There's a new phenomenon spreading through American sitcoms that might be called the anti-Sam and Diane -- or as I would more likely call it, the anti-Dawson and Joey. So many sitcom couples are now happily united with no sign of anything changing in the near future. When it comes down to it, viewers no longer yearn for the will-they-won't-they drama we've been spoon-fed for years. (Side note: I think this is why the whole Jeff and Britta thing on Community isn't taking off.)
As much as we might miss the awkward and perfect flirtations between Jim and Pam, I think we are all much happier after an episode of The Office when there's no drama in the relationship. And now that they're married, we really don't have to worry (pre-marital sex, maybe, but I don't anticipate a divorce). Now we can watch every episode in peace -- that is, if you call watching Michael tell a group of high school seniors that he can't pay for their college education as he had promised "in peace"...
I similarly enjoy an episode of Gossip Girl so much more when there is no tension between Chuck and Blair. Like Jim and Pam, they are so absolutely perfect for each other that even the thought of them not being together makes the viewing experience less enjoyable. Even though Season 1 was by far the best, it was by no means the easiest to watch. And with this economy (yeah, I said it) maybe that's all viewers are looking for.
This tendency is most relevant -- even if subtle -- on How I Met Your Mother. Over the course of four and a half seasons, we have never had to worry about issues in Ted's relationships, because we know he ends up with the right woman, and we know it's not anyone he's dating on the episodes we're watching. So no matter what ridiculous things he does to mess up relationships, there's no tension.
That said, here are my five favorite current television couples - comments welcome!
1) Coach and Tammy (Friday Night Lights)
2) Chuck and Blair (Gossip Girl)
3) Barney and the entire female gender (How I Met Your Mother)
4) Finn and every female viewer ages 14 - 38 (Glee)
5) Jay and Gloria (Modern Family)
*Honorable mention: Don and Betty (Mad Men) -- I don't feel right putting them on the list because I'm not caught up and something tells me it's not going to end well.