I hope all of you who celebrate the holidays had a very Merry Christmas yesterday and a Happy Boxing Day today!
The television landscape in 2014 was filled with complex, compelling relationships—from old friendships to new romances. This was a great year for “shippers” of all kinds, with kisses we all rewatched 100 times, weddings that made us cry, and romantic moments that filled our hearts with joy. It was also a great year for platonic relationships, with friendships playing an even more important role than ever on some of my favorite television shows.
For today’s installment of NGN’s Best of 2014 series, it’s time to take a look at my 10 favorite relationships that developed on our TV screens this year. After you’ve read my picks, I’d love to read yours in the comments section!
1. Emma and Hook (Once Upon a Time)
Is there anything better than watching a brand-new fairytale develop right before your eyes? That’s what Once Upon a Time is doing with the slowly-developing love story between a princess with a fighter’s spirit and a pirate with a hero’s heart. The beauty of this love story is its realism in the middle of a world of magical true love and soul mates discovered by fairy dust. It’s a story about two people who’ve been broken by love slowly learning how to open their hearts again to a sense of hope and happiness. That’s a kind of love story that’s easy to believe in and rewarding to watch—from first dances and first dates to emotionally-charged kisses and moments of quiet intimacy that highlight the fantastic chemistry between Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue. Emma and Hook’s relationship has made both characters stronger and happier, and their scenes together this year have been some of the show’s best and most beautiful.
2. Mindy and Danny (The Mindy Project)
In 2014, the best romantic comedy wasn’t found in a movie theater; it was found every Tuesday night on The Mindy Project. Through smart writing and excellent performances all year from Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina, the relationship between Mindy and Danny went from everyone’s favorite “Will they or won’t they?” to everyone’s favorite “They did, and it’s awesome!” Mindy and Danny’s relationship is an exploration of what happens after the ending of a romantic comedy, and it turns out the answer is even more great comedy and character growth. The chemistry between Kaling and Messina is electric, and it shows no signs of faltering now that these characters are in a real relationship. From a race to the top of the Empire State Building to a very revealing striptease, this relationship has found the perfect balance of heat, humor, and heart.
3. Leslie and Ann (Parks and Recreation)
Once upon a time, a beautiful tropical fish met a passionate, stubborn steamroller, and the two of them became one of television’s best examples of female friendship. This year, Leslie and Ann’s friendship took center stage as the latter moved away from Pawnee to start a family in one of the year’s most emotional episodes of any television show, “Ann and Chris.” That lovely episode paid tribute to the power of female friendship in a way that was touching and true-to-life. It’s a rare thing for a television show to let one of the great loves of a character’s life be their best friend, but Parks and Rec is a rare television show that honors the beauty of friendship as much as it honors romance. Leslie and Ann’s friendship is as genuinely supportive and healthy as it gets, and that’s such a wonderful example for people to see in the media. My wish for every woman is that she finds the Ann to her Leslie (or the Leslie to her Ann)—a friend she can talk to about anything and a friend who loves her like the first soul mate so many of our friends often are.
4. Castle and Beckett (Castle)
This was a year of highs and lows for Castle and Beckett. There were disappearances and memories lost, but there were also huge moments of personal growth, especially as Beckett finally put her mother’s killer behind bars. Through it all, though, their commitment to each other weathered each storm, proving that they were in this relationship for better or worse. They even faced an alternate universe in which they’d never met, which led Castle to make one of the most sincere statements of love on TV this year: “She’s better off with me, and I’m better off with her.” That idea of love making us our best selves ran through what was the most beautiful TV wedding of 2014—an intimate ceremony filled with love, light, and plenty of happy tears. This was a year that saw Castle and Beckett become partners in crime and in life always—and for the time of their lives. And if that’s not a reason for longtime “shippers” (like myself) to celebrate, then I don’t know what is.
