lordyellowtail: (Captain Picard Squee)
Continuing with the theme from SVS 006 of ordinary people's relationships being a wonderful treat in an otherwise unordinary setting, let us travel back to the halcyon days of 1990s family television programming that we both love forever and are now almost uniformly too embarrassed by to admit we like in public.

ABC's TGIF Friday night family sitcom lineup spent over a decade codifying the family-friendly, (usually healthy) aesop-heavy, generally-harmless, sometimes groan-inducing style of programming that defined 1990s domestic comedy.

There were a lot of them, and with a few exceptions that explicitly embraced the supernatural (hello, Sabrina and Teen Angel), they all purported to be aggressively rooted in the real world. (Admittedly, Family Matters got overtaken by Steve Urkel's descent into zany super-science, but if you cut that out the show was really about the relationships between Steve and various members of the Winslow family.)

The problem emerged within the first few episodes of all these shows, though--if not the pilot episode itself. Watching aggressively normal people do aggressively normal stuff is aggressively boring. And these shows needed to be funny and entertaining enough to keep people coming back for enough years to wrack up sufficient episodes for lucrative first-run syndication deals. So invariably you took your aggressively normal people, wrapped them in Plot Armor and Made of Iron tropes usually reserved for shonen and shojo anime protagonists, and subjected them to the sort of bizarre, reality-is-unrealistic comedies of errors and random, I-can't-believe-that-didn't-kill-you coincidences and accidents that might happen to one of us in the real world maybe once in our entire lives.

And you did that weekly, and we loved to watch it.

Looking at the situation from a meta perspective years later, one can only conclude the people in all these shows were subject to living on an earth that, while appearing to be Pleasantville, was actually the playground of some mad god who was treating them like his own personal game of The Sims and trying to see how far he could push them before they broke. That some of them (like Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World) descended into a functional sort of actual insanity indicates that they figured out what was going on and went a bit mad from the revelation.

Then there was the actually horrifying stuff, like one of Frank Lambert's sons actually disappearing from Step by Step and no-one mentioning him or acknowledging he existed ever again, or the habit of babies to age up to approximately age six in less than a single calendar year. Likely because the mad Sims-playing god adjusted the age slider because infants make somewhat useless toys.

But I seriously digress.

The point being, for all their supposed normality, these shows were deeply and fundamentally bizarre. Re-watching them post-puberty, with an awareness of how romance is supposed to work, leads me to think that, just like in Xena, there is value in celebrating the normality of healthy, loving relationships in these sorts of universes. It's telling that on a lot of the TGIF shows, the most interesting romantic relationships belonged to the stable, happily married parent-couples that stood a few degrees removed from the zany hellscape that so infected their children's romantic entanglements. While JT Lambert idiotically tried to use his baby sister to pretend to be a single father to pick up chicks in a mall (a number of boys tried this on various shows), Frank and Carol Lambert sat at home and held hands and hugged while looking at their finances and realizing they can actually barely afford their newest kid, Lily. Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence take a break from their neurotic college romance, and Eric Matthews shook off his crazy, when they are pulled back into the orbit of Cory and Eric's parents Alan and Amy, whose new baby is premature and ill and may not make it out of the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital.

So, watching the kids' romantic arcs, the most interesting thing to me is seeing them grow and mature and gradually move out of the zaniness and towards the normality and stability of their parents' relationships. Some of them are better at this than others, and some never quite get there. even by the time of their series finale, and viewers are left holding the bag and cringing and thinking, "well, they're better off than when they started."

And some of them don't just get there but cross the finish line on a jetpack, and when these are the ones you wrote off as gag couples, that's even sweeter.

Dana Foster and Rich Halke are probably at the top of the stack in terms of TGIF teen-couples. It starts off fairly cliched: Dana is a highly motivated, intelligent, career- and goal-driven nerd (though she would never be called that because she was also beautiful and it would be another 15 to 20 years before TV really started to admit that beautiful nerds were a thing that existed) who was socially conscious and politically active and had no patience for those she viewed as beneath her (this was in fact her biggest character flaw at the start: it made her hard to watch because she came off as genuinely hurtful more than once). Watching her grow out of that last thing while still maintaining everything that made her great was a real joy. (Now that I think about it, Dana's character arc is not that dissimilar from Daria Morgendorffer's.)

Rich started out as one of JT's friends, which meant he was very much like JT: a shallow, girl-crazy, insensitive jock who came across as a complete idiot, but good-hearted and loyal and even brave when it actually counted. Though while JT got no justification for his constant academic failure and lack of common sense until the show runners tried a saving throw and diagnosed him with dyslexia (which was sadly played for laughs and never really explored beyond a few lines of dialogue), Rich was quite clearly shown to be lazy. His idea of tutoring is to hire someone to write a paper for him while he played basketball, and he was even self-aware enough to request that the papers not be too good so as not to draw attention.

