Maybe I’m a week late since Valentine’s Day has just passed, but I thought on this inaugural edition of Top Ten Tuesdays I would start be spreading some love.
No matter what your favorite show is about – be it prison, family, superheroes, high school, or cops – someone, somewhere is falling in love. There’s no hiding from it. There’s no use telling a story without it in there somewhere. So let’s celebrate it.
Today’s list features my Top Ten Couples: canonical love stories featured on shows that have yet to reach their series finale. Not all these couples are currently together – in fact one hasn’t even managed to get themselves together yet, though their feelings for one another are definitely clear – but they’ve made a mark on their respective shows.
1. Roy and Thea, Arrow
They may have gotten off to a rocky start – what with Roy attempting to snatch Thea’s purse, coupled with their starkly different backgrounds – but these two crazy kids quickly got their act together and fell in love. It was the Season One finale that clinched it, with Thea forgoing her own safety to search for Roy during the destruction of the Glades. “Did you – did you come here to rescue me?” Roy, a boy grown up in poverty asks of his teenage socialite girlfriend. “Yeah,” her only answer. They’ve since broken up – Thea in desperate need to find her self and her truth in the middle of too many lies and secrets – but they’ve remained close friends, and their care and devotion to one another hasn’t wavered. I have a strong suspicion they’ll soon be reunited.
2. Jeff and Annie, Community
While the initial season may have been focused on Jeff’s lust for Britta, that was a relationship that never quite panned out the way most sit-coms would have it done. And to be honest, I think the show is all the stronger for it. Instead, it’s Jeff and Annie and all the slightly icky feelings their age difference – she starts the show a sweetly, inexperienced 18 year old, with Jeff a much more adult 35 – brings. They know their feelings are maybe inappropriate, and more importantly the show is well aware of it, and yet the couple are allowed to care and pine and flounder in all their complex, creepy glory. They’ve yet to make it to official “relationship” status, but maybe this year they’ll finally seal the deal.
3. Mercedes and Sam, Glee
I know when most people talk about the best and most prominent couples in Glee, the conversation surrounds either Kurt and Blaine or Santana and Brittany (or maybe a throw-back to Finn and Rachel). But at this point, I’m actually most compelled by Mercedes and Sam. Their most recent break up was one that was handled with a maturity I didn’t think existed in the delightfully ridiculous hyper-reality of Glee. Mercedes is celibate, choosing to keep sex a sacred act only to be committed with her future husband. She’s taken the time to search her self and her values and pray for guidance before ultimately coming to this decision. Sam – long since having lost his own virginity – is willing to wait for her, but as their relationship is forced to become long distance what with Mercedes’ tour, the two have a beautifully heart felt moment where they decide to put their relationship on hold. They both have faith that one day the lives they lead will allow them to be together again, but in the meantime both continue to follow their own dreams, holding each other fast in their hearts.
4. Callie and Arizona, Grey’s Anatomy
I have to admit something here: I haven’t seen probably the last three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. The last episode I saw was the alternate reality episode where Meredith was dating Alex. So…I know a few hallmarks of their relationship since then? I know Arizona loses her leg, I know she cheats on Callie, and I – think? – they’re separated right now? I honestly don’t know if they’re going to make it, if there’s any way for them to come back from what has happened to them. But I think that’s okay. Because the stories they told while they were together were important. Stories of love and support when Callie’s father cut her off and then again when she was hurt in a car accident. Stories of struggles, of two women trying to bend and compromise their own selves in order to give the other joy: such as Arizona, who had never wanted kids, agreeing to parent Callie’s baby. And stories of betrayal: Arizona’s bi-phobia, Callie saving Arizona’s life but not her leg, Arizona sleeping with another woman. These women are strong and flawed and layered and beautiful and messy. And they loved each other. But not all love survives.
5. Connor and Oliver, How to Get Away with Murder
A new couple this season, as well as the first on this list that could tentatively be called together – “We’ll take it slow,” being Connor’s most recent labeling – but from the minute these two spoke, I was hooked. I already let you all know my shameful penchant for smarmy assholes, and Connor fits the bill to a tee. But coupled with sweet, sensitive, techno-geek Oliver? All of a sudden Connor becomes a full blown person. Sure, he fucks it up pretty quick, but is it a surprise that the delightfully slutty Connor has trouble being tamed? Oliver was more than an easy lay and easy A, he was someone Connor genuinely connected with, a fact that surely surprised Connor himself. But just watch his sad, drunken attempts at hitting on a potential female witness at a bar, listening to him bemoan the breakup with his girlfriend “Olive,” and there’s no doubt Connor has found something real. He’s picking up the pieces, making his amends. And Oliver’s slowly letting him back in. I hope they keep Oliver around. He’s just so good at turning Connor into a real boy.
