They say you never forget your first ship.
I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but I’d like to give them a piece of my mind. I didn’t realize there were things I shipped until I was about 12, and discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (And its fandom.) About a year after that, I watched Reality Bites for the first time on TV, and Lelaina/Troy became the first ship I shipped so hard it hurt. But, I’m in luck because my favorite ships now, even the ones that never really existed, aren’t quite as depressing (or bad for inadvertently emulating in real life). I’d love to hear in the comments about the ships you shipped (or still do), even when they sank faster than a rowboat made of Swiss cheese.
Once Upon a Time
It’s not about Rumple’s self-loathing. (OK, it might be a little about that. I also root for The Hulk.) It’s not even because I have this inexplicable…thing about Robert Carlyle. (Don’t ask me to explain it: I can’t.) It’s not because I’ve always loved the story of La Belle et la bête, even though I knew it was sexist from every Women’s Studies class I ever took. And, frankly, even despite Emilie de Ravin’s turn as everyone’s favorite abused pawn on LOST, I still couldn’t quite separate her from her role as Tess on the WB drama Roswell. But there’s something about how Belle’s resiliency in the face of everyone who tells her ‘no’ – her father, Regina, that dude on the road who threw her book in the dirt – that makes her inherently appealing. She brings out the best in Rumple and believes he is capable of making amends, which is so much more important than believing he’s simply misunderstood. And, in turn, Rumple pushes her to be braver and stronger than she thinks she can be. He knows she’s capable of greatness because he sees her ability to love him as evidence of a depth of potential.
I might have mentioned I have a thing for Robert Carlyle? Right. Part of it came from this (relatively) short-lived BBC series, set in the far northern reaches of Scotland. Carlyle is police officer Hamish Macbeth, while Shirley Henderson is village reporter (and his long-suffering love interest) Isobel Sutherland. Their romance stretches all three seasons, but it’s the way the two banter and side-eye each other that makes their inability to get out of their own way worth the wait.
In Plain Sight
Full Disclosure: I haven’t seen all of season three, any of seasons four or five, but my goal this spring is to catch up and finish. However, I think I was sold on this ship in the penultimate episode of season one, “Stan By Me,” in which Mary is abducted, and Marshall only barely hangs on to his composure. It’s a credit to the acting of both Mary McCormack and Fred Weller in this episode, as in one scene their partnership is given a depth that even previous close shaves didn’t draw forth. It’s the strength of their professional partnership, paired with their fondness for each other – even when they’re driving the other batty – that makes them so worth the investment I made as a fan years ago.
The West Wing
Does it take the better part of five seasons for anything real to happen? Yes. Does it take another two seasons for them to finally get together? Yes. Is it worth slogging through the political intrigue? YES. Trust me on this one.
Wendy Watson/The Middleman
I swear, it’s not a height thing or an age thing or a mentor/mentee thing. And I understand that The Middleman and Lacey’s forbidden love is true and epic, while Wendy and Tyler were the perfect proto-hipster romance. But where Lacey and MM were the ‘bells are ringing, birds are singing’ type of love, he could never tell her the truth, for a variety of reasons. Likewise, if The Middleman had made it to a second season, Tyler’s involvement with Fat Boy was always going to present a hurdle for Wendy as she would never quite be able to trust him. Consequently, it’s entirely practical for Wendy and MM to eventually turn to each other for companionship – but practical isn’t always enough for a relationship. More important than sharing a Mission (and a non-disclosure agreement), Wendy and MM had similar values, priorities, even sense of humor – and they had trust. They were friends first, and their romance? It would have been genuine and epic. (OK. Maybe it’s a little bit of a height thing.)
Anya Jenkins/Rupert Giles
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I can’t explain the appeal of this one. Of course, it was formally introduced in season six’s “Tabula Rasa,” but I think it was their team up in season four’s “Fear Itself” that first made me tilt my head and go ‘huh.’ Or maybe even a season earlier, when Giles was the first man in a long time to stand up to Anya in “The Wish.” Granted, had they ever wound up together, one or the either would have been devastated by events of later seasons, but the good times might have made up for it.
While Rumple/Belle brought Becca and I together, it was Jeff/Annie that first introduced me to Kerry. I agree with her thoughts on this ship, but I also find I like how these two do more than bring out the best in each other: They force the other to be more inventive, to find new ways of getting things done. Or put another way, she’s just as selfish as he is, and she’s getting better at it.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This was the first ship where I knew enough to call it a ship, so it holds a special place in my heart. There’s been an awful lot of ink spilt, real and virtual, about this ship by people much smarter than me. (It’s totally normal to read academic criticism about favorite TV shows, right?) But when you have a heroine who always has and always will put the good of the universe above her own wishes (Why, yes, I am ignoring the climatic arc of the season 7 comics. Thanks for noticing!), there’s something appealing about the thankless partnership between someone driven by duty and someone driven by devotion to that person.
Anne Shirley/Gilbert Blythe
Anne of Green Gables/ AoGG: The Continuing Story
If the above pairing was the first ship I called by name, then Anne and Gilbert was the first ship I ever shipped, before I even knew what shipping was. So much of this pairing comes from the chemistry Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie shared, even as young teens, which managed to whet the appetites of a 80s audiences who wouldn’t be content with poetry recitations and tame waltzes. Still, even though I’ve read the books and seen these series countless, I still find myself hoping they’ll get together sooner than they do because they so deserve to be happy together.
Hope y’all had a non-depressing Valentine’s Day. Now, if y’all will excuse me, I’ll be hiding from Kerry for using one of her fanvids.