Our Favorite Relationship-Focused Shows of the Decade

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We've already run down our favorite action/adventure series and favorite procedurals, but now we're looking at a decade's worth of favorite relationship-focused programming. It's kind of crazy how few shows are created around relationships.

Here is a reminder that we have almost two dozen favorites lists, and since we couldn't showcase every show on every list, we parsed them out a bit to make it more fun.

And these lists are not in any particular order. They're in the order the entries were received by TV Fanatic staff, so don't read into them!

To qualify, a show that began in another decade had to be airing during the decade, run a larger number of seasons from 2010 through 2019 if it started before 2010 or run the entire decade. Here we go!

Favorite relationships decade

Love - Netflix (2016-2018)

Netflix Love

Centered around an average guy, it showcased the reality of relationships.

It’s not always the beautiful guy that gets the beautiful girl.

Gus’ quirky personality woos Mickey, and they embark on a journey together figuring out the realities of love.

It’s not always easy, and it shows the fights and the tears that come with a healthy relationship.

Younger - TV Land (2015-present)

Younger girls Poster

The premise is simple -- a middle-aged woman discovers she cannot reenter the workforce after years as a wife and mother, so she uses her youthful look to get her in the door with a tiny lie about her age.

Except the relationships that Liza fosters once she creates her lie-based life get more complicated all the time, and with every day that passes it becomes harder to tell the people she loves the truth about who she is.

Love and friendship are explored with a lot of emotional resonance, especially when it comes to age being a frame of mind. When age isn’t a consideration, doors open that allow for unexpected friendships and love.

Liza’s dilemma gets more prickly the closer she grows to those around her, and we're waiting for her to realize that being in her 40s brings a lot of wisdom!

You’re the Worst - FX (2014-2019)

YTW Poster

Not every relationship begins because two people fall madly in love or when two kind souls find sparks.

You’re the Worst examines love and friendship between people those on other shows might find repulsive.

Still, whether it’s the obvious love between Jimmy and Gretchen or their friendships with Edgar and Lindsay, even their less-than-desirable selves discover they’re feelings are just as legitimate and deep as everyone else’s no matter how much they hate the idea or want to believe they’re positively abnormal.

Outlander - Starz (2014-present)

Outlander fan poster

Based on the gazillion books sold bestselling series from Diana Gabaldon, Outlander revolves around the complicated and nuanced relationships of the characters.

At the heart of the show is the love between Claire and Jamie. They are passionate and romantic about one another as well as respectful of each other’s needs but they don’t hold back when it comes to an argument, either.

Claire and Frank are worthy of discussion, and the daughter Claire shares with both of them and Brianna’s relationships with her fathers are also deeply layered studies in personal behavior.

Then there is the hatred surrounding Frank’s lookalike Black Jack and how he can’t let go of Jamie because the man moves something in him that no other had ever accomplished. At every level of the series, sophisticated entanglements drive the narrative. It’s quite a feat.

Girls - HBO (2012-2017)

Girls HBO Poster

Girls was a study of Millennials in the big city and featured a core friendship between four girls so different as to be unlikely.

But their unique qualities, the daring writing, and the sometimes ridiculousness of their situations (like how they could afford to live in NYC doing so little work) made their escapades more interesting.

They were average young women in every sense of the world who had a sense of entitlement that was almost inspiring, and their romantic entanglements were frank and often moving.

Catastrophe - Amazon Prime (2015-2019)

Catastrophe ledge poster

A marriage born of a one-night stand is one thing, but residing on separate continents and with an unplanned child on the way, Sharon and Rob and their snarky, self-deprecating humor were a relationship for the ages.

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney conceived the series, wrote it, and starred as the Sharon and Rob whose lives suddenly took a catastrophic turn.

It was one of the most honest portrayals of middle age let alone an unexpected romance and family, with laugh-out-loud comedy and emotional gut-punches that ensured the story never stopped surprising.

And it all ended with a finale perfectly suited to all that came before.

Divorce - HBO (2016-2019)

HBO Divorce Poster

For all of the divorced characters that have been on television over the years, shows that represent its realities are few and far between.

Divorce was created by Sharon Horgan (who also has another show on this list) and starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church as a couple who fell so far away from each other that they couldn’t forgive and repair the love they still shared.

Always funny, Divorce showcased the emotional rollercoaster that long-married couples experience as they split their lives, assets, and family.

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce - Bravo (2014-2018)

GG2D Poster

Another show about divorce, Girlfriend’s Guide was based on the popular book series and explored the friendships women cling to as their marriages fall apart.

The complexities of divorce got explored on many levels and with a lot of different kinds of marriage allowing many women to see their situation represented to get a little comfort that they weren’t alone.

The friendships blossomed and allowed the women to fully explore their relationship decisions with all the love and support they needed to make the best choices.

The Affair - Showtime (2014-2019)

The Affair Final poster

Created by Sarah Treem, The Affair showcased the ramifications to two families after an affair.

Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, and Joshua Jackson created a quadrangle of sex, grief, and second chances through differences in perception.

Each scene could be analyzed from varying viewpoints proving how much perception forms out respective realities.

The initial two couples never fully recovered from the affair, and their lingering feelings drove the most poignant parts of the series.

When Calls the Heart

When Calls the Heart Poster

Could Hallmark could have known the impact of a show as simple as When Calls the Heart? No way! Based on the Canadian West series of books by Janette Oke, When Calls the Heart follows Elizabeth Thatcher, a young teacher, who moves from the city to a small town to begin her teaching career.

Of course, it's all about the relationships she encounters along the way as she loses her heart to a handsome Mountie named Jack and becomes a beloved member of the town. 

While there are little dramatic vignettes in each hour of the show, it's the romantic interludes that drive the story forward. In addition to Elizabeth and Jack, other romances were found between Rosemary and Leland, Carson and Faith, and Jesse and Clara. 

Jack's death spawned the beginning a new chapter in Elizabeth's love life, and fans are hooked trying to figure out who will win her heart next.


What was your favorite relationship-focused show of the decade?

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