Well, here we are again. Another Game of Thrones post. Another one for the collection.

But this time, something different. No dire wolves or white walkers in sight. Instead, we have two of the most popular characters in the entire series, battling it out for control of the ultimate prize: our hearts. Or, more precisely, our love for them. Because let’s face facts: as much as we all love a good battle, the real payoff of Game of Thrones has always been the chemistry between the characters.

So let’s dive right in.

The Main Characters

In case you’re wondering, the name of our main characters is Charlie and Dante. They are a mixed-race couple from New York City, created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Their love story is one of the most popular in the entire series. And it’s about time too: after a rocky start, they’ve become one of the most prominent couples in the show’s history. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say upfront that I have a soft spot for Dante, so let me begin by saying that I love Charlie too. But that’s mainly because he’s based on my favorite bartender from NYC. Let’s get to know them better.

An Unlikely Duo

As the show’s creator’s Twitter bio will have you believe, @davidbenioff and @dbrei1 Weiss are not your typical TV writing team. Between them, they have decades of experience in the theatre and television, with no writing credits before Game of Thrones, or indeed, any other series for that matter. This was, in fact, their first attempt at trying their hand at television and they had to ‘learn as they went along’. And what a learning curve they went along. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Weiss noted that their aim wasn’t to reinvent the wheel, but to “just do better than what was being done at the time.” So they went ahead and did something that hadn’t been seen on television before: a mixed-race main character. And they did it in a way that was sensitive and, at the same time, relatable; a coming-of-age story about a young man discovering himself and his feelings — for the first time — through a journey that was both inspiring and, yes, romantic.

Benioff and Weiss decided to base Charlie’s character off a bartender they knew and loved. For years, Charlie had worked for the same bartender, Eric, who eventually became his best friend. When Charlie was first created, Eric was one of the first characters that the writers spoke to, who helped them shape the character. When asked about what influences he drew from for Charlie, Weiss noted, “The thing that I find so interesting about this show is that it’s an accident of history. The characters are the products of a very specific time and place. And I think that’s what makes it so interesting and unique. There are very clear echoes of jazz and the Harlem Renaissance in the music and the culture of this period. And it’s great when you find cultural references that you can connect to and it makes sense in the context of the story.”

An Inspiration To Be Reckoned With

In keeping with their New York City roots, Charlie and Dante take their inspiration from real-life mixed couples and families. Weiss told NBC that they were “drawn to these characters because they’re not based on anyone specific in real life, but they’re certainly someone that we know and love.” While their true inspirations may never be known, we can speculate that a bar or two in New York City may have played a part in their creation.

It’s fair to say that the way that Charlie and Dante fell in love is both relatable and incredibly romantic. After years apart, Charlie finally meets Dante at a mutual friend’s wedding; the two hit it off and begin a passionate affair, which leads them to confront their true feelings and seek the closure that comes with a romantic relationship. They end up moving in together, which gives their romance the weight of an actual, legitimate commitment.

What makes this story even more potent is that it’s rooted in a time and place that most of us can relate to. It’s about two people who are at a crossroads in their lives; forced to confront their demons (in the form of old prejudices and social stigmas) in order to find love and happiness (with a little help from their friends, of course). So while we are firmly in fantasy-land, we can’t help but feel that these are exactly the kinds of stories that we want to see more of. Especially since, as Weiss put it: “What’s so great about [Charlie and Dante] is that they are both extremely intelligent. And it really is a beautiful story when you consider how smart they are and that they really do care about each other. And it’s funny, because when we started to write this, there were a lot of times when someone would ask the question, ‘What are you laughing at?’ And we would say, ‘Nothing.’”

A Complex Relationship

Like many of the other couples in the series, Charlie and Dante’s relationship is equally complex. It’s a love-hate affair, at best, with Dante frequently expressing his jealousy over Charlie’s close relationship with their best friend, Eric. At the same time, Charlie has to grapple with his own insecurities, which sometimes show themselves in the form of raging temper tantrums.

The root of Charlie’s problems stems from his own past. Born into a prominent family, he was groomed to take over his father’s business. But when the Great Depression hit, his father’s company went under and he was forced to find a new job. This changed his life forever. For the next thirty years, he worked in a series of soul-crushing dead-end jobs, until he finally found the strength to enter the workforce and build a career for himself. He now has his own bar and restaurant in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Carla, and their two kids. He is a very happy man, but a man nonetheless, who occasionally hides his true feelings behind some rather charming lies.

Unlike Charlie and Carla, who have been together since the beginning of the series, Dante and his wife, Hilary, only started dating after the events of S3E4, when they were both forced to confront old prejudices and act on their true feelings. Like Charlie, Dante has found love and happiness, which has considerably lessened the danger of him running off and getting married without knowing what he’s doing. He has two daughters, Abigail and Anna, who are also Carla’s two younger sisters.

A True Iconic Couple

Charlie and Dante aren’t the only iconic couple on Game of Thrones. That would be Cersei and Jaime Lannister. In fact, before they became an iconic couple, Cersei and Jaime were already well-known. Not only was Jaime renowned for his fighting skills, but he also dated several women at once, which made him a bit of a legend in his own time. And it wasn’t just about the fighting either; Jaime was also known to be a very charming and witty conversationalist. So it was natural for viewers to look up to him as a kind of role model. Something which may have contributed to the couple’s iconic status. After all, what is an iconic couple, if not a role model for other couples?

The way that Charlie and Dante’s love story unfolded was largely determined by fate. Because it was written as a limited series, and more importantly, because it was based on a true story, the writers knew exactly how far they could take the romance. They couldn’t afford to rush things, or the story would have become incredibly implausible. This is never more evident than in the way that the writers introduced the concept of surrogate parenting. In the show, Charlie’s parents (played by Charles Dance and Martine McCutcheon) disapprove of his relationship with Dante, which leads him to seek out a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, to carry his children. While we, as an audience, obviously sympathize with Charlie’s plight, it is, to say the least, highly unlikely that a white man, raised in North America, would marry a black man from the Deep South. Especially since, as the show repeatedly points out, racism is still very much alive and well in the United States.

What Does It Mean?

At this point, you may be wondering what all this means. Does it have any real-world significance? Does it speak to something deeper, somewhere within us?