And he's apparently been getting away with this for so long that he doesn't think a thing about it when he accidentally hires Dana to be his tutor, and tries to order a paper from her. Needless to say, that lasts about 30 seconds (which is 25 seconds longer than I thought it would) before she makes him do the work himself (or tries to), and one thing leads to another and in one moment of what she quite accurately and hilariously calls "demented passion," they're making out in the kitchen.

And on most shows that would be the end of it. Maybe you'd get one disastrous joke date (with a 50 percent chance of ending in a food-fight), but that would be the end of the gag and neither character would really change, but instead go on comfortable and secure in the knowledge that they are correct and "demented passion" or not, the other character is wrong and lame and Status Quo is God and no one is allowed to grow up.

That didn't happen, this time. Dana tried; she had terrible luck with dating up till that point because most guys were intimidated by/jealous of her intelligence and independence and so she was primed to assume the worst about everyone interested in her--which is disturbingly realistic for young women in Dana's position. But Rich wasn't willing to let it go and we got to see a new side of him: he was still an academic slacker and not the sharpest tool in the shed, but when he decided to be honest with her it turned out there was a whole actual person underneath all the 1990s dudebro cliches he was wrapped in, and he managed to get her to keep going out with him in a respectful, yet hilarious way. She was never a nerd he was taking pity on or something he won or brought down to his level. She was Dana and he was thrilled and honored that she wanted to share herself with him; it's implied that one of the reasons he was initially dismissive and combative of her was that he was convinced she was the sort of person who was completely beyond him, so he got defensive from the beginning. And Dana grew at the same time: Rich was the kind of person she started the series thinking was much beneath her boot soles, and a good part of her early courtship is admitting to herself that she has been overly-judgmental and that there is actually someone underneath the moron jock facade that she is deeply attracted to.

It's a horrible thing in real life and writing when a person tries to remake themselves and sacrifice their core values to appease a romantic partner, and most sitcom gag couples end when they try to do this, with the obvious aesop. The Step by Step writers acknowledge and deliberately avert this. Both Rich and Dana have characteristics and habits the one one doesn't care for, but the solution is not to excise those bits out, but to engage in realistic self-improvement that's not about changing your identity, but about how you engage with the people you care about. Dana, in essence, has to learn that real people are complicated, and in a relationship you have to take all of them. You can't just cherry-pick the parts you like. Rich has to learn how to stop using his slacker persona as a shield from forming the sort of deep and genuine bonds real romantic relationships require (because that shield is keeping Dana out), without sacrificing the fun-loving, joyful part of his personality. In other words, he has to learn balance if he wants this relationship to work.

And they both acknowledge these things, and work on them together, and in the middle of the laugh tracks and everything-but-Godzilla-showing-up insanity, they succeed. In fact, aside from Frank and Carol, by series' end they have the most developed, stable, healthy and realistic relationship of all the "child" characters, and have personally undergone some of the most comprehensive growth arcs.

This was most striking as a viewer upon seeing the thing that almost broke them up. It wasn't some zany mistaken-for-cheating plot (though they went through one of those, but it was resolved in 5 minutes), or a harrowing set of circumstances like one of their parents moving several states away and physically separating them, or any of the normal Pleasantville-Hellscape cliches generally reserved for a show's "kid couples." They were college age at that point, or nearly so, and Dana became so overwhelmed by the idea of planning for the future in the midst of their presently dim financial prospects and career uncertainties and other such things that, well, are quite familiar concerns to almost every real world adult couple everywhere.

And Rich, instead of freaking out and doing something that blows it like he would've before they first started dating and he was consumed with flippant laziness and shallow inability to commit, fully understands where she's coming from and why she's afraid (because he's not exactly not worrying about this stuff either). But he'll never be a genius like Dana and knows he doesn't have the words in him to get his message through to her.

So he thinks hard about it, takes out his heart and tacks it on his sleeve, and risks humiliating himself in a way he never would have dared upon his introduction. He invokes TGIF's most adorkable, heartwarming music number ever (according to me, tenured Professor of Dorkdom at I Can't Believe You're Writing So Many Words About This University), and proceeds to get her back with a hand held karaoke machine and the power of Sonny and Cher, who had the right words decades ago. In public, with dozens if not hundreds of witnesses.

And it works, because what he's really saying is "yes, there are uncertainties, and yes, they are frightening, but it doesn't matter because I would be facing them with you, and you would be facing them with me, and we'd figure it out and make it work because that's what love gives you the strength to do."

It's presented with the usual goofy, nearly-impossible-to-believe-that-worked circumstances common to most TGIF kids' romantic scenes, but when you stop and think about it you realize it only works and they only stay together because of how much both of them have grown and are able to think and function in a relationship like young adults, not kids. Rich and Dana look and function most like Frank and Carol in this moment.

