If you’re at all like me, you probably go on a Netflix binge from time to time and fall for quite a few TV characters. As a professional Netflix-binger, myself, and lover of deep relationships, meaningful marriages, and sweet moments - I thought I’d share my favorite TV couples and what they’ve taught me about love, marriage, and the messy stuff in between.
In no particular order, check out my top fourteen fave TV couples and the relationship lessons they left for us all. *Caution: This is one long AF list. Also, potential spoilers ahead.
1. Zeek and Millie Braverman - Parenthood
When I think of marriage goals, I think of cute little old couples holding hands. I think of Zeek and Millie! They have a beautiful house with cool adult kids and a brood of grandchildren who they have deep and genuine relationships with, BUT they are far from perfect. Even in their golden years, they deal with the wounds they’ve caused each other, the sacrifices they’ve made, and the new reality of life as empty nesters. They have decades of wisdom and this is just one.
Love Lesson: Be patient and forgive often.
It takes a ton of patience to deal with the maddening reality of your person and you’ll each make mistakes along the way so patience and forgiveness are keys to making your marriage work. Practicing patience when it seems like your partner is your complete opposite can help you slow down, put yourself in their shoes, and stop yourself from possibly over-reacting. Forgiveness is part of that love equation - it’s all about a sense of closure and moving forward without throwing the same ol’ crap back in each other’s faces.
2. Stef and Lena Adams-Foster - The Fosters
Stef and Lena are the best TV moms ever! It takes a strong partnership to raise 5 teenagers. FIVE! Looking back on all the challenges they’ve been through - like the process of adopting siblings, the loss of a parent and child, a double mastectomy, just to name a few - it’s clear that Stef and Lena can face whatever life throws at them, as long as they have each other.
Love Lesson: Push through the hard stuff.
Marriage isn’t always foot rubs and date nights. Sometimes life throws a round of curveballs, everything feels overwhelming, and you feel like your marriage fell into an endless rut. But working together to push through the hard stuff will only make you feel stronger in the long run. Grateful even! There’s nothing like knowing that you can go through hell and back together.
3. Glen and Maggie - Walking Dead
If you’re a Walking Dead fanatic, like me, you know that the constant fight or flight survival mode of the WD world created something unexpectedly magical between Glen and Maggie. THIS RIGHT HERE is what ride-or-die looks like. They’ve been captured, tortured, and separated in a world where the odds of survival is near impossible, BUT EVERY SINGLE TIME, they had an unbreakable faith that they’d find each other and this almost-unreasonable hope for a better tomorrow.
Love Lesson: Faith and hope go a long way.
Chances are we won’t be in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ridden world anytime soon. *Fingers crossed* But the lesson remains true. The more faith you have that you can face whatever trial comes your way, the more hopeful you’ll become that your future together is bright and full of possibilities.
4. Beth and Randall - This Is Us
This show has me in drowning in tears EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. WHY DO I STILL WATCH THIS? Probably ‘coz I know that through all the tears, I’ll find my happy place with Beth and Randall. They’ve gracefully managed their way through some heavy family issues - finding and losing a birth father, fostering a teenager, quitting a job of 10 years - all while raising two amazing kids. They’re a power couple who keeps it real on all things, big or small. It’s what makes them magic, but their ability to be vulnerable and embrace that part of each other makes Beth and Randall an exceptional example of love and marriage.
Love Lesson: Embrace vulnerability and keep it real.
At the end of the day, relationships are about opening up to each other. It’s scary, sure. I mean you’re baring the darkest corner of yourself with the chance of being hurt by someone you love. But when you’re with someone who makes you feel safe enough to fall apart, who doesn’t shy away from your vulnerability, who doesn’t try to fix you but instead sits with you and loves you harder, and you do the same for them - you’re building a strong foundation of trust. So embrace that vulnerability and keep it real, like Beth and Randall.
5. Elizabeth and Henry McCord - Madam Secretary
There’s nothing like managing careers in politics and being surrounded by one catastrophic situation after another. The stress is too unbearable to even imagine. Between balancing their careers and raising smart, independent young adults, the McCords find time to be a damn cute married couple. Sure, their calendars are filled with global and domestic debriefings, dangerous diplomatic missions, and fancy dinners. But they always make time for each other, even if it’s tiny slivers of time when they’re getting ready for work, having breakfast, or winding down from a long day.
