A great slow burn is the sweetest type of torture.
The achingly slow buildup, give and take, and unrequited to mutual pining makes the payoff all the more rewarding when done well, and Good Trouble may have mastered the art of the slow-burn.
Relationships are at the heart of Good Trouble. It’s praised –deservingly so — for its authentic, real exploration of them and its visibility. A common sentiment by its fans is how they finally feel seen — in these characters, and the relationships said characters engage in as well as the issues they face.
The series isn’t always perfect in this, nor is it without flaw, but it’s earnest in what it’s trying to do and what it’s trying to depict.
Malika’s relationship with Isaac gave a brief but straightforward introduction to colorism in same-race relationships and implicit bias, particularly against dark-skinned women.
Alice and Joey’s respective identity issues and self-discovery while navigating their relationship has been a rare but refreshing exploration of a queer relationship.
Mariana and Raj are equal parts cute and sexy, the latter’s importance necessary and cherished in regards to Raj specifically. He’s sweet but also sexy.
He has sexual agency and confidence, but it naturally wavers with the awareness of societal’s racial misconceptions about men who look like him not being as desirable.
But nestled between Malika and Isaac — the show’s pinnacle of couple goals and black love (another beautiful, meaningful exploration) and the exasperating Callie and Gael love triangle (quadrangle?), is a sweet spot with Dennis and Davia.
It’s hard to say when exactly it happened, which is a large part of the appeal, but somewhere along the way, Davia and Dennis became one of the highlights of the series. Their relationship is in no short terms intoxicating.
It’s incredible how it developed, which is why the show has done well with the only true slow-burn on the series.
While Hunton and Pence have always had chemistry, the way the series and the actors shifted it effortlessly from one vibe to another has made them the biggest surprise of the series.
Dennis’ initial role of the slightly older Den dad with Peter Pan Syndrome in a houseful of zennials/millennials set him apart. Meanwhile, Davia’s abrasive and judgmental nature often set them against each other in a contentious and antagonistic relationship comparable to a sibling rivalry.
Davia wouldn’t let up on her judgments and indictments against Dennis despite not knowing him well, but Dennis never wavered in challenging Davia or calling her out. In hindsight, he saw her better than she and anyone else may have realized from early on.
Davia is a tough nut to crack, but Dennis always had a way of cutting right through to the core of her beyond everything she attempted to project. Perhaps, it shouldn’t be a surprise how we’ve gotten here.
He always thought highly of her despite the way she treated him in return. From the beginning, it was evident that Dennis always felt Davia deserved better (than her relationship with Jeff, namely).
He often questioned why she didn’t believe she deserved better. It coincided with the sibling vibe Dennis gave off whenever he had moments and gave no-bullshit advice to his younger housemates, but he also kept them at arm’s length.
Dennis: Is that how you justify dating a married guy? His wife is a shrew?
Davia: She really is though. We went to high school together. She’s a total mean girl.
Dennis: Who’s the mean girl now?
Davia: OK, King of One Night Stands. Simmer.
Dennis: So, you can dish it out, but you can’t take it? All you do Davia is judge under the guise of calling it like it is or saying what everyone else is thinking. I can guarantee you that no one here feels sorry that your married boyfriend won’t leave his wife.
Davia’s new role in Dennis’ life felt almost accidental. Chance and circumstance are what led to her playing gatekeeper to Dennis and Jennifer’s turbulent, melancholic relationship. It’s also how she got a peek inside Dennis’ dark past well before he was willing to share it with her.
Ironically, Jennifer served as the bridge between Davia and Dennis. She unknowingly orchestrated this bond Denvia forged the moment they became irrevocably bound by Dennis’ secrets and his battle with depression.
It’s through that storyline Davia gained more traction — showed more depth — and became a more likable character than her initial presentation. It’s also through that storyline, Dennis became more fleshed out and a fan-favorite.
Their bond became fascinating; Davia became the keeper of his secrets and the only member of the Coterie aware of how close they came to losing their friend. She became his ally, and somewhere around their tearful exchange in the hospital after his psych hold, she became his friend.
