In a fortuitous twist of romantic fate, Warming Glow’s listmaker-in-chief Josh Kurp and I both got engaged within the same month this fall. No, NOT TO EACH OTHER, har har har. The coincidence got us to talking about TV’s finest marriage proposals, and we knew right away that it needed to be added to the official pantheon of Warming Glow lists.
However, instead of letting Josh do his usual thing and just make a list for you, I demanded to get in the way and talk about TV episodes I’d never seen. It’s one of my better gifts. What follows is Josh’s list and our accompanying Gchat (edited for clarity). Spoilers follow, if you’re five years or a decade behind on watching TV.
Matt: So let’s start with us. In a single sentence with no more than three clauses, describe your proposal.
Josh: I sent Nadia on a scavenger hunt around the city, where she had to find clues at seven different locations, with a code on the bottom of each, which she deciphered at Rockefeller Center.
M: Oh wow. That’s seriously impressive. I wanted to surprise Jenny, so I asked her at my birthday party in front of our friends.
J: That’s cuter. (Don’t tell anyone I used the word “cuter.” Thanks.)
M: Yeah, but yours is all romantic and sh*t.
J: It was inspired by the Zodiac Killer.
1. Homer and Marge, ‘The Simpsons’
Marge worries that she’s pregnant again, so to pass the time, Homer tells the kids the story of how they got together. It involves The Empire Strikes Back and mini-golf.
J: My first selection is naturally The Simpsons, where Homer proposes to Marge, using an onion ring as a token of his cheap, inexpensive love.
M: “Would you mind if I take it off now? The grease is burning my finger.”
J: As someone who spent less than the cost of a single blog post to buy the ring (two months salary, my ass!), I’m proud to consider Homer my equal.
M: Homer did it right, man. The f**king diamond industry is a goddam racket.
J: I blame the Jews.
M: I do appreciate your self-loathing. Although I admit that my fiancée’s continued happiness with the sparkly bauble offsets my abject poverty.
J: Women do like shiny things, or in my fiancée’s case, rings with bunny rabbits on it.
M: Please tell me it’s plastic. Or at least has fur on it.
J: Sadly, neither, but it IS rusty after only a month and a half.
M: Iron oxide is forever.
2. Lisa and Hugh, ‘The Simpsons’
After chasing the mystical esquilax into the woods at the Springfield Renaissance Fair, Lisa wanders into a fortune telling both and is told the story of her (future) first love, Hugh.
J: For The Simpsons, it was between Homer proposing to Marge, or Hugh pledging to be Lisa’s one and only. But he wouldn’t wear those amazing pig cufflinks, so screw that uptight British arsehole.
M: That is a TERRIFIC episode.
J: Sidenote, can those cufflinks be the main photo? I really want them for my wedding.
M: Find the pic and I’ll use it.
M: they’re… they’re beautiful.
J: I take back what I said about the Jews. They know what they’re doing by not eating those curly-tailed farm animals.
M: False. Bacon.
3. Bill and Mindy, ‘Friday Night Lights’
Not long after Billy sweetly proposes to Mindy in a bar, the two of them get hitched inthe season three finale. He wears a boss suit.
J: Another favorite is when Billy Riggins proposes to his blushing stripper/soon-to-be bride Mindy in a bar.
M: The American dream: marrying a stripper.
J: He stutters out a speech about how much he loves her, and that’s much better than the perfectly scripted muck you’d see on Grey’s Anatomy. Because as much as you plan on what you’re going to say, as much time as you spend on making sure you regale her with EVERYTHING you love about her, you usually end up spewing a bunch of half-sentences about sex and babies and spending your lives together.
J: (And Nadia just put on FNL in the background, and I miss the Dillon Panthers all over again.)
M: That’s the pleasure of being in Season 1. I know I have the wasteland of Season 2, but after that it’s ALL NEW TO ME.
M: Well, except for knowing that Billy marries a stripper. DAMN YOU KURP!
J: Wait until you get to season four, when Buddy Garrity begins dating Lyla. Yeah, that’s right: INCEST.
M: No less gross than Derek Jeter.
4 & 5. Jim and Pam/Michael and Holly, ‘The Office’
J: One of the first shows Nadia and I watched together was The Office, so the dual proposals between Michael/Holly and Jim/Pam really get to me. I combined them because they both occur while the couples are getting soaking wet, which seems like really lazy writing in retrospect.
M: The “kiss in the rain” cliche.
M: I vaguely remember Jim-Pam. Truck stop in the rain? And Michael/Holly happened when I wasn’t watching last season, but I heard it was great.
J: Yup, and Michael and Holly’s occurred in the office. He laid out candles all over the place, setting off the sprinklers.
J: So, in this semi-analogy, you’re Michael, Jenny’s Holly, and Nadia and I are Pam and Jim. Crap, I’m a total douche. Although, in all honesty, my baby would wear an Arcade Fire shirt.
