Fiction gets it very wrong indeed when it comes to romantic couples. Whether it’s Anakin and Padme (why a cultured galactic senator would be attracted to a petulant child is beyond me), any of the throuple from Twilight or Ted and Robin from HIMYM, writers seem to totally and utterly miss the mark when it comes to writing solid, inspiring couples.
However, sometimes they manage to get it right. Whether through luck or judgement they create two people who work together perfectly to become far more than the sum of their respective parts. These couples stick with us forever, each giving us something different to aim to bring to our perfect partner when we find them.
With that in mind, here are five fictional couples that put most relationships to shame. Thankfully we can remember that they’re fictional rather than real, so there’s no need to compare ourselves against them and feel too sorry for ourselves.
Morticia and Gomes Addams, The Addams Family
I love her not for the way she danced with my angels, but for the way the sound of her name could silence my demons.
– Gomez Addams
Whilst there are hints at how great this pair are in the original tv series, the movies of the 90s are where they really come to life. It is clear in every scene they are in that the two of them (played by Anjelica Huston and the late, great Raul Julia) simply adore each other, effortlessly bantering and teasing in a language that the two of them understand to their very core.
They also quite clearly fancy the pants off each other. Three children has not in any way dampened their passion, and they never forget to make sure the other feels valued, respected and sexy. They share their kinks, too.
#LifeGoals if ever they existed.
Rob and Sharon, Catastrophe
I want you to know that I’m going to look back at my time with you and remember you as an extraordinarily good-smelling woman with a magical ass.
I’ll remember you as a sturdy love-maker with a massive chin who was really kind to waiters and taxi drivers, which suggests that you might actually be a good person.
– Rob and Sharon
Dysfunctional? Yes. Sometimes troubled? Yes. Imperfect? Yes. An on-point reflection of how real couples are and should be? Absolutely. This duo, who wrote as well as starred in one of the most underrated comedy series of recent times, are very much flawed, but they have each others backs in a way most of us hope for.
With more issues than Vogue, it’s true that some aspects of their lives aren’t exactly aspirational, but throughout everything they face they ultimately have each other’s back. They also share a sense of humour and constantly make each other laugh, which ironically enough is nothing to be laughed at.
Mr & Mrs Smith, Mr & Mrs Smith
– John Smith: The first time we met, what was your first thought?John and Jane Smith
– Jane Smith: You tell me.
– John Smith: I thought… I thought you looked like Christmas morning, I don’t know how else to say it.”
Bear with me here, and remember that this is about the characters and not the actors portraying them. The titular assassins certainly don’t have a conventional relationship. They begin the movie using each other for cover, not knowing the other’s real job and not really knowing who each other really is on the inside, but by the end of it they do come together as a couple, perfectly complementing each other and, in fact, egging each other on to be better than they’d otherwise be.
And that’s what earns them their place on this list. They are two world-class operatives at the top of their game and who, when combined, somehow make each other even better. They use play and flirtation, even after five or six years of “marriage”, and push each other to ever greater heights and achievements.
Ma and Pa Larkin, The Darling Buds of May
Ma, what about a bit of a lie-down after lunch? Feel like it? Perfick opportunityPop Larkin
One for the kids here – the parents of the tv show adaptation of the HE Bates stories, Ma and Pop Larkin (Played by Pam Ferris and David Jason respectively) are the heads of the farm they live on, bringing up their six children and making the very most of every single opportunity which comes their way.
After all of those kids and all that work they are still head over heels in love with each other, and do all the little things that show that every day. There is a trust and a playfulness about their relationship that demonstrates a real, deep connection and affection, with no-one ever coming between them. They may not be rich in a financial sense, but the love between them and between them and their family makes them the richest people in the world in so many other ways.
Phil and Claire Dunphy, Modern Family
Claire: Getting everybody out of the house in the morning can be really tough. Especially the first day of school.Claire and Phil Dunphy
Phil: From the moment we get up at seven until we drop them off at school it is: go go go.
Claire: I get up at six.
Phil [mocking]: I get up at five.
Claire: Seriously, I get up at six.
Phil: That’s you? I thought we had a raccoon
It’s tough being parents, but these two manage to do it with aplomb. Should they work on paper? Probably not, but they never fail to remember just what it is about the other person that they love so deeply.
Each of them have their own hobbies and interests, whether that’s running, trying to get elected to office, magic or tightrope walking, and each gives the other the support and encouragement they need (or at least doesn’t ridicule them too badly when it all goes wrong). They provide a united front to their children and to their wider family, and even find time for both romance and adventure (especially their annual anniversary roleplay activities). They’re the sort of couple who you fully expect to see dancing at their own golden wedding anniversary, and that’s what most of us aspire to.
This list could have gone on and on. Jim & Pam from the US Office, Cam & Mitchell from Modern Family, Lily & Marshall from HIMYM, Schmidt & Cece from New Girl, Homer & Marge from The Simpsons or Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street all could easily have made this list for their own reasons. For every manipulative, toxic, on-off relationship tv and movies throw at us is one that is heartwarming, rich and complex in a beautiful way.
May we all enjoy one of these at least once in our lives.