Best of 2013: Compelling Relationships

There is nothing I love to watch more on TV than the relationships that form between characters. I don’t care whether that relationship is romantic, platonic, or familial – I love them all. Our relationships make us who we are and show us things about characters that can’t be seem on their own. This was a hard group to narrow down. I watch a lot of TV and all of my shows feature strong relationships between characters. I’ve highlighted 10 of them and included several more on the honorable mentions section below.

Jaime/Brienne (Game of Thrones) David Sims said it best in this review on The A.V. Club. Jaime and Brienne are basically soulmates at this point. Throughout the course of the season, their relationship went from contempt to respect. The bath scene was a big turning point for them. Jaime is genuinely apologetic for insulting Brienne and says that he trusts her and demonstrates that trust by telling her the story of how he became the Kingslayer. Brienne holds the values of a knight so highly and so to her, Jaime breaking those vows was the worst thing he could have done. In that moment, Brienne saw that it wasn’t a matter of “good” or “evil” but of trying to make the best choice possible even when there isn’t a right answer. In that moment, Brienne saw the man Jaime used to be. In “Bear and the Maiden Fair”, she shows that she trusts him by turning over her duty of returning the Stark girls to him then calling him “Ser Jaime” – a title he never thought he’d get back. In those two moments, their bond was cemented. It is a bond built on mutual respect and trust and viewers know how rare that is in Westeros.

Will/Alicia (The Good Wife) This year and especially this season of The Good Wife was a perfect demonstration of the brilliant chemistry between Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies. Their sex scenes have always been hot and while the passion they ignite in the other is no longer romantic, it is equally as compelling. This has never been more evident than in the 100th episode of the show. Will’s fantasy interrogation was some of their finest acting and the tension between them was palpable and electrifying. I always want more scenes with them together and I can’t wait to see what the new year and the new firm brings.

Abbie/Ichabod (Sleepy Hollow) These two. They are partners and there is nothing that I like seeing more on TV than that. They have each others backs and refuse to leave. Ichabod traveled into dangerous dreams with Abbie and Abbie stayed by his side as he entered Purgatory. They make each other laugh and smile. They are each other’s family. It’s remarkable that this relationship has come so far in just 10 episodes and it’s a testament to the great work that Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison are doing. Whatever the future holds for these two, they are a team and nothing can change that.

Joan/Sherlock (Elementary) I love what Elementary has done with these two. It is one of the strongest platonic partnerships on TV right now. They have changed each others lives for the better and they both recognize that. With Sherlock’s help, Joan has become a great detective and she’s happy and fulfilled by the work she is doing. With Joan’s help, Sherlock is becoming a better person. He’s formed attachments that have made him feel happy and more fulfilled. They have different yet complementary strengths and that’s why they work so well together.

Severide/Shay (Chicago Fire) This is such a cute friendship. They clearly adore each other and would do anything for the other. When something is wrong with one of them, it’s the other that is asked how to fix it. They would have made a beautiful, unconventional family together because of their love for each other. Shay has been a little segmented from the group because of her personal problems in the first half of season 2, but I’m hoping that changes and we get to see more of her and Sev being the team they should be in the seond half.

Walt/Bennett (The Carrie Diaries) This is one of the sweetest relationships on TV right now. Bennett has been such a huge source of strength for Walt as he figures out how to accept himself. They believe in each other. They make each other so happy and they are just plain adorable together. It’s no surprise that they’ve been one of the most-loved aspects of The Carrie Diaries.

Tastee/Poussey (Orange is the New Black) There were so many great female relationships depicted on Orange is the New Black that is is hard to pick just one. While we know relatively little about either Taystee or Poussey, we know how much they care about each other. Over the course of the season, they made me laugh, smile and cry with them and I am really looking forward to seeing more of them in 2014.

Olivia/Fitz (Scandal) While their relationship can’t be considered conventional or healthy for either one of them, Liv and Fitz are incredibly compelling to watch. Their chemistry is amazing and despite all of the baggage and lies that surround them, when they manage to connect on an intimate (but not necessarily physical) level, it can be beautiful. They are complicated and messy and not a couple you should want to root for in any way but you somehow do because they are at their most human when they are with each other. They expose each other’s flaws and illuminate each other’s strengths.

