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Today's Top TV Duos

May 6th, 2008 8:37am EDT
The OfficeWhat motivates audiences to watch TV shows? Why spend time on a series that will, in all likelihood, repeat storylines, invent contrived hook-ups and ultimately regress into something that challenges the viewer to wonder why he/she even began watching in the first place?

What's worse is that the viewers know this is going on. People sit in front of the boob tube every night knowing that Paula's going to say something stupid (scripted?) on "American Idol" and one of the "ER" doctors (models) is going to sleep with either another doctor (model) or endure an emotional breakdown due to a close relationship with a terminal patient (model).

We know that the lawyer on whichever lawyer show you watch is going to fight hard and true and eventually prevail (Sam Waterston's record is 2,234 - 4 on Law & Order), while that badass cop on whatever cop show you watch will get the criminal only after yelling at his "by-the-books" captain. We know all of this, yet we still watch.

We continue to watch predictable shows because of the characters. We watch because of the relationships between the characters. Not so much the "will-they-or-wont-they" stuff but rather the little jokes and asides that humanize fictional friendships.

Don't misunderstand. Ross and Rachel were actually moving at times, especially that kiss in the coffee shop at night while it was raining. But what made "Friends" so popular was not that relationship but the constant companionship and the small stuff between Joey and Chandler and everyone else.

The financial and critical success of "Seinfeld" proves this point. This show was about nothing. There was no love story or drawn out break up. Instead, every week the audience was treated to new shenanigans between four malcontents who could only have each other as friends. Each week Jerry had a new girl, George was trying to scheme someone, and Elaine and Kramer found themselves in awkward situations. It worked because we liked the chemistry between these characters. It worked because these characters, together, offered the audience something new.

So as a tribute to one of the best characteristics a medium that helps shape the lives of millions of kids and adults everywhere, here are a handful of the top TV duos still running amok on the airwaves today:

Michael and Dwight - The Office

Every great leader needs a reliable number two, and there is perhaps a no more loyal lieutenant than Dwight K. Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Whether Michael (Steve Carell) is in need of clean urine to pass a drug test, a clean batch of laundry or a ride after burning his foot, Dwight is forever his man. While Mr. Shrute did once try to usurp Michael's Regional Manager status, the fact that they've patched things up, through a hug no less, speaks volumes about the strength of their relationship.

The Office

J.D. and Turk - Scrubs

It is near impossible to have a column about TV duos and friendship without including a pair that solidified their "guy love" through song. These two man-sized children offer a perfect complement to each other. J.D. (Zach Braff), with his ubiquitous insecurity and skittish demeanor relies heavily on Turk (Donald Faison) for psychological and physical assistance. While Turk, with his sometimes false bravado and challenging relationship with Carla, depends on J.D.'s unconditionally love. Unfortunately, this show has severely dipped in terms of comedy and narrative, but it still offers a glimmer of what originally made this once proud show great.

Scrubs

Christina and Meredith - Grey's Anatomy

One's a little bit whiney and passive, one's a little hard nosed and distrusting of others, but together these two doctors (played by Sandra Oh and Ellen Pompeo) offer the strong contingent of "Grey's" viewers endless fodder for entertainment. Despite break-ups and canceled weddings, these gals have each other's back (and are each other's "person) in the challenging medical world.

Grey's Anatomy

Pam and Jim - The Office

While it is a bit lame to pick two pairs from the same show, this column would be remiss if it did not recognize the power of this TV duo. For three years, "Office" fans had to endure painful episodes where Pam (Jenna Fischer) or Jim's (John Krasinski) affection for the other went unrequited. But to the delight of enthusiasts everywhere, the two came together this season, and it has been all that one could have wanted. The great thing about their relationship is that they never fight. They never get into the drama that other TV couples inevitably get into. It is refreshing to see a television couple that is genuinely happy. Kudos to "The Office" writing staff for not dipping into the obvious drama well to find new narratives.

The Office

Paula and Simon - American Idol

Even though this is a reality show, these two provide so much comedy in directly opposing ways that this column would be incomplete without mentioning them. Paula Abdul, perpetually medicated and forever falling out of her dress, is only outdone by the tight shirt wearing Brit Simon Cowell whose sharp criticism of contestants is only bettered by his sharp criticism of Ryan Seacrest. With Randy Jackson constantly commenting that each song was either "dope" or "pitchy," it is nice to know that the two other judges could say anything at anytime to anyone.

American Idol

Temperance and Seeley - Bones

She's a forensic anthropologist (played by Emily Deschanel), and he's an FBI agent (played by David Boreanaz). While she depends on evidence and scientific theory, he often uses his gut instincts. It's opposites attract on this show, but they haven't hooked up (yet).

Bones

MORE TOP TV DUOS:
House (Hugh Laurie) and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) - House
Jenna (Jane Krakowski) and Frank (Judah Friedlander) - 30 Rock
Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) - Supernatural
Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando (James Kyson Lee) - Heroes
Blair (Leighton Meester) and Serena (Blake Lively) - Gossip Girl

Who are your favorite small-screen duos? Make a comment!

Taylor Tepper
Interview by Taylor Tepper
Starpulse contributing writer