ffice relationships are never a good idea." So says Toby Flenderson, the human resources representative for Dunder Mifflin. But, then, he's a sad, bitter man. It might be standard practice for people to suggest that "you shouldn't go fishing in the company pond," as it were, but the reality is this: if you're single and you work with someone who's both single and really, really hot, then you're still going to want to ask them out, possible repercussions be damned. Then again, that's also why you might decide to institute certain rules and regulations about your relationship and its level of seriousness, thereby resulting in a phrase we like to call "Coworkers…with Benefits."
Have you considered a fling with a receptionist? It might require a time machine, but we hear Joan Holloway has been known to indulge in the occasional bit of interoffice hanky-panky. If you're looking for something more serious in the here and now, though, it's well-documented that Pam Beesley isn't afraid of making a long-term commitment. Thought about dating a physician? Drs. Reid and Stevens, at your service. Or maybe you'd rather stick with a girl who understands how a guy thinks. If that's the case, Andi Prendergast could show you a hell of a good time by matching you drink for drink, and Natalie Hurley…well, heck, she works for "Sports Night." Is that a dream girl or what? But, really, we know how it is when it comes to dating someone you work with: you're willing to overlook a lot of flaws -- neediness, obsessive-compulsiveness, even borderline insanity -- just to be able to carpool to the office.
Feel free to check out the resúmés of our 10 "Coworkers with Benefits" nominees below, but after the interview's over and you've placed your vote for which one actually gets the job, be sure to remember to come back on Friday, May 25, to see who won and to place your vote for the next category, "Married to the Job."
Jenna Fischer, "The Office"
Can you think of anything more enjoyable than playing pranks on Dwight Schrute? Neither can Pam, and that's what makes her so great. Whether she's helping Jim load up the vending machine with all of Dwight's belongings, trying to convince him that he could move objects with his mind, or masterminding an elaborate ruse that ends with Dwight on the roof waiting for a CIA helicopter to arrive, there is no doubt that Pam is one treacherous woman. We're not sure why a pretty girl with a sick, twisted sense of humor seems so sexy, but that's what she is. And, yet, she somehow balances that dark humor with an endearing sweetness. She's friendly and helpful, though she's not afraid to stand up for herself when the time is right. Moreover, she's loyal – well, at least to Jim – and she has a soft spot for hopeless cases (i.e. Michael Scott). She's also an artist, and a talented one at that, so it's nice to know that she has bigger plans than working at Dunder-Mifflin for the rest of her life. Let's just hope that she doesn't leave anytime soon; the office just wouldn't be the same without her.
Christina Hendrix, "Mad Men"
Being the head secretary of a clubby advertising firm in early sixties Manhattan is not a job for sissies or simpletons, and the ultra-feminine, yet hard as nails, yet also deeply vulnerable Miss Holloway is neither. Utterly willing to employ her red-haired beauty and Marilyn Monroe/Jessica Rabbit physique to her own advantage, she's supremely competent and ready to crack the whip on any female Sterling Cooper employee who's slacking off, getting uppity, or failing to watch her figure. She can be downright vindictive with women who arouse her jealousy, but she can also be a loyal friend, and there's real sweetness in her. Things are, sadly, even more complicated when it comes to the men in her life. Claiming to want nothing more than the traditional role of wife and mother, she broke off a relationship with smug, pipe-smoking copywriter Paul Kinsey when he broadcast his conquest office-wide; a doomed affair with her married, alcoholic boss, gray-haired Roger Sterling, ended after one heart attack too many; and she's now got far more serious and terrifying problems with her too-perfect, seriously disturbed, young doctor fiancé. Combine this with the dawning realization that, just maybe, she'd actually like to do more with her life than merely pleasing demanding men, and you have someone in great need of our help. Would we be up to the job of liberating and wooing this caged tigress? It would take a lot more than a time machine and good intentions, but it would sure be worth trying.
Kirstie Alley, "Cheers"
By the time Miss Rebecca Howe faded from our screens, she'd developed into a bit of a puffy-thighed knucklehead, but in her heyday, the former manager of Boston's finest watering hole was a force to be reckoned with…both in the office and out. As we eventually discovered, her icy personality and sharp business acumen were merely a façade for the easily flustered, emotionally-needy klutz lurking just below the surface, but that only served to endear her to us even more, to the point that we couldn't stop rooting for Rebecca to find happiness, no matter how many times she went chasing after the Evan Drakes and Robin Colcords of the world. Plus, she was smart enough to see through Sam Malone's oily overtures, but her standards were low enough that she was attracted to his terrible dye job and balloon-shaped head. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – she was enough of a pushover to keep the world's largest running tab for Norm Peterson. If Norm got a free ride, then an open tap at Cheers had to be one of the benefits of dating Rebecca Howe, making her an easy candidate for top TV Girlfriend of the millennium.
