Forget everything you’ve been told about on-screen romance – here are the lesser-remembered moments from TV and film that will make your heart sing.
(Nobody puts Baby in this list.)
Say it with flours – Stranger Than Fiction
He’s an awkward, lonely tax inspector, she’s an anarchic tattooed baker… (very) unlikely romance blossoms among the receipts and frosting. This pun-tastic gesture is made all the lovelier by the fact he might actually be a fictional character narrated by Emma Thompson, soon to face his death. And it manages to include the sweetest delivery of the phrase “I want you” ever committed to film.
As one commenter says, ‘If your eyes don’t well up, check your pulse. You might just be dead.’
Tim and Dawn – The Office
If you’ve always wondered why you find yourself welling up every time you hear Only You by Yazoo, this is almost definitely the reason. After two seasons of will-they-won’t-they-seriously-this-is-agony, The Office’s Christmas finale gave us the conclusion for Slough’s starcrossed lovers that we all yearned for – and it’s a million times lovelier than anything Ryan Gosling’s ever done.
The school dance – Napoleon Dynamite
Proof, if more was needed, that awkward people finding love is SO much more romantic than non-awkwards, Napoleon Dynamite’s school dance scene is the reason we still secretly hope one day we’ll get the chance to sway a foot apart from the object of our affection, while they gaze into our eyes and murmur the immortal words: “I like your sleeves. They’re real big.”
Jack and Ianto – Torchwood
The music, the script, the timing of that lingering look – everything about Jack and Ianto’s first big Torchwood kiss is perfect, textbook romance. The fact that the scene was also a massive high-five for sexual fluidity and representation on TV is just icing on the sci-fi cake.
Aeroplane kiss – The Mindy Project
A turbulent friendship mirrored by actual aeroplane turbulence results in a romantic clinch by the duty free trolley, yada yada yada… the real beauty of Danny and Mindy’s first kiss isn’t the cliched setting but the urgency and passion in his eyes. And thumb. Watch the thumb.
It’s also virtually impossible to find a clip of the kiss that isn’t part of a mawkish fan video, which means you’ll just have to give two and a half minutes of your life to this slow-mo version instead. It’s worth every second.
The Wedding – About Time
Yes, it’s a Richard Curtis wedding scene. But you’ll have to get over that, because it’s also one of the most beautiful, non-nauseating wedding scenes you’ll ever see.
The bride walks down the aisle to Italian easy listening from the 60s, the happy couple bust out awkward dance moves in the church, relatives fall over, the marquee collapses and buckets of rain fall to the point where the whole day should basically be ruined… if not for love. Ah, love.
Somewhere Out There – Community
Unlikely love is Community’s bread and butter, and Troy and Abed’s friendship is the huge dollop of peanut butter and jam on top of it. ‘Bromance’ isn’t a good enough term for the pop culture junky duo – this is full-on romance.
Whether acting out fantasy scenarios in their dreamatorium, co-presenting their own untelevised breakfast show or here, singing that lovely song from An American Tale for narrative reasons we can’t quite remember, Troy and Abed are the real deal. Cool, cool cool cool.
Mr Darcy’s second proposal – Pride and Prejudice
Bridget Jones’s Diary pops up in most classic romantic movie lists, but everyone seems to forget the original. Or they get it wrong, claiming Darcy’s original proposal scene is Pride and Prejudice’s most romantic moment – tense, yes, romantic? No.
The real, 24-carat organic good stuff comes much later, on this deliciously understated country walk, after Elizabeth has learned the full story and Darcy has stopped being an arrogant fool. Those polite little half-smiles say more than a thousand screaming declarations of love in the rain ever could.
Oh, and don’t dare come near me with any Keira Knightley bollocks. The BBC can never be bettered.
April and Andy’s wedding – Parks and Recreation
“I wanna spend the rest of my life with you, is that cool?” With those words, April Ludgate instantly made everybody else’s marriage vows sound like a heap of unnecessary schmaltz.
The beauty of this Parks and Recreation moment was that we, like Leslie Knope, think the whole idea is stupid and ridiculous – until the moment the bride enters, Simon and Garfunkel chimes in, and our hearts melt and fall out through our socks. High-five, guys. High-five.
Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes – Downton Abbey
A relationship with more real affection than any of Lady Mary’s million identical suitors, Carson and Hughes is the Downton romance that you’d sit through two more decades and another war to watch come to fruition. This tender seaside paddling scene reminded us just how much fun it’s possible to have with your clothes on (but your shoes off).
Plus, ‘You can always hold my hand if you need to feel steady’ is exactly the kind of thing you can imagine inscribed inside a wedding ring on Pinterest.
Dancing On My Own (together) – GIRLS
For a show full of people hopping in and out of relationships, there’s barely any happy coupledom in GIRLS – just a whole load of dysfunction and twenty-something anguish. But that doesn’t mean there’s no romance.
This classic Hannah and Marnie scene is friendship romance at its greatest; touching, empowering and enough to make you want to find and hug your best friend immediately. It also put Robyn back on all our playlists, for which we’re very grateful.