EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

5 of TV's most unlikely—and successful—acting duos

Showtime has picked up Billions, the drama starring Damian Lewis as a wily hedge-fund boss and Paul Giamatti as the U.S. Attorney on his trail, to series. We can’t wait until it gets here. We’re excited for another of TV’s unlikely acting duos: those pairs you’d take a million years to think of, but then you don’t know why you didn’t sooner.

The idea of show-stealer Lewis squaring off against the highly underrated Giamatti has us on the edge of our seat with thoughts of how awesome it’s going to be—and how this should’ve happened ages ago.

That sense of surprise followed by excitement has become more common recently, as TV casting directors (kudos to them!) have found actors who seem like they’d never be within a zip code of each other, but get on screen together and become the best thing since DVR. In honor of Lewis and Giamatti, here are five other duos that we now couldn’t imagine doing without.

5. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, The Americans

This duo was so unlikely, even the actors themselves didn’t believe it. Both Russell and Rhys have repeatedly said they didn’t exactly see themselves playing Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, but good luck envisioning anyone else in those roles now. As TV’s new favorite spies, they play off one another like they’ve been doing it for years—fitting when you’re portraying a marriage. Each of them digs so deeply into their individual characters that when they’re in scenes together, it’s a master class. We’re not sure how neither one has an Emmy by now, but we’ll never think of them as Felicity Porter and Kevin Walker again.

4. Damon Gupton and Philip Winchester, Endgame

Here’s another one that hasn’t happened yet, but the casting on this NBC pilot has us pleading that it gets picked up to series. Gupton’s performance as D.A. Adam Page was the best thing to come out of WEtv’s vastly underappreciated The Divide, and Winchester has been gangbusters as Sgt. Michael Stonebridge on Strike Back for four seasons. These two deserve to be stars. Each is compelling, charismatic, and jaw-droppingly versatile; both have been a joy to watch. Now they’re teaming up as Las Vegas security expert Alex King and his detective BFF, Cal Brown. Two actors who couldn’t possibly give more to their characters might be working together? Yes, please.

3. Connie Britton and Charles Esten, Nashville

We can understand the first part of this duo (who wouldn’t want Tami Taylor as the female lead of your series?), but the second was a total surprise. The guy from Whose Line Is It Anyway? starring in a country-music drama? But Esten has completely reinvented himself, and his rapport with Britton made us fall in love with Rayna and Deacon, even through all the ups and downs Nashville has thrown at them. Every time they’ve been pulled apart has just made us appreciate the scenes that Britton and Esten have together. In showing us sides of their talent that we didn’t expect, these two became a must-watch pair that we’re still hoping get their happy ending.

2. Jason Isaacs and Jason Clarke, Brotherhood

Another feather Showtime’s cap came with a series that never got the respect it deserved. In fact, this whole show was pretty much a casting coup, but it particularly succeeded with its two leads. That must have been a fun meeting, trying to explain why the British guy from Harry Potter and a relatively unknown Australian actor should play two Rhode Island brothers. But thank heaven it worked, because Isaacs and Clarke tore it up for three seasons. You couldn’t take your eyes off their scenes together, because you never knew if Michael and Tommy Caffee were going to hug it out or kill each other. That’s the biggest of many reasons that we believe everyone should watch Brotherhood.

1. Sam Waterston and Linus Roache, Law & Order

You wouldn’t think that a roster shakeup on TV’s most cut-and-dried procedural would matter, but L&O took a big risk in bumping long-running star Waterston up to the District Attorney’s chair and hiring someone else to be the new lead prosecutor. That someone wound up being Linus “Batman’s dad in Batman Begins” Roache, who came in and made the show delightfully unpredictable. That includes his banter with a still well-utilized Waterston, who adjusted perfectly to being the boss. It was like watching a parent and his upstart teenage son. That, plus Alana de la Garza as Connie Rubirosa, gave the “order” part of Law & Order its best energy in years. We actually felt like a show that was on for 22 seasons(!) was canceled too soon.

What are the unlikely acting duos that have surprised you? Tell us your picks for the best unexpected pairs on television!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like