Love is patient, love is kind. Love is a many-splendored thing. Love is blind. But in the right hands, love can also be very funny. That’s why Valentine’s Day is such ripe territory for sitcoms, from disastrous blind dates to will-they-won’t-they flirting to years-long marriages that need a little spicing up. Break out the bubbly and a box of chocolate-covered strawberries and binge these 10 holiday-themed sitcom episodes — many of which are as romantic as they are hysterical.
Mad About You
The episode: “Love Among the Tiles” (1993)
The plot: As they prepare for their friends’ Valentine’s Day party, Paul (Paul Reiser, 64) and Jamie (Helen Hunt, 57) accidentally get stuck in their bathroom after the doorknob breaks off. This being a sitcom version of a New York City apartment, the bathroom is palatial, but that doesn’t stop them from getting extremely bored. They paint toenails, play hangman, drop S.O.S. notes out the window, try to karate-kick the door down, beg their dog Murray for help, and even sample Jamie’s face cream. As Paul says, it “tastes very much like chicken.”
The sweetest moment: When Paul offers a very hungry Jamie his last Tums, and she snaps it in half so they can both have a bite.
Where to watch: Mad About You, on Amazon Prime
The episode: “I Love Lisa” (1993)
The plot: This especially warmhearted outing often gets ranked among the top Simpsons episodes of all time. When Lisa sees her oddball classmate Ralph Wiggum crying after he doesn’t receive any Valentine’s cards, she gives him one of her own — just as a friend! But the message, a smiling train saying “I Choo-Choo-Choose You,” gives him the wrong idea, and he instantly falls head over heels. How can she let him down easy without breaking his heart?
The sweetest moment: When Ralph channels his heartbreak into a masterclass performance as George Washington in the Presidents’ Day pageant, and the whole school erupts in applause.
Where to watch: The Simpsons, on Disney+
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Ted Danson as Sam Malone
The episode: “Sam Time Next Year” (1991)
The plot: Every Valentine’s Day for the past two decades, Sam Malone (Ted Danson, 73) has a standing rendezvous with a woman named Lauren (Get Smart‘s Barbara Feldon, 87), but can he keep up the lothario act after he slips down the icy steps at Cheers and throws out his back? Back at the bar, Frasier (Kelsey Grammer, 65) and Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth, 62) plan a mixer for their respective therapy groups of shy men and women.
The sweetest moment: When Sam and Lauren spend their evening together, not in bed but instead getting to know more about each other, as they talk frankly about aging — everything from loose skin under the arms to not being able to read menus.
Where to watch: Cheers, on Hulu
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Kelsey Grammer (left) and Virginia Madsen on “Frasier.”
The episode: “Three Valentines” (1999)
The plot: The Crane men experience three very different versions of Valentine’s Day. Niles (David Hyde Pierce, 61) tries to tackle a tricky trousers crease, and an ironing mishap leaves the couch on fire. Frasier (Grammer) goes out to dinner with his station’s new marketing executive, Cassandra Stone (Virginia Madsen, 59), but he can’t quite tell if the meal is for business or pleasure. And Martin (John Mahoney) takes out Daphne (Jane Leeves, 59) when neither of them has a date planned.
The sweetest moment: When Martin and Daphne trade compliments over dinner.
Where to watch: Frasier, on Hulu
The episode: “The One With the Candy Hearts” (1995)
The plot: This first-season episode has enough romantic mishaps to fill a Shakespearean comedy. Joey (Matt LeBlanc, 53) accidentally sets Chandler (Matthew Perry, 51) up on a blind date with his ex, Janice (fan favorite Maggie Wheeler, 60). Ross (David Schwimmer, 54) heads to a teppanyaki steakhouse with a date and ends up across the same table from his pregnant ex-wife Carol (Jane Sibbett, 58) and her new girlfriend. And Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow, 57), Monica (Courteney Cox, 56) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston, 51) burn mementos from past boyfriends — until Rachel almost sets the apartment ablaze when she pours grappa on the fire.
