Film, TV + Theatre

Our favourite TV couples that define healthy relationships

Couple goals


By Marissa Chin

FEATURED IMAGES: Sarah Tai for BURO Malaysia
Our favourite TV couples that define healthy relationships

This month of love, we’re taking a look at some of our favourite on-screen relationships that are actually swoon-worthy. Oftentimes in TV shows, drama is favoured for the shock factor. You’ll see couples cheat, have frustrating communication problems and even show violent tendencies with one another. Modern-day television likes to make us think this is romance when in reality, these depictions are more problematic than you think (side note: kidnapping is not romantic no matter how much Massimo Torricelli convinces you otherwise). 

Let’s leave the toxicity and gaslighting in 2022 and look to relationships that portray more realistic and healthy dynamics. Instead of blaring red flags, we’ve rounded up seven TV show couples who raised our standards in relationships.


Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

While Jake and Amy started out as frenemies in this cop workplace comedy, there was always an underlying sense of trust and respect for each other since the beginning. After all, they’re police officers and literally put their lives on the line to protect one another. What makes their relationship particularly endearing is how extremely supportive they are of each other. Despite being naturally competitive, Jake and Amy always know when to take a step back and cheer each other on. For instance, when Amy has doubts before taking her Sergeant’s exam, Jake encourages her even though it might mean that Amy would become his boss. As a man, he isn’t intimidated or insecure about his partner’s career ambitions. The couple is also very communicative with each other. Amy creates a safe environment for Jake to open up about his traumas and fears of starting a family due to his father leaving him as a child. Likewise, he believes and comforts her when she reveals that she was a victim of sexual assault (and even does some feminist research online to better understand her plights as a female cop). The result is a relationship full of understanding, trust and healthy communication.


Monica Geller and Chandler Bing, Friends 

While Rachel and Ross tend to get most of the romantic focus in Friends, we reckon that Monica and Chandler are the ones who actually exhibit a healthier relationship. Sorry Roschel fans but you have to admit that if you knew a couple that had as much drama as they did IRL, you would not be rooting for them. On the other hand, Mondler is a lot more grounded and secure in their relationship. As close friends, they already know and accept each other’s personalities and quirks. Further, unlike Rachel and Ross’ relationship which was very publicised, we love that Monica and Chandler didn’t rush and took the time to get to know themselves as a couple before coming clean to the rest of their friends. Their infertility journey was also especially tough but neither blamed the other. Ultimately, they decided together to adopt which makes their relationship all the more touching.


Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, The Office

Another sitcom royal couple is none other than the iconic Jim and Pam. If you ask anyone what their dream workplace romance would be, most of them would say they want what these two have. This couple is the ultimate slow, slow burn with a good dose of longing as they could never get the timing right (watch the above to squeal with us). In the beginning, Pam was in an unhappy engagement while Jim had a bad case of unrequited love. Although the two of them had a natural chemistry, they always made sure not to cross the line and drew clear boundaries as friends. After they got together, they were even better as a couple as they always had each other as their priority and of course, made Dwight’s life even harder with their office pranks.


Ki Sun Kyum and Oh Mi Joo, Run On

In the K-drama land, we’ve seen men grab women’s wrists to drag them somewhere or hold them against a wall kabedon style…which isn’t exactly cute. Considering that, the main relationship in Run On is a breath of fresh air. There’s no performative masculinity or the need to impress the other with showy movements. Sun Kyum and Mi Joo don’t fall in love at first sight either. Rather, the progression of their relationship is realistic as they bond over their struggles and dreams and fall in love along the way. This couple is also very big on consent as they only do things they know they’re comfortable with and are able to have deep and insightful conversations with each other. While TV shows like to portray couples as each other’s half and they’re only ‘complete’ together, Sun Kyum and Mi Joo are portrayed to be their own person before and during their relationship, showing healthy and mature boundaries. 


Nick Miller and Jessica Day, New Girl 

We love this quirky couple for several reasons. Firstly, because Jess just got out of a relationship, the idea of her getting together with Nick wasn’t even on her mind. Instead, they developed a close friendship which we think is always a strong foundation for any relationship. Jess is also a very quirky girl but we never see Nick judge or shame her for it. In fact, he actually joins in and accepts her eccentricity. Secondly, we like that Nick and Jess could still be mature and respectful after their breakup. Not only are they a great couple, but they’re also great exes as well. They gave each other space and their natural chemistry allowed them to maintain a strong bond that was grounded in honest affection and honesty. While there was a bit of jealousy, neither resorted to petty schemes and genuinely rooted for each other’s new relationships before ultimately getting back together again. 


Hwang Yong Sik and Dong Baek, When The Camellia Blooms 

Another K-drama couple we love is Hwang Yong Sik and Dong Baek. When the series came out in 2019, everyone was gushing over Yong Sik and it’s hard not to see why. For one, he treats Dong Baek with the utmost care and respect—a feeling that Dong Baek hasn’t gotten for a long time due to being a single mother in a small town. Even though she has given up on love and swore to only care for her son, Yong Sik comes into her life with his infectious positivity and gives her a safe place to run to when things get hard. He also understands when to give her space and slowly (but never forcefully) shows his feelings for her in earnest ways that touch Dong Baek’s heart. 


Phil and Claire Dunphy, Modern Family   

The bumbling dad and control freak mom may be an overdone TV trope but we still have to give it to Phil and Claire for carrying the show with their antics. They are the epitome of opposites that attract and balance each other’s good and bad traits perfectly. While Claire can be uptight at times, Phil’s calm and chill disposition learns not to take everything personally. Similarly, Claire learns to be more spontaneous and fun with Phil around. It’s not easy raising three children but the couple makes it work by also prioritising their alone time with each other whether that’s their annual role-playing session at a hotel or organising a sweet surprise date.


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