After I’ve found characters whose lives I’m invested in, my brain then automatically goes towards intricately analyzing the relationships they’ve got — both platonic and romantic because I’m a big believer in the fact that no one should ever be alone in this world. No one can accomplish anything alone. And ultimately, we as people aren’t meant to be alone. Each of the pairs chosen for our Best of 2018 relationships are ones that have done an exemplary job of teaching viewers what it means to compromise, trust, believe, and love deeply. Each, in their own unique way. Heck, Marvel’s T’Challa wouldn’t be as successful as Black Panther if he didn’t have such a loving team on his side. Relationships shape us, break us, and teach us some of the greatest things we could ever learn in the world. And to love with a profound intensity in our hearts often does the trick in bringing our souls to ease even when nothing else is going our way.
For more end-of-the-year coverage, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Characters, and 10 Episodes.
- Matthew Clairmont and Diana Bishop
A Discovery of Witches
A witch and a vampire walk into a library. . .If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be sitting here today writing about a fantasy romance between a witch and vampire, utterly compelled by their story I would’ve told you you’re crazy. But yet here we are, wine in hand, crying into the glass over the relationship I didn’t know I needed in my life. Matthew and Diana are magic together. (I kid you not, friends, the show’s theme song just came on shuffle. Magic.) Personally, a brooding man who hasn’t known love for centuries finding light and wonder in a woman is right up my alley of tropes, for it tells the all-consuming story of what it truly means to be destined for someone, bound by an unseen but potent line that’s been fortified through time and continues to grow beautifully when it begins to intertwine with adoration.
There’s so much that could be said about how beautifully their meeting plays a significant, inspiring role in their lives, specifically, at this point in time, Matthew’s love for Diana, which has brought out the magic in her. And in retrospect, how effortlessly she’s brought light back into his life. The laughter, the sincerity, and the unshakeable belief in one another continue to stun me. Matthew and Diana have found something powerful with each other that’s helped them both not only see the greatness in themselves but their resilience, too. Belief in another person can serve as unparalleled strength and inspiration, thereby, the tireless choices they each make to hearten and challenge one another have made their story that much more captivating. I can’t conclude this without paying homage to Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer’s exquisite chemistry with one another, each playing on the other’s emotions beautifully in a poetic rhythm, which results in each moment, even the quiet, most delicate spectacles of intimacy feel like a work of art.
2. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings
For six years we’ve watched The Americans in hopes that whatever happens to the Jennings family, at least they’d be together. And season six surprisingly gave us that hope to some degree, but didn’t do so without leaving us perpetually haunted in the aftermath. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings got caught by the F.B.I but lived to tell a dark tale about how they then had to leave their kids behind to flee to their motherland. The Americans has always been a show about marriage — it’s always been about Philip and Elizabeth coming to the realization that they’re each other’s home. And home isn’t Russia or America, it’s knowing the other will be okay — it’s knowing that they’re stronger together than they are apart. It’s knowing that even if their lives had taken a different turn and a marriage had never been arranged by the KGB, they would have met on a train, and in that very moment, they would’ve known.
They would’ve known that they’d met the one person who’d touch them to their core — the one person whose one glance, one touch could momentarily heal it all. It took a while for them to feel as though what they have is real, and by the time the series ended, it was clear that while they’d doubt anything, they’d both believe in the fact that their love is unwavering.
3. The 99Th Precinct
Just when I think Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s 99th Precinct has done all that it could to prove that they’re the best team ever written, their 99th episode happens and I’m floored all over again. There really isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other, including giving into Jake’s ridiculous desires to nerd out in the face of everything related to Die Hard. They’d then rally one another up and do all that’s in their power to get Holt to his interview. But now that I’ve said this, I’m certain this upcoming season is going to prove me wrong in all the best ways. This show’s too good. It’s too special. And it’s all boldly presented to us with the precinct as a whole along with their distinct relationships within. For instance, Holt is the honorary dad to all — he may have denied it for a while, but at this point in his career, I’m pretty certain he’s proud of the lunatics he’d do anything for. Boyle would go above and beyond what he’s asked of in order to ensure that Jake and Amy are happy in their relationship, ultimately making him best man goals.
