So much of my interest in television (or really any fictional media) is due to the relationships between characters. I want the friendships that steady people and make them better, the sweet love stories, the complicated love stories, and the families (biological or chosen) that form. I want characters and the dynamics between them to matter to the story, to help drive their choices. No one does anything alone and the relationships we form with others matter. That’s the TV I’ll come back to again and again and for all its disappointments on that front, something I managed to find a lot of in the shows I watched and loved.
1. Aziraphale and Crowley (Good Omens) After a spring where two ships I completely adored went in directions that were the exact opposite of what I would have liked (and in ways that didn’t really work with the writing that came before it), Aziraphale and Crowley were a breath of fresh air. The angel and demon who fell in love with humanity and with each other in the process. They managed to combine the best elements of a slow burn romance with a comfort and ease that normally only comes with married couples thanks to the 6000 years they spent knowing each other. I love that Crowley is incapable of giving Aziraphale anything he asks for, whether that is a miracle to make Hamlet a success, a clean jacket, or stopping time so the Antichrist they misplaced can save the day. For someone who shouldn’t be capable of it, he loves Aziraphale so purely and it’s beautiful. On the flip side, you have Aziraphale who is a being of love and he’s terrified of what loving Crowley means. He does, how could he not after everything, but he’s the one who isn’t ready even after all this time. So to watch him be able to take that final step at the end is everything I needed. They got a happy ending and to finally be on their own team and brought me an incredible amount of joy. And if you haven’t seen this fanvid, the scene choices and timing are flawless and make me emotional every time I watch.
2. Fleabag and Hot Priest (Fleabag) To be seen for everything you are is a powerful thing. To find that person who sees through all your defenses and taps into that vulnerable part of you that’s real and that you’ve kept hidden because you don’t truly believe anyone could love that piece of you is terrifying. Especially for someone like Fleabag who perpetually feels alone and like there is something fundamentally wrong with her and the way she exists in the world. And along comes Hot Priest with his slight awkwardness and fear of foxes and desire to truly know her. Their chemistry is intense and all-consuming and too much to experience alone. We know it can’t last. But wow do we want it to. In less than 3 hours, we get to see and experience every stage of this relationship from meeting to its dissolution and it is one hell of a journey. It’s painful and hopeful and beautiful and tragic all rolled into one. It gave them both something they had been searching for and they’ll both go off changed because of what they shared. It affirmed something in them and they’re better because they loved each other in a way that won’t ever really pass. Not entirely. And that’s what hope looks like. The possibility of a new future, even when it’s not a shared one.
3. David and Patrick (Schitt’s Creek) These two are a warm hug (or an oversized black sweater). They are solidly together and in love for the whole of this season and it is beautiful. You feel the ease and comfort and casual intimacy that comes from feeling free with another person and I can’t thank Dan enough for intentionally choosing to write them this way. Being in a committed relationship didn’t take away from either character or suddenly make David boring or a different person, it enriched both their lives and hasn’t changed who they are. Patrick is still going to love baseball and hiking more than David and think tax seminars are an important thing to attend and David will have none of it but they will love those things about the other. Patrick’s proposal is absolutely perfect and for him to be in a place where he can be sure and unafraid and David able to accept and trust in that love is beautiful. They’ve both come a long way to get to that point and it has been so incredibly satisfying to watch.
4. Nadia and Guzman (Elite) These two hit all my narrative kinks. I am a sucker for guys that are kind of terrible but fall in love with strong-minded, incredible ladies who they think are the best thing in the entire world and who want to be better for them. Both of these two were in difficult emotional places this season as Guzman grieved for Mariana (then found out one of his best friend’s killed her) and Nadia felt the increased pressure to be the perfect daughter her dad thinks she is after her brother left home and a sex tape of her made its way around the internet. Neither reacted overly well and attempted to shut out any of their own feelings and everyone else along with them but they also managed a few moments of genuine connection where Nadia was able to admit to both of them how much she wanted this and Guzman continued to be his utterly besotted self and also finally break up with Lu. And those moments were magic. Their chemistry is off-the-charts ridiculous (and it’s really a wonder all of our screens didn’t combust during Nadia’s sex dream) but we also see how good they could be for and with each other if they could find a way to get through everything internal and external holding them back. There is real care and affection between them and I need them together for good by the end of s3.
