I have a curious relationship with sitcoms in that I don’t think I have ever watched one as the episodes came out on the TV. For me, sitcoms exist solely in the realms of unashamed binge where I watch twelve, twenty-episode-long seasons in about a week while sat alone in bed eating biscuits and drinking tea. There is genuinely nothing better for wasting time and forgetting about life than sitcoms: they don’t require you to pay full attention, but they can be just as emotional, funny and impactful as more creditable forms of cinematic entertainment. Seeing as it was Valentine’s Day last week, it seemed conveniently appropriate to compile a list of my all-time favourite sitcom couples, as I, once again, sat alone, in bed, eating biscuits and drinking tea:
Ross and Rachel (Friends):
It makes sense to get the most obvious out of the way with first. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t seen at least some of Friends but if they exist I’m sure even they must have heard of televisions most famous couple. Ross and Rachel’s ten year long, on again off again relationship is still the benchmark by which all subsequent sitcom romances are judged. It is at times hilarious, heart-breaking, infuriating and makes you genuinely give up hope that they’ll ever manage more than half a season happily together in one another’s arms. Rachel is scattered and spoilt, Ross is neurotic, stubborn and occasionally creepy and they seem to take delight in breaking one another’s hearts, but it makes for arresting viewing and looking back, would you have it any other way? Any relationship that spawned as famous a phrase as “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” must be outside of the ordinary.
Sam and Diane (Cheers):
The archetypal example of opposites attract, Cheers’ Sam and Diane are one of the most mismatched couples in sitcom history. He is an ex-baseball player, pub-owning, lady-loving, man’s man of limited scope and intellect. She is a highfalutin, snobbish, highly-educated, prima donna from an upper-class background who has been reduced to waiting tables at Sam’s bar. By rights they should hate one another, and they frequently do. But they also find each other utterly irresistible, and every pitfall and sign that they should not be together is clumsily but always successfully overcome by their love and crazy chemistry. Their fight scenes are legendary and the extent to which they fail to understand one another is both frustrating and hilarious. Although Shelley Long (who played Diane) departed after season 5 of the show, the relatively short time they had together, in sitcom terms, is more than enough to ensure their place in the TV Couples halls of fame. The final episode/scene that they share together is one of the most heart-breaking moments in any sitcom.
Pam and Jim (The Office US):
I have honestly never shipped a couple as hard as I shipped Pam Beesly and Jim Halpert from the American version of The Office. From the very first moment they share screen-time it is obvious that they are meant to be together. Of course, it can never be that easy, Pam is engaged and when she breaks off the engagement, Jim gets a girlfriend. This back and forth of will-they-won’t-they lasts for an excruciatingly long time with many misunderstandings and near misses along the way. When it finally, and inevitably happens, it genuinely had me clapping and beaming for joy alone in my room. If Sam and Diane are an example of opposites attract, then Pam and Jim are an equal example of two people who are absolutely destined to be together. They have an encyclopaedic knowledge of one another’s likes and dislikes, have the same impish sense of humour, and are lucky to possess that kind of relationship where if one looks up knowingly at the other, the other will be looking right back at them. I defy you to find many scenes that will make you smile more than the one in which Jim FINALLY asks Pam out to dinner.
Cam and Mitchell (Modern Family):
Cam and Mitchell, from the hugely successful sitcom Modern Family, have been held aloft as one of TV’s few examples of a successfully portrayed gay couple but they are so much more than that. Cam and Mitchell are an ode to any couple who have ever had an argument or bitched pettily and needlessly at one another, while still remaining as solid as a rock. Cam and Mitchell are complete opposites in terms of
character: Cam is lovable, illogical, impulsive, high-maintenance and bitchy, with far too many emotions; Mitchell is highly-strung, repressed, overly cautious and oppressively sensible, with just as many emotions but no way of expressing them. They adopt a kid, start and sustain a loving family and become successful, all while maintaining a constantly level of petty disagreement which is delightful and utterly relatable. Nearly every episode features some kind of falling-out or misunderstanding, usually involving Cam attempting to conceal some consequence of his irrepressible impulsiveness from his neurotic husband, but invariably ends with them reaffirming their undoubtable commitment to one another.