THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

A look at big 'bromances' on the small screen

From left: Turk (Donald Faison) and J.D. (Zach Braff) in ''Scrubs.'' From left: Turk (Donald Faison) and J.D. (Zach Braff) in ''Scrubs.'' (NBC)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / September 21, 2008
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Ever since Jerry and George had blatant "man crushes" on other men on "Seinfeld," the idea of a nonsexual attraction between guys has become fashionable. Intimacy, understanding, and admiration in male friendships are no longer cultural taboos, and TV's straight men have become far more overt - at times, comically so - about their attractions and bonds to other men.

"House," now back for its fifth season, is currently milking the subject for comedy and drama, as the powerful connection between Drs. House and Wilson falls apart and House grieves. Most shows go solely for male-female romance, but "House," "Flight of the Conchords," and "Scrubs," among others, also focus on the "bromance." The men on these shows are life partners, of a sort. Of course, back in the old days of Oscar and Felix on "The Odd Couple," the phenomenon was better known as a buddy relationship than a bromance. But the codependency was there nonetheless. Here's a rundown of the top 14 TV bromances through the years.

LACONIC LOVE

Jemaine and Bret

"Flight of the Conchords"

Kiwi mates, roommates, bandmates, these insanely calm guys are all but lovers as they try to make it in New York. When Bret falls for Coco, Jemaine calls her the band's Yoko. Indeed, when Bret finds a girlfriend, she always knows she's getting two, two, two boyfriends in one.

THE YIN YANG THANG

Oscar and Felix

"The Odd Couple"

This one's a gimme. They are TV's prototypical marriage of opposites. Oscar is the messy one, Felix is the neat freak, and they carry on the battle that still rages in households around the world. These dudes are classically codependent.

HE SAID BROMANCE, HEH-HEH

Beavis and Butt- Head

"Beavis and Butt-Head"

They bicker, but there's affection and connection underneath all those butt and boob jokes. A pair of MTV-viewing Everydudes, they're attuned to what is cool but together they know they are far from cool themselves. They bond over the idiocy of pop culture as only idiots can.

THINKER AND DOER

Henry and Radar

"M*A*S*H"

The two men form a single mind at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Henry thinks an order, Radar makes it work. Alas, the war that brought them together tore them apart. "You behave yourself, or I'm gonna come back and kick your butt," were Henry's last words to his bud.

LOST BOYS TOGETHER

Corey Feldman and Corey Haim

"The Two Coreys"

This pair of fame seekers were popular teen actors in the 1980s, and they've parlayed that moment into a reality TV career about their codependency. Feldman is the more responsible one, with a wife and son; Haim is the drug-addled lost boy. They break up, make up, and do it all over again for the cameras.

BLOODY GOOD FRIENDS

Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus

"Rome"

These warriors - the mostly fictional guys in the historical drama unfolding around them - stick together through thick and thin, through wars and women. Vorenus is the cold leader, Pullo is his emotional sidekick. Let no man, not even Caesar, come between them.

PEAS IN A POD

Shawn and Gus

"Psych"

Shawn, the pineapple-loving fake-psychic detective, is the reckless one, Gus is his reluctant friend. The kookier Shawn gets, the more rational Gus tries to be. But each would be bored without the other, and far less successful at solving crimes.

BUDDY-BUDDY

Eric and Vince

"Entourage"

There are four guys on this show, but Turtle and Drama are mostly comic relief. The bond between E and Vince is what truly keeps the story line afloat, as they make - and unmake, and remake - Vince's career together.

ARRESTING PAIR

Andy and Barney

"The Andy Griffith Show"

They're like an old married couple, these two. Andy is the patient, calm, and knowing one; Barney is kooky, hysterical, and inept. Together all day long, they keep Mayberry stable but not dull, the classic straight man and his foil. They're work partners, but they're family, too.

FACE TO FACE

Christian and Sean

"Nip/Tuck"

These two plastic surgeons have shared the same office, the same woman, and the same son. Friends and competitors since college, they are inextricably bound to each other. At one point, Christian feared that his love of Sean was ruining his heterosexual romantic life. But that didn't stop him.

FRIENDS AHOY

Gilligan and the Skipper

"Gilligan's Island"

Gilligan's ineptitude irritates the Skipper. But where would the big guy be without his little buddy? Like Andy and Barney, these two are bound together in a dear, yin-yang chemistry. When romance brews on the island, it usually doesn't involve either of them.

PUTTING THE BRO IN BROMANCE

Frasier and Niles

"Frasier"

Both psychiatrists, the Crane brothers suffer from a severe case of sibling rivalry and pettiness. But they also tend to act like a stereotypical urbane gay couple, a subtext that the show's writers frequently milk for comedy.

HOLMES AND WATSON

House and Wilson

"House"

Wilson is the only person who truly understands and tolerates House. And Wilson is the only person House truly trusts. Last season, House was irked by Wilson's love affair with Amber, fretting like a jealous lover. Now, with their relationship in danger of ending, House is devastated.

GUY LOVE

J.D. and Turk

"Scrubs"

They finish each other's sentences. They wear matching bracelets. The sitcom has made no secret of the pair's all-consuming and all-but-gay love for each other. In the musical episode, they sang out about their relationship: "Guy love/ He's mine, I'm his,/ There's nothing gay about it in our eyes."

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. For more on TV, visit www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog.

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