The cast of 'The Gilded Age' in promo for season 2.

At Least ‘The Gilded Age’ Gives Us One Good Married Couple

I love their love.

Marriages are a constant discussion on HBO Max’s The Gilded Age. But for all the marriage talk, there is only one couple that actually seems to be happily married.

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In historical dramas like The Gilded Age, we know marriage is a big deal. Good marriage matches were used to help families up social ladders or secure fortunes. Much of the time, couples wed for more business-like reasons rather than love. We don’t know for sure how many weddings weren’t love-based, but historical anecdotes shape a narrative where love wasn’t a necessary factor for an engagement.

Most of the couples in The Gilded Age make it seem like you don’t even need to like your spouse to have a successful marriage. Agnes Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) talks often about how she’s only enjoyed life after her husband’s death. She also points out that her marriage sacrifice ensured her sister could live a comfortable spinster life. Her niece, Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) tried to get married for love, but that ended in heartbreak. Now Marian is being pushed on any wealthy man with a pulse (although I’m hopeful for a match with Dashiell).

Oscar Van Rhijn (Blake Ritson) is currently on the hunt for the perfect wife to hide that he’s gay. Peggy Scott’s (Denée Benton) parents may have been happy at one time, but her father’s withholding of emotion hasn’t been great for anyone in the family. Even the new character Susan Blane (Laura Benanti) is introduced pretty much celebrating her much older husband’s death. He was stogey and didn’t like to go out. So she’s hiring the young Larry Russell (Harry Richardson) to redo her house and take her around town. Honestly, only one couple seems happily married.

We love the Russells

A husband and wife gaze lovingly at each other in 'The Gilded Age.'

George (Morgan Spector) and Bertha (Carrie Coon) Russell are pretty much the only married couple in The Gilded Age who seem happy to be together. In many ways, they subvert the type of long-married couple we are used to seeing in historical dramas. They are the new money, Robber Baron couple, yet they are some of the best characters in the show. Together, they are a force of nature. They aren’t just married in a business arrangement sense, they are in it forever with each other. Bertha believes in her husband and supports his business dealings. She’s confident that they will always make it work together. George isn’t big on social activities yet he will toss loads of money behind his wife’s ventures to show everyone how amazing she is.

Let’s not forget they are also still hot for each other. These two have been married for a long time. Their oldest child is 25 years old so they’ve been together even longer than that. The way George looks at Bertha is full of passion, admiration, and love. In season one, the way he asked to stay the night with her was smoking hot. The most recent episode, “Some Sort of Trick,” had another steamy moment between the two. George surprised Bertha by showing up unexpectedly in Newport. Bertha was all about her husband appearing. They were so happy to see each other they snuck off for a makeout session. Old money and new money should take note that the Russells are the best married couple in the show.

(featured image: Max)

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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.