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Television's Best Romances

Television’s Best Romances — The Hartleys, the Ricardos, the Huxtables and more make our list of the best TV couples

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Lovelorn? Lovesick? Love-starved? Love-struck? Then you’re ready to read the complete guide to romance in entertainment. Surely, America’s most romantic couple these days must be L.A. Law‘s Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey) and Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits), but they’ve had plenty of competition over the years. On the following pages, you will find ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S choices for the most romantic movie and TV characters of all time, the pairings that were never meant to be, the most romantic singers and songs, the best make-out music, and some love-ly surprises. If your favorite stars and scenes didn’t make the cut (What?! No The Way We Were? No Peggy Lee?), we know you will come up with your own selections with someone you love, over the candlelight or under the moonlight.

The movies are great at fiery love affairs that blaze right up to the closing credits, and nothing makes the heart beat more sweetly than a nice, schmaltzy love song, but television deals with romance in a different way: The cooler medium lets love simmer and stew in its own juices, week after week. Prime-time standards don’t permit us to see much of that lust stuff, of course, but TV’s advantage is its ability to gradually roll out the twists and turns of romantic relationships over time.

TV’S Most Romantic Couples
Bob and Emily Hartley The Bob Newhart Show
Think about it: This is what everyone wants married life to be like. These two nice, middle-class people, played by Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette, had fulfilling jobs (he was a psychologist, she a teacher), and they were friends as well as lovers (they talked incessantly and ended nearly every episode in bed). Plus, they were inspirational: If a balding, hesitant little guy like Bob could wind up with a woman who possessed a growly-sexy voice like Emily’s, well, there was hope for us all. Newhart loved Emily so much that, when his next series ended in 1990, he arranged it so they were reunited — it turned out Newhart was a dream Bob had been having for eight years. Now, that’s true love.

Grace Van Owen and Victor Sifuentes L.A. Law
Never mind that it took L.A. Law nearly five years to bring its most complicated and perfectly matched romantic leads together: Victor (Jimmy Smits) and Grace (Susan Dey) are more than rewarding our patience. They’re both smart, driven, idealistic, and wildly attractive — this must be too good to last.

Joyce Davenport and Frank Furillo Hill Street Blues
The most grown-up relationship TV had yet seen when the show first aired in 1981 was conducted on two battlefields: the office and the bedroom. What made police captain Frank Furillo and public defender Joyce Davenport so sexy was the fact that their struggle to separate their professional and personal lives never quite worked; when they clashed in his office, steam seemed to rise from their skin, and when they went to bed at night, a lot of baggage went with them.

Frank Parrish and Hannah Griffin Frank’s Place
Chance and Micki Dennis Snoops
Tim and Daphne Maxwell Reid, a real-life couple, are TV’s most subtle, elegant romancers — so subtle and elegant, in fact, that neither of their shows in the late ’80s attracted big ratings. Too bad. On the small screen, their mutual attraction is simmeringly sexy; they deserve a show that can do justice to their chemistry.

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo I Love Lucy
Redheaded, detonating bombshell (”Rick-eeeee!”) meets hot-blooded Cuban (”Looooocie!”). Lucille Ball had been one tough cookie in B movies, but when she shifted over to TV, she turned into a comically needy, resourceful housewife for bandleader Desi Arnaz. The couple’s most touching romantic moments — spent cooing in a way that they never had before — came while Lucy was ”expectant” (CBS wouldn’t let them use the word ”pregnant”) with Little Ricky.

Cliff and Clair Huxtable The Cosby Show
The country’s most beloved obstetrician, married to a forceful, intelligent attorney: Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad are TV’s best romantic role models. When they’re pitching woo, he murmurs in his little-boy, Jell-O Pudding Pop voice; she puts a down-home growl in hers.

The Brady parents The Brady Bunch
Who needs realism? For a generation of kids in the early ’70s, the Bradys were as irresistible as the prize in the bottom of a cereal box. So what if they were as plastic as Ken and Barbie? Mike and Carol (Robert Reed and Florence Henderson) win our prize for the most perfectly sustained fantasy in sitcom history. Now, if we only knew the truth behind the mysterious deaths of their former spouses…


Hyper-Extended Foreplay Or: Less Isn’t Always More
Miss Piggy and Kermit
Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd on Moonlighting (until the last season)
Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis on Anything But Love (until this season)
The Avengers‘ Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee
The castaways on Gilligan’s Island
Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane
Agent Cooper and Audrey on Twin Peaks
Jack, Janet, and Chrissy on Three’s Company
James Garner and Mariette Hartley in those ambiguous Polaroid commercials