Tuesday

Midseason sailing report, or, these TV couples I ship need to get married

I collect fandoms like I collect coffee mugs. No one can keep track of what shows I'm watching when. And although the ensuing post is longer than Taylor Swift's list of ex-lovers that'll tell you she's insane, I promise you that I whittled this down to very few of the shows I've actually been watching this season.



Shipping. Everyone does it, even if you don't know you're doing it or don't want to admit it. You always have that one couple on a show that you're rooting for, even if they aren't together in the canon. Ships make the shows you love, and even the ones you hate-watch, that much more interesting.

Here's who I want to get or stay together on my main shows this season. Spoilers after the jump for everyone who hasn't seen the midseason finales of Once Upon A Time, Sleepy Hollow, Jane the Virgin and Reign.




Swan Queen, Once Upon A Time

Since the "Save Henry" storyline in Neverland, I've been a big fan of the evolving positive relationship shared by Regina, aka the Evil Queen, and Emma Swan, aka the Savior, two strong, self-reliant women who happen to co-parent a little boy together. And while I knew about those who insist on shipping the two as a romantic couple, it wasn't until I started reading the recaps by the genius Lily Sparks (seriously, just her photo captions make me want to kiss the ground she walks on) that I saw the light. (That second link is to her must-read piece on the subtext of the show.) Swan Queen needs to happen. The subtext is real, and the relationship is not far-fetched — it is a feasible endgame for a show about subverting the stories you think you know, redemption, and the power of true love.

Better together

As I become a serious student of pop culture, I realize what so many people smarter than I am have known forever. We have very few representations of long-term, same-sex couples on mainstream television. I'm excluding shows like The L Word, which I didn't watch, and the lesser-known South of Nowhere, which I could write a damn dissertation on. Those shows were all about same-sex relationships. All the plots evolved from that, making them niche programs. And most shows that aren't about same-sex relationships that eventually feature a gay or lesbian couple do so for a two- or three-episode arc during sweeps to get ratings by pairing two hot chicks together to draw in more male viewers (I am looking at you, The O.C. J'accuse! J'ACCUSE!). What does that leave us with? Mitch and Cam on Modern Family. This disproportionate TV minority is not an accurate representation of how many functional, hot, happy gay couples are in the real world, raising families, being productive members of society, not solely existing to be stereotypes or teach you how to stomp the runway on Top Model.

Cultural commentary aside, Emma and Regina would just be a great couple. I'm rehashing what those smarter people have said, but for one, they have chemistry. Even when they hated each other, they were obsessed with each other. Just allll up in each other's pretty faces with some pretty heated hate-sex going on behind the eyes. They share a son, Henry, a feasible reason for them to spend a lot of time together and get to know each other and become friends. And while Emma is for now happily paired with Hook, (and I really like them as a couple, too), the writers once again gave Regina a clear path to a happy ending with Robin Hood and then instantly snatched it away. Why do that if there weren't some greater endgame for Regina, like, oh, leaving her free to fall for Emma?

And as soon as she loses her alleged soulmate forever, who sits next to her at the bar to help her drown her misery instead of cuddling the hot pirate boyfriend who was nearly killed off in this same episode? Emma. Emma Emma Emma. Emma, who promised her that her job as Savior wasn't done until Regina got a happy ending, too. The woman who under Regina's tutelage began to come into her own as a witch. The same woman who has defended Regina when everyone else was quick to turn on her, despite her own complicated history with the Evil Queen.

You know who else ships Swan Queen. Oh, just Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla. The actresses are on board and ready to set sail with us.

They know what's up.
Nut up, showrunners. You've already made your sacrifice to the Disney overlords by pumping more money into the Frozen coffers with this season's storyline. Piss off some platinum cufflink-clutching producers who think lesbians aren't wholesome and acknowledge the relationship you've clearly been rooting for all along. It'll feel so good.

Ichabbie, Sleepy Hollow

This is a show I just binge-watched during a weekend, and I have mixed feelings about shipping Ichabod Crane and modern-day lieutenant Abbie Mills. They're a lot like Stabler and Benson on SVU — best friends, clearly soulmates, one married, one respectfully deferring to that marriage despite the buckets and buckets of blatant unresolved sexual tension between them.

To take Ichabod and Abbie through to the natural progression of their witty banter and fierce protectiveness of each other also, inevitably, means losing something through that evolution. They'd lose their pure, selfless friendship. Everything gets sort of screwy when screwing gets involved. And what if they broke up? My little fangirl heart couldn't take it.



But there are so many reasons to cast that fear aside. These characters share a bond that no one else on earth could touch. They are the friggin' biblical witnesses to the apocalypse joining forces to keep evil out of this world. No disrespect to Mrs. Crane (we'll get to that bitch in a second), but that's a bit more intense than what you two had going 250 years ago before you had to cool your heels in purgatory and he was frozen in time.

