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8 Husband-Wife TV Arguments That Stung As Much As Your Own Parents Fighting

By Josh Kurp | Seriously Random Lists | August 13, 2012 | Comments ()


Tony-et-Carmela-Soprano.jpg

#1. Tony and Carmela Soprano

Episode: "Whitecaps"
Most Hurtful Line: "Who knew all this time you wanted Tracy and Hepburn? Well Tony, what about the thousand other f*cking pigs you had your dick in over the years? The strippers, the cocktail waitresses, were you best friends with all of them, too?"

#2. Roseanne and Dan Conner

Episode: "Fights and Stuff"
Most Hurtful Line: "They're failures, Roseanne, and the only reason you won't admit it is because you'll have to admit you failed as a mother!" "The only way I failed as a mother is to let Becky and Darlene get married so young that they threw their whole life away on a man, just like I did."

#3. Nate Fisher and Brenda Chenowith

Episode: "I'll Take You"
Most Hurtful Line: "Nate, you created a human being. There's gonna be another person on this planet because of you. A person who might have a totally miserable f*cking life and curse the f*cking day she was born because you are walking out on her the same way you're going to walk out on me." (They were engaged at the time, but still counts.)

#4. Homer and Marge Simpson

Episode: "Secrets of a Successful Marriage"
Hurtful Line: "But how do I know I can trust you?" Marge, look at me: we've been separated for a day, and I'm as dirty as a Frenchman. In another few hours I'll be dead! I can't afford to lose your trust again." (Not hurtful, so much as JESUS, I guess.)

#5. Xander Harris and Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins

Episode: "Hell's Bells"
Most Hurtful Line: "What did you expect? You never came near me after Buffy..." "Don't bring her into this." (I couldn't find the exact scene online, so you'll have to settle with clips played to the song "Wedding Dress" by some guy.)

#6. Eric and Tami Taylor

Episode: "Texas Whatever"
Most Hurtful Line: "I'm gonna say to you what you didn't have the grace to say to me. Congratulations." (Couldn't find this clip, either, but imagine the most perfect couple ever feuding while Explosions in the Sky plays. That's not far off to the real thing.)

#7. Hank and Karen Moody

Episode: "Mia Culpa"
Most Hurtful Line: N/A ("Rocket Man" plays during the actual scene instead, and yes, I know Californication isn't a great show, or even a good one most of the time, but this was a stunning moment, with some fantastic acting from David Duchovny, who knows a thing or two about infidelity, and Natascha McElhone.)

#8. Walter and Skyler White

Episode: "Fifty-One"
Most Hurtful Line: "Wait for what? What are you waiting for?" "For the cancer to come back."

Ouch. Please add your own below -- I know there are plenty from Gilmore Girls, Freaks and Geeks, The Wonder Years, All in the Family, etc. that I missed. Just don't mention The Honeymooners; you know you loved seeing Alice make Ralph squirm.



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  • Lucyem

    What? Californication isn't good? Butbutbutbut even if you can't stand Hank's inability to keep it in his pants, his relationship with his daughter Becca is beautiful, and that whole Gatsby thing with Lou was tragically delicious, and he really wants to make sure Mia isn't utterly fu*ked up. And there are Runkles!

  • bukowski

    not sure if its already been mentioned, but i would have included something from Moral Orel, prolly the show whose family issues have rang the truest to me.

  • dizzylucy

    The Taylors fighting, no! I was so invested in those characters, it was so painful when they were at odds.
    Glad you included Skylars "waiting for the cancer to come back". That has to be one of the most hurtful, and deserved, lines ever.

    Oddly enough, I don't really remember the Roseanne one, and I thought I'd seen the whole series. But maybe I'm blocking the later years out of my head, when she was running the show and it got so bad.

    Don and Betty Draper had a few, but considering we knew from the start the marriage was a mess, it didn't have the same impact.

    They weren't married, but 30 Rock's Liz and Carol's relationship devolving into him invoking Sky Law, threatening to shoot her with the air marshal's gun, and her using an old guy as a human shield was pretty traumatic.

  • DenG

    I'm an old coot and I never saw or heard my parents argue. I believe they genuinely liked each other. I'd be immensely creeped out if I found out that wasn't true. But then my sisters and I are skilled at masking and hiding, so I have to wonder.

  • Katylalala

    You can genuinely like and love each other and still fight.

  • When Leo left Piper to become an elder. Yes, I watched Charmed. They put it on after Angel, okay? http://armywiveslives.com/2006...

