Any romance lover knows that it’s all about the kiss. Maybe the couple is standing in the rain. Maybe one person is stroking the other’s face. Maybe they’re already tearing each other’s clothes off on the way to the nearest bed. Or, in a perfect world, it’s all three at once. (Hellloooo, Notebook.)

But sometimes the kiss is just not good. The lips are getting jammed together awkwardly. There’s just no chemistry. You’re not always sure why, but a bad kiss is kind of like pornography: you know it when you see it. Regardless of the reason, here are the top five worst TV kisses and the books that did it better:

Carrie & Big in an Elevator, Sex and the City

Ugh, Sarah Jessica Parker is the WORST kisser in Hollywood history. Her technique is less of a kiss and more of a big smush, where she presses her lips to someone else’s and literally just rubs her mouth back and forth. It’s excruciating to watch and probably not all that fun to kiss either. I could pick any Carrie & Big kiss as the absolute worst, but the one in the elevator in Season Three—when they start their affair—is just terrible. It’s supposed to be passion-filled and instead it just looks like she wants to devour his face. Starts around 1:11 if you can bear to watch.

Read This Kiss Instead:

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (St. Martin’s Press, 2011)

bet-me-jennifer-cruiseCrusie is the queen of writing sexy contemporary romances and Min and Cal are two of her best characters to date. Their first kiss is on a park bench and includes them feeding glazed donuts to each other between each lip lock. Awesome kisses and baked goods? Sign me up.




Nathan & Haley Decide to Get Married, One Tree Hill

This one pains me, it really does. I secretly love One Tree Hill—all those car crashes and teenage marriages and stalkers at the prom just suck me in every time. And there’s nothing I love more than the relationship between Nathan and Haley (affectionately known as “Naley”). They fall in love in high school, and no matter what insanity OTH throws at them (like psycho nannies, even more car crashes, and several almost-drownings) they stay true to each other no matter what. But they can’t kiss well. Like at all. It’s not Bethany Joy Lenz’s issue either; this one is squarely the fault of James Lafferty, who loves to puckers his lips and cheeks, and whole face somehow. He looks less like a hot guy and more like a bird trying to suck at her mouth. He gets a little better over the years, but this early kiss in Season Two is just painful.

Read This Kiss Instead:

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013)

eleanor-and-park-rainbow-rowellThere are a ton of good kisses in this YA novel about two teens falling in love, but my favorite is their very first one. There’s so much build up to that first lip lock in Park’s driveway. The two have spent months sitting together on the bus. Touching without touching. Slowly falling. By the time they finally kiss, their chemistry is off the charts.




Joey & Rachel in Barbados, Friends

It’s not technically a bad kiss; it’s just kind of gross. Like watching cousins kiss or something. Rachel and Joey were a bad, chemistry-less idea from the very start. Luckily for all of us, their romantic relationship didn’t last long and they went back to being the friends they were always meant to be.

Read This Kiss Instead:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009)

harry-potter-deathly-hallows-book-cover-j.k.-rowlingFor friends-to-lovers done right, Hermione and Ron are the gold standard. Rowling had been hinting at it for so long, their love building up book after book. When they finally kiss, it’s like you could hear the entire fandom sigh. Plus Ron literally lifts her off his feet, he’s so excited.




Jamie & Ben and the Horrific Straddle, The Bachelor

Oh god, oh god, the secondhand embarrassment is strong with this one. Not only does contestant Jamie narrate the entire conversation (please, just stop talking), but her attempts at seducing Ben are so horrifyingly awkward. It’s like she read a book on ‘How to be Sexy,’ but skipped the chapter on ‘How to Not Make Everyone Super Uncomfortable.’

Read This Kiss Instead:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Macmillan, 1964)

Gone_with_the_Wind_cover_original_margaret_mitchell“[Rhett] bent back her head across his arm and kissed [Scarlett], softly at first, and then with a swift gradation of intensity that made her cling to him as the only solid thing in a dizzy, swaying world.”

I think this line speaks for itself.




The Virgin Couple, Virgin Diaries

OK, I definitely saved the worst for last. Only watch this on an empty stomach, with your cringe-factor dialed up to 11. It’s so difficult to sit through, but you also can’t look away. A kiss train crash. Maybe we should be more understanding since the couple had been saving their first kiss for marriage. But—no. It’s just too bad.

Read This Kiss Instead:

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas (St. Martin’s Paperback, 2015)

smooth-talking-stranger-lisa-kleypasKleypas is one of the best romance writers around, and all of her series—contemporary and historical—are worth reading. Smooth Talking Stranger has such a strong couple at its core, and their kisses are off-the-charts, especially as Ella is fighting their attraction every step of the way. But Jack Travis is persistent, and she can only deny his kisses for so long. Their first one ends with him telling her that he respects her as a woman, but that he also wants to tear her clothes off. Swoon.