The Straight TV Couples We Won’t Apologize For Loving

We are, of course, a bunch of queers writing for a queer website, so even when we’re doing roundtables where we don’t have to choose queer shows and characters, we almost always do anyway. But this week, we decided to share those rarer than unicorn straight couples that we won’t apologize for loving. It turns out that even those of us who thump our chests and proclaim loudly that we’re Team Love Is a Lie are a bunch of dang softies!

Will you tell us yours, too?


Rebecca and Greg, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Drew

Rebecca and Greg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Okay, so my actual answer is Moe and Noah on Trinkets but I just talked about that. And my possibly less controversial answer is Jane and Rafael on Jane the Virgin but I also talked about that plenty last year. So instead I am going to say something that is probably objectively wrong: oh my god I think I like Rebecca Bunch and Greg Serrano??

Greg is introduced as the guy Rebecca probably should be with instead of his friend/her crush Josh. They actually have chemistry, they actually have things to talk about, they actually seem to get to know each other. But both characters have too much shit to work through and actor Santino Fontana inexplicably wanted to leave one of the greatest television shows of all time to go star in Tootsie on Broadway so in season two it was goodbye Greg. He returned in season four, now played by Skylar Astin, and it shouldn’t have worked, but for me it just did. Now sober, Greg had definitely grown a lot during his absence, but he was still a sarcastic dick and the exact kind of guy I usually wouldn’t want my friends to date! And this is a show that ends with Rebecca choosing herself and musical theatre over any of her love interests! So why the hell am I still stuck on Greg??

Here’s my answer: musical theatre. It’s my only explanation. It’s my only explanation for tolerating Jamie in The Last Five Years and it’s my only explanation for shipping Rebecca and Greg. Musical theatre has the power to let me inside the brain of a straight woman who wants to date a man like Greg. Suddenly I understand falling in love with someone that arrogant, that negative, that insufferable. I see his charm! I see his appeal! I see their love! In fact, I actually liked Rebecca with all three guys?? What a powerful artform.


Davia & Dennis and Malika & Isaac, Good Trouble

Natalie

Davia and Dennis on Good Trouble

When Good Trouble debuted last year, I knew I’d care about the straight relationships…after all, I’d watched Callie and Mariana Adams Foster grow up over five seasons of The Fosters so, of course, I’d be invested in their relationships in this new spin-off, right? But, much to my surprise, Good Trouble introduced an expansive ensemble cast that I grew to adore and, somehow, I started to care about their straight relationships more than the characters I’d always known.

The thing that binds my love of Davia’s relationship with Dennis and Malika’s relationship with Isaac is how, through each of them, you get a window into the trauma that they’re carrying. For years, Davia’s had to endure her mother’s abuse about her weight and she carries that shame into her relationships. No matter what image she showcases on Instagram, she’s scared that her mother’s warnings — that no one would love her because she was fat — are true and that being someone’s mistress ought to be enough. You can see her falling slowly for Dennis but never being able to commit to the possibility until Dennis says it aloud. She needs his voice, his love to drown out the echoes of her mother. But, of course, Dennis is reluctant to do that because he comes to the table with his own trauma. He carries so much pain over the loss of his son and so much guilt for having failed his family in such a profound way that he feels unworthy of whatever kindness is offered to him. He’s at the Coterie to hide, not to be seen… and Davia makes him feel so exposed. I grew so invested in them and hoping they’d find their way past their pain and to each other.

Malika and Isaac on Good Trouble

Similarly, with Malika: she’s who Callie might have been if Stef and Lena hadn’t welcomed her into their home. Years in the foster system have left her fearful of trusting that the ground beneath her feet will still be there tomorrow. When she meets Isaac, he confirms all her skepticism but then, after she rejects him, Isaac does a thing that Malika doesn’t expect: he keeps trying. Malika is a dark-skinned black woman who grew up in the foster system and was homeless before she ended up at the Coterie…people don’t keep trying to win the affection of people like her. The more Isaac shows up, the more Malika can let go of her past trauma and fully embrace the love that’s being offered…. and watching her learn to love Isaac and learning to let him love her feels like a profound triumph and I cheer it on every week.


Khadijah and Scooter, Living Single

Carmen

Khadijah and Scooter on Living Single

If you’re a lover of the specific subgenre that is Iconic Black Sitcoms of the 90s (and there are many of us, I salute you!) — then you probably knew I’d have a Living Single couple on this list, and you’re probably surprised that the couple is not Maxine and Kyle. Maxine Shaw Attorney at Law (Ride the Maverick!) and Kyle Barker, exquisite dresser and stockbroker, are the lead Will-They-Won’t-They couple of the series. Their hot, sexy enemies-to-lovers dynamic SPARKED from the high heavens and there’s no denying that, least of all by me. So then why would my heart settle on another love story instead?

