Joanie and Chachi, Rachel and Ross, Carrie and Mr. Big, Rainbow and Dre: the best TV couples of every generation become their own household names. As TV has added cable networks and then streaming apps in recent decades, this list of best TV couples has not only gotten larger, but it has also expanded to include more diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Although there remains a long way to go to achieve true onscreen equity, greater representation is something to be celebrated. And as Valentine’s Day fast approaches, we decided to put together our own list of the best and most diverse TV couples that have kept us clicking the “next episode” button.
Olivia and Spencer, All American
He (Daniel Ezra) is a football player from South L.A. who has crossed the tracks to play for Beverly Hills High. She (Samantha Logan) is a recovering addict, president of the Black Student Caucus, and founder of Beverly High’s Black Lives Matter movement. Standing between them is Olivia’s once best-friend Layla. The romance is the focal point of a series that honestly considers the interplay of sports and social issues stretching between the two extremes of California’s largest metropolis. Fortunately for Olivia and Spencer fans, All American has been renewed for a fourth season on the CW Network and is going strong.
Bette and Tina, The L Word, Generation Q
Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) is running for mayor of Los Angeles. But when Tyler Adams accuses her of having an affair with his former partner, tensions lead to an angry confrontation where Bette knocks him out. That’s when Tina Kennard (Laurel Lisa Holloman), Bette’s ex-wife from the first edition of the series, shows up to offer support, and things rekindle…sort of. Turns out, Tina is now engaged to Carrie although Carrie may not feel ready to marry. To find out more, you’ll have to watch the show, which is in the middle of its second season on Showtime.
Kristen and David, Evil
Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) and David Acosta (Mike Colter) have a strictly professional relationship: she is a forensic psychologist studying supposed supernatural events and he is a journalist-cum-seminarian who has hired her to help sort out demonic possession vs. plain old insanity. Hardly the pairing headed for a hookup, right? Wrong, and doubly wrong when the character that reveals the attraction between them is a demon named George. Got it? Find out more about this interracial pair straddling the line between science and the supernatural on Paramount+.
Audrey, Aku, and Max, Gossip Girl
Audrey Hope (Emily Alyn Lind) and Aki Menzies (Evan Mock) are boyfriend and girlfriend. But they are both interested in Max Wolfe (Tom Doherty), who, as it turns out, is interested in both of them. But the dynamics of a three-way relationship are never easy: when Audrey and Aki fight, Audrey goes off with Max, but once they make up, it is Max who spirals off to an illicit affair with his teacher, Rafa. And then there is the ever-present factor of social media, all the more potent than in the original CW series of a decade ago. This HBO Max reboot is more inclusive and features a more diverse cast—but that doesn’t make love triangles any easier to maneuver.
While our personal list of best TV couples may vary, one thing we can agree on is that today there are a lot more couples to choose from—and that’s a very good thing. Representation matters, and what we see on the screen not only reinforces our sense of self but even helps mold reality by deciding what—and who—is included in the social narrative. To find out more about expanding diversity on television, check out our recent blog, Black Directors, Writers, and Actors Expand Television.