Abbie and Ichabod have so much going for them as a potential romantic couple. They trust each other with their lives. They respect each other's opinions. They teach each other. They share their (very different) worlds. They are different in manner, experiences and perspectives but are in sync with their goals and values. They make each other laugh (on a personal note, that's my trump card with relationships. Humor is nonnegotiable). And as Abbie said, they can't have lunch together without peril. They honestly need to get together just to bring some levity and happiness to their terrifying existences.

And then there's the ol' ball and chain. I really liked Katrina in the beginning of the season. I did. Allegedly powerful witch, red hair, the dashing protagonist's love. What's not to like?

But as the series progressed, Katrina proved to be the Scooby Gang's weak link against the Big Bad threatening the end of days. Katrina's hyped-up magical abilities have never been used to any convincing effect. Ichabbie constantly save her fainting ass (maybe loosen your corset, love?). She has obviously developed romantic feelings for her ex-fiance, the Headless Horseman, who held her captive, wants evil to rule the earth and, oh yeah, doesn't have a head. She continued to senselessly rally for her son, Henry, who, while her son, is also the Horseman of Mother-effing War and wants her and everyone trying to stop Moloch dead, so maybe, I don't know, at least get on board with subduing him and then see whether he can be saved? It's just a pointless plot point to me, an inexplicable flaw in Katrina's character that stretches even the strength-of-a-mother's-love concept to places where I cannot suspend my disbelief.

Also, I think one stay in purgatory plus one 250-year-long burial and subsequent resurrection add up to "til death." I grant ya'll a divorce via technicality. Ichabod, go get your leftenant.

Jane and Rafael, Jane the Virgin


The possibility exists that this show will crush all my dreams by making Rafael turn out to be the season's ominous mystery villain, drug kingpin Sin Rostro. But until they do so, I'm on board with our heroine chastely hooking up with her accidental babydaddy.

I can't help but be swayed by the fact that Jane and Rafael shared a kiss five years before the events of the show and never saw each other again — until it turned out it was his sample that she accidentally got knocked up from during what should have been a routine gynecological exam. Who wouldn't ask "What if it's meant to be?" after that?

They've shared such adorable moments. He helped her take down her evil stepsisters. She impressed him with her rapping and dominance of the Target cookie aisle. Her telenovela-star dad warned him to respect her daughter while bragging about how many more women he's slept with than Rafael. Every time they're together, the spark is palpable. Whether Jane's teaching him how to ride the bus or Rafael is telling her they'll figure out how to raise their "peach" despite their ideological differences, they just are so cute and smiley and enthralled with each other. I really want to see them work out despite Jane's ex-fiance, Rafael's manipulative psychopath ex-wife, and whatever telenovela drama gets thrown their way. Even if they didn't have a baby peach on the way, I'd be rooting for them.

Mary and Conde, Reign

I'm realizing that I want Mary with anyone but Francis. Historically, that's an easy order, since he died from an ear infection pretty early on in their marriage. But TV Francis has been such a jerk so often to Mary that, even though I forget sometimes because of glorious romantic moments like their wedding, I just realize their relationship is always too flimsy to exist.

That's why it was so easy to root for her and Bash to get together in the first season, and when she chose his brother instead, I mourned that. Bash seemed to love Mary in a way that Francis never could, putting her before all else.

And now that Francis and Mary are officially king and queen of France, they have more problems than ever. Enter Louis Conde.



Now, this isn't a ship I will go down with, but if there's ever someone I want Mary to have a tender fling with, it's Conde. Upon reading recaps and comments, I'm uneasy because the big cliffhanger of Mary reading the letter Conde thought she wouldn't receive, in which he declared he'd fallen in love with her, occurred right after Mary blamed her brutal rape on Francis keeping a secret from her that led to political unrest and an assassination attempt. Rape as a plot device to further a love triangle is a bad writing precedent to set. I still don't know how to feel about how the writers are handling such a delicate and loaded subject, but I praise Adelaide Kane's performance. That seems to be the consensus among viewers and reviewers — regardless of showrunner reasons for this storyline, the emotional impact our Mary has is something to behold. Her and Catherine had me crying buckets.

But anyway. Mary and Louis. They've had a quiet and easy manner about them. The possibility of a relationship snuck up on me a bit. But Conde has been there for her as her confidant and ally for huge and devastating events, including her miscarriage and her tracking down and burning to death her rapist (wow, Mary has had a ROUGH season). And we knew he was trouble when he revealed he has a penchant for bedding married women.

Possibly what sealed it for me was when Mary asked him — you know, as a favor — to marry her obnoxious sister-in-law Claude as a symbol to unite Protestants and Catholics, and Conde told Mary she could sell a glass of water to the ocean and got all dreamy talking about how he and Claude would live in the castle ... raising their children alongside Mary and Francis' ... it was clear he just wanted to look at her the rest of his life even if he could never touch her. That's molten. That's heartwarming. That's nervy as hell for him to say and her reaction made it obvious she knew his true meaning.

Who are your OTPs for your favorite shows?

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