  • That fight between Roseanne and Dan rips my heart out everytime I see it. It is so true to life and sad to watch. They were a true sweet and loving couple who loved each other through all the shit that life throws at ya. Just a reminder that it only takes one big awful blow out like that to change things forever.

  • I KNOW there's an amazing scene like this in "West Wing" between Bartlett and Abby, and for the life of me I can't remember it. I'm so damn tired. Anyone?

  • jimmdodd

    There is an episode in the first season where the President puts off naming the new head of the Fed (I think) because he used to be Abby's boyfriend in high school and they have a massive blowup. I believe its referred to as their first "Oval Office fight"

  • jimmdodd
  • AvaLehra

    I had forgotten how scary and intense the fight between Tony and Carmela was. And oh my god, when that happened I was PETRIFIED on Furio's behalf.

  • How the hell can a person
    go to work in the morning
    come home in the evening
    and have nothing to say?

  • BierceAmbrose

    OK, first there was confession thread with the Paji-Decepticon (Yes, they're here too.) Now this.

    What is this, therapy week?

  • Bandit

    How is it that I'm always compelled to think Anya is a much better person that Xander? Logically, she's an unrepentant, ungrateful, arrogant whacko. Yet, I still have a big soft spot for her...

  • valerie

    Because Xander consistently does whatever his feelings dictate (ie, not telling Buffy that Angel was being cured before she killed him). He pretty much just acts like he's morally better than everyone including Anya, even after he leaves her at the altar. She has an affair he doesn't approve of and still has the self righteousness to look down on her when they are no longer together.

  • TWoPFan

    I'm watching Buffy with my husband who has never seen it and I'm seeing now that Xander's pretty much a dick most of the time. Sometimes he's funny, but mostly whiny, moody and unconcerned with the feelings of others. Anya at least learned from life. Xander just learned to be bitter.

  • Xander is also responsible for a lot of dead people through his bumbling antics, but they never come down on him.

  • Michelle

    Ughh, that fight between Eric and Tami Taylor killed me. This sounds probably a little silly, but every time they bickered or disagreed or fought on the show, even though I was emotionally invested in what was going on, in the back of my mind I always kind of wished that my husband and I would one day be able to have conversations and "arguments" that were that well articulated and so careful of one another's feelings, while still being true to themselves (or ourselves, hopefully!).

  • During those last episodes of FNL, I was so scared of where they were going with Coach and Mrs. Coach. It felt so REAL. I know that show specializes in that sort of thing, but I'm not sure I could have handled it if my t.v. parents had split up.

  • googergieger

    Most people hate Skylar and Walter. How would that sting? It was an impactful scene, but if those two were to divorce or split most people would be happy with it. Relieved even.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Walt's turned into a true villain but I've always disliked Skyler (there's just something about Anna Gunn, I couldn't stand her character in Deadwood either) and the fact that she was happy to launder Walt's drug money and only got a case of the guilt's after her boyfriend's head/neck injury speaks volumes about her own moral decay. Her rather abrupt about-face about Walt was a little shocking to me and her cancer remark was hateful.

  • AngelenoEwok

    I'm a newlywed, and just reading/watching this list has sent me on a leisurely walk down Panic Attack Avenue.

  • My parents were actually far worse than any of these. They just weren't as good with dialogue.

    That said, the Sopranos and Rosanne ones always struck me as the most realistic.

  • e jerry powell

    FWIW, Karen on Californication is not Moody. Her daughter's last name is Moody because she's Hank's daughter, Karen's last name is van der Beek, and she and Hank were never married.

    And yeah, I have watched far more of this show than it deserves, but Jason Beghe is kind of a weakness of mine.

  • Bea Pants

    The "beauty" of the Tony/Carmela fight was that it was so real. Neither one was totally right or wrong. I didn't liken it to watching my parents fight (they never had a real knock down/drag out in my presence) but it was like two good friends getting into a fight when you're over at their house. Super uncomfortable to watch.

  • sal paradise

    I remember this particular Carmela-Tony fight actually prompted an argument between my parents. The three of us were watching this episode, and after this scene was over, each of my parents immediately picked a side and began arguing which Soprano was in the right and deserves sympathy, incorporating evidence all the way from season one into it. This slowly turned into an argument about my parents' own issues, which were not dissimilar to Carmela and Tony's (my dad's not in the mob, though). I continue to be amazed about how good drama can reflect real family issues to an uncanny degree.

  • Sirilicious

    I am pretty sure that there were a few arguments in United States of Tara that left me dusty in the eye.

    There's nothing like some affliction or other external factor that makes people do crappy stuff that makes both parties feel like shit without a wrong party.

