Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Case for a Kurt and Finn Hook-up

In this post I am going to talk about Glee, and why I think a Kurt/Finn romance would be the best “New Direction” to take the show in next season. I’m just full of crackpot ships these days! It’s only going to be a short little post so I hope everyone will take the time to read and consider my points. :)


There are a number of stock storylines that pretty much all TV shows use at some point or another to “shock” the audience or blow life into a boring plot. Death, pregnancy, hookups, breakups and the gay revelation are some of the most common ones; they’re so common, in fact, that they’re more expected elements in a narrative than they are surprising.

Under the gay storyline category, there are two main subcategories: the character-turns-from-straight-to-gay-and-never-looks-back route ala Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the more soapy gay-affair route where a straight character has a same-sex encounter (usually done to boost ratings) before returning to their original love interest, as demonstrated by Marissa in The OC and most recently Adrianna in 90210. The common theme here is that usually, the characters that turn gay are women. Male gay characters in TV shows are almost always gay when they are introduced, usually secure in their sexuality, and their love interests are always characters brought in solely for this purpose. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have never seen a male, straight character in a TV show suddenly experience an unexpected attraction to another man, pursue this attraction, and then go back to dating girls. Bisexuality is for whatever reason much more accepted with girls on TV, just as it’s more accepted for girls to wear trousers than men to wear skirts in real life – there’s probably a reason why this is the case; maybe the writers don’t want to risk demasculinizing the male characters or alienate the male viewers who identify with them. Women who sleep with women are empowered; men who sleep with men are less masculine than men who sleep with women – it’s a cruel, outdated stereotype, but it still seems to affect TV narratives. It’s one of those irksome things like black characters dating other black characters by default, with very few shows managing unobtrusive race-blindedness as it should be.

(Note: Torchwood is of course the obvious exception to this rule; I also don't take it into account because I think in general, Britain is far less excited by representations of sexuality, it's just not a big deal over here whereas in America it seems like every single diversion from "conventional" sexuality in the media is considered a political statement.)

So here’s my proposal for the envelope-pushing, boundary-crossing Glee: let’s change the stereotypes, let’s break out of the TV norms, and allow the male lead to feel attraction to another guy – and show that this is okay. And after this, let’s have Finn return to Rachel (I do ship them), and still be as much of a man as he’s ever been. Let him be curious about Kurt, and let him act on this curiosity, and then decide to be with Rachel not because she’s a girl but because he likes her more. Let it be like him choosing between Rachel and Quinn, but a bit more political. If any show can do it, it’s Glee!

So why not? It would be the perfect plot line to reinvent the show for season 2, a perfect way to extend the Rachel/Finn will-they-won't-they suspense and to spice up the romance. It would be surprising and unexpected, and it would just be way more interesting than Finn hooking up with a random girl or Kurt with a random guy (as I'm sure he will sooner or later). I don't see any reason that Glee could not do this ship, and I might judge them a little for not pursuing it just because they've got a chance to really take a step forward and take a stand in the gay rights campaign, and because it's Glee, it would be cool. It would also give Finn some much-needed depth, and probably audience sympathy.

Plus, although the show would never ever get the rights to it, couldn't you just see the duet now: "Something There" from Beauty and the Beast. It would be EPIC.

What would you say to a Finn/Kurt hook-up? Yay or nay?

EDIT: Holy crap, I wrote the above before seeing the last episode - how much are they hammering home the Finn/Kurt ship?! The duet? Damn, they're so close to heading in the right direction! :) Major angst... awesome.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shady Lady: The Perils of Shipping in FlashForward

FlashForward is pretty good. It’s not the post-Lost beacon of light that ABC was hoping would lead them forward, but it’s definitely getting better. It’s like the Artemis Fowl to Harry Potter – pretty good, but always marred by its inferiority.

But a word of caution to all who dare to ship in these unsteady waters.

WARNING: Spoilers for the latest episode.


