Your Tragic TV Guide for Valentine’s Day


When I was a freshman in high school, I had my first real boyfriend. Oh, how madly in love we were…until he forgot to give me a Valentine’s Day gift. Heartless bastard. And I let him know. “You really shit on my Valentine’s Day, dude.” And so the next day, after all the Valentine’s Day merchandise was marked down and the pickings were slim, he brought in a cheap plastic heart box with my name on the outside, written in black Sharpie (it was off-centered, too). Inside was a wad of toilet paper and a few pieces of Werther’s Original and Riesens…obviously pinched from his grandparents’ crystal candy dish.

That, dear reader, is Valentine’s Day.

And the really great thing about Valentine’s Day, is that movies and TV shows about it are rarely romantic. At least, the good ones aren’t. No one is interested in watching perfect people with perfect lives going on perfect dates. Perfect is boring. We want messy. We want tragic. We want mascara running down the cheeks and puking in the bathroom at 2AM and waking up next to a complete stranger. Or … a plastic heart box with a wad of toilet paper.

So while you’re wondering what to watch this Valentine’s Day,The Retro Set has assembled a sort of greatest hits track list for you that celebrate the laughably tragic side to all the red roses and candy hearts.We dug through Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, and Hulu to find the Valentine’s episodes you really need to watch– whether you’re getting snuggly wuggly with your significant other or nursing a bottle of Jim Beam alone in your bathrobe. (Oh yeah. We’ve been there.)

These selections below culled from myself and co-editor Carley Johnson will make you feel a whole hell of a lot better about your current love life. (Especially if said love life is nonexistent!)

Happy V-Day, everyone.

Carley’s Picks:

dick van dyke

“Never Bathe on a Saturday” – THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
Original Air Date: March 31, 1965
Available on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube

Rob and Laura Petrie were the most adorable, perfect couple of the early ’60s. So it’s always nice to see them battle supremely shitty days to remind us they’re normal too. A much needed romantic getaway at a swanky hotel for the couple is thwarted when Laura gets her toe stuck in the faucet of their hotel bathtub. The hotel house detectives think Rob is … uh … holding Laura against her will (the fact he’s gone all David Niven with a velvet jacket and drawn on  mustache doesn’t help his case) and the vitriolic hotel maid (Kathleen Freeman) is hardly impressed with Rob’s wacky behavior.  Slapstick hijinks ensue and, suffice to say, no cuddle time for the Petrie’s.

Rob: Honey, how do you feel?

Laura: Waterlogged.

Watch “Never Bathe on a Saturday” in its entirety for free on You Tube:




Original Airdate: Feb 8, 2004
Available on Netflix and Hulu

A Valentine’s Day episode featuring the most emotionally crippled family in television history has tragic disaster written all over it. George Michael (Michael Cera) has a huge crush on his cousin. Liza Minnelli is Buster Bluth’s much older date who has a fling with Carl Weathers. Matriarch Lucille Bluth revels in the unexpected joys of being alone on Valentine’s Day, gorging on cake and drinking champagne from the bottle. And Michael Bluth’s relationship with Marta, his brother’s girlfriend, gets … complex.

George Michael: First you said, “Share a room with her,” I shared a room with her. Now you’re saying don’t share a room with her. Fine. I’m just… I’m just doing whatever you say. The adults are making all the decisions around here. Why am I in trouble?

Lindsay: You’re not in trouble. We’re all just going to have a more normal arrangement. I’m going to sleep with my daughter and you’re going to sleep with my husband.

The full episode is available for free on Hulu:


Mary Tyler Moore

“The Happy Homemaker Takes Lou Home” – THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW
Original Air Date: December 6, 1975
Available on YouTube

Lou Grant is quite simply one of the best television characters of all time. Ed Asner’s cranky old grump with a heart of gold was one of the best things about The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and oftentimes his love life was way more interesting than Mary (Mary Tyler Moore) or Rhoda’s (Valerie Harper). Betty White’s Sue Ann Nivens is the office flirt (her deliciously bitchy performance in the role led to her bagging the 1975 Emmy for outstanding supporting actress), and she’s been nursing a major crush on Lou.In this episode she finally gets to take Lou on a date. Tricks him, is more like it, and Lou is far from happy about it.

Sue Ann: Hello dear, I hope I wasn’t disturbing you.

Mary: I was in bed.

Sue Ann: Oh, good, then you’re alone.

Watch the full episode on YouTube:


I.T. Crowd

“The Dinner Party” – THE I.T. CROWD
Original air date: September 14, 2007
Available on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube

Dysfunctional dinner parties are the best.  Dysfunctional dinner parties with dysfunctional couples are even better. This one is about as messy as it gets.  I.T. Department head, the outrageously superficial Jen (Katherine Parkinson), has finally found herself a properly “normal” boyfriend … except that his name is “Peter Phile”. (Say that quickly, with a British accent, and you’ll understand the problem there.) But Jen’s attempts at a “normal” couples dinner party fail tremendously when she is forced to invite her socially awkward coworkers to the soiree: Moss (Richard Ayoade), Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Richmond (Noel Fielding). Wildly inappropriate snogging and drunken arguing are but a few of this series of hysterically unfortunate events.