The realization of their friendship hit them as hard as it did the audience. By the time Davia tearfully told him how much she cared about him and knew her life would be missing something without him in it, the words weren’t empty.
Dennis: I drove out to this cliff at a beach. I was gonna drive off. One of the voices I kept hearing in my head was yours.
Davia: Really, what was I saying?
Dennis: Do it.
Davia: Shut up!
Dennis: I heard you telling me not to be an idiot… it’s not like I’d leave some big void in the world, but it suddenly felt selfish like a betrayal to Jacob. It felt so hard to live. How do I explain that to him if there is a heaven? How would I explain that to him? How would I explain we put him through so many tests and drug trials just to keep him with us? That I just throw my life away … so I drove myself here. Checked in for a 48 hour hold.
Davia: You lost your child. I can’t imagine coping with all that pain and grief. Especially when you keep it locked up inside of yourself, and you don’t share it with people who care about you. Because people do care about you, Dennis. I know there would be a huge void in my life if you weren’t here.
They meant something, even with their limited screentime, the buildup was there, and it sneaked up on the viewers as much as the characters. It’s a far more compelling route than the traditional enemies-to-lovers tactic used.
The series could have easily wrecked this bond; it’s a complicated one which involves sensitive issues. If they moved too quickly into something romantic, it would be a disservice to Davia but mainly Dennis’ incredible arc they have thus far handled conscientiously.
If their relationship only stayed at a level where Davia was Dennis’ support buddy and nothing more, it would have felt exploitative, condescending, and offensive in regards to how it portrayed relationships with those who are battling depression.
But Davia didn’t coddle Dennis or treat him as less than. In fact, the aftermath of their emotional scene after his hospital stay has put them on equal ground. Their friendship is a mutual one. He had no choice but to trust her with sides of himself no one else was privy to; he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Davia: You need someone to talk to.
Dennis: I have someone to talk to, you.
But she confides in him and shares things she hasn’t shared with others too. Their friendship evolved to confidants, and the more time they spent with one another, the easier it was to see how they became best friends.
The culmination of the writing, the talent of Hunton and Pence, and their natural, malleable chemistry are what sells this potential ‘ship so well. If any part of this fell short, the idea of this couple could be disastrous, insensitive, or forced.
It’s none of these things, and with each passing scene with the two of them, one cannot help but be invested in them.
It’s a ‘ship where there were valid reasons for why some wouldn’t have wanted them to be a couple. They did have a sibling-like vibe at first, which makes it all the more impressive how they organically pivoted.
Dennis: You want to know what I told him after I hit him?
Davia: You hit him?!
Dennis: I told him that you’re trying to move on. I told him you’re trying to learn to love yourself, respect yourself, believe that you are worthy of love fully and exclusively, Davia because you are. I told him that if he can’t be that person; if he can’t be the person that you need, then he should leave. Which he did.
Davia: And what do you know about love and self-respect? You hate yourself, Dennis! How about I start treating myself with respect when you do.
Platonic friendships are appealing. There is an argument to be made that neither of them is in a state where they should be pursuing a romantic relationship at the moment.
Dennis is still working through caring for himself, and it’s something he should continue doing. There’s a fear of what happens when he’s made Davia his world. You can’t put your everything into another person.
Davia keeps him grounded, but she also cannot be his sole reason for living, and it’s a slippery road to navigate when depicting their relationship.
One of Dennis’ vices was losing or distracting himself with younger women. It’s evident his feelings for Davia are real, but it’s a thought that lingers regardless.
Davia has barely extricated herself from a messy relationship with Jeff. Should she jump into another relationship with complications of its own?
Davia, understandably, is hesitant when she knows Dennis doesn’t have a history of dating full-figured women. She doubts every case in which the man has told her how gorgeous she is.
She felt his assertions about self-love and his encouraging her to eat and be herself — the person he adores, is talk with little action when his history of women suggests something otherwise.
