Great couples are everywhere on TV, and we often hear their praises sung. Hell, the L.A. Times just devoted an entire feature to Eric and Tami Taylor of Friday Night Lights. But to be perfectly honest, some of our favorite TV pairings are the fascinatingly uncomfortable ones, from frigid spouses Pete and Trudy Campbell on Mad Men to Liz Lemon and, well, basically anyone. Our picks for the top 10 awkward TV couples are after the jump. Tell us yours in the comments.
Pete and Trudy Campbell, Mad Men
It isn’t just that Pete and Trudy are repressed WASPs living in the early ’60s. That certainly helps, but we think the awkwardness between them has even more to do with the fact that he conceived a child with Peggy on the night of his bachelor party. No wonder their conversations are so strained.
Liz Lemon and Carol, 30 Rock
For a supposedly frumpy gal who’d rather eat cheese than have sex, Liz Lemon has had some pretty hot boyfriends. First there was Jon Hamm’s Drew, and now she’s got Carol, played by a surprisingly funny Matt Damon. Although theirs is by far the best relationship we’ve seen Liz in, she’s incapable of not being awkward.
Alby and Lura Grant, Big Love
When you’re the favorite wife of a fundamentalist Mormon prophet, chances are the two of you will have a pretty odd relationship. But if said husband is also evil, bonkers, and a closet homosexual to boot? Yeah, that’s awkward. Here’s hoping Lura finds her way out of this mess.
Stanley and Cadie, Skins
The dweeby kid and the designated “crazy” girl have supposedly done it, like, a million times. In reality, though, they haven’t even made it to second base, and Stanley is still a virgin. Maybe he should stop fucking it up and realize that his dream girl — his best friend’s girlfriend, Michelle — is never going to fall for him.
Rick and Lori Grimes, The Walking Dead
So, this is awkward: You’re a police officer who gets shot and end up comatose. Then, the zombie apocalypse hits. You wake up in your locked hospital room months later and embark on a single-minded quest to find your wife and son. Meanwhile, your former partner convinced your lady that you were dead, and they’ve been getting it on ever since. When you finally reach them, they’re pretty shocked — he actually tries to kill you — even though you don’t realize what they’ve been doing.
Jessica Hamby and Hoyt Fortenberry, True Blood
You thought your first time was awkward? Well, imagine being Jessica, the teenage vampire who was a virgin when she was turned. As a result, every time she has sex with her sweet, local yokel boyfriend Hoyt, her hymen grows back. And then there’s the fact that his mom hates her because she’s a vampire. Despite the obstacles to their love, we think Jessica and Hoyt are great together, and we’re rooting for them.
Serena van der Woodsen and Ben Donovan, Gossip Girl
Once upon a time at a boarding school in Connecticut, Serena had a handsome, young teacher who took a special interest in her. Although Ben refused her advances, Serena’s mom, Lily, had him put in jail on statutory rape charges, for pretty trivial reasons and without S’s knowledge. A few years later, Ben has his sister, Juliet, attempt to ruin Serena’s life. But when Serena finds out what happened, visits Ben to explain herself, and bullies her mom into getting him released, a ridiculous romance begins to bloom between them. With all that history — not to mention Lily to worry about — we think Ben would have been better off getting the hell out of New York.
Marshall and Jason, The United States of Tara
How adorable is Marshall, the gay, teenage son of America’s favorite Dissociative Identity Disorder sufferer, Tara Gregson? Too bad that when he finally managed to get the über-Christian object of his affection to reciprocate his advances, T — Tara’s teenage alter ego — swoops in and seduces him. There is nothing more awkward than catching your mom and the boy you love in the act.
Nucky Thompson and Lucy Danziger, Boardwalk Empire
Nucky Thompson is a politician and gangster. Lucy Danziger is a former Ziegfield girl whose current occupation seems to be lying around naked, whining at Nucky to come back to bed. Steve Buscemi is a talented actor. Paz de la Huerta can only play Paz de la Huerta. Their entire relationship is supposed to be founded on sex, but the chemistry between them couldn’t be worse.
Dwight Schrute and Angela Martin, The Office
Dwight and Angela are probably the last two people, on any TV show, that we’d picture having a torrid affair. He’s a nerdy, rules-obsessed control freak, she’s a nerdy, rules-obsessed control freak — it seems like they’d repel each other faster than the like poles of two magnets. And yet, they spend several seasons going at it in secret. Their romance even breaks up Angela’s engagement.