There are a lot of types of TV romances. Many of them are planned by the writers and producers as long, drawn-out, will-they-or-won’t-they, for-fuck’s-sake-just-kiss-her relationships that are meant to keep the audience watching and hoping.
There’s usually no payout with these kind of couples, but what if there were? There’s a lot of drawn-out sexual tension out there in the televerse and I think that sometimes we forget that just because the writers want us to want a couple to get together doesn’t mean that they actually should.
So, let’s remind ourselves that sexual tension ≠ compatibility and take a look at our list. Some of these couples actually did happen, some of them still might and some of them just never got the chance, but none of them would have been good together. Let’s look at why.
6. Josh Lyman and Donna Moss, The West Wing
I’m so fucking in love with The West Wing. Mostly because it avoids the petty bullshit of drawn-out relationships and chooses to focus on the workplace and real life.
That all changed when the writers decided to start dropping hints that Josh and Donna were into each other. The tension lasted through the Bartlet administration without anyone making a move, despite the fact that there were no real obstacles in the way of them getting together.
Why we think it would have been awesome: Because we know they really care about each other! It’s depressing how in real life most of our relationships start out as a base level attraction that we desperately pray contains something of substance. We always want to see friends fall in love, even if it’s weird in real life.
Why it shouldn’t have happened: Because it’s weird when friends fall in love in real life. Josh and Donna have an unequal relationship, power-wise. He yells her name and she comes running. Bad for foreplay, methinks. Also, when they did finally get together, it wasn’t cute anymore. We’d been waiting for seven fucking seasons for this, and a payout is never going to be worth it after that long.
Their likely future: He forgets himself and yells at her to do things for him all the time. She reminds him that she is way hotter than he is. She has an affair with someone 4 inches shorter than she is (as is the West Wing way) and he drinks himself to death at work while making grimly ironic expressions.
Who they should’ve been with: Josh should have been with Joey Lucas. That was fun. Donna should be with Ronald Reagan.
5. Merlin and Morgana, Merlin
For all of its focus on relationships, Merlin only rarely considers whether or not its main character might have consistent romantic or erotic feelings towards anyone. Sometimes the thought will occur for an episode and be gone the next time Merlin has to fuck himself over by indulging in needlessly complicated plots and the impulse to not confide in the right people.
One storyline that almost went somewhere was his possible attraction to Morgana. He brought her flowers once or twice and she…barely noticed him. She was too busy practicing her evil “secret” smile every time Uther turned his back.
Why we think it would have been awesome: They’re two extremely powerful sorcerers and they start out with similar issues and the problems of trying to cope with magical abilities in a society where such things are forbidden. It’d be kind of hot to see sexy magic times, even if it was just them battling it out and then making out.
Why it would have sucked: Morgana’s not much of a character, and Merlin’s interest in her seems both shallow and transitory. Also, she gets super evil really fast, and there’s just no empathizing with characters that make bipolar disorder look like the Monday Blues.
Their likely future: The relationship lasts only as long as it takes for them to run out of kinky ways to use their magic powers in bed.
Who they should’ve been with: Merlin should’ve ended up with the only person he cared about: Arthur. Seriously. And Morgana should’ve ended up with Elton John so they could have the whitest babies ever.
4. Korra and Mako, The Legend of Korra
I do kind of like this couple because they’re attractive badasses who can create water and fire, respectively. Also, I once made this:
Why we like it: Because we want Korra to get the guy. Go Korra!
Why it sucks: Because Mako’s mean and a flake. He brushes her off until he figures out that she’s someone important. He comes down hard on her all the time, he dates another girl and then he basically cheats on that other girl with Korra. I can see why he likes her–she’s plucky and hard-working and tenacious–but why does she like him? Because he’s attractive. Awesome.
Their likely future: Actually, we get to figure this one out together! Hooray! (But seriously, they better just grow up and realize this was entirely the product of teenage hormone bullshit.)
Who they should’ve been with: She should have been with Bolin. Bolin actually appreciated her for who she is and made an effort to be kind and do fun things with her.
Mako should’ve stayed with the Sato girl. They could be hot elitists together.
3. Sherlock and Watson
I’m a hypocrite here, because I want this couple to be together so badly. They need each other.
Why we think it would be awesome: You can clearly see why. Sherlock gives Watson a reason to live, a purpose in life. In turn, Watson is the only one who has ever admired Sherlock, ever seen humanity in them. They are totes in love.
Why it would actually suck: Sherlock is incapable of intimacy. Watson doesn’t have the stones to stand up for himself and it would be even worse if he was hoping for emotional support or any kind of relationship equality. Plus, Sherlock would always point out all the things you’re supposed to pretend you don’t think in a relationship.
Their likely future: John slowly undoes the buttons on Sherlock’s coat, kissing his way up the frighteningly-alabaster skin of Sherlock’s neck.
Sherlock: “You’re using your right hand to undo the buttons. Your left hand has been compromised in some way. If it were damaged you would have said something, so it must be an embarrassing alteration. By the way you’re hiding it from my vision it must be a cosmetic problem. Clearly you lost your wedding ring. No time for this ‘sex’ nonsense, I know exactly where it is! Onward!”
He runs out the door.
Who they should’ve been with: No one. These men are destined to be alone forever.
2. Billy and Penny, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Another one where you want the couple to get together just because one of the characters is so lovesick and dammit, they deserve happiness!
Why we think it would have been awesome: Come on, she’s with Captain Hammer, Corporate Tool, who is clearly wrong for her. She needs someone with all the feels, someone struggling to find meaning and a place in the world. He’s…just so enamored with her. We want this to work out for him.
Why it would have actually sucked: She really wants to help the world. She’s focused on other people. He thinks exclusively about himself, and he admires evil figures, anarchy and chaos if it will promote him even a little bit in the eyes of his peers. This relationship was never meant to be, and there’s a good reason for that.
Their likely future: He would’ve had a hell of a time pretending all of his Bad Horse shrines were dedicated to Gandhi.
Who they should’ve been with: Penny should’ve been with someone that shared her values, not just a guy who fell in love with her because of her hair and the nonchalant way she handled her delicates. Billy should’ve been with a good therapist.
1. Mal and Inara, Firefly
Is it blasphemy to list this couple? Everyone and their mother wanted Castle and V to hook up, but to me this was a classic case of a show pushing its agenda rather than any sort of legitimate compatibility.
Why do they like each other? I get that he’s a bit of a mystery to her, but he’s also rude, self-aggrandizing, belittling and insulting. Sure, you could make the argument that he’s just jealous and insecure, but that’s not actually a bonus in this case. He’s immature and incapable of dealing with his emotions in a reasonable way.
And why does he like her? Because she’s beautiful? Unattainable? Probably really, really good in bed? Beyond aesthetics, I just don’t see why this couple is worth rooting for.
Why we think it would have been awesome: Just close your eyes and picture it. I’ll wait.
Why it would’ve sucked: They never, ever would have stopped their stupid, pointless bickering. Without the sexual tension there’s really not much to them.
Their likely future: She makes disparaging comments about his speech and clothes. He continues to degrade her for her line of work. But the sex is great, so who the hell cares?
Who they should’ve been with: Inara is marked for death as it is, so maybe Simon, who could help take care of her. Mal should have been with Saffron, because they are so right for each other. You always get the feeling that his insults really hurt Inara. But you can’t hurt someone who’s certifiable! He and Saffron could keep up a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship where you constantly wonder if they’re going to fuck or kill each other.