5. Diane and Alicia (The Good Wife)
There are few things I like better as a television viewer than supportive relationships between female characters. And there was something wonderful about watching Diane and Alicia support each other through personal loss and professional changes this year. Their shared moments of mourning Will were some of the strongest single scenes in what was another fantastic year for The Good Wife as a whole. I’ll never forget their first hug after Will’s death. It was such a gorgeous moment of openness between women who needed that shoulder to lean on, and that openness led to what was one of my favorite twists of the season—Diane joining Alicia and Cary’s firm. Alicia gave Diane a chance at a fresh start, just like Diane gave her so much professional support over the years. These two women helped each other in ways no one else could this year, and it was so inspiring to watch.
6. Sarah and Cosima (Orphan Black)
Throughout the course of Orphan Black’s second season, strong relationships grew between many of the clones. However, the most interesting dynamic was the one that developed between Sarah and Cosima—the two clones on opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Where Sarah has always been skeptical and guarded, Cosima is warm and open. Instead of having those differences drive them apart, however, this show chose to focus on the fact that these two very different women need the balance they get from each other. When Sarah confessed that she didn’t want to lose Cosima in this season’s finale, it felt like one sister talking to another. More than any other pair of clones, Sarah and Cosima feel like sisters—they’re different people, but their love for each other runs deeper than anything else. And on a show about clones fighting for their agency, those differences and that choice to love each other is incredibly important.
7. Louis and Donna (Suits)
Genuine, platonic relationships between men and women aren’t often found in the media. But on Suits, that’s exactly what Donna and Louis’s relationship became this year—a mutually supportive friendship as healthy and warm as you could hope to find in a world as cold as the one these characters usually operate in. These two characters helped each other, confided in each other, and grew to truly care about one another. And that’s what it made it even more painful when Louis discovered that Donna had been lying to him about Mike. Out of all of Louis’s climactic confrontations in “This Is Rome,” the one between him and Donna hurt the most because we’d become so invested in their friendship.
8. Snow and Regina (Once Upon a Time)
Of all the many relationships on Once Upon a Time, the most complex and layered is the one between Snow and Regina. It’s a believably imperfect relationship—with plenty of sarcasm still coming from Regina and Snow still pushing a little too hard sometimes—but there’s a deep undercurrent of tentative caring to all of their interactions now. Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parrilla bring such a sense of depth and history to their scenes together; underneath all of the pain, you can still see the two young women who once loved each other and wanted to be each other’s family. Snow and Regina’s story this year became one of forgiveness, healing, and hope. And it’s that sense of hope that Snow has shared with Regina that has helped Regina grow into a better version of herself.
9. Juliette and Avery (Nashville)
Juliette and Avery’s relationship is one that snuck up on me; I didn’t realize how much I loved it until it was happening, and now it’s my favorite thing about Nashville. Hayden Panettiere and Jonathan Jackson are two of the show’s best actors, and they ground all of their scenes together in such genuine emotion, which isn’t always easy on what’s essentially a nighttime soap opera. Avery and Juliette are simply better together than apart; that’s what this year proved. Juliette believes in Avery as a producer and as a person, and Avery has been Juliette’s biggest supporter as she’s worked to be better than her past. When they were apart, it was hard for me to watch the show, which is how I know this couple has a very strong hold on my heart. Needless to say, watching them have their lovely, intimate wedding was a true joy. In fact, one of my most-anticipated TV moments of 2015 is the birth of their baby girl.
10. Emma and Elsa (Once Upon a Time)
In case you haven’t noticed, I really love strong examples of female friendship on television. So it was wonderful to see Emma find a friend who helped her grow in exponential ways this year. Elsa and Emma bonded over their magic, but their friendship was about so much more than just relating to each other as women born with powers they never asked to have. It was about relating to each other as women who needed to learn to love themselves for everything they are. For the first time, Elsa was able to use the struggles she went through to be a source of hope and help for someone else. She helped Emma in the way best friends should help one another—she gave her a hand to hold and a comforting voice of belief and support as Emma struggled with self-doubt and fear. Only Emma could make the choice to believe in and love herself, but she was able to make that choice with Elsa’s help. Who knew the introduction of an ice queen would give us one of the warmest friendships Once Upon a Time has ever seen?