I am but a human being, meaning that I love love—well, not too much, because I’m single, but I do love watching fictional characters falling in love, and I love to cry about it. So … I guess I love love so much that I cry? Anyway, the point is that I have a lot of television OTPs (or One True Pairing-s).
Throughout the years, they’ve grown, as I have, but these are the couples who have stuck with me throughout my journey. (Sorry to my OTPs I’ve moved on from. You will be missed.) So, from Parks and Recreation to New Girl, LOST, and beyond, here are some of my favorite couples from television.
Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope
Do I want to get married and have a wildflower mural there? Of course, because NBC’s Parks and Recreation’s Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope remind me that relationships aren’t just based on attraction, but rather, finding that person who understands you completely. When Ben and Leslie met each other, Leslie thought he was a hard-ass accountant who was trying to take away her Parks department. Instead, she found a nerd who loved her dedication to being a civil servant and shared a lot of her same passion.
Together, they struggled through her recall from city council, the discussion over who was going to run for governor, and (clearly) Leslie’s presidential terms. Through it all, they taught us what love and acceptance was, and it truly helped form how I view my own relationships in my life.
Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago
Another beauty from the mind of Mike Schur (and Dan Goor), Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Amy Santiago seemed like too much of a perfectionist to be with someone like Jake Peralta, but they work. What’s that saying? Do opposites attract? It wasn’t an easy road for Jake and Amy. It took time, but it was one of those relationships we knew would work out once we finally got there. And how right we were.
Amy balances Jake’s lack of wherewithal while Jake reminds Amy to live a little outside of her organization and determination to climb in her career. They find ways to have fun that are so uniquely them, and it makes them a fun couple to watch. And, like Ben and Leslie, they remind us to find someone who doesn’t really want to change you. Sure, Amy wants Jake to not be in so much debt, but she doesn’t try to change the fundamental parts of Jake that make him who he is, and vice versa.
Shawn Spencer and Burton “Gus” Guster
Friendship OTPs are definitely a thing, and … this is the end-all and be-all. Gus and Shawn, from USA’s Psyched, would literally die for each other—not in the figurative sense. I’m saying literally, and I mean it. So often, they’re in situations that neither of them are qualified for, but they’re still there for each other because that’s what love is.
And sometimes, those are the best kind of OTPs because our friendships, for the most part, follow us throughout our lives and are with us to the bitter end. So, finding the Gus to your Shawn? That’s, honestly, more important.
Jack Shephard and Kate Austen
Very few times in my life have I been right and boasted about it (That’s a lie, I do it all the time), but when Jake and Kate ended up together on ABC’s LOST? I screamed because, for years, I just wanted them together. A true “will they/won’t they” relationship, Jack Shephard and Kate Austen go back and forth together because being on the island, they didn’t think they would work, and Kate constantly questioned herself and her value. Off the island? It was almost the reverse, but finally, in the end of it all, they found each other.
Maybe Jate (you know, ship names, gotta love ’em) ended up being the first couple where I wasn’t sure whether or not they’d end up together. For so many years, you could pretty much figure out who was going to be a couple on a show for good, but Jack and Kate had their problems. Still, I stuck with them until the very end, and that love kept me coming back to the show.
Captain James T. Kirk and Spock
For my editor Kaila Hale-Stern: Spirk. (She absolutely hates when I call them that.) Spock and Kirk ushered in a new area of fandom on Star Trek. While not a canon relationship, they brought on the era of slash fanfic and fans writing in ideas for how Spock and Kirk could be together. Even the Kelvin verse plays into this love a bit because Spock and Kirk do, at their core, love each other. (Bones is also always there.)
And yeah, sure, they’ve never been a couple couple in canon, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not together. It’s not a friendship relationship level; I do think they love each other deeply and completely, but I think Spock’s Vulcan ways stop their relationship from being something more. Maybe I’m getting into fan theories too much … oops!
Eleanor Shellstrop and Chidi Anagonye
Another couple with mismatched personalities, what makes The Good Place’s Chidi and Eleanor so special is that they were designed to torture each other and somehow found a way to fall in love instead. When the demons of the Bad Place brought them together, they thought it would be a textbook situation where Chidi hated Eleanor for the decisions he had to make, and Eleanor would hate Chidi for trying to make her a better person.
Instead, what we got was two people trying their hardest to be worthy of each other, and it taught the audience to always be there for the one you love, even when it is work. They went through multiple timelines, different realities, and still, they wanted each other, and that’s the kind of love worth fighting for.
