Love is a many-splendored thing, especially when you’re gawking at it from the outside. In this column, we’ll be examining the celebrity couples—or, occasionally, good friends—that give us hope for our own romantic futures and trying to learn what we can from their well-documented bonds.
Are Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Andrew Scott dating? As much as that would thrill certain corners of the internet, the obvious answer is no, they are not; Waller-Bridge has been with playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh since 2018, and Scott is gay. (In 2019, he noted his objection to the phrase “openly gay,” explaining that it “implies a defiance I don’t feel.”) If you’ve seen Season 2 of Fleabag, though, you know the sexual tension between them is absolutely crackling—or at least it did, when they were in character as the titular Fleabag and the Hot Priest. But two are still close IRL, recently reuniting at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, and they clearly think the world of each other: At MOTY, Waller-Bridge referred to Scott as “the greatest actor of our time.” Even if they’re categorically uninterested in each other on a romantic basis, I can’t help admitting that I’m still a little swoony over their bond.
To be clear, I’m not under the mistaken impression that Waller-Bridge and Scott are Barbie dolls that I can mentally arrange in the position of my choosing; first of all, scientific studies are now saying that actors are, in fact, people, and second of all, I know that as a gay woman, I would be very creeped out if some rando from the internet were agitating for me to date a guy (even a guy of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s caliber, which, as far as I know, doesn’t yet exist). What so often gets lost in the “shipping” shuffle, though, is that a relationship doesn’t have to be sexual or romantic to make us all absolutely obsessed with it. Just look at Tom and Jerry, or Kate Berlant and John Early, or Haley and her gymnastics coach Vic in the sublime 2006 rom-com Stick It!
Okay, that last one may not have a ton of name recognition, but I do think we should all expand our definition of “couple goals” to include people who aren’t actually coupled up. Sometimes, it’s enough that their spark as a friend duo burns so bright, it feels like a privilege just to watch them interact.