TV Couples of the Decade



1. Buffy and Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Buffy: I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just being weak, and selfish -- 

Spike: -- really not complaining here -- 

Buffy: -- and it's killing me. I have to be strong about this. I'm sorry.

- “As You Were”


What better example of a couple who are constantly drawn together, but keep destroying each other? Buffy and Spike begin as enemies, become uneasy allies, become stalker-and-his-stalkee, become lovers, become enemies again, become… what?

Spike, we know, is very constant in his affections. For a soulless vampire, he is surprisingly sentimental. He stayed with his vampire Dru for over a century. So, when he falls for Buffy, he falls hard.

For Buffy, of course, it’s more complicated. She’s not drawn into healthy, stable relationships, and her relationship with Spike is probably the least healthy one of the lot. Buffy doesn’t get together with Spike to make herself happy—she does it to degrade herself, to punish herself, and to try and reclaim sensation and emotion after the trauma of her… well… death.

And we are fascinated. Should they be together? No, of course not. They are terrible together. But we are endlessly fascinated.


2. Jack and Ianto, Torchwood (2006-Present)

Ianto: A thousand years' time, you won't remember me.
Jack: Yes, I will.

- “Children of Earth”


Look, I get it. Jack is the coolest character on Torchwood. He’s charming and dashing and handsome and confident. He’s funny and irreverent and occasionally a bit of a bastard. He’s the bad-boy-good-boy that we all love.

But… Ianto?  Ianto is my favorite character. It took him awhile to build up. He was a little bit bland and whiny at the beginning, but when he came into his own, he became fascinating in his own right. He’s dry and clever and I adore him. I want the best for him.

And Jack isn’t the best for him. Because Jack is (in addition to being an enormous man-slut) ageless and immortal. He can be the love of Ianto’s life, but Ianto will never be the love of Jack’s. He’ll always be just a slowly-dimming memory, along with all his other lovers. That inherent, unchangeable misbalance will never let them be together as equals.

It’s tragic, really.


3. George Michael and Maeby, Arrested Development (2003-2006)

Narrator: George Michael was getting ready for school when he came across a box of love letters he’d written, but never sent, to his cousin Maeby. One letter, titled “If you weren’t my cousin,” was particularly incriminating.

- “Queen for a Day”


Arrested Development, the critical darling widely ignored by mainstream audiences, was known for its excessively quirky, self-obsessed, immature characters. Arguably one of the most level-headed of the wacky Bluth family was poor, dear George Michael, the homework-doing, integrity-based, shy-but-sweet son of the more volatile Michael Bluth.

His cousin, Maeby, is the opposite. She’s manipulative and lazy, seeking out the easiest way to do things, and actively avoiding anything that bores or frustrates her. That said, she’s quite charming and fun, and enlivens the stick-in-the-mud George Michael.

Hey… remember that part when I said they were cousins? Guess what—bad idea. But poor George Michael pines for wild child Maeby for all three seasons. Beyond the simple quasi-incest angle, though, Maeby is a terrible influence on George Michael’s behavior, with hilarious results.


4. Hoyt and Jessica, True Blood (2008-Present)

Hoyt: This might sound kind of funny, but I was just sitting there thinking, "How come you don't ever meet a nice girl, Hoyt?" And then you just walked right in.

- “Scratches”


Don’t believe everything you read in Twilight. Humans and vampires, in real life, do not fall in love and live happily ever after. The trashtastic True Blood seems to understand this, as most of the couples have a cloud of doom hovering over them.

Hoyt was secretly my favorite character even when he was just popping up now and then a background character in Bon Temps. His aw-shucks, mommy-whipped, puppy dog act was really very sweet and engaging.

But Jessica! Jessica was the shrieking, hyper-emotional good-girl-gone-bad when she was changed into a vampire. She couldn’t be more different from Hoyt. I can’t understand what he sees in her.

Well… maybe I can a little. But this is going to end badly, Hoyt Fortenberry, you mark my words.


5.  Logan and Veronica, Veronica Mars (2004-2007)

Logan: I thought our story was epic, you know? You and me.
Veronica: Epic how?
Logan: Spanning years, and continents. Lives ruined and blood shed. Epic.

- “Look Who’s Stalking”


In a show that includes comas, head-shaving rapists, celebrity bad boys, mysterious accidents, conspiracies, and assassinations, the most unlikely thing that happened was the romance between Veronica Mars and Logan Echolls.

At the beginning of the series, Veronica is the cynical, ostracized daughter of a private detective and Logan is (as she describes him in the pilot) the town’s “obligatory psychotic jackass.” The enmity between them wasn’t a cute cover for flirtation, like with many nascent couples, but a deep and genuine loathing (he vandalizes her car; she plants narcotics in his locker and has him arrested).

Astonishingly, the blossoming of affection between them was quite believable. They are deeply attracted, and bonded together with grief and with abandonment and betrayal. But that doesn’t mean that they’re good for each other—far from it. They are both too damaged to really connect. Logan is, by nature, secretive and deceptive. Veronica is suspicious and hostile. They hurt each other over and over again, and every time they try to call the whole thing off, they almost irresistibly fall back together again. You can imagine them running into each other twenty years later at a social gathering: their eyes meet across the room, and it all begins again, no matter how much they should know better.



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