5 Friends To Lovers TV Storylines That Don’t Quite Hit Like They Used To
Culture & Entertainment

5 Friends To Lovers TV Storylines That Don’t Quite Hit Like They Used To

Friends to lovers, is there a trope in media that hits quite as satisfying? Well, there is also the bad boy gone good for the love of a woman trope that also piques my interest in romance and fiction. However, in this article, we’re leaning more towards my lover girl side who feels both seen and heard when watching the slow burn of a love story play out between two souls destined to be a thing.

When done right, it’s more Lois and Clark from the later seasons of Smallville, or who could ever forget the life, rhymes, and chemistry that sparked between Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs in Brown Sugar? When done wrong, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

And it’s why we are here today. Join me in recounting 5 friends-to-lovers storylines that didn’t quite work (for me) in some of our most coveted TV shows. As a brief disclaimer, I understand that art depicting life is just that, art depicting life. In life, you have relationships and sometimes they will not work out. This list is for fun and in no particular order. Now, let’s get into it!

1. Laura Winslow and Steve Urkel, Family Matters


Maybe I was blinded by what I felt was chemistry between Laura Winslow (Kellie Shanygne Williams) and Stefan Urquelle (Jaleel White), but I think when I first watched this, I saw it for this eventual couple. However, rewatching it years later and seeing all the ways Steve Urkel (also Jaleel White) pined after Laura to the point of stalking and desperation for most of the series’ nine-season run, and the way Laura didn’t return his affection in a significant way until the last season of Family Matters, the characters finally getting together ended up feeling anticlimactic.

Although it was framed as growth for both characters, their eventual romance ultimately felt like Steve just wore Laura down (nearly a decade of his persistence, mind you).

As one of the main romances explored in the iconic show, when it boiled down to actual moments of budding love between the characters, they left much to be seen. A lot of that could be attributed to the length and the perpetual drawing out of the question of "will they, won't they?" As a viewer, you knew they would get together by watching nine seasons of buildup. However, as a viewer, it also got a little old, and with each passing episode, reasons they shouldn't be together stacked up more than reasons that they should be. At least, for me.

Between Steve spending most of the series obsessed with Laura and Laura’s consistent indifference, dismissiveness, and lack of attraction towards Steve without a change in physical appearance, I was left wondering why we ever saw it for these two in the 90s.

2. Hakeem Campbell and Moesha Mitchell, Moesha


Whew, I hated the Hakeem-Moesha storyline with a passion. The reason behind my why is partially selfish but I also like to think it is partially in the right. The selfish side wanted to see a healthy platonic relationship between opposite sexes on television and I felt like Moesha (Brandy) and Hakeem (Lamont Bentley, R.I.P.) represented that for much of Moesha’s series run. I even thought having an episode or two here and there that showcases one or both of them thinking about wanting more was realistic because sometimes when you’re just friends you have questions about why you have to stay just friends. So whispers of a crush popping up in these storylines didn’t bother me.

I loved that Hakeem and Moesha were best friends, had each other’s backs, and disagreed at times, but through maturity, they were able to grow. It was beautiful.

However, all of my good feelings about this pairing were completely thrown out of the window during the college arc of the last two seasons when they put the friends-to-lovers storyline in overdrive and the sweet daydreams of each other were replaced by a sour reality. Hakeem as a best friend was great, but Hakeem as Moesha’s boyfriend felt like such a departure from the character he showed himself to be throughout the four seasons prior.

Hakeem was one of those characters who got "the girl" but ultimately wasn't ready for her when he had her. What played out instead was a clear display of their sheer incompatibility.

He was insecure, he was jealous, he was borderline possessive, and then when he and Niecy (Shar Jackson) kissed, I was through. Don’t even get me started on the episodes where he tried to “win” her back after that. I legit wanted to throw the entire show away. These days, I pretend the college seasons don’t exist. I’m more at peace that way.

