"Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" – Samantha Bee and Glenn Beck
“BoJack Horseman” – BoJack and Princess Carolyn
“Luther” – Luther and Alice
“The Affair” – Noah and Helen
“Love” – Gus and Mickey
This is not a twisted TV couple. This is the perfect TV couple. Coach and Mrs. Coach, Eric and Tami, Principal Taylor and Mr. Principal Taylor are a lasting beacon of purity when it comes to romance, love, and relationships.
The couples that follow…well, they do things a little differently. Their love may be true, but how they found it was not. Or they got together traditionally enough before everything went crazy. Or, further still, they’re members of a cult, robots, or related (ick). It should be easy to imagine how those circumstances could complicate things, so let’s get to it: Happy Valentine’s Day!
Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Gary (Tony Hale) have a unique relationship to say the least. While the now-former president has always kept things platonic with her No. 1 aide, his obsession with the one-time leader of the free world goes beyond the job description. Hints have been dropped over the years as to what’s gone down between them, including a memorable Season 4 blow-out that ended with a whopping question that’s never been answered. So, this Valentine’s Day, we ask yet again: “What the f*** happened on Labor Day?!”
[Light spoilers below for “The Leftovers.”]
Don’t get us wrong: Kevin and Nora’s love is pure as the driven snow. That much became clear over the course of Season 2, as Nora went to great lengths in protecting her family just as Kevin went to even greater lengths in getting back to his. But their relationship began while he was losing his work shirts in the woods, and she was paying prostitutes to shoot her in the chest with a pistol. Hell, the only child they have is an adopted black baby belonging to a former cult leader (and brought to them by Kevin’s adopted son from a former marriage). However they did it, these two built a life together.
Working relationships can be tricky. When you’re with someone day and night, the high level of intimacy can lead to panic, discomfort, and dependency. Luckily for Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell), their day job is just a cover and their night job is spying on America for Mother Russia. The two were set up as partners and only fell in love because of the job, so that certainly helps smooth things over, as well. But it’s not any less twisted.
Given the way she was raised, Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) is bound to be dealing with a few issues. She’s been exposed to a lot of sexual activity, open relationships, and various experimental methods in forming a connection — sexually and otherwise — with other humans. So when she encountered the first person she could actually love (Spencer, played by Rhenzy Feliz), it should come as no surprise that her behavior didn’t line up with traditional high school romances. First she just wanted to be friends. Then she wanted more. Then things shifted again…but we can’t really say anymore without spoilers. Needless to say, we totally understand where she’s coming from (the markings of a great performance blended with great writing), but that doesn’t make things any simpler for these lovebirds.
A love triangle is always complicated, but if you throw in a cult — OK, OK, a movement, then things get really messy. Eddie (Aaron Paul) and Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) were married for years, but Cal (Hugh Dancy) dated her first. He doesn’t really understand why it didn’t work out between the two of them, and the fact he’s a power-hungry psychopath doesn’t help. Feelings get twisted quickly when three people are invovled, and this trio is no exception.
This couple simply does not compute. Hell, they couldn’t even figure out how sex would work between them (see elegant stick figure diagrams in photo). Jason (Manny Jacinto) was a really bad DJ in life and appears to be mentally deficient, whereas Janet (D’Arcy Carden) is a walking database with a cheery smile, artificial intelligence but no feelings… yet. They were initially drawn together because everyone was mean to them except for the other, which we guess means… yay kindness? We suppose some marriages are based on less.
[Spoilers below for “Westworld” Season 1.]
It’s one thing when you hate your ex, but another if you carry that grudge with you for decades and then repeatedly rape her and kill her loved ones in a fucked-up cycle of torture and abuse because you have some overblown sense of entitlement. Sadly for Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), she was unaware that her former love William (Jimmi Simpson) had made such a hellish flip until it was almost too late. She got a few good licks in before he stabbed her, but she’s already started on her revenge…
TWINCEST! Isn’t that reason enough for them to stop it right damn now? Incest is bad enough but there’s no call for two people who used to share a womb to try to continue that practice. Even worse, it’s not even a very loving relationship. Cersei (Lena Headey) is power-hungry and has turned into the crazed type of ruler that Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) once ousted. Also, none of their children have survived, so there is really nothing holding them together except their similar haircuts.
It was clear from the start that Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) was in no shape to be in a relationship with anyone, much less her childhood sweetheart that she imbued all of her hopes with and moved cross-country for. That level of unreciprocated obsession spells low self-esteem. Unfortunately, Josh’s issues are a similar lack of introspection, and he also tends to latch onto relationships or life paths that are mapped out for him by others, constantly seeking meaning from the outside. Forget about the #BunchofChans. In this musical comedy, they only make pitiful dissonance together.
The left-wing rantress and conservative political commentator shouldn’t have– wouldn’t have normally gotten along. Or perhaps we could’ve seen them sharing a screen to have a healthy debate. Instead, the two opponents put aside their differences and put on ugly Christmas sweaters to share a message of harmony: Down with Trump. But can a shared hatred bring about peace between these oddest of bedfellows (because of course they went there on the show)? Sometimes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and a little enhanced egg nog is all you need.
The fact that BoJack and Princess Carolyn don’t belong together is something we all need to embrace, but at the same time they’re one of our favorite relationships on one of our favorite shows. Is this pairing a complicated reminder that business and pleasure rarely mix? Or just the sad acknowledgement that sometimes unhappy people feel like other unhappy people can solve their problems? While BoJack may be a lost cause, we’re hoping that Princess Carolyn can escape this trap to some degree.
We’re getting a little retro here by remembering one of TV’s most screwed-up bonds, but watching Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson butt heads was an incredible gift we got from modern British TV’s most complicated serial killer drama. It’s not that Alice was crazy — it’s that she was too smart to be sane — and we loved the way in which she transformed “Luther” from your standard police procedural into something epically more.
Technically no relationship on “The Affair” is all that stable, but goddamn it Helen, you had us really worried during Season 3, as your admitteldy unseverable connection with Noah led you down some dark paths. The one thing we can all agree on, when it comes to “The Affair,” is that Noah is the worst. Which makes us all the more eager for Helen to escape his grasp, since she seems to be the least capable of doing so.
Season 1 of “Love” was all about a complicated love story that refused to use the L-word. In part, that was due to the weird chemistry between awkward Gus (Paul Rust) and addict Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) who took the entire season to acknowledge her issues and how they might affect things going forward. “Love” is a show that wants to believe in relationships; the catch is that it also will acknowledge how tough they can be.