Jake and Amy. Oh where on earth do I begin with these two? I wanted to dedicate this entire thing to them but figured the team’s too special as a whole not to discuss them, too. I’ve been rooting for Jake and Amy for so long that I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t. They’re both such remarkably interesting souls that they’d need someone like the other to understand every ounce of their character. And they’ve found utter magic with one another — magic that’s made each of their dreams come true in ways they never thought possible, giving them the opportunity to go home to someone who’ll listen to every word they say, even the most ridiculous, and somehow fall in love with them even more. It’s in the team’s choice to not only accept Rosa when she came out but their tireless efforts to find someone utterly perfect for her. There’s no telling what they’d do for one another, but we can guarantee that at this point, nothing’s off limits.
4. The Time Team
I already miss The Time Team so much and we’ve still got two more hours of Timeless left. I loved them last season, but this? So much more than I could have ever imagined — especially with the addition of Flynn and knowing who we trust. Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, Jiya, Flynn, Denise Christopher, and Connor Mason are the dream team. Where can I submit my application to be a part of it? Whether it’s the team as a whole, the couples within, or the unlikely alliances, the relationships on Timeless are nothing short of remarkable. The fact that they’d do anything for one another has been established beautifully, but what continues to stun me is how organically they feel like a family. There are disagreements and moments of genuine adoration revealing that relationships are not only complicated, but they deserve to be fought for. It’s about openness and honest communication, two things the Time Team has now established strongly.
Whether it’s Lucy and Wyatt being each other’s anchoring hearts despite what’s currently happening. Rufus and Jiya being absolute relationship goals. Denise Christopher running the house like an absolute boss/mom they all deserve. Or even the intricate friendship between Lucy and Flynn. Point is, the Time Team has each other’s backs — through thick and thin, through time and space. And seeing as how rules were broken to save Rufus, it’s remarkably evident just how much they’d risk for each other — anything and everything. Whatever it takes.
I want to cheat a little here and talk about some of the relationships within because I apparently can’t say enough about this show. It was easy to want Wyatt and Lucy together when they began establishing that there’s something special there, but today, that adoration is more beautiful than I thought possible. I’ve always said that I wanted Wyatt to choose Lucy even when Jessica was in the picture, and though this will be published before the finale airs, I’m certain his choice has always been Lucy. From the moment they became a team, Wyatt and Lucy’s attachment to one another was an interesting emblem in the Time Team’s completeness.
They’re strong on their own, but together they’re marvelously compelling. In a world where neither of them ever felt like they fully belonged, they found someone whose profound appreciation and understanding of their character would feel like home. The Time Team is home, but with Wyatt and Lucy, they’re each other’s strengths, too — the one person who’d always believe in them even when the rest of the world gave up. The one person who’d effortlessly bring out the best in them and see every ounce of greatness that’s in them. They’re each other’s number one choice, no matter the circumstances or challenges, in every lifetime, they’d choose each other.
5. Amy Sosa and Jonah Simms
I’ve never “shipped” a pair as hard as I have with Amy and Jonah from the Pilot. I mean really, you must have something unbelievably special for such a desire to rise, and no show’s done what Superstore has in that area. It all started with a moment of beauty that showcased a crush at its absolute finest then led to a lot of back and forth only to realize by the end that the feelings have always been mutual. Amy and Jonah couldn’t be more opposite, but it’s those very differences that have made them so delightfully compatible. We knew the aftermath of their tornado kiss would be great, but I’m thankful for the storyline involving Kelly because if she wasn’t the case, we would’ve never gotten the incredible revelation (For Jonah especially.) that Amy too had a crush on him once. It made for one of the best scenes I watched this year and I’m so glad Heather over at TV Examined chose to talk about it with more depth. There’s a lot to appreciate about the two of them, and I imagine there will be a lot more once they grow as a couple, but for the time being, it’s easy to appreciate just how much laughter Jonah’s brought back into Amy’s life.
