I don’t know if anyone else has heard but Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have called it quits, and I for one am more disappointed about it than I would like to admit. I don’t usually follow the trajectory of relationships involving people that I don’t personally know (or are non-fictional), but for some inexplicable reason I’ve always had a soft spot for Ben and Jen. Bennifer. Jenjamin. Garfleck. I mean, the romance just writes itself. Or wrote.
So this comes as a bit of a nasty surprise, and I find my belief in couplehood bliss a little bit shaken. And where can one turn to for comfort in times of such amorous trouble? Fiction, of course.
Hence, as evidence of happy coupledom, I’ve compiled a list to set the most cynical heart aflutter.
*Sources are linked in the images.
1 Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion
Yes, they got off to a rocky start, but these two lovebirds pretty much sang the same besotted tune for the eight years they were apart from each other. I know Anne tried to put Wentworth out of her mind, and Wentworth was kind of a jerk at the start, sticking his flirting in her face, but the truth is, try as they might, they could not get over their love for each other. Constancy is an amazing thing for a cynical romantic living in the twenty-first century.
2 Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
The above two shouldn’t really come as a surprise. They are after all the quintessential couple. They probably epitomize coupledom in all its glory – two people who, though they initially grate on each other, mature by learning from one another, and admitting their flaws in the process. That’s the kind of character development that ensures a deep and abiding bond.
3 Betty Suarez and Daniel Meade from Ugly Betty
Speaking of a deep and abiding bond. You can’t get more deep and abiding than these two. Betty and Daniel started off their relationship as boss and employee, which then blossomed – beautifully, heartbreakingly, and so wonderfully satisfyingly – into one of the best friendships I’ve seen portrayed on television. Friendship is so underrated, in itself, or as a prelude to romance. This show, however, showed how important and beautiful a friendship could be. Betty and Daniel learned from each other, and were better with one another, and seeing them together, even as friends is heart-warming. When the series ends, it’s on the cusp of something more, a tiny exhilarating hint that suggests a fulfilling future for the two, but even without the that you know the two are better for having one another in their lives.
4 Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing
Ah yes, Beatrice and Benedick. These two captured my heart with their incessant squabbling and caustic sparring. Even when they were throwing vitriolic insults at each other their chemistry was undeniable, and I’m in quiet awe that a man who lived hundreds of years ago could have me agonising over the fact that this couple absolutely, indisputably, irreversibly had to be together. May you make many cynical babies together, Beatrice and Benedick.
5 Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle
Can we all just take a moment to pay obeisance to Diana Wynne Jones, who told a story that was not a romance but made me pine anyway for the joining of Howl and Sophie with all the fire that would take to run a moving castle? I think we can.
Howl and Sophie are a bit like Benedick and Beatrice. Or rather, I should say Sophie is a bit like Beatrice, all spitting insults and sharp edges, while Howl sheepishly maneuvers himself around her, trying to avoid her rages, or simply igniting them further with his charming smiles, or his humouring, patronising attitudes. The charm and quiet power of this story, is that, just like Sophie, you don’t realize there is a romance unfurling until you’re in the thick of it. It’s beautifully done, more so because it’s not typical. Jones made me sigh about a couple that says nary a soppy word of romance to each other, and for that all I can say is: Kudos, Ms Jones, kudos.
6 Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox from You’ve Got Mail
Ah, my obsession with You’ve Got Mail rears its head again. Seriously, people of the world, do yourself a favour and just watch this movie already. We can all thank me later.
But you guys! Kathleen and Joe bond over letters! Online letters (I think they’re called e-mails?), but still. And books! And all the weird, and quirky and ordinary things they see around each other. And they both own bookstores. Could there be a better love story? I think not!
This film pays homage to the Lizzy/Darcy and Beatrice/Benedick type of relationship out there. You’re happy to cheer from the sidelines whenever these two share screen/page time together, be it for clashing or kissing.
There, I feel a lot better already. Now tell me, reader, which fictional couple makes you believe in true love?