The television landscape has begun to look very different in 2018 after a long, long time of progress coming very slowly. One way we can see its growth is in the couples that are given significant screen time on television. No longer are the majority of LGBTQ couples or couples of color relegated to secondary or tertiary characters on TV shows. And these couples are showing a wider spectrum of what love looks like in the real world. Here are nine shows that have made love on television look a little bit different lately. There are lots of great couples on TV right now, so we may have missed a few, so feel free to let us know your favorite couples from 2018.
1. Beth & Randall, This Is Us
Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown) are the definition of #RelationshipGoals. This solid-as-a-rock couple faces every challenge that comes their way (ex-addict estranged fathers with cancer, anxiety attacks, becoming foster parents) with a steadfast devotion to each other and a confidence in who they are as a couple. It’s wonderful to see a Black couple be one of the cutest, most romantic, most supportive but also corniest couples on network television.
2. Anissa & Grace, Black Lightning
Superhero shows often center on white protagonists, and therefore their main ‘ships tend to be white as well. But Black Lightning came out of the gate introducing Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) as a love interest for superhero daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams). Grace, who is Asian and bisexual, can hold her own in a relationship with the superpowered “Thunder.”
3. Kat & Adena, The Bold Type
Kat Edison (Aisha Dee), the first Black social media director at Scarlet magazine, finds her sexuality as she falls in love with Adena (Nikohl Boosheri), a free-spirited Muslim photographer. It’s still rare to see interracial lesbians on TV, much less one being a Muslim woman. Their whirlwind romance has even taken them across the globe.
4. Elena & Syd, One Day at a Time
Elena (Isabella Gomez) came out to her family in One Day at a Time season one, a big enough reveal for her more traditional Cuban family. Then, in season two of the show, she fell in love with Syd (Sheridan Pierce), a nonbinary character who uses the pronoun “they/them.” Syd shares Elena’s political and nerdy interests, and they both donned Doctor Who costumes to attend a comic convention.
5. Violet & Hollywood, Queen Sugar
Violet (Tina Lifford) and Hollywood (Omar Dorsey) show you true love can never come too late in life. Violet was content with just having a little fun with the younger Hollywood and still didn’t quite believe that he was truly in love with her. But even through her fight to find her true calling (a pie business) and her cancer diagnosis, Hollywood has stuck by her side. The two were just married in the Queen Sugar season three finale.
6. Connor & Oliver, How to Get Away with Murder
Connor (Jack Falahee), the former king of casual sex, slept with Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) in the first episode of How to Get Away with Murder to get information out of him for a case. But he just kept coming back despite his continuing interest in other men. The two have had many ups and downs (including Oliver’s HIV-positive test and being surrounded by murderers), but they just got married in the latest season of Murder. Thankfully, the dead person at their wedding had nothing to do with them.
7. Xiomara & Rogelio, Jane the Virgin
Telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camil) never expected to get back together with his high school sweetheart or meet his daughter, Jane, but Rogelio and Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) were able to rekindle their romance. Ro and Xo have been through their telenovela twists — he had a child with someone else, she dated his TV rival — but he supported her through her decision not to have children and through her cancer diagnosis. It’s great to see a mature couple that is still sexy and who love to have fun.
8. William & Jesse, This Is Us
William’s death on This Is Us had fans in tears, both because of how sad it was and because we wouldn’t be able to see the phenomenal Ron Cephas-Jones, who plays William, on our TV screens anymore. But This Is Us’ flashback nature allows us to fall in love with him even more. And now, we’re watching him fall in love with Jesse (Denis O’Hare), a British man he met at their substance abuse meetings. It’s rare to see an older gay couple, much less where one partner is bisexual, so we’re waiting for the next flashback episode to see how it all went down.
9. Princess Bubblegum & Marceline, Adventure Time
Even cartoons are changing how love is seen on television. In the series finale of the Cartoon Network show, Bubblegum, princess of the Candy Kingdom, and Marceline, the vampire queen, shared a kiss. They were clearly very close before, but to see this officially demonstrated in a kiss on a cartoon is definitely a mark of how much things are changing.