Love Lesson: Make time and be present.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your individual lives and sometimes you might forget to make time hang out and talk to your other half. So, even if it’s ten minutes in the morning, a quick call in the afternoon, family dinners, pillow talk, or a weekend getaway - be intentional about making time for each other. Be present and try your damndest not to get distracted by your phone.
6. Lito and Hernando - Sense8
In a Latino world where macho culture rules and queer men are seen as less, Lito felt his sexuality was a threat to his career as an alpha male action star so Hernando agreed to hide their romantic relationship for Lito's career. But that took a toll on their love life so Lito finally made their partnership a priority and came out to the world. He learned to truly respect his partner and their commitment to each other, even if they were about to lose everything. For Lito and Hernando, loving each other in such a small-minded world was a courageous act in and of itself. So when Lito chose to reciprocate that respect for Hernando openly and without shame, they truly began their lives as partners in every sense of the word.
Love Lesson: Respect each other.
Actively respect what your lover brings to the table. Be present and kind and appreciate the shit out of them! Build them up; don’t knock them down, betray their trust, shame, or belittle them because that only weakens your relationship when your goal is to happily kickass together.
7. Nomi and Amanita - Sense8
We don’t see cis-trans relationships represented often enough in media so when I witnessed Nomi and Amanita’s love on Sensate, I was over-the-moon! Ya see, Amanita had every right to believe that Nomi lost her marbles when she gained the thoughts and perspectives of seven sensates from her cluster. She even had the chance to turn her back completely! Instead Amanita believed Nomi and became her protector, helping hand, and literal partner-in-crime willing to risk her life and break a few laws along the way.
Love Lesson: Protect and help one another.
Okay, their situation is a bit extreme but their love has survived some serious sci-fi drama so take note. Protect your relationship and each other when shit hits the fan, when your bae is stressed, when their being too hard on themselves, when their family crosses a line. You know your partner well enough to know when they need you to be their voice, their armor, their right hand so help them out. Help bring them balance, lend your complimentary skill set, be their sounding board. Marriage is made up of these moments where you’re taking turns helping each other work through life things. You'll become closer because of it.
8. Michael and Holly - The Office
When most people think of ‘The Office’, they think of Jim and Pam! While they’re definitely a sweet couple with an even sweeter story - my favorite romantic dynamic is between Michael Scott and Holly Flax. No one can match the level of in-sync weirdness like they can. These two are the epitome of what Dr. Seuss once said: that when you find someone’s weirdness who’s compatible with yours, you fall into mutual weirdness and call it Love.
Love Lesson: Be weird together.
There’s something magical about being unapologetically yourself knowing that your person not only LOVES that quirky side of you, but marches to that drum beat too. So share that inner weirdo, laugh at those inside jokes, and have fun! The ability to let things roll off your shoulder and not take everything too seriously means that chances are you’ll be able to make the great times together EVEN GREATER and the crummy ones, wayyy more bearable.
9. Marshall and Lily - How I Met Your Mother
Through all of Ted’s love interests, Marshall and Lily were a steadfast, super cheesy, lovey dovey couple who were so in-sync that they could have full telepathic conversations. Even though they were practically attached at the hip, I loved how they listed to each other even if they went a bit overboard in recounting the minute details of their day. But sharing is caring, right?! It was especially awesome how they’d yell ‘PAUSE!’ in the middle of a heated argument so they could each step away and come back to it later with a clear head.
Love Lesson: Listen and Pause.
Listening is essential to making sure your partner feels heard. You gotta respect their point of view even if it’s the complete opposite from yours. So when you feel like you’re no longer listening to each other or your argument is reaching it’s boiling point - take a break, literally yell ‘PAUSE’ like Marshall and Lily, and get back to talking about whatever it is when you’re both good and ready.
