples, they can end up writing for those characters for years and years. Therefore, you would think that TV writers have their work cut out for them when writing for couples. However, way too often, TV couples are stale, cliché, and very annoying.
But, of course, a few outstanding ones have surfaced from the giant sea of television. Sometimes everything just comes together in a perfect storm. For this post, I’m listing my Top Ten Favorites (in no particular order).
Tim and Dawn, The Office
So… so…sweet. Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis play the ultimate office romance absolutely spot-on. Both are charming, adorable, funny, and wonderfully believable. I’ve never rooted for a television couple so hard. During the moment when Tim interrupts his own interview to go tell Dawn how he feels, my heart was pounding. Lucy Davis and Martin Freeman were absolutely perfect. The Tim/Dawn relationship is full of emotion, humor, and honesty.
Homer and Marge, The Simpsons
What can I say? Marge’s loyalty is something to be admired. Homer has done just about everything in his life the wrong way, but he did get Marge right. She put up with him through about 572995520883 job changes; intentional obesity; many ragingly drunken nights; allowing Bart to work for the mafia; allowing Bart to work in a burlesque house; strangling Bart; depressing Lisa; forgetting Maggie’s name; keeping a horse inside the house; blowing every extra dollar they make; telling their intimate secrets to the entire town; trapping the town under a giant glass dome, and much more. In return, Homer adores her completely and does his best to make her happy. A true match made in Matt Groening Heaven.
Pete and Peggy, Mad Men
Excuse me if my heart beats a little quicker. Maybe I’m biased because I adore Vincent Kartheiser so much, but I think Pete and Peggy may actually be my favorite TV couple. First of all, they are both such interesting characters by themselves. Pete Campbell is a true man of his environment, going about life the only way he’s ever been shown. And what he’s been shown is that he’s entitled to everything around him. Peggy Olson is also fascinating as a talented, determined girl who tends to start pushing her way up as soon as she’s got her bearings in a bustling New York office. When they collide, they create a complex and absorbing chemistry that I can’t get enough of. There’s something about Peggy’s strength and quietness that plays perfectly against Pete’s weaknessnes and obvious nature. They’re so drawn to each other, but why?
Kevin and Winnie, The Wonder Years
Just look at their sweet little faces. Little Kevin and little Winnie! Who doesn’t love these guys? Kevin is that all-around great kid who embodies childhood for all of us, and Winnie is the gorgeous, sweet girl next door. The all-American story. I remember watching The Wonder Years with my family growing up, and being genuinely hurt for Kevin anytime he would lose Winnie. Their first kiss in the woods still makes me cry.
Desmond and Penny, Lost
I think out of all of the Lost couples, Desmond and Penny went through the worst of problems. Their love had to endure the earthly issues of monetary differences and a disapproving father, as well as not-so-earthly situations such as time travel and being separated by a parallel universe. But they’re so true to each other. I love Penny’s determination to find Desmond, waiting for him and tracking him through a listening station. And I love how Desmond never stops thinking of her, even when he’s faced with a totally new environment in which he’s trapped. Her letter and her photograph become his prized possessions. And don’t even get me started on the whole “constant” thing. What a fantastic episode. I mean, Penny answers the phone and keeps Desmond’s brain from shorting out? Brilliant.
Cliff and Clair, The Cosby Show
I have to apologize to my husband for including these guys, because he really cannot stand Clair. But I can’t help it. I grew up watching her one-up Dr. Huxtable and calmly lose her temper. This picture instantly conjures up images in my mind of Clair giving Cliff her Stare of Death while he stammers his way through some excuse. Their methods of teaching the kids important life lessons through humiliation and sarcasm just gets me every time. And who can resist a couple that danced their way through the credits of seven seasons? And speaking of dancing…
Mulder and Scully, The X-Files
Well, these two have certainly been through a lot together. Aliens, ghosts, evil government representatives, the occult, serial killers, psychotic plants, evil talking tattoos, vampires, in-bred weirdoes, parasites, and the occasional Cher-loving monster are just a few of the subjects that they investigated side by side. I guess all that running from the paranormal pushed them together, because we all know how they end up. I love how a simple hand-holding between Mulder and Scully emits the same amount of romance that a wedding could between any other TV couple. For seven seasons, these two dodged their love while welcoming it at the same time. And they once had to battle satellite signals. Steamy.
Andy and Maggie, Extras
Yes, I am posting my second Ricky Gervais-written couple. They’re just so good. I do realize that Andy Millman and Maggie Jacobs weren’t officially a couple on the series, but we are lead to believe that they could have eventually wound up together. In any case, it doesn’t matter, because they are hilarious and sweet. Andy is so amused by Maggie’s dim-wittedness, and she loves to poke fun at his weight, height, and age. In between all this, they truly enjoy each other’s company and they rely on one another’s friendship. They play private games and give each other (awful) advice. One supports the other, and they love each other for better or for worse. It’s a marriage without the wedding.
Agent Cooper and Audrey, Twin Peaks
Unfortunately, they are actually the greatest TV couple that Never Was. Agent Dale Cooper arrives strong in Twin Peaks, ready to conquer the case of Laura Palmer’s murderer. Audrey, daughter of the wealthiest man in town, wasn’t a big fan of Laura’s and is an emotionally disturbed teenager. Between sneaking cigarettes into school and dancing seductively by herself for no reason, she hates her life and despises her father. When she lays eyes on Agent Dale Cooper, everything changes. She falls hard for him and calls him her “special agent”, praying to him at night. And when she’s held hostage in a brothel, it’s Agent Cooper who rescues her and carries her to safety. She dreams of helping him solve the murder, marrying him, and being swept up in an exciting life of FBI adventures. As childish as that may sound, I wanted it for her, too. Tragically, Agent Cooper’s morality and that jerk from Titanic got in the way.
Jack and Liz, 30 Rock
Okay, so they’re not a couple. And I don’t want them to be. However, Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon still deserve a place on my list. I love how their relationship has evolved from the first season to its present state. In the first episode, Jack storms into 30 Rock as the new boss of Liz and her team, determined to shake their world and teach them a thing or two. But over time, he’s realized that it’s Liz who’s teaching him. She’s a friend he never asked for, a dependent he never wanted. She softens him, and she’s one of the few people that he can be himself around. He would never date her, but he loves her. Liz, on the other hand, needs Jack to guide her life gone awry. He supplies her with motivation and advice, as well as the frequent phrase: “Good God, Lemon.”
And one to grow on…
Fry and Leela, Futurama
Futurama is a crazy, clever, hilarious, inventive, upside-down adventure anyway, so you know they don’t mess around when it comes to love. I know I already included Homer and Marge, so just forgive me for having yet another Matt Groening couple on this list. But Fry and Leela are truly impressive—not to mention totally heartwarming. Their love seems to be able to overcome everything, including time, space, and the universe itself, and it tends to overcome in particularly sweet ways. Billion-year-old love letter, anyone?