Most TV couples, including the snappily married pair on Mad About You, could use some help from a therapist. So we consulted one Dr. Will Miller, a psychotherapist and stand-up comic who moonlights as a Nick at Nite spokesman and host of NBC’s The Other Side. Here’s what Dr. Will had to say about what makes seven of TV’s most engaging couples click-or clash.
Mad About You ”Paul and Jamie epitomize newlywed energy. They are over the sexual tension and romantic blush, but they don’t have kids yet, so they’re focused on themselves. Paul is still learning how to make the relationship work, whereas Jamie seems to already have it figured out.”
Coach ”Hayden is a perfect example of the male who has been conditioned to repress his feelings. He is immature, temperamental, and he overreacts. Christine is sweet and mellow. Their relationship works because she enables him a little bit, but he is maturing by degrees.”
Home Improvement ”Tim and Jill are Paul and Jamie in the next decade. They’re still very much in love, but they’ve turned their attention to their children and it’s changed their dynamic. With his Tool Time image, Tim tries to be macho, but he knows deep down it’s a put-on. Jill and the children tolerate his image because they seem to know him better than he knows himself.”
Roseanne ”Roseanne and Dan show us you can still make things work even though you have had the less-than-perfect childhood. With a new baby on the way, they’ll get a chance to do parenthood all over again, and I think you are going to see her be remarkably affectionate to this child. This will improve her relationship with Dan, because he’s always ready to be as close to her as her anger will tolerate.”
The Simpsons ”When Homer says his famous ‘Doh!’ you see how he represses his own aggression while allowing Bart to run wild. Similarly, when Lisa plays the blues on her saxophone, it’s an outlet for the sadness Marge never shows. Homer has this enormous gut and Marge has this enormous hair, which the two of them often hide behind. When Homer says ‘Mmmm’ to a doughnut, he’s really saying ‘Mmmm’ to sex.”
Married … With Children ”Al and Peg have lost their communication skills. He has abandoned her emotionally and just can’t seem to direct his passion toward her. It wouldn’t surprise me if Peg killed him accidentally, with subconscious intent, perhaps leaving the parking brake off and running him over.”
Melrose Place ”With Michael and Kimberly, you see a very dark side to a dysfunctional couple. This is what happens when sociopaths are attracted to sociopaths. What they need is some sort of prison farm where they can work hard and focus on self-discipline. They’re caught in a downward spiral, and they’ll eventually be killed, kill each other, or throw the rest of their lives away in jail. The other option is an exorcism.”