10. Mitch and Cam - Modern Family
Sure, Mitch and Cam lie from time to time, bicker about nothing and everything, and snowball tiny issues into larger, funnier ones! But what makes them special is their ability to embrace each other’s crazy families. They open each other’s eyes to certain family dynamics and push one another to address the serious (and not so serious) stuff to make those familial ties even stronger.
Love Lesson: Embrace your crazy new family.
It’s not always easy to enter into a new family and feel like a part of the inner circle from the start, especially if there’s a history and complex dynamics between family members. It takes time to get to truly know everyone and for them to get to know you, but assuming their family aren’t absolute monsters - embrace your love’s family as if they were your own. Accept them as they are, appreciate having them in your lives, help them out whenever you can, and acknowledge that each of your families are different and that’s alright. They’ll be a part of your lives for the long haul so make it a fun and awesome experience, if you can.
11. Christina and Meredith - Grey’s Anatomy
I know Christina and Meredith are just friends and not a romantic couple like the rest of the peeps on this list, BUT when I think of finding your person - I think of these two and everything they’ve been through together. One near-death experience after another has made them even more cynical than they started. They didn’t shy away from the heavy stuff. They embraced it!
Love Lesson: Share your dark side!
When you find your person, you’re not just finding someone to share all the sweet, fun, light-hearted, happy-go-lucky parts of yourself with. You’re also sharing all the scars, heartaches, worries, problems, inner turmoil that make you who you are. Sharing that dark and twisted part of yourself that no one else (or very few people) knows about you will only deepen your relationship.
12. Coach Eric and Tami Taylor - Friday Night Lights
This series has one sweet constant beneath the football-focused high school drama - Coach and Tami Taylor. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the show but what’s always stuck with me was that win or lose, they are each other’s confidante, ultimate team mate, and number one fan! They root for each other and support one another even if the odds are stacked against them and the town drinks Hateorade.
Love Lesson: Be a team.
You have no control over what happens in the world - everything could go wrong and chances are at one point or another, everything will. What matters though is that you have your partner to count on, lean on, and confide in. So complement each other and become a united front. I mean that in the everyday sense, like washing the dishes, grocery shopping, filling up the gas tank, etc. But I also mean that in the grander scheme of things, because there’s strength in numbers, right? Even if that number is TWO. If you can count on your teammate for the small stuff and the big stuff, chances are TOGETHER you’ll be able to take life’s beating on the chin and maybe even get a few touchdowns now and then.
13. Allison and Joe Dubois - Medium
If there were ever two polar opposites in a relationship, it was Allison and Joe Dubois. Her psychic intuitive nature with his rocket scientist logical mindset could have easily been their downfall, but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, they fought fiercely! But they also let things go and made up easily. What made them great though was that they were open to each other, to listen to one another’s views, and to expand on their own beliefs.
Love Lesson: Be open to expand your beliefs.
I’m not saying that you have to completely change your beliefs, but part of being in a healthy relationship is being open to a completely different outlook on life. After all, as individuals with your own distinct opinions and thoughts, you’re bound to butt heads and disagree from time to time. But if you’re open to listening to your best friend’s perspective and why they see life through that lens, you’ll likely understand them better, your own world will expand greatly, and your relationship will benefit because of it.
14. Grace and Frankie - Grace and Frankie
Okay, okay - here's another friendship I had to highlight. Grace and Frankie were forced into each other's lives because they experienced the same loss. Their husbands, Robert and Sol, were having an affair with each other for twenty years and as much as this was a punch in the gut, they found solace in each other. They couldn’t be any more different if they tried - Grace is the high-strung, super-organized boss while Frankie is the pot-smoking, laid-back hippie of sorts. But through their differences, in their golden age, they complemented each other and grew their non-existent relationship into BFF-level friendship.
Love Lesson: Complement Each Other and Grow Together.
It's important to know what yours and your partners' strengths and weaknesses are so you can accept them, and complement each other. Figure out your strong suits instead of expecting your partner to do things they're not great at. In understanding what works and what doesn't, you'll be able to grow together as badass BFFs, like Grace and Frankie.
Whew! That was a loooong list, huh?! Hope some of these TV couples and their love lessons resonated with ya. Maybe now you even have a few shows to add to your list. Let me know what you think and share your fave TV couple or lesson in the comments below.