We’ve already brought you the best Valentine’s Day episodes, not to mention the small screen’s most tragic romances. So let’s get one more holiday-inspired TV list on the books, shall we? One that covers everything from For All Mankind and The Simpsons to Black-ish and Friday Night Lights? For this AVQ&A, we asked our lovely staff that loveliest of pop-culture questions: Who has the best TV marriage?
Philip and Elizabeth, The Americans
“A couple that spies, tortures, and kills together … stays together.” Is that a romantic saying? Because it perfectly describes The Americans’ Philip and Elizabeth Jennings. The two might’ve entered a fake marriage for the sake of their homeland and moved from Russia to the U.S. during the Cold War, but they obviously find it impossible to resist each other. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell share fiery chemistry while establishing their alter egos’ remarkable relationship. And while Philip and Elizabeth’s suburban dream isn’t “real,” it’s still rooted in the reality of their feelings towards one another, which only expand over time (and six seasons).
The Americans is an exciting spy thriller, sure. But it’s primarily a tense meditation on marriage, and how Philip and Elizabeth overcome the obstacles thrown their way. From co-parenting a rebellious teen to numerous “affairs” for the sake of their work to plotting murders, they’ve faced it all. Against the odds, their relationship survives and cements itself as one of TV’s best in recent years. [Saloni Gajjar]
Eric and Tami, Friday Night Lights
This has to be the least hot-takey hot take in AVQ&A history, but in case you haven’t been told umpteen times: Eric and Tami Taylor have, hands down, the best onscreen marriage. Sure, they essentially become Friday Night Lights’ Problem Solvers over five seasons and they look almost exactly how you’d expect network-drama versions of a coach and his better half to look, but like a lot of things on this truly great show, they have plenty of depth, making this pair far from a happy-couple caricature. They argue, they bicker (adorably), they tackle some Big Life And Career Changes, but they’re always there for each other. And as viewers, despite their enviable hair and chemistry, we’re always rooting for them. [Tim Lowery]
Nadja and Laszlo, What We Do In The Shadows
Several hundred years into their marriage, What We Do In The Shadows’ Nadja and Laszlo are as horny and in love as ever. That’s quite a feat. Their devotion to one another is passionate, deep, and rooted in understanding. (Laszlo trims topiary into the shape of Nadja’s labia, and if that’s not love then I don’t know what is.) The dude also allows Nadja to pursue each version of Gregor for a little while, before swiftly decapitating him and sending him onto the next life. Together, they’ve crafted some of the biggest hits of the last century and attended raging orgies. And that has to be true love, right? [Gabrielle Sanchez]
Bob and Linda, Bob’s Burgers
The delightfully weird duo from Bob’s Burgers are something of an anomaly in animated television: They clearly love each other, without reservations. Bob’s not an idiot (at least, not in the useless husband sitcom-trope type of way), and Linda’s not shouldering an unfair burden. They’re a team in all that they do, from running their restaurant to parenting their kids. And even when, in “My Fuzzy Valentine,” Bob spends an entire day tracking down a love thermometer machine that he and Linda used on their first date, only to realize that he’d misremembered and used the machine with a different woman, Linda loves the gift anyway. So yes, the two don’t always get things exactly right, but their willingness to admit that makes their marriage even stronger. [Jen Lennon]
Ben and Leslie, Parks And Recreation
It’s rare for a sitcom to show the full evolution of a romance from its very first disgruntled seed into the blossoming relationship of love and respect that Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie (Amy Poehler) had. From their first swoon-worthy kiss to the impromptu wedding to parenting triplets, this couple was unconditionally supportive of their respective goals and encouraged each other’s ambitions (all the way to the White House). Ben was in awe of Leslie’s drive; Leslie cherished Ben’s dorkiness. They made each other better. They loved and liked each other. It was a TV marriage made in heaven. [Mary Kate Carr]
Molly and Wayne, For All Mankind
For All Mankind has had a lot of dysfunctional couples across its three seasons so far, but the enduring, rock-solid partnership between ambitious astronaut Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) and her supportive husband Wayne (Lenny Jacobson) was a notable exception. On paper, these two seem like total opposites—she’s driven and focused on a STEM-based career while he’s a laid-back artist—but they complemented each other perfectly. While Molly was making history as the first woman on the moon, Wayne often got lumped in with the other spouses (mostly women), forced to wait and worry from the ground. Rather than resenting his wife’s fame and success, though, he supported her and developed healthy coping mechanisms to deal with his fears, including herbal remedies and channeling his nightmares into his art.
The only time we saw any tension between them was when he threatened to leave rather than watch her subject herself to an experimental and dangerous procedure in an attempt to restore her failing eyesight. He might have been the only person on Earth, or any other planet, who could have convinced her not to go through with it. By the end of season three, Molly has left NASA and taken up painting. So after three decades of life in the space program, they proved they had what it takes to make a marriage work, even in the most extraordinary of circumstances. [Cindy White]
Dre and Rainbow, Black-ish
Sitcom relationships make up some of TV’s best marriages, from The Jefferson’s George and Louise to Parks And Recreation’s aforementioned Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope. A slightly underrated one, though, is Black-ish’s Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson). The duo held their own for eight seasons on ABC’s watershed comedy. They suffered their fair share of ups and downs—an unexpected pregnancy, career issues, parenting techniques ... they even almost split up. Yet Black-ish tackled their problems in such a grounded manner, making it impossible not to pull for them. [Saloni Gajjar]
Homer and Marge, The Simpsons
This might seem like the most obvious choice ever, but here it goes anyway: Homer and Marge make up my favorite TV marriage. Their devotion to one another is a major part of what gives the show so much heart (or gave the show so much heart from season three through nine or so, but that’s another story). And it says a lot that my least favorite episode from the golden age of The Simpsons was “The Last Temptation Of Homer,” in which our guy almost cheats on Marge with his co-worker, Mindy Simmons (Michelle Pfeiffer). Why, you ask? I just didn’t buy the idea that Homer would get that close to being unfaithful to her. And that’s love. [Peter Scobel]
Stef and Lena, The Fosters
In many ways, The Fosters’ Stef and Lena might be TV’s healthiest, strongest, most supportive relationships of all time. Shoutout to Sherri Saum and Teri Polo’s unwavering chemistry, whether their characters are fighting or making out or sharing emotional moments. It all drives home how Stef and Lena are made for each other. They waited years to get officially married and start a family, and when they do take in several kids, they provide a great marriage example even in the face of adversity. The Fosters remained under-the-radar during its run, but thankfully there’s always time to catch up and keel over watching this relationship bloom. [Saloni Gajjar]