It Takes Two: Cable TV’s Most Compelling Couples

Sam and Diane, Ross and Rachel, Jack and Kate. Television audiences have formed deep connections with certain shows because of their riveting pairs. Usually the subject of ‘Will they or won’t they?’ speculation, would-be couples on TV continue to consume the attention of viewers more than any Sweeps Week stunt.

And this trend goes beyond Nielsen juggernauts like Cheers, Friends, or Lost. Cable television has its fair share of duos that represent hope against all odds, a theme that has drawn us to storytelling long before the television was invented. So for those who’ve been uninterested or ambivalent about some of the cable shows you’ve heard mentioned around the office, Facebook wall, or Twitter feed, perhaps these couples might pique your interest as snuggle season approaches.

Daryl Dixon & Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead (AMC)

caroldarylOnly amid the battle against flesh-eating undead and living barbarians can a compassionate redneck and a battered woman steal the hearts of horror fans. And anyone who remembers Carol’s husband knows that she deserves a strong man who appreciates her and will defend her to the death with his crossbow.

That their love has not been consummated onscreen does not undermine their connection. In fact, the limited physicality underscores the importance of their relationship more than any coupling in the show. Besides, there’s hardly an opportune time to get busy when some walker might come along and turn a love scene into some sort of cannibal orgy. Audiences rely on Daryl and Carol to share tender moments to counterbalance the chaos. Without them, The Walking Dead would lose what humanity it has left.

John Luther & Alice Morgan – Luther (BBC America)

lutheraliceIn theory, no one would deny that even a sociopath would find it in her heart to be infatuated with Idris Elba. But the BBC (the channel, you perverts; get your act together) series demonstrates that very idea. Luther (Elba) plays a detective (or inspector, or whatever they hell they’re called in England), whose bizarre friendship with a brilliant but dangerous woman remains an undercurrent throughout the series, regardless of whether she’s in an episode.

The unlikely pairing isn’t one that audiences celebrate, but Luther’s life isn’t especially conducive to being spent with a classically ‘good’ woman. Even if show creator Neil Cross runs out of Luther stories to tell, audiences would be plenty entertained by John and Alice trying to figure out how in the hell a life together would play out.

Dexter Morgan & Hannah McKay – Dexter (Showtime)

dexterhannahEvery season, Dexter fans wonder whether their favorite serial killer will find love that forgives his true identity. With Hannah McKay, fans have been treated to a pairing that fully supports and understands who Dexter is.

Hannah seems to be the ‘just right’ porridge for Dexter after surviving opposing extremes, which ironically makes their relationship more tragic. After hoping against all logic that Dexter would find someone who will embrace him the way we do, viewers always keep the likelihood of his perpetual solitude in the back of their minds. In that way, Dexter continues to represent the doubts that its viewers have in their own lives.

But when most viewers wind up in love with a fugitive, I’d like to believe they would find one smart enough to change his or her hair color. That’s On The Lam 101. Sheesh.

Harvey Specter & Donna Paulsen – Suits (USA)

harveydonnaOf course, for a show about lawyerin’ and bein’ attractive (pretty sure that was the pitch), it’s only natural to expect everyone to hook up. But show creator Aaron Korsh raised the stakes with Harvey and Donna, whose rapport screams previous sexual tension. And since their relationship resembles that of a heroic but flawed husband and all-knowing wife, audiences are always welcome to the possibility of that tension resurfacing.

Harvey and Donna can have their fun being single in these streets, but Suits fans would have their romantic druthers were they to ride into the Westchester County sunset when the series ends.

I f___in’ love Suits.

Walter White & Jesse Pinkman – Breaking Bad (AMC)

jesse-walterAm I seriously going to lump Walter White and Jesse Pinkman into what was clearly a list of love interests? Well…to quote Jesse, “YES…bitch.”

There really is no category for the dark friendship between Walter and Jesse. Their odd, codependent, non-biological father-son, teacher-pupil vibe has more tension and complexity than people who’ve never had sex should have. But that’s why we love them, and that’s why Breaking Bad ran for 5 seasons instead of 1.

Although the gravity of their day-to-day relationship changes throughout the series, the scenes between them could always be as tragic as they were comical. Of the duos on this list, Walter and Jesse will last in the pop cultural memory the longest. Them boys really knew how to cook.

About lemarmclean

I am a writer born and raised in New York City.

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