It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and what better way to get into the spirit of the day than by revisiting the greatest romantic couples in TV history? One of the most wonderful things about watching your favorite television series over time is following a romantic couple. For some, we meet them already married in the first episode — Lucy and Ricky on “I Love Lucy,” Roseanne and Dan on “Roseanne,” Tami and Eric on “Friday Night Lights.” For others, we swoon over the courtship of several seasons — Diane and Sam on “Cheers,” Rachel and Ross on “Friends,” Claire and Jamie on “Outlander.” And for still more, we actually and finally see them get married on the show — Lorelai and Luke on “Gilmore Girls,” Pam and Jim on “The Office.”
A few of our choices featured among the 22 couples in this new romantic photo gallery (tour above):
“Outlander” starring Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie)
The current reigning go-to TV couple leads this romantic Starz series in which Claire, a 20th Century nurse on vacation in the Scottish Highlands, finds herself traveling back in time to the 1840s. There she meets Scottish warrior Jamie and falls madly in love with him, much the same way that American audiences have fallen madly in love with them.
“Friday Night Lights” starring Kyle Chandler (Eric) and Connie Britton (Tami)
If there could be poster children for what a married couple can be, you couldn’t do better than Eric and Tami. Unlike TV couples whose idea of drama is unmotivated yelling, Eric and Tami actually behaved like adults. If they had a serious problem to face, they sat down and talked it out because they both realized that having the other person in their lives was the best thing to have ever happened to them. That loyalty is why, I think, that so many adult viewers relate to them — Eric and Tami’s relationship doesn’t reflect who they actually are but instead whom they aspire to be.
“The Office” starring John Krasinski (Jim) and Jenna Fischer (Pam)
What was extraordinary about the romance of Jim and Pam on “The Office” was just how ordinary it was. From the very first season, you could tell he thought she was something special, but she was involved with another guy, so that was that. But when she became available romantically, Jim took his time to make his move, and we felt for his caution every step of the way. “C’mon Jim. Ask her out!” we all thought in way that made us invested in their happiness and why we look back on them so fondly.
“Gilmore Girls” starring Lauren Graham (Lorelai) and Scott Patterson (Luke)
One of the most attractive relationships on TV was the gradually evolving romance between single mom Lorelai and small-town diner owner Luke that was, in a way, an exercise in frustration. These two people seemed so right together from the very start that audiences wished that they would realize it as well. It took four tantalizing seasons for them to finally see the light, and still, the show provided enough ups and downs to make this relationship one of the great TV rollercoaster rides in recent memory.
“Friends” starring David Schwimmer (Ross) and Jennifer Aniston (Rachel)
The Ross and Rachel coupling on “Friends” became the 90s equivalent of “will-they-or-won’t they?” sexual tension that fueled “Cheers” and “Moonlighting” in the ’80s. But this pairing brought a fresh dimension to romance. What if the person you’re falling in love with is also your friend? And what happens to that friendship if the romance doesn’t work? We knew and loved Ross and Rachel separately, so there was a huge audience investment in hoping that they could make it as a couple.
“I Love Lucy” starring Lucille Ball (Lucy) and Desi Arnaz (Ricky)
The one that started it all. Over 65 years after it was first made, audiences are still laughing at the antics of aspiring entertainer Lucy and her bandleader husband Ricky. And for all of the technical innovations that the show pioneered, it was really taken to America’s heart because they could relate to the characters — we all have unfulfilled dreams like Lucy, and we may have a loved one go off the rails on occasion, but we put up with that because we love them so much. And that love can be felt in every episode of “I Love Lucy.”