Because I never want to be enemies with the love of my life, that’s why. The complicated drama of hating each other — but being drawn together nonetheless — makes for captivating television, but who the hell wants that mess in their actual lives? My heart is far too sensitive for such volatility. Khadijah and Scooter (excuse me, he’s grown now so we call him Terrence) have been best friends since diapers. The first time they have sex? The next morning they laugh together about how it was the first time they’d seen each other naked since they were five years old and sharing a bathtub. I love love that is warm and lived in, like wrapping your softest, warmest throw blanket up to your neck on a cold winter’s night, sipping hot cocoa. I want a love story that feels like home.

If Queen Latifah did one thing as Khadijah James, it was keep a NBA roster of fine men on her arm, but we always knew that it would come back to Scooter. In the show’s finale, on New Year’s Eve, when he returns to finally sweep her off her feet… to be new and in love with your best friend? There’s nothing like it.


Dwayne and Whitley, A Different World

Carmen

Dwayne and Whitely on A Different World

When this roundtable was first suggested, I complained that I haven’t loved a straight couple in 25 years, which is true, and so may I please present you with the other 90s Black sitcom couple that has my heart.

Here’s the deal with Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert. They are college sweethearts, but not at first. No, at first Dwayne is a skinny math nerd, a bonafide geek who no girl will seriously date. And Whitley is a pampered, bougie Southern princess who thinks everyone is beneath her. To be honest, in the early years they are both… well, annoying.

But the beauty of Dwayne and Whitley not that opposites attract, it’s that in a true coming-of-age, they grow up together. In Whitley, Dwayne not only grows into his own versionof cool, he ultimately learns patience and how to care for someone other than himself. In Dwayne, Whitley learns that there is so much more to the world than money; she also learns how to stand on her own two feet and outside of the princess shadow cast by her bougie and overbearing parents. It takes them four years of college (well, five for Whitley) but when they graduate they aren’t just getting a piece of paper degree — they’ve become better people. Love did that for them. They grew up in love. And really, what’s a better love story than that?

In conclusion, this summer I once explained that I loved this couple so much by describing myself as a “Whitley Gilbert, looking for a queer Dwayne Wayne with flip-up glasses ❤️” and Natalie pointed out that since I am myself a Black nerd with a PhD, then aren’t I also my own Dwayne Wayne? And to be honest, she wasn’t wrong.


Coach and Tami, Friday Night Lights

Heather Hogan

Coach and Tami on Friday Night Lights

My favorite scene between any married couple on TV, ever, happens in the fourth season of Friday Night Lights, “The Lights in Carroll Park,” two episodes after Glenn, a teacher at Tami Taylor’s school, gets drunk and kisses her in the parking lot of a karaoke bar. She jumps away from him, of course, and according to the rules of TV, it’s going to cause big problems in her marriage. When she doesn’t mention it to Coach in the next episode, that seems like a sure bet. But in “Carroll Park,” somewhere in the middle of the episode, Coach and Tami wake up in bed and he mumbles, “Guess who came to see me the other day? Glenn.” And Tami says, “Oh? And what did Glenn have to say?” They get into a sleepy, silly, groggy, foggy, early morning mumble-jumble talk-off about Glenn kissing her. She says, “Oh honey, he was so drunk; you didn’t hit him, did you?” And he says, “You just get kissed by so many people over at the school you forget to even talk about it?” He’s not mad because he’s not threatened and she’s not embarrassed because she knows that he knows what he means to her, what they mean to each other. Coach jokes about it throughout the episode, says she’s going to have Glenn over when he goes out of town, and “Don’t let him drink all my scotch.” But the episode ends with them in the car, down by the lake where they had their first date, kissing and pressing their foreheads into each other. Coach says, “Damn, I love you.” And Tami says, “Damn, I love you too, babe.”

That’s the kind of love I never knew existed when I was growing up. Not that kind where you run through the streets in the snow to stop an airplane from taking off, or chase somebody to the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day for a sweeping, soppy kiss. That was all fine and good and everywhere. The kind of love I never saw modeled for me in real life and also never saw on TV or in movies was steady and sure and gentle and firm and unwavering, the kind of love that challenges you to be a better version of yourself and gives you the space and empowers you to actually do it; the kind of love that’s refuge from the storm, not the storm itself; the kind of love that is so self-assured — not haughty, or cocky, but quietly and completely confident — that getting kissed by drunken Glenn in the parking lot will become just another in a lifelong series of inside jokes between you.

