The thing about dysfunctional relationships is that they don't, erm, function very well. However, as we all know, few things are absolute and rules are meant to be broken — especially when it comes to love.
Many of you have probably had those crazy relationships that, though your friends wondered at your constant bickering and apparent mutual loathing, somehow worked better than most. The ones that made you feel both outraged and overjoyed, sometimes both at once. And, because life imitates art or vice-versa or some combination of the two, there are plenty such relationships in movies and television to marvel at. They might not always work out in the end — but boy, was it great while it lasted.
Photo: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Sam and Joon, Benny and Joon
Joon's brother Benny was sure it would never work out, and that someone with Joon's mental state could never love or be loved. How deeply, deeply wrong he was — and how lucky we viewers were that it worked out in the end.
Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Jesse & Jane, Breaking Bad
Yes, this ended in tragedy. And, yes, they were both addicts who in some ways enabled each other. But, at times, it seemed like their love and devotion to one another might be the thing that finally lifted them both up to a better life. We still get teary-eyed thinking about it...
Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features.
Joel and Clementine, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
We don't really know how this ends. Well, we know how it ended once, but it picks back up again — and depending on whether you're a pessimist or an optimist, you leave the movie thinking that they'll do it right the second time or, in a spectacular demonstration of human futility, make the same mistakes all over again. But, either way, despite their deep insecurities, Clementine's vindictiveness and Joel's condescending pretense, there are times when these two are just so good together.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Harold and Maude, Harold and Maude
On paper, they were a bad match. In real (read: cinematic) life, they were one of the most affecting love stories of all time. What more need we say, here?
Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
Mulder and Scully, The X-Files
They drive each other crazy and their respect for one another's passions and pursuits is not always consistent. And, yet, the couple that hunts aliens together stays together, as the old saying goes.
Photo: Courtesy of The Samuel Goldwyn Company.
Lula and Sailor, Wild at Heart
This is one relationship that knows it's crazy and loves it. The very foundation of their love is the fact that it is reckless, youthfully exuberant, not entirely rational, and — in a word — wild.
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The family, Big Love
Don't get us wrong. There is so much wrong here — both in Bill's relationships with his various wives and in the oppressive systems they uphold, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not so much. But, the amazing thing about this show is that despite all that, it painted complex enough portraits of these relationships that you could still see a glimmer of love underneath it all, sometimes. Big Love powerfully depicted a multifaceted vision of something that usually elicits a knee-jerk, negative reaction. Ultimately, it's one of the least functional relationships on this list, but it also goes to show that the capacity to develop and maintain love for another person can be astonishingly resilient.
Oh, and beyond that: It's hard to imagine finding common ground and even a sisterly bond with someone who routinely sleeps with your husband. The relationship between the wives — crazy as it sometimes is — is the really fascinating thing on this show.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
Lois and Peter, Family Guy
It would take us several hours to list all the ways in which they mistreat each other. And, yet, nothing can keep them apart, including but not limited to time travel, Quagmire, and the unfortunate combination of ipecac and chowder.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Clarence and Alabama, True Romance
They start off rough from the very beginning — he's a broke comic book store employee; she's a prostitute on her fourth night on the job. Within 24 hours, he's married her, murdered her pimp, and told her he loved her. Manic to the core, but their energy feeds into one another in a wonderfully intoxicating way.
Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Billy and Mindy, Friday Night Lights
They start out as this funny, lovably dysfunctional relationship. One wouldn't think that Billy would be a great influence on Tim, and in some ways, he's not. But, ultimately, Billy and Mindy get their sh*t together and their shenanigans even complement each other. Together, they forge a truly deep connection, so much so that Tim (gentle soul that he is) ends up taking a figurative bullet for Billy to preserve his new family.