Whether embraced as a day to celebrate one’s love for a significant other, friends or family, dreaded as a cheesy commercial holiday or seen as a simple excuse to indulge on chocolate, there is no getting around the existence of Valentine’s Day. In addition to chocolates and flowers, Valentine’s Day is also a popular time for the debut of romantic comedies and television episodes.
Even if they may be cheesy or full of angst, there is no denying that fictional couples tend to inspire strong feelings from viewers. After all, the term “shipping” (derived from the word “relationship” to refer to someone’s support of a particular fictional couple) does not exist for nothing! In honor of Valentine’s Day, here is a look at some of the most memorable fictional couples in media, and the trends associated with them:
“Friends Before Lovers” (“Friends’” Monica Geller and Chandler Bing): There is a common notion that the best romantic relationships start off as strong friendships. One of the greatest and most enviable examples of this sentiment is sitcom couple Monica and Chandler. Unlike Friends’ other most iconic couple, Ross Geller and Rachel Green, who were constantly on-again– off-again, Monica and Chandler’s relationship was not as dramatic but nonetheless fun to watch.
Starting as a physical affair, the pair quickly realized that they were falling in love and did not want to waste any further time as “just friends.” Not only did Monica and Chandler’s relationship progress from a “friends first” scenario, but they are also a great couple for the way they complement and help each other evolve. In a nutshell, Monica helps Chandler move past his fear of commitment and take aspects of life more seriously, while Chandler helps temper Monica’s high-maintenance ways (which he says he does not mind because he “like[s] maintaining her”).
“On-Again–Off-Again” (“Cheers’” Sam Malone and Diane Chambers): While Friends’ Ross and Rachel may be the couple that first comes to mind as the typical “on-again/off-again” couple, Sam and Diane are arguably more iconic (plus, they came first). What makes Sam and Diane such an enjoyable pair to watch is their undeniable chemistry: theirs is the case of “opposites attract.” He is a womanizing athlete-turned-bartender and she is a highly educated, well-bred woman who values the finer things in life – the inevitable friction writes itself.
When they are not kissing each other, they are exchanging witty, sarcastic banter that is now the material of television lore. “Cheers” may have premiered in 1982, but Sam and Diane will always remain one of the most well-written, enduring pairs in sitcom history. After all, which other couple would turn a fight into a passionate embrace prompted by Sam and Diane’s famous exchange: “Are you as turned on as I am?” “More.”
“Meant to Be” (“The Office”’s Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly): While the hilarious antics of the unforgettable Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) are enough to make the United States version of “The Office” worth watching, anyone who watches even one episode knows that Jim and Pam are soulmates and will follow the show to watch them grow as a couple
Sure, they have their fair share of obstacles (mainly the fact that Pam spends about two seasons engaged to another man, with whom her incompatibility is painfully obvious), but Jim never wavers in his belief that when he met Pam he had met his one true love.
Similar to Monica and Chandler, Jim and Pam started out as friends, but their chemistry is evident from the pilot.
With romantic gestures, thoughtful words and a shared love of pranking their fellow co-workers, Jim and Pam finally realize what everyone watching knew from the start: PB +J is not only the perfect sandwich combination, it is also one of the great couples of television.