How Our Favorite Black TV Couples Redefined Relationship Goals And Taught Us Lessons In Love

Montage of a couple smiling with text "Black Love on our Terms" and floral graphics
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George and Weezy. Martin and Gina. Max and Kyle. Uncle Clifford and Lil’ Murda. These are just a few names of Black characters whose love we’ve championed in the last 50 years of television history.

We’ve watched our favorite fictional Black couples flourish and falter, build families and love on each other, even through the hard times. Yes, sometimes they annoyed us to no end with their breakups and makeups. And we’ve even argued about whether their love is worth saving at all. But we’ve always found comfort with them and turned to their stories whenever we needed a break from our own dramas.

Here’s a compilation of some of our favorite Black couples on TV and the lessons they helped us learn.

Martin and Gina, Martin

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Martin Payne (Martin Lawrence) and Gina Waters (Tisha Campbell) remind us that sometimes complete opposites make the perfect couple — as long as one person can balance out the other. Sure, Martin was a stubborn mama’s boy and male chauvinist, but he did not play about his boo Gina.

Sinclair and Overton, Living Single

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Sinclair (Kim Coles) and Overton (John Henton) were made for each other. The Brooklyn residents always seemed to be right on the same page, even if no one else in their world understood what was going on. It may have taken them a while to decide to get out of the friend zone, but once they did, they created a relationship that seemed unbreakable.

Max and Kyle, Living Sinlgle

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This matchup made for one of the most iconic moments in sitcom history: Max (Erika Alexander) and Kyle (T.C. Carson) waking up together on a recliner after a wild night of sex. The pair was hot and cold throughout all of Living Single, but their chemistry was undeniable. They kept us laughing with their jabs at each other, and we always knew that within those jokes was a real love. And, of course, we can’t leave out the on-again-off-again-“Baby, I’m back” relationship between Khadijah (Queen Latifah) and Scooter (Cress Williams).

Whitley and Dwayne, A Different World

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Dwayne (Kadeem Hardison) and Whitley (Jasmine Guy) also gave us an iconic moment in sitcom history: Dwayne showed up at Whitley’s wedding to Byron (Joe Morton) and then ended up crashing it with his memorable line, “Baby, please!” Now, perhaps Dwayne could have chosen a better time to pronounce his love for Whitley, but baby, it made great television. Sometimes it really isn’t too late.

Vivian and Philip, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

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Philip (James Avery) and Vivian Banks (Janet Hubert, Daphne Maxwell Reid) were at the top of their professions but still made time to keep family and their relationship first. It was clear that these two had a never-ending bond, even when we got a new Aunt Viv halfway through the series run. The Bankses never forgot where they came from, despite all the riches and success that helped them get to Bel-Air.

Damon and Ricky, Pose

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20th Century TV

Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) and Ricky (Dyllón Burnside) shared a love of dance, Madonna and walking the balls with the House of Evangelista. Their friendship quickly blossomed into a short romance before Ricky decided to go on tour with Al B. Sure. Where Pose thrives is in its depiction of these characters as complex men with full lives whether they are in or out of their relationship.

Rochelle and Julius, Everybody Hates Chris

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Rochelle (Tichina Arnold) and Julius (Terry Crews) always kept us laughing with their antics. Yes, Rochelle was always threatening to “slap you into next week” and Julius was constantly worrying about every red cent his family was spending, but when it came to their love for each other, the Rocks always knew how to show up and make it count.

Randall and Beth, This Is Us

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Where Randall (Sterling K. Brown) was a buttoned-up control freak, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) was a nurturing and patient wife and mother … who also didn’t take no mess. The Pearsons showed us that family life can change in an instant — and having a partner who is ready to ride through life’s ups and downs is paramount.

Omar and Brandon, The Wire

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Warner Bros.

Omar (Michael K. Williams) was devastated by the death of his boyfriend and partner-in-crime Brandon (Michael Kevin Darnall). Though at some point Omar realizes Brandon’s death was “all in the game,” he still fought in honor of his boo — for the brutal way he was murdered. Omar was a man with a set of rules, and revenge for killing his loved one was probably near the top of the list.

Harriette and Carl, Family Matters

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Audiences may first think of Harriette (Jo Marie Payton) and Carl (Reginald VelJohnson) as the strong-willed parents of Eddie, Laura and Judy (we didn’t forget you, girl!), but the Winslows often took time to show their love to each other, especially when Carl was trying to smooth over a disagreement with Harriette. Time and again, Carl showed us that he knew the right way to apologize and would win Harriette over in a really romantic way.

Jamie and Fancy, The Jamie Foxx Show

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Jamie (Jamie Foxx) and Fancy (Garcelle Beauvais) were a classic coupling, the kind we’ve seen over and over: Jamie, the goofy life-of-the-party type who tries his hardest to be a ladies ’man, and Fancy, the no-nonsense high achiever who accepts only the very best. It may have taken them 100 episodes to finally seal the deal, but, boy, was it worth the wait: Jamie serenades Fancy at the altar on the series finale and buys her a brownstone in New York so they can move there together for Fancy’s new job. Now that’s love.