M: Screw you. I’m James Spader before I’m Michael Scott.
J: You could probably convince a wino to hand over his wine, so I’ll give you that.
6. Charlie and the Waitress, ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
J: “The Nightman Cometh.”
M: Charlie’s proposal!
J: Where Charlie writes an entire musical to finally woo the waitress. That poor waitress.
M: Incredibly valid. An all-time classic TV comedy episode.
7. Hilary and Trevor, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’
J: Then the next one I’ve got is The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, where Hilary’s husband proposes while skydiving [sic], she says yes while watching him on TV, and then…he goes splat.
M: Oh, I’d forgotten about that! So awesome.
M: I always think of Fresh Prince as a harmless family sitcom, but it had some edgy aspects.
M: Like all the black people in the cast.
J: That totally rocked TGIF’s world in the early 1990s.
J: On Full House, Uncle Jesse dove out of a plane on his wedding day, if I remember correctly, but he landed in a tree. And then he sang “Forever,” and a million cats cried out in horror.
M: I seem to recall him being suspended in a tree, hanging in the parachute. And I hate that I have the memory of that, even if it never happened.
J: I remember it, too, so it must have happened.
M: Shame that we can’t remember Dave Coulier being murdered by vagrants.
8. Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, ‘Mr. Show’
It’s the truest love imaginable between two guys at a bar, the kind that begins with, “Hey man, what the f**k!?”
J: I hate admitting this, but I haven’t seen all of Mr. Show, but I have seen the fantastic “I’ll Marry Your Stupid Ass” skit.
M: It was on TV while I was in college, but I never had access to HBO then.
J: David Cross and Better Call Saul play two Italian A-holes who keep trying to get the other to admit he’s pussy, and because neither of them wants to back off, so they end up getting hitched.
J: I think I’m going to steal what Odenkirk says on the altar for my own wedding: “I, [Josh Kurp], will promise that I will not chickensh*t out until you admit that you’re a pussy.”
M: I will take your and everyone else’s word that it is brilliant, and will watch the entire series just as soon as I finish the entire DVD series of The Shield, Friday Night Lights, and Deadwood, and also finish re-watching The Wire and Arrested Development.
J: Probably can’t convince you on Firefly, huh?
M: It’s only a season, and I like Fillion and Hendricks, so I’ll add it to the back of the line.
J: It’s all I ask.
9. Niles and Daphne, ‘Frasier’
J: The only other one I could think of was from Frasier, when Niles FINALLY proposes to Daphne, even though she’s sick with the flu. Why that one? Because Frasier’s better than Friends, and I feel like our “TV blogger” badges would be revoked by The Internet if we didn’t include an engagement/proposal from at least one of them.
M: I don’t even remember the Monica/Chandler proposal. I guess Monica ends up proposing to Chandler because he didn’t want her to catch on that he was going to ask her?
J: That sounds right?
J: Could she BE any more commanding?
M: I was a relentless Simpsons-watching machine in the ’90s. I didn’t even see most Seinfeld episodes until syndication in the early ’00s, so I’m spotty on Frasier and Friends except for whenever I stumbled onto them and watched an ep.
J: Neither has held up well, but Friends has held up less well.
M: I can say this about Niles and Daphne, though: in the real world, she f**ks an alpha male within 3 years of marrying Niles. If not sooner. On the honeymoon, maybe.
J: Without a question. She’d go for an Archer-type before they’ve even checked in to the hotel. They even have the same hair color.
Rip: By tending bar and banging newlyweds?
Archer: Apparently that’s my grieving process.
J: Is Jane Leeves attractive? Or is she 1990s attractive, like Neve Campbell? Probably a conversation for another time. We could be here for a while.
M: I’d argue that the British accent is what takes her beyond ’90s attractive into actual attractive.
J: Good point. And she hung around with Eddie, and that dog was awesome.
M: That dog and John Mahoney carried the series.
J: Just looked at Eddie’s Wikipedia—both dogs who played him are dead.
J: At least we’ll always have this:
M: Okay, a final talking point for Warming Glow’s sudden insurgence of female readers:
10. What is the best Sex and the City proposal?
J: Without a question, it’s when the Bald Jew Who Gets Naked a Lot on Californication asks Charlotte for her hand in marriage. Maybe it’s because I, too, am Jewish, but that one really gets me in the ol’ hartz. (I wish the word for “heart” in Yiddish was funnier.)
M: My fiancee claims it’s Charlotte’s first engagement, because she learns how Kyle MacLachlan’s mother controls him, and then uses that trick on him, but then she gets upset she didn’t get a proper proposal so she makes something up because WOMEN ARE CRAZY LOLZ
J: Jenny doesn’t get Sex and the City in the same way us men do.
M: In last place: anything having to do with Carrie, because she was a total c*nt to Aidan.
J: She’s a total c*nt, period.