5. Erin, Orla, Michelle, Clare, and James (Derry Girls) This show is what it is because of this friend group. Being a Derry Girl is a state of mind that comes about from the very specific combination of affection and roasting that they have toward each other and the rest of their lives. Each of them are a mess in their own ways and wouldn’t do nearly as well without the others to round out their lives and back them up when they get themselves into trouble. This is the center that their lives revolve around no matter the uncertainty and chaos surrounding them and that certainty makes what they share all the more important.
6. Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon (Fosse/Verdon) I love watching a good, complex relationship that is simultaneously destructive and essential and that is the heart of this duo. Their creative partnership was so incredibly fulfilling and for two people who lived and breathed for their work, that was everything. They were a natural fit and made each other better. They instinctively understood the way the other thought and moved and no one can deny the legacy of what they made together. At the same time, their personal lives were full of pain, largely thanks to Fosse’s constantly wandering eye and need for the new. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams brought these two to life and made us feel for them despite knowing how things ended. They made us understand why these two kept falling back into orbit around each other after everything they’d been through and how vital that first connection on Damn Yankee proved to be. Bob Fosse was not a particularly good man and there are many ways in which Gwen Verdon enabled that but there was also love between them and the necessity of being seen with all of your flaws and weaknesses. It was messy and painful but real and true and this creative team did an amazing job bringing that to life.
7. Penelope and Schneider (One Day At A Time) It took until my s2 rewatch to get into the idea of these two as a romantic pair but once I did, I was all in. Their current onscreen friendship is perfect and I love it a lot but I would also really like it if they kissed. In whatever form, one thing is undeniable – they are each other’s person. It’s Schenider who is best able to comfort Penelope and give her what she needs when her anxiety is getting the best of her. It’s Penelope that gives Schneider hope that he didn’t ruin everything when he fell off the wagon. Everything Nicole said about Victor could just have easily been Penelope talking about Schneider. He’s her safe place to land and the one who makes her laugh and who she can be fully herself around without any hesitation. They’ve seen each other at their best and worst moments and see exactly who the other is. Plus, Todd and Justina have terrific onscreen chemistry, there’s an incredibly fun dynamic that comes out that I really love. Whether they eventually get together (which I’m kind of doubting) or remain each other’s platonic person, what they share is beautiful and should be celebrated.
8. Dutch and Zeph (Killjoys) Their fight at the end of season 4 broke my heart. Zeph was hurting and Dutch was blaming herself and hurting for her friend and it was all understandable but I am so glad it didn’t take long for these two to make up. Dutch never stopped believing in Zeph and her talented brain and it was the two of them together that cracked the mystery of the alternate reality memories. I loved Zeph reassuring Dutch that Pip’s (supposed) death wasn’t her fault and recommitting to making The Lady pay. These two haven’t had the easiest time with families but in each other, they got a sister of their choosing. They got someone who loves them and looks out for them and thinks they are nothing short of amazing. With Zeph’s brain and Dutch’s brawn, they saved everyone. They weren’t the core friendship of the series (that will always be the original Team Awesome Force trio) but they were an integral part of this season and it was so satisfying to see these two women uncomplicatedly supporting each other.
9. Emma and Nico (Vida) I was in love with them from moment Nico supported Emma at the wedding when other people tried to define her sexuality for her after just dealing with Emma at her most dismissive at the bar. From the beginning, she saw the prickliest parts of Emma who doesn’t want to accept help and is stubborn to a fault and has a tendency to act like she’s better than everyone as a way to put up walls around herself and wanted to know more about her. Nico was the first person Emma really let her guard down around and wanted to trust. That small act of allowing herself to be held and to take comfort in another person was huge for her. For as much as I love Nico (and it’s a whole lot, let me assure you), I love Emma even more and this is something that feels like it could be good for both of them if it’s given time, space, and patience to grow. And emotions aside, their chemistry is ridiculous and the switch from trying to contain it to its release in the sex scene in episode 10 was very good.
10. Spencer and Coop (All-American) I love characters who have been friends for their whole life and who you know will be constants in each other’s lives no matter what else is going on. For the most part, Spence and Coop’s storylines don’t interact since they’re not usually in the same physical location and on very different journeys. But despite all that, there’s never a question that they will be there to help the other however they can. It’s not just their interactions with each other, we see it and feel it in the way Grace acts with Coop and vice versa. They’re comfortable with each other and sharing space in the way you are when you see your friend’s parents nearly as often as your own. No matter what else changes and where their lives take them, they are unquestionably each other’s person and I absolutely adore it.