There are plenty of really, truly bad relationships in pop culture (Christian and Ana, anyone? Romeo and Juliet?), and even the sort of mediocre relationships in pop culture would be considered totally melodramatic and probably borderline unhealthy if you took them out of fiction and put them in real life. But there are a few exceptions, couples in pop culture that are healthy, considerate, supportive, and kind, no matter what obstacles they face. Some of them are romantic, some of them are platonic, but they all have good takeaways for real-life relationships. Here are nine of my favorites…
- 9. Jaime and Brienne from A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones
- 8. Dill and Rosemary Penderghast from “Easy A”
- 7. Burt and Verona from Away We Go
- 6. Rose and Bernard from “Lost”
- 5. The Doctor and The TARDIS from “Doctor Who”
- 4. Morticia and Gomez Addams from “The Addams Family”
- 3. Michael Scott and Holly Flax from “The Office”
- 2. Leslie Knope and Benn Wyatt/Leslie Knope and Everyone/Everyone and Everyone from “Parks and Recreation”
- 1. Jake and Finn from “Adventure Time”
9. Jaime and Brienne from A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones
Jaime and Brienne’s hatred for each other over the course of the Song of Ice and Fire books (don’t worry, I won’t spoil) melts away over the few principles they have in common — that loyalty should be practiced and rewarded, that one’s word matters, and that innocent bystanders don’t deserve to suffer. They’re both black sheep — Jaime for being a king-killer, and Brienne for stepping out of the bounds of her gender — and together, they make a hell of a team.
8. Dill and Rosemary Penderghast from “Easy A”
Olive Penderghast’s parents in “Easy A,” portrayed by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, might seem like an obscure example, but name a better set of parents in a teen-oriented movie! You can’t. They manage to be seriously supportive to their children while keeping things funny and light, and they look on their adventurous pre-children pasts with as much happiness and gratitude as they see their parenting present.
7. Burt and Verona from Away We Go
The best thing about Burt and Verona is that they stay chill with each other no matter what. Sometimes not fighting can just be conflict avoidance, but for Burt and Verona it’s that they prioritize the other when they come across obstacles. And they come across a lot of obstacles — Verona’s unexpected pregnancy, Burt’s parents moving away and leaving the couple anchor-less, exposure to long-distance friends who all of the sudden seem totally insane in person, Burt’s sister-in-law abandoning her family — and through it all, instead of fighting, they make sure the other is OK.
6. Rose and Bernard from “Lost”
Rose and Bernard are hands-down the best couple on The Island. Everyone else’s relationships are fraught and loaded, but Rose and Bernard keep it simple: They want to be with each other, however they have to do it, even if that means giving up their day-to-day lives, their friends, and their homes in order to stay on The Island. Rose and Bernard provide emotional and practical support to the other survivors, but ultimately they care the most about what the other needs.
5. The Doctor and The TARDIS from “Doctor Who”
One of my favorite episodes of “Doctor Who” is the Neil Gaiman-written “The Doctor’s Wife,” in which the TARDIS becomes embodied and is suddenly (and joyfully!) able to speak to her partner. All along, the Doctor had been insisting that the TARDIS had a heart, but it wasn’t until “The Doctor’s Wife” that we found out he didn’t mean it metaphorically. The Doctor and the TARDIS genuinely have something like a marriage: Although his friends come and go, he and the TARDIS are always together, always depending on one another. They’re the ultimate intergalactic power couple — as the TARDIS pointed out in “The Doctor’s Wife,” she doesn’t always take him where he wants to go, but she takes him where he needs to go; and with her help, he can be the best of himself once he’s there.
4. Morticia and Gomez Addams from “The Addams Family”
The thing that everyone remembers about Morticia and Gomez is that they were so incredibly filled with lust for one another, and they accepted it as a matter of course in their relationship. They didn’t hide their desire for each other, because why would they? People in the average loving, committed relationship should want each other, and there’s no shame in that. It only made them closer and more loving toward each other, a stronger couple and stronger, more loving parents.
3. Michael Scott and Holly Flax from “The Office”
When Holly came on board at Dunder-Mifflin, she and Michael had no idea how to handle each other’s personalities — she was calm and consistently professional, and he was, well, Michael Scott. Their relationship was built on the fact that they have the exact same sense of humor, and as it progressed, Michael was able to use that sense of humor to bring Holly out of her shell, and she was able to use it to encourage Michael to be a little softer and more reasonable. Oh, and that proposal. Tears.
2. Leslie Knope and Benn Wyatt/Leslie Knope and Everyone/Everyone and Everyone from “Parks and Recreation”
It’s hard to pick just one couple from “Parks and Recreation,” because who do you pick? Donna and Tom for having a friendship that encourages them to love themselves? Ron and Leslie, for judging each other based on the quality of each other’s character rather than their beliefs? Leslie and Ann, for so clearly giving each other the exact kind of validation they need? Ben and Chris, for always making sure the other is OK? April and Andy, for always just going for it? Leslie and everyone, because she’s just so insistent on being as open-hearted as she can to the people she loves?
But then, of course, there’s Ben and Leslie: Two people who are over-the-top passionate about mundane things like parks and budgets, who take joy in each other’s joy, and who are unflappably supportive of each other. They become better, braver, stronger people for that support.
1. Jake and Finn from “Adventure Time”
Jake and Finn have been friends so long that they understand and are sensitive to each other’s nuances and quirks. When they fight, it makes them better friends. They love each other for their whole selves, including their weaknesses, and they help each other to become the best possible versions of Finn and Jake that they can be. I aspire to Jake and Finn’s level of loyalty and understanding!
Of course, those are just my favorites — what are yours?
Original by Rebecca Vipond Brink