Coach and Tami are their own characters, with their own hopes and dreams and flaws and fears, and their marriage is its own character too, this whole other living and breathing thing that, as Coach says, needs to be nurtured.

When I met my wife, ten years ago, I asked her on our first date how she handled conflict. And I told her how I handled it (anxious-avoidant) too. And then I told her the most important thing to me, in the entire world, was to create the kind of relationships that are built on so much consistent goodness and grace that all conflict will become me and that person against the world, and not me and that person against each other. The first time I saw that in action was the first time we watched Friday Night Lights together. And now I have the great good fortune to see it in my own life, too.


Jim and Pam, The Office

Riese

pam smiles at jim in "the office"

Sorry for being basic but it’s true! They make each other laugh. They have great running bits. They have a very cute love story. My only complaint is how they seem to hold each other back a little bit from whatever their respective dreams are, sometimes. But G-d, they find the other person just so delightful! I love them. Remember THE TEAPOT

Tami + Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights

Riese

Best marriage I’ve ever seen on television! There were no broad strokes here, just real, flawed, ambitious, impressive people navigating assorted ups and downs with a relationship rooted in mutual respect and a desire to see the other succeed. It’s too bad the child produced from this union was a total bitch!!!

April & Andy, Parks & Recreation and Veronica & Kevin, Shameless

Riese

split screen of Kevin & Veronica and April & Andy

I think I like both of these couples for the same reason — hot bossy women in relationships with men who are a little um, less smart, but also very charming and funny! Bonus points to K&V for when they had a throuple in Svetlana, justice for Svetlana.

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, Drew Gregory, and Heather Hogan. Follow them on Twitter!

The TV has written 147 articles for us.

52 Comments

  1. Can’t help myself: Spuffy (Spike and Buffy, BTVS). Yes, “there were problematic aspects” to the ship. No doubt. But he *got* her, in ways she was afraid to admit. He loved her, to the best he was able . . . and then he made himself MORE able (she couldn’t deny it in the end).

    More recently (Spring 2020): Peter and Simone in ***the first 8.75 episodes*** (out of 10) of “Dispatches from Elsewhere” (and then the show went completely, totally-indulgently, off the rails. Blech.)

  2. Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls have been my OTP since I was 12 years old and I have a Ted Talk’s worth of reason why. Lorelai is a mess but Luke is perfect (don’t talk to me about the Revival) and I refuse to accept questions.

    Also CJ and Danny on The West Wing.
    And Eleanor and Chidi on The Good Place

  3. Agree with Coach/Tami from FNL and Luke/Lorelai from Gilmore Girls. I’m also fond of Jake/Amy from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Seth/Summer from The OC, and Chuck/Sarah from Chuck. That may be it for the straights.

  4. You know Carmen you make a fair point about Maxine & Kyle. Where would you rank Sinclaire & Overton?

    When I was younger, I was partial to Topanga & Corey from Boy Meets World(& then Girl Meets World). There was a quirk about them that seemed to work.

    • Sinclaire & Overton is also perfectly acceptable!! I rank Khadijah and Scooter higher because… well, Queen Latifah (lol). But the sweet goofy love that is Sinclaire & Overton should NOT be overlooked!

      I’m also a fan of Topanga & Corey, ah the 90s.

  5. Truly there is nothing better than the wedding episode of A Different World. I caught that once while flipping channels and had never seen another episode of the show before, but you still can’t help but be drawn into Whitley and Dwayne’s story.

    I also want to put in a vote for Pacey and Joey on Dawson’s Creek.

  6. Having just watched the whole thing on Disney+, there’s something still so very wholesome about Boy Meets World. But I admit later seasons Cory and Topanga are bad in the same way Ross and Rachel are just bad. Shawn and Angela are a better couple, and I also think I ship the parents now?

  7. Surprised that I didn’t see these two mentioned in the story/comments (unless I missed them)!

    Zoe and Wash from Firefly: I feel like this definitely falls into the “badass woman” and “kind of dopey but sweet guy” dynamic Riese touched on with Kevin/Veronica and Andy/April. You can just tell that they’re very, very in love, and (from what I remember, haven’t rewatched in a hot minute) even when they had conflict they were respectful in communicating about it.