6. Regina and Robin Hood, Once Upon a Time
One of the challenges Once Upon a Time has faced, pretty much from its inception, is how to keep its love stories interesting. For the most part, all the couples are forgone conclusions. Snow White is going to end up with Prince Charming. You can throw all the curses you want at them, but they’re still always going to end up together. So the show has done a good job adding in other twists: Rumplestiltskin being the beast, for example, or sexless characters like Pinocchio or Captain Hook falling for Emma. But the biggest surprise to me is that of Robin Hood and Regina. Maid Marian is dead, and so Robin is free to fall in love again. And he does. With Regina. But then Marian is brought back from the dead, and a real triangle emerges. And, as a viewer, I’m fascinated. It’s the first break we’ve seen from the soul mates of the storybooks. Robin isn’t just destined for someone, going through the motions that the book decrees. He and Regina choose to love one another.
7. April and Andy, Parks and Recreation
April and Andy are probably the truest representation of the age old adage “opposites attract.” And it’s beautiful. Andy is sunshine and rainbows and happiness and joy and innocence and light. April hates everything. Except Andy. Their surprise wedding will forever be one of the highlights of the show. Together they are impulsive and childish and do their best to live life on no one’s terms but their own unconventional ones. They dig in their heels and have to be dragged kicking and screaming into adult hood, but they do it together, marshmallow shooter and three legged dog Champion at their side.
8. Ben and Leslie, Parks and Recreation
I tried hard not to include more than one couple from any one show, but I just couldn’t decide between these two. Besides, I only have one more week to consider this a currently airing show. Ben and Leslie are just about everything April and Andy aren’t. They are so earnest and enthusiastic and positive. There is nothing they believe the other can’t do. Their support and belief in each other is incredibly touching to see. In a recent episode, Leslie thought she was being courted to run for a congressional seat, but it turned out they were interested in Ben. On any other show, Leslie would have spent the episode jealous and passive aggressive before finally seeing this for the great opportunity that it is. Instead, Leslie’s immediately on board, passionately championing her husband as a the only choice.
9. Hanna and Caleb, Pretty Little Liars
Caleb and Hanna are another stellar example of opposites attracting. Caleb’s a brooding bad boy who’s spent his teen years in and out of foster care and become an expert hacker. When they met, Hanna was a girl with her sights set solely on prom queen and designer clothes. She was the shallow party girl of the group, often brushed off as empty headed and equally empty hearted. But even if that’s how others at her high school saw her, she wasn’t going to let Caleb see her that way. Hanna saw past Caleb’s bad boy act, into his true character as someone smart and hurt and protective and loving, and opened herself up so that Caleb could find all those same things in her. They’ve had some ups and downs: a breakup when Caleb needed to look for himself outside of Rosewood and a drift into some self destructive habits upon his return, but for the most part these two bring out the best in each other.
10. Ian and Mickey, Shameless
Let’s be clear, these two are probably my favorite on the list. Their love story is one for the ages. Falling into bed together as young closeted teenagers way back in Season One, we’ve spent five years watching as they’ve grown and matured into young adults, out and proud in a loving and committed relationship. Mickey’s journey of self discovery has been one of the high lights of the series, at once heart breaking and uplifting. The two have gone through more than their fair share of struggles: juvie, abuse, corrective rape, an unwanted pregnancy and marriage, etc. And they’re far from out of the woods. Ian’s family have been trying to convince him he’s been showing symptoms of bipolar disorder like their mother had, but so far he’s denied it. And Mickey’s been determined to take care of Ian on his own. The last episode ended with Ian voluntarily checking himself into a psychiatric hospital following a manic episode that saw him jailed for kidnapping Mickey’s young son. But Mickey held him the whole car ride to the hospital. And I’m certain he’ll be waiting with open arms when Ian’s released.
There you have it. The love stories I’m currently obsessed with. I know this is far from a comprehensive list. And I’m sure their are plenty of people who would have made substitutions or rejections. I’m all ears if you want to share!