Nick/Jess (New Girl) I don’t think there was a canon couple who brought as much joy to the internet in 2013 as Nick and Jess. The whole run of episodes surrounding their kiss and getting together was SO strongly written and impressively pulled off that it became an exciting show to watch and talk about. While the 3rd season hasn’t been as strong, when Nick and Jess are working and acting like a real couple, they are great. When it feels like they are rehashing the same problem over and over again, they suffer from it. Despite the rough start, they have so much potential and I want them to bring back the excitement and fun from the last half of the 2nd season.

The Fosters (The Fosters) Like the Bravermans on Parenthood, the Fosters feel like a real family. They fight and disappoint each other at times but they love each other and are there for each other always. That love is always evident and that’s what makes me care about this show so much. I always want to see more families with great relationships on TV and this show has not disappointed me at all.

Honorable Mentions: Most combinations of people on Parks and Rec and Bones, Castle/Beckett (Castle), Michelle and the girls in all combinations (Bunheads), Emma/Hook (Once Upon a Time), Danny/Mindy (The Mindy Project)

What relationships really caught your attention in 2013?

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7 thoughts on “Best of 2013: Compelling Relationships

  1. Can you please get out of my head because it’s seriously starting to freak me out? 😉 Your thoughts on Jaime and Brienne, Will and Alicia, Olivia and Fitz, and Nick and Jess completely echo my own. Also, your honorable mentions basically round out my list of the best relationships on TV. And your passion for the partnerships between Ichabod and Abbie and Joan and Sherlock have me moving both of their shows rapidly up my to-watch list (after Orphan Black now, of course!).

    1. I’m so glad (and not at all surprised) that we have the same thoughts on Olivia and Fitz.

      I’m always happy to help you find another show to love! I know you’ll love Sleepy Hollow and Elementary.

  2. Love your comments about Olivia and Fitz. It’s refreshing seeing positivity about them and not the hate that’s out there these days.

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head with regards to why people are drawn to Fitz and Olivia in the chaos that is that show and it is absolutely because they are vulnerable only in each others presence. I liked many of your picks, especially the season’s biggest surprise in Sleepy Hollow. Here are some of my favorites that I would add.

    Allison and Felix (Orphan Black)– Of all the clones and for as much as I love Sarah nothing surprised me on Orphan Black more than my great love of the friendship and trust that Allison and Felix found in the back five episodes. It was honest, hilarious and fantastic. It was also, like so much of this show, unexpected.

    Raylan and Boyd (Justified) — When I started watching Justified I never imagined that the strongest relationship that would emerge would be that of US Marshall Givens and his childhood friend and insanely criminally minded Boyd Crowder. But headed into season 5 that is exactly what has emerged. These men are two roads diverged from the same start point. It is a portrait of the road not taken and their ability as individuals to understand that while maintain their own personal code of ethics is one of the best dances on television. Period. I often think Justified has been overshadowed by the flashier Breaking Bad, but the work being done by these two is masterful.

    Frances and Claire Underwood (House of Cards) — I didn’t love this series as much as the hype it was given. However, what compelled me to watch it was the complex, cold and calculated marriage of these two. Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey made these two people ruthless and sympathetic often within the same scene. It was great to watch and a unique take on marriages of convenience and necessity.

    Rick and Martha (Castle) — There are tons of things and duos I love on Castle. However after 5 seasons, pound for pound my favorite remains the duo that is Rick and his mother. Much of this has to do with the brilliance of Susan Sullivan and her ability to make 3 lines feel layered in meaning and significance. Whether it was during the kidnapping or offering a dose of reality to Rick about Kate and then Alexis Martha is Castle’s truest anchor. They are a wonderfully broad relationship ranging from wacky to deep sincerity. The candor these two characters share is unique and one of the best secret ingredients to this show.

    1. I love your comments so much. You make me want to move all the shows you mention way up on my to-do list.

      I completely agree about Felix and Alison’s relationship. It was such an unexpected treat to see them bond the way they did.

      I also love everything you had to say about Rick and Martha. They do have a wonderful relationship and Nathan Fillion and Susan Sullivan do amazing work together.

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