To be fair, I think we shippers are quick to raise our expectations to TV shows, quick to forget the burns we’ve suffered in the past in the hope that this time, we’ll find that ultimate, perfect OTP who actually get their happy ending. When has that ever happened in a sci-fi drama? X-Files, sure, but how anticlimactic was that? Buffy, don’t even go there. In all honesty shipping is something the fans are pressing on the producers, who see romance as merely another plot device. But still we ship, in vain hope, and it mostly just brings us pain. No reason to think it’s gonna be different this time, yet I can’t help it. I have obsessive-compulsive shipping disorder.

In FlashForward, I have three ships. They are all more or less doomed. They are also random, and unconventional, but in the name of full disclosure journalism I’m going to tell you what they are and let you judge me for it:

1. Bryce and Nicole

Probably the least unconventional and most likely, these two seem headed in the right direction after their unexpected kiss in ‘Queen Sacrifice, and I like the story that’s being told through these two: does Bryce follow the potential happiness that his flash showed him, or does he take the unbeaten path, choose the unknown future in order to be with the amazing girl he’s found and who seems perfect for him? And will Nicole be able to accept his love, knowing that he’s always going to be keeping one eye open for Keiko? I believe in the love that’s in front of you, and I think the audience in general is more invested in Bryce/Nicole because we’ve actually been given their buildup, so here’s hoping they actually stand a chance. But I’m thinking not, because that would be too easy: Nicole is still facing her drowning, and Bryce IS, I believe, going to meet Keiko in that restaurant. The twist I’m hoping for is of course that Nicole and Bryce went to the restaurant together and Bryce will come to Nicole’s rescue at the last minute… but it just seems too easy, and Keiko seems like she’s going to be more important as the episodes go on.

2. Lloyd and Olivia

Haha, seriously, I know I should ship Mark/Olivia, I just can’t. They have no chemistry, and Mark annoys me to no end… so hellooo Lloyd. Unlike most people I actually think that Lloyd is attractive, and Olivia and him are far more interesting! Mark and Olivia are in a marriage that’s falling apart, and Lloyd and Olivia are in the stages of bonding and crossing The Line, and that’s just a way more interesting story to me. But the fact that they got together this past episode kind of suggests to me that they’re not going to be endgame; Mark is the hero after all and I think they’ll work it out, if for nothing else then because of Charlie (random sidenote, Sonya Walger also has a child called Charlie in Lost. Coincidence?! Well, probably). I think Lloyd comparing himself to Lancelot last episode was hilarious, but very fitting: Mark is the one Olivia should be with, but Lloyd is the forbidden, the temptation, and the one she wants. Is it founded on anything but the knowledge that they will be together in the future? Maybe not, but then remember a few episodes ago when they talked about almost having met in college. There’s something fated about the two of them, and I can’t help ship them, as wrong as that is. I’m in the minority here, but I don’t care.

3. Demetri and Janis

TOLD YOU you would judge me! This ship isn’t even a ship. These two people are not even a possibility because a) Janis is gay, b) Demetri is getting married, c) Janis is evil apparently and d) Demetri is so gonna die. But I shipped them since the Pilot! Demetri is my favourite character, Zoe annoys me, and I liked the idea of Janis finding out she was going to be pregnant, and the big question was who the father would be. And I’m glad they didn’t abandon that question because it’s far more interesting to have it be someone we know rather than a sperm bank. Because they actually got together to make Willa, and that was just so shocking and unexpected and warming to my fragile shipper heart! Somehow, I knew that Demetri would end up being the father, and this is what drew me to the pairing... But of course, now we found out that Janis is the mole - which, can I just say, is so inconsistent for her character and a bad move on the writers’ part because we want people on the show we can trust and who we like, and Janis was becoming such a person. She’s pregnant, with Demetri’s child, and I have to believe that this will make her come back to the good side… but I don’t know. They’re having a child together and I’m excited about it, but the fact that Janis would betray her friends like that? Kind of puts a damper on the whole thing.

So. Am I doomed to disappointment with this show or what? I guess the funny thing is that what all these three couples have in common is that I actually didn’t in a million years think that they stood even the tiniest chance of validation. I’ve actually got more than I hoped for so far… I guess I should be thankful! But the truth is that FlashForward just isn't a show you watch for the romance. You watch for the surprises, like the reveal that Janis was the mole, and you're better off forgetting about OTPs and ultimate romantic happiness. One day maybe I'll learn my lesson.