Ross and Rachel v Homer and Marge: who’s the best TV couple?

As Valentine’s Day looms, we put the best telly romances to the test and find out which TV twosome was the ultimate teamup, once and for all

* * *

First round

couples composite

Jack and Vera (Coronation Street) v Den and Angie (EastEnders)

We begin with an easy one. Although both of these couples are soap powerhouses who’ve endured their fair share of ups and downs, one marriage ended in divorce and murder. The other ended with a touching spectral deathbed visitation. There’s really no contest. Winner: Jack and Vera

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Jaime and Cersei (Game Of Thrones) v Cliff and Clair (The Cosby Show)

On one hand, Jaime and Cersei Lannister are two power-crazed siblings who indulge in incest and graphic violence while desperately attempting to maintain their family’s grip on the kingdom. But, on the other hand, Bill Cosby. Yuck. Some things are just too much. Winner: Jaime and Cersei

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Walter and Skylar (Breaking Bad) v Poussey and Soso (Orange Is The New Black)

Spoiler alert: both of these pairings end in death. However, since Walter White’s death is largely self-inflicted, as he was shot to death by a contraption he invented in order to murder meth Nazis, his counts less. Poussey’s death, meanwhile, was avoidable and heartbreaking. Winner: Poussey and Soso

couples composite

Rose and Bernard (Lost) v Philip and Elizabeth (The Americans)

Two married couples. One renew their love by murdering their way through the 1980s in a selection of bizarre wigs. The other renew their love by being part of a terrible plane crash on a mysterious island that exists in another dimension. They also don’t murder anyone. Winner: Rose and Bernard

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Ross and Rachel (Friends) v Pacey and Joey (Dawson’s Creek)

Two grasping, needy couples whose indecision about whether or not they should be together was somehow misconstrued as a romance for the ages. By rights, both of them should be tipped headfirst into a medical sharps bin. But that’s not how this works, so let’s flip a coin instead. Winner: Pacey and Joey

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Homer and Marge (The Simpsons) v Leslie and Ben (Parks And Recreation)

Both of these couples are devoted, enduring and always there for each other. Really, I should have mixed them in with the last category, because that way they’d take out those other idiots and make it through to the next round intact. However, with a heavy heart, I must bid adieu to Leslie and Ben. Winner: Homer and Marge

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Don and Betty v Mitch and Cam (Modern Family)

Neither of these couples should be together. They’re mismatched, either because they represent the sucking hole of patriarchy or because one of them lives on a farm and dresses up like a clown sometimes. However, one couple is still together and the other is not, so they win out. Winner: Mitch and Cam

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David and Maddie (Moonlighting) v Omar and Renaldo (The Wire)

Who to pick: the sparky, flirty will-they-won’t couple whom everyone fancies, or the glum couple, one of whom ends up dead after a life of misery in a city that systematically crushed their spirit? Ooh, hard choice. Winner: David and Maddie

* * *

The quarter finals

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Jack and Vera (Coronation Street) v Jaime and Cersei (Game Of Thrones)

They both have experienced unknowable grief; the Lannisters by creating a dynasty so toxic that it caused their own son to commit suicide and the Duckworths by having a pigeon coop that Jack didn’t clear out as often as Vera would like. However in a fight, the Duckworths would lose. Winner: Jaime and Cersei

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Poussey and Soso (Orange Is The New Black) v Rose and Bernard (Lost)

The thing you have to understand about Rose and Bernard is that they found each other. They were on parts of the plane that crash-landed on different parts of the island, but they never gave up hope. They found each other. Rose and Bernard are beautiful. Winner: Rose and Bernard

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Mitch and Cam (Modern Family) v David and Maddie (Moonlighting)

Ask yourself this: who would you most like to spend time with: a couple who keep arguing in a sexy “Will they/won’t they” way, or a couple who keep arguing in a “For God’s sake, you don’t belong together, this is a toxic relationship, get out now” way? Winner: David and Maddie

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Homer and Marge (The Simpsons) v Pacey and Joey (Dawson’s Creek)

This is the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make. An iconic symbol of enduring love from my favourite television programme, or two wet-mouthed dipsticks who deserve to be blown up by a dirty bomb and then cooked into pate? Guess which one I prefer. Winner: Homer and Marge

* * *

The semi-finals

couples composite

Jaime and Cersei (Game Of Thrones) v Rose and Bernard (Lost)

Essentially a battle between good and evil. Well, I choose good. I choose the couple who, while the rest of the island raged to the death to prevent the Smoke Monster from assuming ultimate control of the planet, took a step back and decided that their love was greater than anything. Winner: Rose and Bernard

couples composite

David and Maddie (Moonlighting) v Homer and Marge (The Simspons)

Marge and Homer Simpson are an institution built on rock-solid foundations. However, remember the bowling instructor. Remember Homer’s flirty co-worker? Remember the Vegas waitress whom Homer literally got married to while he was still married to Marge? Winner: David and Maddie

* * *

The final

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Rose and Bernard (Lost) v David and Maddie (Moonlighting)

This is so difficult. Clearly Rose and Bernard represent love in its truest form. However, they cannot hold a candle to David and Maddie’s white-hot flirtation. Their love cannot be sullied by baubles like marriage or long-term cohabitation. They’ll for ever exist in a bubble, not quite together but not quite apart. They’re like Romeo and Juliet for your dad’s generation. Winner: David and Maddie

Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as Maddie and David in Moonlighting
Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as Maddie and David in Moonlighting. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

‘For half of the 80s, they owned sex’

Paul Flynn on Moonlighting’s golden couple

The casting of Bruce Willis to play David Addison Jr in Moonlighting was not an easy process. The ABC network had seen 3,000 actors, the show’s creator Glenn Gordon Caron 300, before the unknown Willis stepped through the door and proceeded to chew Caron’s pilot script to pieces, bite by bite. In thrall to the mid-80s chisel-jawed leading men of the Aaron Spelling era in US TV, the executives took some persuading to allow Willis to inhabit his first defining role. Caron has said it was ABC’s head of development, Ann Daniel, who finally silenced the room when watching his performance. “She said, ‘I don’t know whether he is a TV star or not. But he sure looks like a dangerous fuck to me.’”

Moonlighting is the tale of the Blue Moon Detective Agency, owned by former model Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd). Addison is the Humphrey Bogart-ish wisecracker in charge of proceedings. Together they broke all the rules of screen romance. Their hotness was verbal, visual, angry, funny, often farcical and mainly fully clothed. As Moonlighting frolicked playfully with the rules of TV, their heat was its central asset, its simmering volcano.

As she accepted her second Golden Globe for the role, Cybill Shepherd corrected a tabloid cover story about throwing a chair at Caron onset: “If I had’ve, I woulda hit him.” On Moonlighting, all valves were released. In a show that set about deliberately lampooning the cutesy fantasia of predecessors such as Hart To Hart, the central couple deconstructed not just the happily ever after guy/girl detective double act but the very act of watching TV itself. Willis and Shepherd/David and Maddie were the tempestuous anchor that kept audiences coming back for more. For half of the 80s, they owned sex. With a great fictional couple, the headboard-rocking possibility of what happened off-screen was every bit as exciting as the stone-cold passion they brought to set. In every sense of the words, they nailed it.


Stuart Heritage and Paul Flynn

The GuardianTramp

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