3. Thaddeus “T” Radcliffe & Stevie Van Lowe, The Parkers

Continuing on the Moesha train, we are making a quick stop at their spin-off, The Parkers thanks to the noteworthy inclusion of a friends-to-lovers storyline between “T” (Ken Lawson) and Stevie (Jenna von Oy). On a personal and somewhat unrelated note, I loved the trio of Kim (Countess Vaughn), T, and Stevie on The Parkers. Something I especially admired about their friend group and the friend group of Moesha, Niecy, and Hakeem was that it never felt like T and Hakeem had to present differently to fit with the women they were friends with in their respective groups. An example of this is the guys weren’t “one of the girls” in their conversations just because they were best friends with two women, they were themselves. I liked that. And again, I loved that it was strictly platonic.

That all changed in season 4 when T and Stevie had a romance arc and briefly dated. What I will give them credit for is that they didn’t draw it out for a long time (ahem, Moesha) and it also didn’t impact the plot (aside from some jokes scattered here and there). It was quick and mostly painless. Still, when the couple unraveled, I didn’t like how similar it felt to some of the issues I took with the Moesha-Hakeem storyline in the end, i.e. T’s jealousy. Speaking of which, Hakeem’s season 4 guest appearance on The Parkers as Stevie’s former flame is what ultimately ended this short-lived friends-to-lovers storyline entry.

4. Joan Clayton and William Dent, Girlfriends


On my first watch of this Girlfriends arc, I loathed this storyline. It felt abrupt, unnatural, and dare I say, desperate. I didn’t get them and couldn’t understand why the Girlfriends writers were taking Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross) and William Dent (Reggie Hayes) in this direction. But giving the series a rewatch in my adult years forced me to look past the numerous ways I thought their romantic storyline was implausible and unrealistic when I was younger. Now, I saw it for what it was.

They were best friends, they got each other in ways that others in their lives sometimes didn’t, they saw each other (I beam at every holiday episode where Joan’s girlfriends are complaining about everything Joan has them do but William gleefully falls in line because it’s their shared joy). Aside from the very apparent lack of physical and sexual intimacy between them, I understood them as a couple more. But, I’ve come to realize I still don’t like them together.

Not only was it a plot that felt like they touched on in a different way through William and another character on the show Lynn getting together for a fling (as well as a kinda-sorta one-night stand with Joan that wasn’t completed because Joan was, and I quote, "an ooch-ouch girl"), but the way they built up the relationship as something meaningful just to throw it away because of a few comments by Toni, Maya, and Lynn (who were making some good points, but still), it just felt like, what was the reason?

Admittedly, as a change of pace, it was interesting to see that their trying to be a couple romantically did impact their friendship. I’ve always admired that Joan tends to take the high road in her breakups and seems to be on good terms with most of her exes, but it seemed like she wasn’t able to effortlessly revert to being “best friend Joan” to “best friend William” which was interesting because their split was more amicable compared to other boyfriends she had had in the series.

However, that juxtaposition was also something I took issue with because I enjoyed their chemistry as friends far more than lovers and it felt like a long road getting back to the dynamic I once loved them for.

5. Freddie and Ron, A Different World

By now, it may or may not be obvious that I am not a big fan of diminishing yourself to get the person you’re trying to be with. In my entry about Laura and Steve, that was one of the things I didn’t appreciate about Laura’s nature to soften for Steve mostly as Stefan or when he is a more subdued version of the guy he is repulsed by. A Different World didn’t seem to be relaying that message with this pairing, but I just didn’t appreciate the way it felt like Ron only saw Freddie (Cree Summer) after she brushed her signature curls into a tight bun and exchanged her boho chic for corporate chic.

Though Freddie’s change in appearance was meant to be viewed as a personal evolution several seasons into the series and post-grad, there was something about the fact that she had always been there, and for some reason, Ron never looked twice at her until that dramatic physical change. What hurt their cases even more for me was the fact that both of them were cheating on their respective partners at the time with each other. Hated it. Hated it. Hated it.

Funnily enough, Freddie’s boyfriend Shazza Zulu (Gary Dourdan) was meant to be a parallel to Ron, showing that whereas Ron was accepting the new Freddie, Shazza wanted Freddie to be the “old Freddie.” I didn’t like either approach truth be told, but the fact that they were sneaking around behind their partners’ backs solidified the fact that the storyline just wasn’t it for me and that’s okay.

It’s just another season of a show I love that I don’t need to revisit. Again, I am at peace.

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Featured image via Girlfriends/The CW

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