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It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, which makes me wonder about the romances that threaded through the TV shows and movies of my youth that… well, weren’t really there, according to the creators, even though everyone else knew better.
There’s definitely a culture of “couples, but not really” throughout popular culture; slash-fic — hell, you could make an argument that most fanfic in general — is built on it, and it’s become something that’s, if not encouraged, then at least tolerated and indulged by most creators of mainstream fictions these days: Shippers get teased with “Will they/won’t they” storylines, trailers and interviews, as if just the suggestion of something more than business or friendship between characters guarantees excitement and attention no matter what. I’d even go so far as to say that some of the … fun, perhaps, of the whole thing is gone when everyone is so complicit in the exercise, but perhaps I’m just getting old. That said, here are five of my favorite non-couple couples in TV and movies:
Kirk and Spock
The preeminent slash-fic couple, it’s pretty clear that Gene Roddenberry didn’t intent for anything untoward to be going on between his two leads, but as Star Trek II — and almost everything afterward, for that matter, including JJ Abrams’ reboot movie, which even gave them a “meet cute” scenario — showed, these two men share a bond that’s deeper than just friendship, and they’re occasionally written with such sensitivity that you believe it. If only “real” couples were given the same treatment.
Michael Knight and KITT
I’ll admit, it’s hard to imagine Michael Knight having feelings for anyone that wasn’t Michael Knight, but again – here’s a case where what was meant to be a buddy dynamic ended up being something much weirder, and potentially deeper, than any romantic attachment that the show could’ve provided. Meta-commentary on the love affair some men have for their cars, or unexpected side effect of the high concept behind the show? I can’t tell, but if only the show had been more upfront about it, car-fetishists the world over might be able to hold their heads a little higher in society today.
James Bond and Miss Moneypenny
The closest thing to a “normal” romantic relationship on the list, this seemed to be an open-and-shut case of unrequited love on behalf of the unfortunately-named secretary that turned into something more caustic (or perhaps just cautious) as the movies went on. And it was that — the point where Moneypenny seemed to see through Bond’s facade, and enjoy needling him as much as she pined for him — that fascinated me, for some reason. As soon as their relationship became one that was more equal, and more willing to point out that Bond wasn’t exactly the kind of faultless hero nice young secretaries should fall for, that’s when I wanted to see more of it … which is exactly the opposite of the point, really.
Han Solo and Chewbacca
Star Wars is full of couples-that-aren’t: Luke and Leia, Lando and Nien Numb, C3-PO and R2D2, Yoda and Obi Wan — wait, everyone else sees that last one, right? — but Han and Chewie have the best bond of any characters in any of the movies, and it’s all thanks to the fact that we have no idea what Chewbacca is saying to Han. Seriously, go back and watch any of the first three movies and, whenever Chewbacca goes “rawrrrrr,” imagine him declaring undying love to Han. It makes the movies so much better.
Mr. Roarke and Tattoo
Okay, maybe not. (But, you know, kind of, am I right?)
Now it’s your turn: Which two characters are you convinced either had some kind of relationship that we never actually got to see, or else deserved to have one? The comments, as always, are there for a reason, people …