Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, “I Love Lucy”
Here’s the TV couple who, in my mind, started it all:, a Cuban bandleader and a fiery redhead with her own mind. Unlike TV couples before them (Ward and June Cleaver, cough), Lucy and Ricky had disagreements, schemed against each other and even got into fights, though they never lasted more than 22 minutes. I almost chose Ralph and Alice Kramden from “The Honeymooners” for this slot, but “Babalu” made the difference.
Archie and Edith Bunker, “All in the Family”
The lovable curmudgeon and his timid wife changed the history of television when they allowed their daughter Gloria and her husband, Meathead, to move into their Queens, NY home. Underneath his raging prejudices, Archie had a heart of gold, and Edith occasionally — yet cautiously — defied him.
Mike and Carol Brady, “The Brady Bunch”
I always thought Mike and Carol Brady, who helmed the unwieldy Brady Bunch, bear the distinction of being the first TV couple to share the same bed. Turns out this isn’t true. The eponymous couple from “Mary Kay and Johnny,” a sitcom from 1947, actually shared the same bed almost 30 years before the story of the lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. But no one’s ever heard of them, so… the Bradys are getting their name in the paper!
Stephen and Elyse Keaton, “Family Ties”
Remember the 1980s, when we could believe that a couple of idealistic hippies could get married, find great jobs (Elyse was an architect; Stephen worked for public television) and sire a tiny Republican? No? All you need to know is Meredith Baxter Birney, who played Elyse. Hottest. TV mom. Ever.
Homer and Marge Simpson, “The Simpsons”
Homer Simpson married well above his station. The beer-swilling couchmonger scored the blue-haired beauty the oldfashioned way: He knocked her up. But through it all, Marge has stood by her man long after a non-animated wife would have split for greener pastures.
Tony and Carmela Soprano, “The Sopranos”
When Carmela married Tony Soprano, she knew what she was getting into. Though when they met he was just a high school punk, running around with Silvio and Ralph Cifaretto, he soon made his bones by robbing Feech LaManna’s poker game and inheriting his own crew. She knew there would be late nights and goomars to go along with the bags full of cash and jewelry of unknown provenance. If you ask me, she should have hooked up with Furio.
David Addison Jr. and Madelyn “Maddy” Hayes, “Moonlighting”
I may be showing my age here, but I remember “Moonlighting” as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. The sexual tension between Addison, played by a pre-Die Hard Bruce Willis, and Maddie, the steamy Cybill Shepher, created a television template that still carries on today. Unfortunately, once the two hooked up the show started to suck.
Bill, Barb, Nicki and Margie Henrickson, “Big Love”
HBO’s “Big Love” was the first show to take an unfiltered look at polygamy. Many of the early-season episodes centered around the logistics of the arrangement and the challenges of keeping it secret. Admittedly, I lost interest halfway through the third season, and not even Amanda Seyfried, who played the oldest daughter Sarah, could keep me interested.
Jay and Gloria Pritchett, Phil and Claire Dunphy, Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker, “Modern Family”
I love this show so much that I could not choose a favorite couple. I love the dynamic between Cameron and Mitchell. Years ago, Phil and Claire could have qualified for their own show. And anything Ed O’Neill, who plays Jay, does is superb. Plus, his inclusion here means I don’t have to cite Al and Peg Bundy from “Married With Children.”
Bert and Ernie, “Sesame Street”
The creators of “Sesame Street” say that Bert and Ernie are puppets, and as such “do not have a sexual orientation.” But I’m saying they live together, sleep in the same room, sing songs together and bicker like an old married couple. If they’re not gay, they might as well be.