The 9 Best “Couples” on TV: From JUSTIFIED to BOB’S BURGERS

Being a good couple is about more than just romance. Couples can be defined in many ways; when my Collider cohort Adam Chitwood and I came up with this list of the best TV couples (who are on currently airing shows), we decided to not just include traditional definitions of togetherness, but all kinds. There are some pairs who are together, some who should be, some who are just good friends, and others who … well, I don’t know exactly how to define them. But they make up a dynamic duo nevertheless.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day weekend, here are our picks for the 9 best couples on TV. Be sure to add your own in the comments:

‘Downton Abbey': Mr. Carson & Mrs. Hughes 

These two are the definition of feels. Both Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) of Downton Abbey are proper and restrained almost to a fault (despite Carson’s past in the Cheerful Charlies), and neither one is interested in a love affair (at least … as far as we know). But the deep affection this pair exudes is a beautiful thing, particularly in a recent episode where Carson suggested the two put in for a house together for when they retire (a duplex, I’m assuming). Though there are many flashier relationships on the show, few are as lovely and compelling as the one between these two. Who knew simple hand-holding could be a show-stopper? -AK

‘Parks and Recreation': Leslie and Ben 

Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) are the best couple on television and I will fight you if you say otherwise. But seriously, they’re incredible. Not only is the chemistry between Scott and Poehler excellent, making for a genuinely lovely coupling, but this is also one of the most progressive pairs on TV. As evidenced by this last week’s episode, the two represent the kind of gender role-breaking modern duo that I can really get behind. There is no “wife’s duty” or “husband’s duty” between the two—they’re an honest-to-goodness team, and that’s what makes them so effective (and relatable). And their serious moments are just as emotionally affecting as their comedic ones. If you didn’t tear up when Ben proposed, I’m afraid you have no soul. –AC

‘Fresh Off the Boat': Louis & Jessica Huang

The fourth episode of ABC’s new comedy Fresh Off the Boat ended with a corny but sweet quote that summed up the Huang’s marital relationship: “yes, we may be swimming in debt, but at least we are swimming together.” Jessica (Constance Wu) is incredibly patient regarding her husband Louis (Randall Park) and his dream to move to Orlando and open up a Western-style restaurant. Their relationship has its ups and downs (they need each other, they get irritated with each other, they high-five whenever they make a great joke), but their dedication to partnership is inspiring. -AK

‘Girls’: Elijah & Hannah 

Okay so maybe these two aren’t a couple in the traditional sense, but the pairing of Lena Dunham’s Hannah and Andrew Rannells’ Elijah on the most recent season of Girls was a stroke of genius. Rannells has delivered more killer one-liners this year than anyone else on TV, and his self-absorbed/BFF relationship with Hannah is comedy gold. Of course what else did you expect from putting these two together in the middle of nowhere Iowa? –AC

‘The Americans': Philip & Elizabeth Jennings 

An arranged marriage between two Soviet spies pretending to be Americans doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for love, nor does one spouse pulling another’s tooth out with pliers in a basement seem like a declaration of it. But The Americans‘s portrayal of the relationship between Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) Jennings is a very raw, emotional, and very real look at marriage, and probably the best on TV. The seesawing of the love and dynamics of the relationship grows more nuanced and compelling with every season. -AK

‘Justifed': Wynn Duffy & Mikey

When FX’s excellent series Justified ends in a few weeks, I would absolutely support a Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) spinoff. Can’t you see it now? Wynn and his Dixie Mafia bodyguard Mikey (Jonathan Kowalsky,) traveling around in their RV? I love how over the years, the odd relationship between the two has put Mike in the position not only of bodyguard, but also essentially being Wynn’s butler and maid. It’s not romantic (I don’t think), but it’s fantastically funny, and one of the show’s best recurring bits. -AK

‘Bob’s Burgers': Bob & Linda

These two goofballs really deserve each other. While most animated sitcoms are first and foremost interested in jokes, the family at the center of Bob’s Burgers has really filled out nicely, anchored by Bob and Linda Belcher. They’re not the most passionate couple on television, but their love runs deep from their many years of marriage. Compromise is key, as Bob puts up with Linda’s habit of randomly breaking out into song, and Linda tolerates Bob’s obsession with pun-tastic menu items. –AC

‘Banshee': Job & Sugar 

Though a more obvious pair might be Lucas and Siobhan or even Lucas and Ana/Carrie, I am rarely more entertained by Banshee than when Job (Hoon Lee) and Sugar (Frankie Faison) share scenes. The two, brought together by Lucas, are not usually friendly to each other, yet that irritation-fueled verbal sparring is always a treat. Because when push comes to shove and the bullets start flying, the two always have each other’s back (and never let the other one forget that they owe them). This dynamic duo never fail to be better together, and I’m happy Banshee has (so far) kept them alive to keep kicking ass. -AK

‘How to Get Away With Murder': Connor & Oliver 

On a show where people are either plotting murders, solving murders, committing murders, or covering up murders, there’s not a lot of true romance to be found. The exception is Connor (Jack Falahee) and Oliver’s (Conrad Ricamora) on again / off again relationship. One of the best things about How to Get Away with Murder‘s midseason return has been Connor trying to get back in sweet Oliver’s good graces. Oliver hasn’t quite tamed all of Connor’s bad-boy tendencies, and he can’t quit him, despite all of Connor’s repeated fuck ups. I’m rooting for these two, because they seem to bring out the best in one another. -AK

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