In light of recent developments, Leigh and I spoke briefly this evening about Hodgins and Angela from Bones. Now, we know there are a lot of folks out there who are really invested in these two, and we have to say—we’re kind of not. It’s not that we’re rooting against them, necessarily, and we definitely find some of their “moments” pretty sweet, but at the end of the day, we’re in it for the Booth and the Brennan. It got me thinking about other “second-string” couples over the years, and how they sometimes sort of fizzle (think: most of the couples on Grey’s Anatomy, Weiss and Nadia on Alias...) and sometimes become our favorite couples of all time—the ones discussed in this blog.
Let’s start with an obvious one: The Office’s Dwight and Angela. The bizarre tales of these two may not be the only reason why I tune in every week, but they definitely keep me laughing—and intrigued. I never know what in the world Angela wants, but I definitely would love to see her figure things out with Dwight. They’re just too weird not to work, frozen cats and all.
I don’t know how many of y’all watched Sports Night, but Jeremy and Natalie are a pretty archetypal second-string couple. Most of the will-they-or-won’t-they tension belonged to Casey and Dana, but these two had the most consistently sweet and romantically interesting storylines Aaron Sorkin has ever written. They also follow a relatively consistent rule of second-stringers: they break up when it’s time for the drama to happen between the starter couples. Once Casey and Dana’s relationship drama picked up in the second season, Jeremy and Natalie broke up (for a while, at least).
Notice that the same thing happened to Dwight and Angela circa the beginning of season four. As a more serious follower of starter couples, I sometimes find myself a little excited when the secondary couples split, as it often means there’s good stuff ahead for my OTPs. On the flipside, it makes double dates really difficult.
Lost’s Charlie and Claire are also a pretty good example. Notice that their tension begins in mid-season two, around the same time things get more flirty for Jack and Kate. Ultimately, though, it’s the peanut butter lovers who get to do the overtly romantic things—like calling “meeting you” the best moment of his life. But, you know, one of ‘em ends up dead and the other one gets her baby stolen by my OTP. Hi-yoh!
Around here, we’re really fond of Grey’s Anatomy’s Izzie and Alex. Who doesn’t love how these two bring out the best in each other, and that week-to-week, we really get to see them try to figure things out? Okay, maybe not so much for her right now with the Denny sex, but she is working at it, kind of, and he told her he loves her! I almost hesitate to call these two second-stringers, because with the lack of attention being paid to Derek and Meredith right now, Izzie and Alex are pretty much pulling the romantic storyline weight around here. And, let’s face it, Alex’s adorableness was the saving grace of tonight’s episode. Pretty soon, they’ll be the only reason I watch this show.
Because that’s what I have trouble understanding. It’s the same problem I have with those of you who watch Lost and hate Jack—why bother watching when this character that you despise is such a prominent and integral part of the series? How could you stand it? I tolerate Sawyer because he’s only had three centric episodes in the entire series! Jack’s my man, and he’s had NINE. Three times as many!
So for this, we’ll go to Mae, who, as you may be aware, is right now going through a pretty intense period of love for Chase and Cameron on House. I asked her and her friend Michelle why they can watch 22 episodes a year knowing there’s going to be a cumulative eight minutes of Chase/Cam. No seriously! Mae talked for MONTHS about “The Itch” before it aired and all that happened was that she gave him a drawer! (She assures me that the episode actually meant a lot more than that.)
Michelle says, “I watch for them because I think it's far more interesting to watch a relationship formed of little nuanced moments.” I guess she doesn’t need to get beaten over the head with ship all the time, which one would upon watching Bones.
She says, “They’re quirky. It's not the traditional love story, as it can't be in House-verse. Everything's a little bit backwards and a little bit reversed, and never quite what we expect it to be.” It fits their universe.
“Also, they're pretty together.”
Mae calls them “endlessly fascinating,” saying, “I'm always fascinated watching two screwed up people realize that they balance each other out and that, together, they're actually not that screwed up at all.”
No, seriously, she loves them.
And, finally, the best second-string OTP of all time...Monica and Chandler. I have such affection for these two, who first hooked up at the end of season four and never broke up. The next six seasons chronicled their awkward beginnings and sneaking around (“We know, but they don’t know we know they know we know!”) to their marriage, infertility, and ultimate adoption of twins. I often wonder how shows like Friends convince themselves that they can’t write established coupledom for Ross and Rachel without destroying the show, while simultaneously writing some of the best relationship storyline of all time.
Second-stringers often become the glorious consolation prize to the delayed consummation of a show’s OTP. Booth and Brennan can’t hook up for another three years? Here, have some Hodgela. Ross just married Emily even though he said Rachel’s name during his vows? Now introducing Mondler! So while they sometimes have to play second fiddle, we often get to see even more development for these couples while we wait (sometimes for as long as six years!) for something to happen for the starters.
And, no, Hodgins and Angela are never going to be enough for me. It’s gotta be Booth and Brennan, and if you told me I could have Booth and Brennan together tomorrow if Hodgins and Angela, like, were given Angela and Hodgins repellant, respectively, I’d be purchasing that in bulk.