Focusing on three best friends and their respective love lives, the new Fox comedy series "Traffic Lights" carries on a TV romance tradition as old as television itself! The show follows the trials and tribulations of three men (David Denman, Nelson Franklin, Kris Marshall) as they attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable: to balance their relationships with their need for freedom.
Catch the first episode of "Traffic Lights" on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox - but in the meantime, let's have a look at the Best TV Romance Shows that came before it!
I Love Lucy
TV's original romantic couple set the precedent of all romantic sitcoms to follow. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, playing Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, brought a TV-ready version of their real-life romance to the world in 1951, playing off Lucy's adorable naivete and Ricky's trademark comic frustration: "Luuuuuucy! You got some es'lainin' to do!" The black and white series created a template for family entertainment programming, and it's safe to say that Homer & Marge and the rest of the other dysfunctional modern couples on sitcoms wouldn't have been the same without Lucy and Ricky paving the way.
Though the "will-they-or-won't-they" suspense of the first few seasons has come to a conclusion (after all, they're married with children now...), the slow-boiling romance between Jim and Pam on "The Office" was the initial anchor that carried us all beyond the novelty of Steve Carell's magnetic idiocy as Michael Scott or Rainn Wilson's juvenile nerd-shenanigans as Dwight Schrute. We tuned in every week to watch Jim pine away for Pam, hoping her engagement would dissolve and they could finally be together. It did, and their first kiss was easily one of the best in TV history.
Bruce Willis first convinced us of his onscreen abilities as David Addison, counter to Cybill Shepherd's Maddie Hayes character in "Moonlighting". The fiercely reluctant gravity between the two bickering private detectives made for a stormy love affair that, unfortunately, flat-lined the show once the two finally gave in to each others' charms. Never before or since have two more electrically powerful personalities clashed and coincided so well in a romantic comedy, and Willis has yet to be paired with a female lead to match his anti-chemistry with Shepherd's incendiary flare.
Sex and The City
The unending back and forth between eternally unsettled Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and on-again, off-again longtime flame Mr. Big (Chris Noth) was the romantic nucleus of the "Sex and the City" series, and even branched into the big-screen versions of the show. Terrible timing, immaturity and simple cold feet continuously got in the way, but for all viewers at home, there was little question of whether Big and Carrie belonged together. Having put each other - and fans - through countless emotional wringers, their happy ending was a long time coming.
The total incompatibility of Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) didn't stop us for endlessly rooting from them on the smash 80s series "Cheers". The ill-fated love affair of a prissy barmaid and a retired, egomaniacal relief pitcher made an art out of teasing a love story, with Sam and Diane relentlessly flirting, bickering, or seeking psychiatric help to deal with one another's mind-messing affections.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Long before vampires sparkled in the daylight and seemed allergic to wearing shirts, there was the mortal dilemma of the heart that took place on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The show, which kicked off in 1997 and survived seven seasons, established that Buffy Summers’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar’s) true love was tortured-vampire-with-a-soul Angel. Their love wasn't meant to be, however, and so we got sucked (pun intended) into a new - and infinitely more dangerous - romance with one of the vampire slayer's biggest enemies, Spike (James Marsters). Though their path took a dark turn, the buildup of magnetism between the two sworn enemies turned Buffy into just as much a romance show as a vampire-thriller.
Beauty And The Beast
In a dark and dramatic retelling of the fairytale classic, beautiful New York City D.A. Catherine (Linda Hamilton) and subway-dwelling man-beast nobleman Vincent (Ron Perlman) engage in a tumultuous love affair that consisted mostly of Vincent coming to the dashing rescue when Catherine was in peril. Over the course of the show's three seasons, Vincent’s inner beauty rises through the beast facade, and though he can't save the doomed Catherine (she's killed off in the final season), we're able to see their love transform the monster into a true hero.