  • bleujayone

    There was an argument on "Roseanne" that I found particularly hateful. Usually Dan and Roseanne had a playful banter that sounded angry and often emasculating of Roseanne on Dan but by the sarcastic tone that it really was just their way of blowing off steam. It wasn't always the niceest things to be saying to one another, but it was still fairly equal and they still cam off as caring of one another even if it often wasn't tactful. But as the show lumbered on, the writing got less clever and the arguing although tried to sound the same, just got more spiteful, and it often got so one sided on Roaseanne's part that it came off as an abusive relationship then an equal couple getting equal zinger time.

    I cannot remember what year or episode this particular argument took place or what it was about. But it was before this "Married With Children-esque" audience show. What I do remember was Roseanne being particularly venomous towards Dan for some stupid reason or other and that she just kept laying into him. The audience was laughing, but at the time I didn't find it funny- just needlessly spiteful. It just sounded like someone being an angry asshole who just wanted to hurt someone else. I do remember Dan's response which sounded every bit like someone who had enough of being his wife's verbal punching bag by responding, "I HATE you and everything you stand for!" at which point he left the room with the audience laughing and the music ending scene.

    Again, if you took away the questionable audience laughter the argument sounded more of a prelude to a divorce or domestic incident than a sit-com of people taking sarcastic swipes at one another. The show was far from over at this point, but I think I stopped watching it as a kid when it resorted to that level of hatefulness in a "loving family".

  • Stacey

    That's kind of what I was saying below, but you articulated better. By the last few seasons of the series Roseanne had almost complete creative control and at the same time, her personal life was kind of going off the rails. She had that really, super bitter divorce from Tom Arnold and then married/got knocked up by her bodyguard. Between her issues and mental illness she really injected some bitterness and craziness into the end of the series.

  • anon33

    Although I do also agree with Stacey on this point. The show really floundered in its later years.

  • Sometimes loving families can be pretty hateful.

  • bleujayone

    Yeah, maybe so. But I didn't care to tune in to watch them ramp up the hate every week. I could turn off the TV and be engrossed in what passes for reality if anger and spite were my sources entertainment.

  • I think that's what was engrossing to me. A fictionalized version of the reality around me, not just in my own home, but in the homes of my friends, was a little bit helpful. I mean, I know we tuned in for episodes of "Full House" as a kid, but I can't remember why or whatever happened. As spiteful and angry as the Connors got, it was recognizable, and a much needed release.

    It's why I never really liked "Married with Children". It always felt like it was making fun of people I knew (though with age and wisdom, those people definitely deserved it.

  • anon33

    I agree Brian. Whatever their faults, Dan and Roseanne were just like my parents, and it was incredibly refreshing to see a family represented on television that wasn't the Tanners, the Taylors, or the Seavers.

  • branded_redux

    Dammit, I now feel very strongly compelled to make sure my room is clean and laundry put away.

  • ed newman

    Great List. I might nitpick about the order (Breaking Bad @ #2) and maybe you even forgot one or two (we'll see in the rest of the comments) but a stellar list nonetheless.

  • laylaness

    I love how much love Friday Night Lights gets on this site. It makes my heart grow 3 sizes. Those last few episodes with the Eric/Tami fighting were intense and heartbreaking.

    The Roseanne/Dan fight was excruciating, too.

    I was so invested in both that it did indeed sting like my parents were fighting.

  • Stacey

    Ugh, that Roseanne argument was so horrible and uncharacteristic for the series. It was from the later years when she went cray and started wrenching her personal drama into her show.

  • Annie

    Started to?? The whole show was about her life, she was just putting off the divorce with Dan in the show.

  • See the title of this list immediately reminded me of the Roseanne/Dan fight. The Conner clan was the closest analogue to my family when I was younger, and I remember watching the fight the first time it aired. It was brutal, kind of scary, and all too familiar. It was also strangely cathartic. My family is a kind of fucked up blue-collar bunch, and it was great to see a representation of the kind of boiling points you can reach when your couped up in a house too small, with the frustrations and stresses of the normal world wearing down on you. It was a perfect reminder that though we were fucked up, we were a normal kind of fucked up. The image of the smashed television to this day is one of my favorites endings to an episode of television. We once lost a storm door to a set of golf-clubs. Ahhhhh, memmmmmmmmmories.

  • The Conners always seemed like the most realistic marriage I ever saw on TV. My parents always acted like the Cleavers when we were watching, but I wondered what it was like behind closed doors.

  • anon33

    Oy, I need to read all the replies next time before posting. As above, Brian, I agree.

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