The Battlin’ Williams are back. Tasha Smith and Michael Jai White reprise their roles created for Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” films for TV. “For Better or Worse” heads into a second season starting on Friday, July 13 at 9 p.m. on TBS. You can expect the second season to proceed much as the first, as the Williams’ continue their dysfunctional marriage. You may not want to take your relationship cues from Angela and Marcus, but they always work things out. That got us to thinking about what TV marriages you could learn from. Here are five TV couples that illustrate how to get through some common relationship issues.
CLAIRE AND CLIFF HUXTABLE – “THE COSBY SHOW”
The Cosbys are an iconic TV couple for good reason. Played by Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad, the Huxtables were an upwardly mobile black family when some people didn’t believe they existed. What you took from this family dynamic was simple: everyone was respected from the youngest kids to the adult partners. You never saw Cliff give Claire anything but the utmost respect, and even when the kids misbehaved, they weren’t belittled or punished in abusive ways; the Huxtables regarded those times as teaching moments. While everyone may not have the idyllic family dynamic and resources of a dual-professional couple, they can certainly incorporate respect for everyone into family life.
J AND MICHAEL KYLE – “MY WIFE AND KIDS”
One thing you rarely saw on “My Wife and Kids” were the Kyles arguing over anything that had to do with how to deal with their children. With comic acting veterans Damon Wayans as family breadwinner Michael and Tisha Campell as ex-career woman J, you’d figure that both characters they created would be strong personalities. But no matter how annoyed The Kyles they may have gotten with each other, if their kids did something they didn’t like, the Kyles kept up a united front. The couple was usually brutally honest with each other as well, which helped them in turn to be honest with their kids. If someone did something ridiculous, Michael or J would squash it and if they had any issues with how the other handled it, it was dealt with between the two. That’s a great lesson for any family with children to learn.
TRACY AND LEM VAN ADAMS – “SOUL FOOD”
Tracy, known on the show by her nickname “Bird,” played by Malinda Williams and Lem, played by Darrin Dewitt Henson, had a lot of ups and downs as a couple. There was Lem’s criminal past, his involvement in a store owned by a relative who wanted to cut the Joseph sisters out of the business, Lem’s shady doings after time in jail and eventually, emotional and physical infidelity by both partners. Through it all, Lem remained committed to his wife, his son and his marriage, even after he was kicked out and found out that his wife had been unfaithful. On her side, Bird was willing to forgive even after she found out that her husband was lying to her about his financial dealings and putting their family at risk. While every marriage might not have these particular hurdles to overcome, the Van Adams’ relationship woes give any couple insight into how to handle the big issues and how to recover after significant mistakes on both sides.
DR. CARLA AND DR. ALEX REED - “REED BETWEEN THE LINES”
Without acceptance, there is no love. In the case of the Reeds, they allow each other to find the best lane for their individual personalities and they accept each other for who they are. Dr. Carla Reed, played by Tracee Ellis Ross, is a psychiatrist who works out of the home while Dr. Alex Reed, played by Malcolm Jamal Warner, is a college professor who works at home. He has no problem getting the kids together, preparing meals and handling fatherhood duties and Dr. Carla is just fine with that. Instead of trying to play the traditional roles of husband and wife based on gender, the couple plays to their strengths. They both discipline the kids and they both have a role in running the household. While the duo might spar over little things, they don’t let others disparage their non-traditional partnership.
MELANIE AND DERWIN DAVIS - “THE GAME”
When we first meet Melanie Barnett of “The Game” she’s a medical student trying to balance her studies with her relationship with a football star. Tia Mowry-Hardrict is Melanie and Pooch Hall is Derwin and for a while, things were going pretty well for the couple, despite the difficulty of finding time for each other with two demanding careers. But it seemed like once Melanie earned her degree and decided not to practice, opting to be the CEO of “Team Derwin” instead, things went rapidly downhill. Though the couple did marry, Derwin had a baby by another woman, Melanie’s shaky business skills hurt Derwin more than they helped him and their relationship was getting rockier and rockier. Fortunately, by the end of Season 4, Derwin had realized the error of his ways and vowed to give his wife more support. Their struggles illustrate the importance of people not getting lost in a relationship. Even after two individuals become a couple, they still have to pursue their own dreams and if they have the support of the other partner, it makes for a better relationship overall.