Why Syd and Elena earned this title might seem obvious. After all, Sydlena is an incredibly cute, queer couple who not only challenged boundaries of sexuality but also gender; Syd is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. In fact, early into the third and potentially final season, there's an entire discussion on what Elena should call Syd. Girlfriend is out, and partner makes it seem like they're pitching a new lawyer show to Shonda Rhimes. After an episode-long back-and-forth, the two teens settle on Sydnificant other, which is absolutely the cutest sh-- I've ever heard in my life.
But the real reason Sydlena is snagging this superlative from the many other sexy, sensitive, and compassionate couples on TV is the absolutely perfect way One Day at a Time navigated Elena's decision to lose her virginity. Like all horny teens since the beginning of time, Syd and Elena hit a point where making out on the couch when their parents aren't home just isn't enough. It's time for the next step, and the next step in Elena's case involves forking over her emergency credit card for a hotel room without her mom's knowledge. But when Syd and Elena actually check in to their room where they planned to have sex for the first time, suddenly there's a moment that feels too real for Elena.
After finding out that Syd isn't a virgin, Elena's own anxieties surface: What if she isn't really ready after all? What will Syd think when they see her naked? What if this changes everything, and not for the better? But Syd has the perfect response for all of Elena's woes: Yes, they have had sex before. No, they weren't in love with that person. And now with Elena, there's something so special about their relationship that they're willing to wait however long until Elena is ready for the next step, even if that day never comes.
It's this perfect representation of how messy navigating sex, love, and consent can be that snags Sydlena the cutest couple award. Syd and Elena aren't just an adorable couple; they're the exact couple that teens who are trying to navigate these issues in their own lives need to see on TV. The way Syd responds to Elena's fears not only reassures her that there's no pressure to have sex, but also reiterates that Syd isn't in this relationship for a notch on their bedpost, but for Elena herself.
In fact, it's this openness and compassion that puts Elena at ease enough to actually have sex. It's a life-changing moment, made not only manageable but enjoyable by picking the right Sydnificant other. If we all had partners this loving and open to our fears and feelings, we'd need significantly less therapy all around.
Because this is such a competitive category, TV Guide wanted to take this opportunity to shout-out all the runners-up who just barely missed out on the honor of Cutest Couple: Wynonna Earp's Waverly and Nicole, who never let fighting demons get in the way of building a beautiful relationship; Schitt's Creek's David and Patrick, whose unconventional engagement brought us to tears; and RuPaul's Drag Race's Brooke Lynn Hytes and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, who managed to find romance amidst the fierce competition.