However, that’s one of the many reasons the ‘ship taking off is meaningful for many too.
Why should the beautiful, full-figured girl be stuck in the friend-zone in a platonic relationship with someone when their chemistry could set off fire detectors?
Why should Dennis’ attraction to younger women be limited to something cliche and problematic?
Why should either of them be reduced to that? But that’s another part of this slow-burn that has made them the best couple on the series. While respecting who they are and what they represent, they are never reduced to these archetypes.
What has made this slow-burn so gratifying is never once is there an implication that Dennis or Davia aren’t deserving of love or deserving of each other.
Dennis: I’m not OK. I hated myself thnking that I had done that to you. That I had ruined any chance of —
Davia: Any chance of what?
Dennis: Of you ever trusting me.
Davia: Don’t worry. I trust you. You’re my best friend.
Somehow, someway with Pence’s natural, quiet charisma and versatility, and Hunton’s emotional, raw, entrancing ability to light up a screen that belies her theater background, they have silently stolen the show.
Their scenes are riveting, and the irony of Malika giving Davia a card that read “breathe” is how she and Dennis are responsible for leaving many fans breathless while onscreen together.
Seriously, the transition from amusing to heartrending to breathtaking should give a person whiplash, but it doesn’t. Despite the series’ short run, the pacing of this relationship is exceptional.
Their scenes grow more intense with each installment. The way the series teases them rivals some of the best foreplay. Bloody hell!
It’s only been a short while, and yet Davia and Dennis have fostered an intimate relationship from metaphorically and damn near literally baring themselves –their souls — and sharing a bed. They have the longing, pining looks, the physical contact that lingers and grows more intimate.
Every look, touch, and exchange is so emotionally charged, it’s electrifying. The only thing they haven’t done is ‘fessed up to their feelings and had sex. It’s a wonder we haven’t spontaneously combusted by now.
The latest installment of Good Trouble topped their intimate hug with a spellbinding duet comparable to the mesmerizing Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper “Shallow” performance at the Oscars.
What are we supposed to do with all of this sexual tension? How does one not crawl out of their skin with this simmer and smolder?
— Good Trouble (@GoodTrouble) July 24, 2019
Not only was Falling Slowly the perfect song to describe the development of Davia and Dennis’ relationship, but it applies to how fandom has fallen in love with this couple.
Dennis and Davia are at a crossroads. They both have feelings for one another, and they know it.
Davia: I don’t want to be myself around my mother because it hurts.
Dennis: Sorry, it’s just I care about you. She has no right to judge.
Davia: You think I don’t know that?
It seemed as though Dennis was willing to voice them. He almost did when expressing how afraid he was of the effects the relationship (he didn’t have, thank god!) with her mother would affect theirs.
He picked up how squirmish Davia was when they performed Falling Slowly, and he put her on the spot in front of everyone by leading them into a duet performing the Once song.
Davia was aware of her feelings for Dennis sooner, but she’s also the most resistant to them. What would a slow-burn be without this added drama in the way of them not getting together?
Davia and Dennis were lost in each other while performing as if no one else was in the room, and it’s also the effect they have on fans who are watching them. It’s like time stops, and it’s just them.
Davia may have dismissed her special moment with Dennis with a “That’s what you call acting,” but let me echo the sentiment when describing everything Hunton and Pence have given us for a season and a half of Good Trouble. That’s what you call acting;they remain two powerhouse performers!
Damn, they’re magical!
How else can you describe these two selling us this scintillating ‘ship some of us didn’t even know we wanted? While I was one of the first who stated my preference the two remain platonic, I’m tired of fighting it anymore.
Good Trouble’s masterful execution of a slow-burn — arguably the best-executed relationship of the series — is too good to ignore.
Are Dennis and Davia one of the best slow-burn relationships on television? Are you ‘shipping them too? What do you think will happen between them? Hit the comments with your thoughts!
Buckle your seatbelts. We can expect some more sweet Denvia torture when Davia confides in someone about her feelings. Check out the sneak-peek below!
Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.