Through his childlike excitement and ridiculous charm, he’s helped Amy realize that she’s not only so much more than a floor supervisor, but she’s someone who deserves to shine. He’s inspired her to aim bigger, run farther, and even when he learned she’s pregnant with a child that isn’t his, it didn’t stop him from joining her in the delivery room and doing everything in his power to make sure she’s comfortable. This year, the two of them, in the most innocent of ways with a few hiccups here and there have shown that real love is effortless. It may have been challenging finding their way to each other, but it’s never been anything but easy to be the reason the other’s smiling.
6. Bow and Dre Johnson
For a moment there I was ready to give up Black-ish because I wasn’t sure how long the fight between Dre and Bow would go on. But even though I hated every minute of how this arc made me feel as a hopeless romantic, I’m grateful for the superb episodes that came out of it. And I’m grateful that one of my favorite relationships is now even stronger than before. Dre and Bow have always been each other’s best friends, but in their brief separation, they reminded viewers of the fact that sometimes, love is hard. It’s effortless to love someone, but when life’s challenges become too much, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s right in front of us.
Dre and Bow love one another deeply, their fight wouldn’t have been as heart-wrenching if that weren’t the case, but the decisions they made to work through the chaos in their lives brought them even closer together. It’s through this fight that they realized that they need to listen to the other more carefully, spend time more exclusively, and be mindful of what’ll work best for them as a family. After years of marriage, they needed to relearn the meaning of compromise and find the quirks that made them fall in love in the first place. And in the midst of it all, they learned that above all things, they’re still each other’s person — the one they’ll always think of when something happens. The one who’ll always be there in a heartbeat and the one who’ll always fight for them.
7. Henry and Elizabeth McCord
When Elizabeth announced that she was running for President, after celebrating the idea, my first thought immediately went to just how great Henry would be as a first man. And it then turned to thinking about what a gorgeous relationship the two have. There’s a tremendous amount to appreciate about Henry and Elizabeth, but at the top of that list is their superb means of communication. It reminds viewers of the kind of marriage that’s in all honesty, the healthiest. Communication is the key to strengthening any relationship, and with marriage especially, it keeps the relationship appealing. So often you see married couples going about their day with little to no communication, but with Henry and Elizabeth, that’s never the case.
Plus with their jobs especially, it’s the anchor that keeps them both grounded and at ease. Henry and Elizabeth have mastered the art of communication beautifully, and with the challenges that met them this year, they’ve excelled at making decisions that are bound to help her campaign for the better. So much is still in store with this revelation and I can’t wait until we see what it is. But for the time being, I look forward to their late night conversations before bed as a depiction of what true love actually looks like.
8. The Soul Squad
The Good Place
I don’t know where The Good Place has been my entire life and I don’t know how I’ve gone without knowing The Soul Squad. Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason, Michael, and Janet are each other’s soul mates — in every sense of the word, they’ve brought out the best in each other. They’ve seen each other at their absolute worst, and when one’s fallen, they’ve done all that they could to get them back up. The best part in their unconventional friendship is the fact that in the midst of finding themselves, they’ve each set examples for the other as well. They’ve accepted one another’s flaws but have been there to help them overcome them.
They’ve each been the beacons of hope the other’s needed in trying times, and they’ve given the other whatever is necessary even when they’re complaining in the process. They’ve each used their gifts to help make the group stronger, more entertaining and ridiculous (thanks to Jason), and far more insightful. Their means of now complimenting one another, and reminding each other of just how special they are is the forking icing on top of an already glorious, perfectly tear-jerker cake.