Fran Fine and Maxwell Sheffield
Talk about a generation-defining couple. Try to find someone who grew up watching CBS’s The Nanny who doesn’t ship Nanny Fine and Mr. Sheffield. No really, try it. It’s almost impossible. We all just … love them because they were polar opposites but still found ways to love each other and their differences that just worked. Nanny Fine was the embodiment of Queens, NY and Mr. Sheffield was a British Broadway producer.
On paper, they’d never work, but there was just something about them and their love that had child-me wanting to find my own British Broadway producer.
Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean
Talk about opposites attracting! No really, Nico represents the dark and Karolina represents the light. They’re literally opposites. The friends-to-lovers couple of Hulu’s Runaways, both Nico and Karolina fought against the hold their parents had on them, broke free of the societal ideas laid out before them, and found each other. Not only do their powers complement each other, but they’re also perfect balances of each other.
Where Nico is skeptical and narcissistic, Karolina tries to look at the situation and find some kind of good in it. They work as a team, and they work incredibly well as a couple and show the brilliance that superhero couples can have for us all.
Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler
Sorry, I like them. I feel like that’s all I should write here? I like Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes together? Even though their bit in the actual Holmes stories does not warrant this kind of love story (that is in almost every single version of Sherlock Holmes), I kind of like it.
Irene is the one woman who Sherlock cannot instantly figure out, and it forces him to constantly come back to her. While not your typical kind of romance, their love is one that we can understand. The draw of the unknown, the allure of someone you can’t quite figure out. All of that? It’s what makes Sherlock so intrigued by Irene and why we, as fans, go back to their relationship over and over again.
Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor
I’ll admit, I just jumped on the Coach Taylor/Tami Taylor boat after watching Friday Night Lights for the first time, but their relationship is one that actually seemed like a real husband and wife onscreen.
More often than not, married couples on TV shows rarely have … real moments. They’re basically just the good things and never the bad. Or if there is a bad moment, it’s a huge blowout thing that is either their demise or forgotten by next week.
Tami and Eric Taylor? They fought like a married couple, made up like a married couple, and went through a great many trials and tribulations to end up on top. Friday Night Lights brought us an actual slice of life that was refreshing to watch.
Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly
The thing about The Office’s Jim and Pam is that … maybe we all want to date Jim? When we first meet them, Pam is in a relationship with Roy from the warehouse, and he’s not exactly the best fiancé for her. He’s never there, and he doesn’t really care what Pam wants.
Jim does, and the reason Jim is so great in the beginning is that he doesn’t force the issue at all. He’s not trying to make Pam make a decision or force her hand; he’s just there for her, and when he finally admits his feelings, he still just kisses her, tells her how he feels, and puts the ball in her court. Granted, he did kiss a taken woman, but still, the point stands.
That’s how their relationship worked, for the most part. They figured it out together, and when they didn’t figure it out together was when things got dicey. They’d make great gestures for each other, but it was the big stuff they needed to talk out, and once they did, they made decisions that worked for them both, and that’s why they’re important to me.
Clark Kent and Lois Lane
The CW’s Smallville remains the best television version of Clark Kent. I said it, I stand by It, and while the show focused heavily on his teenage crush of Lana Lang, the minute Lois Lane showed up, it just seemed to fit like a perfect puzzle piece.
Lois and Clark are one of those couples that work when they’re honest with each other. The idea that investigative reporter Lois Lane wouldn’t know Clark was Superman? Strange. But alas, we love it, and Smallville does a great job of bringing them to life.
And in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, we got to see that Clark gave his powers up to be with Lois and their daughters, and that makes me weirdly emotional for them.
Nick Miller and Jessica Day
Now this is a will they/won’t they. When Jessica Day moved into apartment 4D and became Fox’s New Girl, she was trying to get away from her ex-boyfriend Spencer. What she ended up with was a new family and her future husband. Nick Miller is the internet’s boyfriend. We all love him, and it’s not hard to see why, but we all watched as Nick and Jess found their way to each other the first time—and then, when they both were too afraid of what this relationship meant to them, they had to find their way back once more.
Nick and Jess, to me, are extremely real in the sense that they’re friends who fell in love and didn’t want to lose their friendship, so they chickened out. But like all good love stories, they always found their way back, and honestly? Kind of wouldn’t mind that.
Throughout my quarantine watches, I’ve come back to rewatching all these couples in some form, and I think that maybe I just love love and want to remember that while the world seems so dark and scary? Whatever the case is, these couples (and so many more) have filled my life with joy, and maybe we should all take a moment to just remember why OTPs are so important to us.
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