Issa and Lawrence, Insecure

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Issa (Issa Rae) and Lawrence (Jay Ellis) are another example of love coming back around to find them. Both of them needed to do a little growing by themselves — and get to date around a bit — before finally deciding that their divine time required a bit of space apart first.

George and Weezy, The Jeffersons

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The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time — and its longevity is thanks to the dynamic pairing of George (Sherman Hemsley) and Louise (Isabel Sanford). George and Weezy are polar opposite in personality, with George the easy-to-anger entrepreneur and Louise the kind and calm homemaker.

Darla and Ralph, Queen Sugar

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Darla (Bianca Lawson) and Ralph Angel’s (Kofi Siriboe) relationship blossomed before our eyes, with each character going through transformations on the family drama. Ralph Angel battled anger issues and a criminal past, but he emerged into a strong businessman and dedicated father, husband and community warrior. Darla, a recovering addict doing her best to get back on track, became the strongest version of herself in the series’ final season. We’d be remiss to leave out Hollywood and Aunt Vi’s relationship on “Queen Sugar,” a truly romantic pairing that kept the love alive throughout the series run.

Quentin and Shelby, The Best Man: Final Chapters

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There’s that mid-credits scene in 1999’s The Best Man, when we learn Quentin (Terrence Howard) and Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) kept the party going in their hotel room after that spicy wedding reception at the end of the film. Fast forward to 2023 with “The Best Man: Final Chapters” and Shelby stops Quentin from making the biggest mistake of his life: marrying someone else. Their relationship is one of the most memorable connections in the “Best Man” franchise and reminds us that sometimes love is a roller coaster worth the ride.

Moesha and Q, Moesha

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OK, Moesha (Brandy Norwood) and Q (Fredro Starr) were dead wrong for sneaking around in her bedroom that afternoon, but that’s often what teenagers in love do — find any way to spend more time together. (I still gasp when they get caught on Mo’s bed.) Sometimes a girl has to have her moment with a bad boy until she realizes he might not be the one for her.

Miranda and Ben, Grey’s Anatomy

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Grey’s Anatomy fans are always rooting for Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson). So when she finally had a new love interest after her divorce, we were all jumping for joy. Ben Warren (Jason George) seemed like the perfect match: cute, smart, good at his job and, of course, he pretty much immediately fell in love with Bailey (I mean, how could you not). But the couple had a few hardships along the way, especially when Ben decided to quit being a doctor to become a firefighter. Miranda had to learn to manage her own expectations of life’s journey, and it’s a good lesson for us all.

Maya and Darnell, Girlfriends

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Maya (Golden Brooks) and Darnell (Khalil Kain) showed us that sometimes love comes back around and it’s worth it to give it another try. Darnell had gotten in a relationship with another woman, but at some point he realized that Maya was the only woman he’d ever love (despite her having an emotional relationship with Stan earlier on in the series). In this case, all it took was a fish fry and their favorite song to bring them back to their one true love.

Uncle Clifford and Lil’ Murda, P-Valley

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Lil’ Murda (J. Alphonse Nicholson) and Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan) are the ones you’re rooting for. If each of them could get out of their own way, their love could be thriving in ways they might never imagine. Though it may not be easy, Lil’ Murda and Clifford seem to be close to finding a way.

Ghost and Tasha, Power

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OK, so, Tasha and Ghost reminded us of a hard lesson but a necessary one nonetheless: When someone shows you who they are, believe them, as the brilliant Maya Angelou once said. The quiet part in that quote is especially true for Tasha (Naturi Naughton). Ghost (Omari Hardwick) showed Tasha time and again that Angela (Lela Loren) was the woman he loved and that he was only keeping Tasha around because she was the mother of their children.

James and Florida, Good Times

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The Evans family showed us a poor Black family in Chicago trying to keep their head above water. The series made history, showcasing a Black two-parent household for the first time on network television. Later on in the series, when James (John Amos) dies in a car accident while trying to find a better job and place to live for him and the family, audiences witness Florida’s (Esther Rolle) grieving process in the most memorable scene in the TV series.

Bernie and Wanda, The Bernie Mac Show

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One thing about Bernie Mac? He was going to set the record straight, America, and always in the most hilarious way. Mac starred as Bernie McCullough in “The Bernie Mac Show,” who loves his wife, Wanda (Kellita Smith), dearly and forms an unbreakable bond with his sister’s kids Vanessa, Jordan and Bryana (aka Baby Girl). Bernie and Wanda show what it means to step in for family — and how to love unconditionally no matter what trials come their way.

Michael and Jay, My Wife and Kids

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Michael (Damon Wayans) and Jay (Tisha Campbell) exceeded our expectations for what a married comedy duo could look like. Their chemistry was unreal — and it was amazing to see Campbell, especially, morph into a completely new character on another Black sitcom. Michael and Jay loved each other and their three kids really hard, and they always knew how to keep audiences on their toes with so many hijinks at every turn.This post originally appeared on HuffPostWARNER BROS/EVERETT COLLECTION.