I had a few thoughts about shipping earlier on Twitter.
I think about shipping a lot these days — though it was rarely a focus of my fandom in the past. I blame the beauty that is fan fiction, frankly. It’s kind of a fascinating business to see what ships take, which fizzle, and which eventually become canon.
I’ve discovered a couple of patterns in my own shipping habits, too. I lean heavily hero/villain — especially if the villain wants to redeem him or herself — and though less often, I find that I sometimes favor May/December pairings, too.
Let me prove my point with a short (and incomplete) list of pairings I favor…
Buffy Summers/Spike (William “the Bloody” Pratt) – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
I despise Angel, and his stupid hair. And I love Spike even more than I hate Angel. The really funny thing is that I identify with Drusilla (I’m batshit crazy, kind of goth, & a little bit psychic), but I’ve always shipped Spike with Buffy. I feel that the canon relationship was handled horribly on the show, though. Thank goodness there is such a plethora of fantastic fan fiction to address these canonical flaws.
Helen Magnus/Nikola Tesla – “Sanctuary”
I don’t know how anyone could resist the fictional vampire version of Tesla, let alone someone trying to resist his charms for over a century. I had a two part essay all about this ship on a previous version of this blog, so I’ll try to sum up. Suffice to say: I was heavily, weirdly invested in this ship. The important thing is that these characters were equals among people who could never quite measure up to their genius. Besides, there was endless sexual tension in their bickering — and they shared several lifetimes worth of common experience.
Jeff Winger/Annie Edison – “Community”
I’ve written a bit about this one before, too. Jeff may be quite a lot older than Annie, but they’re on the same emotional level. Annie had to grow up too fast, and Jeff didn’t start to grow up until he was nearly 40. Their chemistry was irresistible, and their adventures were always my favorite episodes.
Dr. Daniel Jackson/Vala Mal Doran – “Stargate: SG1”
I know everyone generally ships O’Neill/Carter on this one (and I’m cool with that, too – it’s one of my favorite May/December pairings), but I adore Daniel/Vala. Their love/hate friction (more love than hate, obviously) was one of the best things about the last two seasons of the show. And everybody knows that true love is inevitable, at least in alternate timelines.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham – “Hannibal”
Is there anyone ALIVE who doesn’t ship these two? It’s so wrong, but it’s so right. Or should I say…it’s almost criminal, but it’s too delicious to resist?
Sarah Williams/Jareth the Goblin King – “Labyrinth”
A big ol’ “DUH” here. I could write reams about this movie — and have actually written a fan fiction novella about this pairing. You can think I’m a pervert if you want, but I was already a Bowie fan when this movie came out, and considering I was 11 at the time, and my actual name is Sarah, you can understand that this film had developmental implications for me. So let’s face it: This pairing is probably the entire basis of my hero/villain AND May/December issues.
Lisa Reisert/Jackson Rippner – “Red Eye”
This is the pairing about which I have the most intellectual misgivings, and about which I feel most guilty. There is no doubt that this would be an abusive relationship on some level, but I can’t deny a regretful gravitation toward the pairing. There was very little in the movie to support this ship (aside from a peculiar possessiveness in Rippner’s manner, and a threat to “steal” Lisa later), but there was just something in the performances of both lead actors that betrayed the characters’ unlikely fascination with one another. I have read some truly wonderful “Red Eye” fan fiction that explores these uncomfortable themes without flinching — and while managing not to be rape-y or gross, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. The movie itself is an underrated gem, even if you find my Lisa/Jackson shipping reprehensible. You can, you know. It’s fine. I already feel terrible about it.
Elizabeth Keen/Raymond Reddington – “The Blacklist”
Another hero/villain + May/December pairing. What? No. Calm down. He’s not her father. He never was. It’s fine. Okay, maybe it’s still a little creepy. I admit that. And yes, season two kind of sucked, with its misplaced emphasis on trying to redeem Lizzie’s fake husband, a.k.a. “that abusive fuck, Tom Keen.” It pushed me straight into the arms of the Lizzington ship, if you want to know the truth. I was kind of on the fence about it in season one, though the terrible yearning glances between Red and Lizzie were difficult to ignore. I mean, she spent most of the first season staring at his lips! This is a ship built on body language; it didn’t get verbal until later. “The Blacklist” only succeeds when Keen and Reddington work together (whether they currently hate each other or not), so let’s hope season 3 is better in that respect. Let’s also hope they return to writing Lizzie as a complex person with agency and whatnot. (Sigh.)
Emma Swan/Captain Hook (Killian Jones) – “Once Upon a Time”
This ship is just classic hero/villain stuff. In fact, it has a great deal in common with Buffy/Spike — though I hope it fares better on screen than Buffy/Spike did. I’m half a season behind on the show, though — so don’t tell me if they’re going to break my heart!
Walter Longmire/Victoria Moretti – “Longmire”
This is just classic May/December stuff, although the actors’ chemistry is undeniable. This ship has a number of vocal detractors among TV fans, but it’s completely canon in the Longmire novels. I also love the fact that “Longmire” fan fiction is the “musical-based-on-a-movie-based-on-a-stageplay” of fan fiction, as it is fan fiction based on a TV show which is based on a series of detective novels. That gives me such a tickle.
Anyway, you get the point. I have patterns. Probably most shippers do. Weirdly, most of my slash ships don’t follow my patterns, though — like Kirk/Spock (the original Space Gay!) or Dean/Castiel (total hotness!). I have also been known to embrace more conventional, mainstream pairings — like Crichton/Aeryn (fate! also completely canon!) or Carter/O’Neill (see above!).
My earlier tweets were brought on by “NCIS” Abby/Gibbs shipping, though. I thought it was one of the silliest, most preposterous pairings ever…until I really binged on the show. It recently popped up on Netflix, and I watched 3 seasons over 2 weeks. And my goodness! I may not be 100% on the Gabby train, but I can totally see why other people are — and what canon evidence they use to back up their assertions. Gibbs is openly, physically affectionate to Abby (and fiercely protective of her), and Abby seemingly adores him. Now, you could read that in a paternal/platonic way (lots of fans choose to do just that)…but they really do flirt — aggressively at times. Sure, it’s a ship that’s not likely to ever be canon, but the show still gives Gabby shippers plenty of ammunition. What I really meant by my tweet storm is that fans rarely create a ship out of whole cloth — there’s usually a concrete reason people start shipping characters, whether show runners intend it or not.
Now, all that being said, there is one ship I will never support, no matter how directly it is addressed in canon. I will never, ever ship Scully/Mulder…because I will always ship Scully/me!