It’s the season for romance, and is there really a better place to look for some relationship drama than our favorite shows? Television’s long-form storytelling allows for romantic relationships to develop, grow, or even decline in satisfying ways. When a romantic pairing is well-written and the actors bring a realistic chemistry to the partnership, it makes us think about our own love livesin completely new ways.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve decided to look at the five best romances on TV right now. Some of these couples are complicated, others are awkward, and some aren’t even together yet (and may never be). We think they’re still the best TV couples anyway.
The 1990s had Ross and Rachel. The 2000s had Jim and Pam. Now the 2020s have Greg and Janine. There’s nothing quite like a “will they, won’t they” relationship to draw TV viewers to the edge of their seats every week, patiently awaiting the first kiss or “I love you” from a couple. These two elementary school teachers are spectacularly cringy yet adorable when they interact every week with the sexual tension seeping through their dialogue and their actions. Workplace romance adds yet another layer to the proceedings, as it’s always an interesting decision to date a coworker. Here’s to hoping Greg and Janine admit their feelings for each other sooner rather than later!
The adorable friendship from the early seasons of Stranger Things between Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) has started evolving into something potentially much deeper in the most recent episodes of the Netflix mega-hit. If it wasn’t already clear that Will was gay after watching him awkwardly fawn over Mike for much of the fourth season, the actor confirmed Will’s sexuality to the public in the aftermath of it airing.
Will is constantly hanging off of Mike’s every word, desperately seeking a deeper friendship than ever before and even creating elaborate paintings of Mike as a hero. The interesting wrench in this pairing is Mike has been in a relationship with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) for much of the show’s run. Barring a gay sexual awakening from Mike, it seems this romance might end up being unrequited. Regardless, that Netflix and creators Matt and Ross Duffer are even exploring a potential same-sex relationship in a show of this magnitude and popularity is vital. It has a chance to push the boundaries of LGBTQ+ storytelling and open doors for more mainstream queer representation on TV in the years to come.
The most intimate, daring, and sensual relationship on TV belongs to a tiny production from Sweden. Young Royals tells the story of a crown prince and his lower-class schoolmate, two teenagers just trying to overcome their social divide to live happily ever after. The fact that theirs is a same-sex relationship is often secondary to the commentary on rich and poor, pulling back several layers on the struggles couples have when they come from different parts of the civic hierarchy. Prince Wilhelm’s coming out scene at the end of the second season is also one of the best in recent memory, a highwater mark for all other queer characters to strive for.
There’s nothing that feels all that genuine in Amazon Prime Video’s hilariously dark superhero satire, but the love between Hughie Campbell and Annie January is as real as it gets. Hughie immediately saw that Annie wasn’t like the rest of the superheroes employed by Vought, and Annie was thrilled to be treated like a normal person rather than a commodity for the first time in her life. The playfulness and innocence to this partnership is something that will continue to flourish when The Boys returns to our screens because Annie has officially dropped her role as Starlight and joined Hughie’s team of vigilantes once and for all.
The cut-throat, despicable world of Succession isn’t much of a hotbed for warm, fuzzy feelings between the main characters, yet toxic marriages are just as compelling as healthy ones on TV. When we look at a couple like Tom and Shiv, it allows us to contemplate the ways we use our own partners for selfish reasons. Shiv is the daughter of a multi-billion-dollar corporate stiff, and Tom is desperately trying to keep his head above the quicksand of the Roy family dumpster fire. After three seasons of a façade, Tom finally fought back against Shiv’s two-faced love in the third season finale, siding with her father in a battle for the family company.
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