9. The Gaslight Dysfunction/Functional Family
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
I tried with a clever name. I really did. You can’t tell. I know. It’s okay. I don’t know how I just watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, don’t at me. Better late than never right? And while there’s a great deal I adore about this show, what initially got to me were the intricate relationships within. We have the bizarre yet incredible friendship/partnership with Midge and Susie — neither of them ever realizing just how much they needed each other until the stand-up days began. And with this season especially, I’ve appreciated just how much Midge has helped Susie see the importance of family. We have the Weissman family and their dysfunctional means of communication that are thankfully getting much better now. We have Abe and Midge going all the way to Paris to get Rose back, and choosing to love one another despite the fact that they don’t agree with what’s going on.
We have the Maisels who are an interesting display of a separated duo — I don’t want Joel and Midge together in any way, but I could appreciate his efforts to atone for his mistakes. I can appreciate his choice to support all that Midge is doing even though he wanted it first. I can appreciate them coming together for their kids and I could appreciate him standing up to her on vacation. We also have perhaps my favorite friendship at the moment, Midge and Lenny who’ve truly brought out the best in each other simply by showcasing belief in each other. And if you’re new to Marvelous Geeks, one of my favorite things to write about is two people who believe in each other with unwavering ferocity. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is filled with a plethora of wonderfully complex characters and their relationships with one another continues to be a shining factor that makes them that much more captivating.
10. The Magicians
There are a number of incredible series that depict friendships beautifully, but I’ve never seen something quite as unique as what The Magicians has done. Its poetic means of bringing together perfectly imperfect misfits is where the series’ real magic could be found. There’s something so realistic about the unspoken tenderness that’s found in their means of comforting one another. It’s as beautiful as Eliot and Margot’s partnership in every area of life — two people who love one another deeply but aren’t a couple in the traditional sense. There’s Eliot and Quentin along with the understanding of a life only they’ll know about binding them intricately in a way no two people asides from them would understand. There’s Quentin and Julia’s gorgeous friendship that’s only strengthened from the beginning, showcasing that overcoming challenges only ever brings more strength. There’s the ever-growing friendship between Julia and Kady. There’s the entire team’s adoration for Penny, the inability to let go of him, and his inability to give up helping his team. The Magicians, the misfits of Brakebills/Fillory, would do anything for one another, no lengths they wouldn’t cross, or unknown doors they wouldn’t walk through.
Which pairs are featured in your Best of 2018 relationships list? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out TV Examined’s lists as well.
Can you just keep writing about all of these relationships forever? Seriously, Giss; this kind of writing is just so perfect for you and it brings out your most beautiful work.
I apparently also need to start watching Madam Secretary because I love couples who actually get to talk to each other! It’s such a simple detail, but it always makes fictional relationships feel more realistic. You’re giving me so many shows to get excited about trying!
Awww thank you. The sap in me loves everything about relationships and how much they impact us in our day to day lives. So this comment means EVERYTHING to me.
Also, yes please. I’ve been telling Heather, too. I’m not the biggest fan of political dramas because sometimes, the world is honestly enough, but with Madam Secretary, the first thing that ever got to me was their relationship. It feels so REAL. (And I mean, this could be due to the fact that Tim Daly and Tea Leoni are dating in real life.) But long before I knew that, their chemistry was so captivating, there’s truly something so indescribable about it. And you’d love the rest of the characters, too!
This whole list is perfect, even the shows I don’t watch. I love everything you had to say about these varied relationships.
I didn’t love the separation arc on Black-ish and this got me to reconsider that. It was so hard and draining to watch that I was having a hard time engaging further but the way you described the process they had to go through to rediscover and renew their love and commitment to each other was stunning.
ADOW is one of the next shows up on my list to watch and I cannot wait to talk about it with you.
After the kitchen episode, I couldn’t bear it and I seriously thought they were going to break them up. If that had happened, we would’ve had a whole other approach, but I’m SO HAPPY it’s strengthened them instead.
And YES PLEASE. I went ahead and read all the books right after I watched episode five because I needed more right away. It’s definitely my favorite show of the year and I need you and Katie to watch so we could talk about it.