Jen: Moss, this is important: I’m going to be sitting you beside Margaret.

Moss: Margaret, right. From the name I presume she is … a … lady?

Watch the whole episode on YouTube:



Three Valentines” – FRASIER
Original Air Date: February 11, 1999
Available on Netflix and YouTube

The simple task of Niles getting dressed for his Valentine’s date leads to setting the living room on fire. Frasier has no idea whether he should keep his clothes on or off with his unreadable and highly sexy date. And a very emotional Daphne has a Valentine’s Day dinner with Martin that ends in a vocal couple’s fight. The three vignettes are completely independent, following no arc of any kind, and work wonderfully together. David Hyde Pierce’s nearly silent 10 minute slapstick shtick is the stuff of silent comedy genius, and alone worthy of a watch.

Frasier: Ros, it’s … it’s not as clear-cut as it seems!

Ros: Ok. She ditched her dress and she’s hitting the sauce. What do you need, runway lights on the mattress?

Watch the full episode on YouTube:

 Jill’s Picks



“My Fuzzy Valentine” – BOB’S BURGERS
Original Airdate: Feb 10, 2013
Available on Netflix

If you’re not watching the Fox animated comedy Bob’s Burgers you need to hop on that quirky, dysfunctional, beefy bandwagon right the hell now. Intelligent and insanely funny without resorting to gross-out humor (think heyday of The Simpsons, not the frat boy fart humor of Family Guy), Bob’s Burgers is poised to become one of the greatest sitcoms in television history.

To get into the Valentine’s Day spirit (if there is such a thing), the episode “My Fuzzy Valentine” from season three is the perfect real depiction of how most married couples deal with the sickeningly sweet holiday. For years, Bob hasn’t quite mastered the sexy, let’s-keep-the-flame-going demonstrations that his hopelessly romantic wife Linda longs for. Instead, he showers her with heart-shaped everything: heart-shaped burgers. Heart-shaped pancakes. Heart-shaped pile of dirty laundry.

And so the three Belcher children (Tina, Gene, Louise) convince their dad that he needs to seriously step up his game, suggesting a shopping trip to assist in buying the perfect gift (but what they really want is an excuse to play hooky). And what’s shaping up to be Bob’s most romantic, sentimental gesture yet, is completely ruined because of his fuzzy memory. Or is it?

Tina: “My heart was murdered by the word ‘from.’ No one says ‘I from you.’ I’m not going to school today.




“A Date for Gomer” –  THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW
Original Airdate: November 25, 1963
Available on Netflix and YouTube

It’s no secret that The Andy Griffith Show is my favorite series of all-time (the first five seasons, anyway). It’s a staple of Southern households, even 55 years after its debut on CBS. It’s hard to pick just one love-themed episode of TAGS because there are so many romantic moments: the burgeoning relationship between Barney and Thelma Lou; Barney’s flirtatious telephone chats with the always off-screen Juanita (“Sara, get me the diner…Juanita? It’s Barn.”); Andy and Ellie and their constant battle of the sexes; Andy and Peggy and their constant battle over her wealthy family; and of course Andy and Helen Crump, the one who was just perfect. Even the adorable Opie had his share of school boy crushes. But it’s the only date between Gomer Pyle and Thelma Lou’s cousin Mary Grace that has to be one of the best.

Gomer: “What’s she like? Is she pretty?”
Andy: “She’s nice….real nice!”

Grab your purple tie with acorns, dress shoes with a horseshoe buckle, yellow socks, and get in a romantic mood.

Here’s the full episode on YouTube:




BSG 3x09

“Unfinished Business” BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (reboot)
Original Airdate: December 1, 2006

One of the greatest television shows of the last decade is the Battlestar Galactica reboot created by Ron D. Moore and starring Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackoff, Jamie Bamber, and an extremely talented supporting cast. In this episode from season three, we finally learn what happened between pilots Kara Thrace (Sackoff) and Lee Adama (Bamber) one night on New Caprica, resulting in a major rift in an already complicated, sexually tense relationship. Their story, among others, is told in a series of flashbacks set during a present day boxing match for the Galactica crew. It’s far from a conventional romantic story, as we see Lee and Kara beat the shit out of one another in the ring. The fight is symbolic and cathartic and we’re left with an unexpectedly sweet, satisfying result.

Kara: “I missed you.”
Lee: “I missed you, too…. I missed you, too.”

“Unfinished Business” is available to stream on Amazon and YouTube for $1.99. Here’s a clip from the extended version of the episode.




“Parasites Lost”–FUTURAMA
Original Airdate: January 21, 2001
Available on Netflix (until Feb 18th!)

There are so many great episodes featuring the relationship between Fry and Leela, but “Parasites Lost” may be the best. Fry, the resident idiot at Planet Express, eats an egg salad sandwich that is way past its expiration date. The rancid sandwich is infested with worms who take up residence throughout Fry’s body. But these are no ordinary worms: they’re brilliant and they bump up Fry’s IQ to genius level. Leela falls in love with the new Fry, but is it really Fry or the worms that she’s in love with?

Leela: I haven’t felt this happy since Double Soup Tuesday at the orphanarium.
Fry: When I’m with you, every day feels like Double Soup Tuesday.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.