    Alison and Donnie from Orphan Black: I recently started an Orphan Black rewatch, and was actually disappointed in how much I…didn’t like Donnie in the first season. He was definitely a bit of an aloof husband who wasn’t super in tune with Alison’s life or needs. But after he — spoiler alert — kills Leekie and they hide the body together and then eventually — spoiler alert — start a drug empire? Sign me up for that.

    • Yesss, I came down here to say “Zoe and Wash”! I think it was the first time I’d seen such a positive depiction of a healthy marriage on TV, and I will forever be sad about Serenity taking that from us.

  8. More in the anime section, but Noi/Shin in Dorohedoro (show contains blood and violence). Noi is at least twice as tall as her maybe-boyfriend and is just as much of a terrifying mob enforcer as he is. Shin is the dude who wears sneakers with a suit and also loves his job a tad too much. They sacrifice a lot for each other and are clearly capable of compassion towards their coworkers, though. Also, I just like antagonists who are regular people off-the-clock.

  9. Heather, I somehow missed it that you and your girlfriend finally married each other – congratulations!

    As for the topic at hand – I agree with Drew, I’m oddly fond of Noah and Moe from Trinkets. He is such a good human and fully in check with his emotions, I’m so in awe.

    I also agree with Natalie, I like Davia & Dennis and Malika & Isaac as well. Good Trouble has its…troubles (ok, that was low) but Davia/Dennis and Malika/Isaac are a treasure to watch.

    I never watched Friday Night Lights but now I feel I have to.

  10. ultimate life goal:
    -Tig’s stepdad Bill and his new girlfriend Felicia in season 2 of One Mississippi
    And to echo comments above:
    – Zoey and Wash from Firefly
    – CJ and Danny from the West Wing. Gosh I love CJ
    -Eleanor and Chidi
    And to be really controversial:
    -willow and oz

  11. I honestly thought Greg was going to end up being the one Rebecca chose, based on how each of the 3 guys acted in the “date contest” episode. Josh & Nathaniel both seemed to be trying to make an argument for “you know we’re meant to be together”, like it was destiny or something, and that kind of fairytale thinking was exactly what Rebecca had spent the last 2 seasons trying to get away from. Whereas her “date” with Greg involved both of them being open and honest about where they were & what their feelings were, a gloriously mundane activity that’s far more representative of what everyday life with another person is like in the long run, and him telling her he loved her without using that to put any expectations on her.

  12. A slightly odd one, but I like Jack with both Izzy and Emma separately, which we see in various seasons, although (very oddly for me, as I am happily monogamous, although I know some poly folks, I’m just not wired that way) them as a throuple is kind of relationship goals (and Izzy and Emma together is also awesome which we see too). I also really liked Nina and Shaun when they hooked up.

    I think a lot of it that the whole cast is well written, they’re characters rather than gender stereotypes, and the writers’ room writes good relationships that avoids a lot of the gender stereotypes too. It’s not like watching a same-sex couple together, but it doesn’t fall into the trap of a lazy hetero couple on TV either.

  13. I’m on a Schitt’s Creek watch and I have always loved Moira and Johnny. Despite everything they have a strong relationship and don’t cut each other down.

    I also love Rebecca and Greg, and almost everything about Crazy Ex Girlfriend, but I like the original Greg better.

  14. Oof, I literally on this day watched an episode of Living Single featuring Khadijah and Scooter and couldn’t get over how likeable they are and how much I like that even as their relationship changes, it’s always always grounded in a foundation of friendship and enjoying each other’s company.

    Leslie and Ben – Parks and Rec (It’s the mutual hyperfixating on politics and pop culture and the fervent desire to see each other succeed for me.)

    Iris and Barry – Flash (I don’t even know? I would lay down my life for Iris and Barry runs real fast? But they look at each other, or they make some dumb-diddly-foolish ass choice for each other and I swoon a lil bit).

    Chuck and Sarah – Chuck (They spend two years thinking they’re from such different worlds that there’s almost no way they’ll even know each other long, but also they’re just like unlocking the parts in each other that help them survive in each other’s worlds. Plus tough, guarded lady & sweet, earnest man just feels right.)

    Jane and Michael – Jane the Virgin (I did drag Michael for maybe the first 20 episodes, but their wedding??? The snow falling? The way they pored over romance novels together? Really grew on me.)

  15. So the straight couple that makes me ache inside is Ruth and Harry from Spooks, and like, I think it’s purely because I love Ruth so much that I just want her to be happy, and the thing she wants more than anything is to be with Harry. AND SHE DESERVES IT OKAY. So in my head they successfully retired to that cute cottage and nothing bad happened at all, thank you very much. Fuck you, series finale.

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