10. Rose and Agent Nelson Van Alden (Enid Graham and Michael Shannon, Boardwalk Empire)
Van Alden is such a moralizing tool that it’s sort of a given that he’d do something immoral at one point. He’s in a different city than his wife, and their marriage is so awkward and loveless that it’s no wonder he violates it. That he cheats is almost better than who he cheats with, Nucky’s former bitch Lucy (Paz de la Huerta). Their sex scene remains one of the creepiest I’ve ever witnessed.
9. Martha and Seth Bullock (Anna Gunn and Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood)
Seth only sleeps with Alma (Molly Parker) the once, and it’s after resisting much temptation and many come-hither glances. He married Martha after his brother died in the war, because back in the day, it was considered good form to marry your brother’s widow. Theirs was not a relationship born of love, but rather it was one of convenience, and as such, the moment of infidelity is somewhat justifiable in his eyes. Once it’s complete, though, he brings Martha and Martha’s son William to the camp. He’s had his moment, he’s ready to be Martha’s husband now. It does mean that when Alma is later pregnant, she has to marry Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) to save face, which means that their relationship is also born of convenience that is in turn born of infidelity, but hey.
8. Carmela and Tony Soprano (Edie Falco and James Gandolfini, The Sopranos)
Tony cheats on Carmela so many times that it’s not even funny, and it doesn’t really ever matter with who. Sure, it may matter for a couple of episodes apiece, and after a while Carmela tries to end it, but that only lasts a little while, too. He tries, but he’s not successful. No matter what he does, he can’t seem to have a faithful relationship, even though he gets angry at Carmela for thinking about being unfaithful. It makes absolutely no sense, because he’s not a charming man, and it’s not as if he’s King Henry VIII with power and money (well, he’s got power and money, but not every one of his women on the side knows that), but that’s just that.
7. King Henry VIII and everyone (Jonathan Rhys Meyers and, again, everyone: Maria Doyle Kennedy, Natalie Dormer, Annabelle Wallis, Joss Stone, Tamzin Merchant, Joely Richardson, some other ladies on the side of on the side)
But speaking of King Henry VIII, here he is. Henry is a great, ideal historical cheater d-bag. He cheats on one wife, marries the mistress and makes her his wife, then cheats on her. Two of the wives get executed for adultery, which feels hypocritical, but he’s, well, a d-bag.
6. Gemma and John Teller (who grows up to be Katey Sagal and who’s flashbacked as Victor Newmark and Nicholas Guest apparently, Sons of Anarchy)
It’s said in flashback and conversation, hence John not having a solid actor face, but it’s still an important plot point. Disenchanted with club life, John goes to Ireland and sleeps with, impregnates, and falls in love with Maureen Ashby (who grows up to be Paula Malcomson). Meanwhile, Gemma is getting closer and closer with Clay (who grows up to be Ron Perlman), and that whole… extravaganza isn’t fully explained yet. But the point is, it leads to a baby, a lie, a fatal accident, a marriage, a quantity of ground laid for a lifetime of lies.
5. Gemma and Clay Morrow (Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman, Sons of Anarchy)
Lifetime of lies, remember? Clay is actually fairly faithful, a lot of the time, but his sleeping with Crow Eaters gets Gemma’s insecurities peaked and makes for a lot of drama. Also it means that Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has a model for dealing with his problems, a model that tells him it’s okay to sleep with random women to cope, but since Jax and Tara (Maggie Siff) aren’t yet married, they’re not on the list yet. And he’s been pretty faithful since the whole Trinny debacle.
4. Mona and Roger Sterling (Talia Balsam and John Slattery, Mad Men)
Roger sleeps with all the women, and again, it’s one of those slightly confusing things. He’s a powerful man, and I guess if you’re into silver foxes, he’s good at that? He’s in the Henry VIII pattern in a way, too; he’s married to Mona, he divorces Mona, he sleeps with Jane (Peyton List), he marries Jane, he cheats on Jane with Joan (Christina Hendricks). Poor Joan is the person he probably really loves, but she’s not in the marriage cycle.
3. Joan and Greg Harris (Christina Hendricks and Sam Page, Mad Men)
She’s just in the “trying to do what seems societally right” cycle. Joan only sleeps with Roger the once after she’s married, but it gets her pregnant. She says she aborts the baby, but she doesn’t. And who knows what will happen in season five.
2. Trudy and Pete Campbell (Alison Brie and Vincent Kartheiser, Mad Men)
Pete cheats on poor Trudy a few times: first with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) the night before the wedding, again with Peggy one early morning at work, once with forcing himself on a nanny from down the hall when Trudy’s away. He seems to cheat, like so many of them do, out of boredom: he’s happy with Trudy, or he should be, but occasionally he feels compelled to do something bad just to do something. He eventually apologizes for his ways, somewhat, but he seems like he could do it again, under the right wrong circumstances.
1. Betty and Don Draper (January Jones and Jon Hamm, Mad Men)
Don cheats with all the women, too: the client, the schoolteacher, the bimbo, the model, the secretary. Betty doesn’t cheat with Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley), exactly, but she kisses him and she marries him right quick once she’s divorced. Don actually waits a season before getting engaged again, and not to anyone he’d been with in the cheating, but I’d worry about him with Megan (Jessica Paré) too. She can’t keep him happy forever. He’s restless and has issues with love.
–your fangirl heroine.