The sweetest moment: When Carol gives Ross a heartfelt pep talk.
Where to watch: Friends, on HBO Max
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(Left to right) Sean Hayes, Michele Lee, Chita Rivera and Eric McCormack.
Will & Grace
The episode: “Dance Cards & Greeting Cards” (2005)
The plot: As Grace (Debra Messing, 52) meets a charming greeting card writer (Ed Burns, 53) in her office, Jack (Sean Hayes, 50) and Will (Eric McCormack, 57) accompany Karen (Megan Mullally, 62) to a Valentine’s Day event at her country club. She’s set to meet a man she’s been chatting with online, and he turns out to be her former rival Scott (Jeff Goldblum, 68). At the club, Jack and Will meet Lenore (Chita Rivera, 88) and Lucille (Michele Lee, 78), who introduce themselves as sisters but are actually girlfriends who have been forced to hide their relationship for years because of the club’s bigoted anti-gay policy.
The sweetest moment: When Lenore and Lucille finally slow dance in public.
Where to watch: Will & Grace, on Hulu
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Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as George and Louise Jefferson.
The episode: “I Buy the Songs” (1981)
The plot: George (Sherman Hemsley) forgets Valentine’s Day and sets off a major fight with Weezie (Isabel Sanford) when he hands her a wad of cash instead of a gift. To make amends, he hires a composer to write her a love song, which he plans to take credit for. “We started out with nothing / Beans and meatless stew,” he sings. “Now we’re rich, but here’s the hitch / It wouldn’t mean a thing without you.” Weezie loves the tune, but when she finds out he didn’t write it, she accuses him of once again trying to use money to fix all his problems.
The sweetest moment: When Weezie finally admits that even if he didn’t actually write the music, the sentiments were all George’s — and calls it “our song.”
Where to watch: The Jeffersons, on Starz
The episode: “Valentine’s Day” (2006)
The plot: Michael (Steve Carell, 58) is off at a meeting in New York, where he accidentally reveals that he “hooked up” with his boss Jan (Melora Hardin, 53). Back at the office in Scranton, romance is in full bloom: Angela (Angela Kinsey) gives Dwight (Rainn Wilson, 55) a personalized bobblehead doll, Phyllis (Phyllis Smith, 69) is showered with gifts from her boyfriend, and Ryan (B.J. Novak) and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) go on their first date.
The sweetest moment: When Jim (John Krasinski) wishes Pam (Jenna Fischer) “Happy Valentine’s Day” as he leaves the office, and she looks after him longingly. Spoiler alert: The ultimate will-they-won’t-they couple share their first kiss six episodes later.
Where to watch: The Office, on Peacock
The episode: “My Funky Valentine” (2010)
The plot: In the first of many Modern Family V-Day episodes, Claire (Julie Bowen, 50) and Phil (Ty Burrell, 53) experiment with role playing and meet at a bar as their alter egos, housewife Julianna and visiting businessman Clive Bixby. But things go awry when Claire — ahem, Julianna — slips into something more comfortable: a trench coat with nothing on underneath. When said coat gets stuck in the escalator, Claire very nearly gets exposed to everyone at the hotel, including her father (Ed O’Neill, 74) and stepmother (Sofia Vergara), who are there to see comedian David Brenner.
The sweetest moment: When Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) help Manny (Rico Rodriguez) plan a date for his crush.
Parks and Recreation
The episode: “Galentine’s Day” (2010)
The plot: So what exactly is Galentine’s Day? Let Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) explain: “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” To show her love for the gals, Leslie presents each with a gift bag that includes a bouquet of crocheted flower pens, a mosaic portrait made from crushed bottles of each woman’s favorite diet soda, and a 5,000-word essay on why they’re awesome.
The sweetest moment: When Andy (Chris Pratt) and his band Mouse Rat dedicate “The Way You Look Tonight” to April (Aubrey Plaza) at the Senior Center Valentine’s Dance.
Where to watch: Parks and Recreation, on Peacock