Sabrina Lloyd, "Sports Night"
The only way Natalie Hurley could be more appealing is if she were the daughter of a beer distributor. She's whip-smart, cute as a button, and loves sports. And not only does she love sports, but she helps produce a sports news show. That alone is enough to seal the deal, but we can still go two better: she dated über-geek co-worker Jeremy Goodwin (which means she's attainable), and she turned down a job at "Saturday Night Live" – which included a 25% pay increase, thank you very much – to continue producing the low-rated, about-to-be-cancelled "Sports Night" (she's loyal). Her work schedule no doubt puts a strain on her love life, since her day starts when most people go to bed (perhaps that's why she chose to date Jeremy: they're awake at the same time), but if we met someone with so many endearing qualities, staying up late would be the least of our concerns.
Sarah Chalke, "Scrubs"
If we had decided to include a "Pretty, Crazy" category on our list, there's a good chance Elliot Reid would have ended up there instead, but due to her proclivity of hooking up with guys at Sacred Heart (from co-workers like J.D. and intern Keith to patients like Sean Kelly and that douchebag Jake), she's actually a good fit. In fact, Elliot isn't so much crazy as just really, really eccentric...but God love her for that. Her low self-esteem and highly neurotic behavior is clearly a result of her closeted, white-collar upbringing, and though we'd rather not hear one of her exhaustive childhood stories about growing up in Connecticut, she only gets cuter with every PG-friendly swear word she uses. (For the record, the term "vagina" should officially be changed to "bajingo.") Though she's been known to be mistaken for Gary Busey on numerous occasions, there's no denying that Elliot is one sexy woman worth dreaming about. Sure, she can be awkward at times, and she has some pretty weird sexual fantasies to boot (like the one involving Mexican apple thieves), but ever since her transformation from homely intern to beautiful, confident doctor, they're quirks we're more than prepared to deal with.
The first five nominees in the "Coworkers with Benefits" category are all worthy objects of our affection, but they certainly aren't the only TV office flings to win our hearts. Below you'll find five more lovely ladies to consider before placing your vote for Bullz-Eye's "Coworkers with Benefits" TV Girlfriend.
Evangeline Lilly, "Lost"
Exuding confidence, vulnerability, and the ability to kick your ass a different way every day of the week, Kate Austen is the unrivaled alpha female of the hard-to-find tropical island at the heart of "Lost." It's no wonder, really, that Kate has reduced the Others-battling badasses Jack and Sawyer to moon-eyed teenagers who only stop proclaiming their love long enough to pull stupid stunts like, say, jumping into the ocean out of a helicopter. Mind you, if you could make a dirty tank top look that sexy after three months in the middle of nowhere, guys would probably be doing the same sort of stuff for you.
Laura San Giacomo, "Just Shoot Me"
As a neo-feminist and intellectual stuck working at her father's fashion magazine, Maya Gallo was much more interested in standing up for women than engaging in a fun office romance. She comes across as a bit of a prude, hiding her impressive figure under thick sweaters. Despite all that, there's something sexy as hell about the smart coworker who's always trying to be professional at work as she hides behind glasses and frumpy clothes. You just know she's ready to bust out and ravage any guy lucky enough to light her fire.
Cybill Shepherd, "Moonlighting"
She may have been guilty of the stereotypical ditziness of a former model on a number of occasions -- much to the financial benefit of her unscrupulous former accountant -- but most of the time, Maddie Hayes was as tight-assed and over-analytical as a nun crossed with a math major. Billboard beauty plus a high-maintenance personality equals a challenge -- one that ultimately didn't quite pay off for Maddie's on-again, off-again beau, David Addison. But, hey, if she was impulsive enough to marry Walter Bishop, that meant pretty much anyone had a chance, right?
Missy Peregrym, "Reaper"
She's gorgeous, staggeringly low-maintenance, drinks with the boys, and works at a home improvement store, which means she isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Oh, and there's one more thing: she might be the Devil's daughter. All right, so that last one is just a theory of ours. Still, as terrifying a theory as it may be, admit it: it's also a huge turn-on, the good girl that is completely unaware of the bad girl lurking within. Just remember that if the relationship goes sour (as the one between Andi and Sam has as of late), the road to Hell will be paved with something other than good intentions.
Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy"
On paper, Dr. Izzie Stevens sounds like a train wreck. She was born in a trailer park, has a child that she gave up for adoption, and isn't exactly the luckiest gal when it comes to dating. During her short time at Seattle Grace Hospital, Izzie has fallen in love with a patient (only to kill him in an attempt to save his life), had sex with the ghost of said patient, and broken up the marriage of her best friend. Then again, she's also one of the hottest doctors we've ever seen and can bake a mean batch of cookies. So, you know, she's got that going for her.
Now that you've seen our 10 nominees in the "Coworkers with Benefits" category, it's time to make your voice heard by voting for your favorite. If you need to refresh your memory before casting your ballot, click the thumbnails below to revisit each nominee's writeup. Then, come back on Friday, May 29 for the unveiling of the next TV Girlfriends list, "Married to the Job," and to see which character prevailed in the "Coworkers with Benefits" voting.
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