I think one of the things I like best about it is all the initially annoyed/confused adult couples in the room getting into it and starting to dance as he sings. It's tacit approval.

And it's still cheesy and goofy and still kind of beautiful just for that.

The actual song is about 2 minutes long. Stick around for the after credits scene where they cosplay as Sonny and Cher. It's hilarious and adorable, but doesn't have the magic of the in-character performance.




lordyellowtail: (X and Alia (By Your Side))
Warning: There are seriously huge spoilers for the finale of Xena: Warrior Princess in this post.

I realize I usually use this space for a mini shipping manifesto and fan music video, but I'm going to do something a bit different for this one. I'd like to get a bit meta about how I got back into this ship, as it's been consuming my fannish thoughts a lot this week.

So, reading about the upcoming Xena reboot made me realize (with a great wave of fannish guilt, I assure you) just how much I love and adore and miss this series. I've taken a deep dive back into the fandom over the last 10 days or so and fallen in love all over again. (Oddly enough, at the same time I've also been getting back into ER fandom, which is a very strange combination that has led to a number of odd crossover ideas.)

That said, due to medical issues (and the complications of trying to graduate high school while going through extensive, years-long physical rehab), I fell out of the fandom after the first few seasons.

I only found out about the gut-punchingly cruel way Xena died (and the way the show made sure to use it as a means to torture Gabrielle) a few days ago, and I've been pretty upset about it most of this week. It's just so egregiously traumatizing for the characters and the fanbase and, in light of mainstream TV's history of killing off LGBT characters (and the recent fandom outcry and protest that happened when they did it to Lexa on The 100, which has been loud and coordinated enough to make mainstream news), pretty damn offensive.

So how did I find out that she died (and the means of her death)? Looking for shipping videos for this post. I feel like their relationship is best served by 1990s and early 2000s power love ballads, and the top hits on YouTube for those Xena/Gabrielle videos are set around the series finale. DEATH EVERYWHERE.

So, yeah. There's gonna be a delay while I find something I like that's not set at the series finale and doesn't depress the hell out of me.

In the meantime, I will say this about why I ship them. I didn't at first, mostly because I hadn't really hit puberty when the series started and I started watching it (because I loved Kevin Sorbo's Hercules), so I didn't really have the awareness or emotional intelligence to detect the subtext. But I was old enough within just a couple of years, and it was immediately obvious why the LGBT community loved Xena, because they were absolutely perfect for each other, and it wasn't a matter of will they/won't they. They did, almost from the first day.

And once I was old enough, I couldn't believe people could watch the show and not see they were a couple in all the emotional ways that actually matter.

The showrunners now say they were constrained by the executives, but even with those constraints, the subtext between Xena and Gabrielle was basically text. They weren't allowed to come right out and state in universe that they were a gay couple, but they pushed that boundary to the breaking point, and more importantly, they didn't really need to make it explicit. I'd even go so far as to argue the writers had to explore the depth of their emotional connection even more thoroughly and artfully because they couldn't fall back on the stock physical cliches of heteronormative storytelling, and the relationship was better written for it.

Love is love. Sexual orientation doesn't matter; when you love someone you love them, and if you know how to recognize love in other people, it's impossible to miss. The writers on XWP realized they couldn't regularly give us explicit dates, regular physical intimacy, etc.--all the hallmarks of a standard TV dating plot. They couldn't even imply it or have the characters talk about it as though it happened off screen.

So they tore out all the window dressing and garnish, and gave us two people who were partners and best friends and loved and lived first and foremost for each other. They were each other's world, floating through a universe of other people who came and went but were never more important than each other. They fought gods and demons and armies of men, and did extraordinary feats reserved for demigods and warriors of legend, but their relationship with each other was the most down to earth and human thing about them. The legendary Warrior Princess and her Bard-Who-Would-Be-Amazon-Queen were identities they grew to wear like masks, like Clark Kent in the Superman suit.

When they stopped to eat or trade for supplies or mend their clothes or talk and bicker about anything not having to do with their wandering adventures, or at night curled up together by the fire, they were really no different from Rob and Laura Petrie or Jill and Tim Taylor or Andy and Connie on NYPD Blue and so many others. They led extraordinary lives, but when all that fell away they were just two ordinary people.

Without ever saying the words we associate with courtship, we saw them meet and date and utterly devote themselves to each other for eternity over the course of the series, and it was beautiful until the end.

And I think that's what makes them so wonderful and adorable and enduring for fans. They fought gods and monsters and despots, but when they were alone, they were a happy, content, utterly devoted married couple who shared the same emotions, thoughts, and relationship struggles we all do here in the post-magical real world. Their relationship was pure and wonderful and stuck out like a beacon thanks to its normality and reliability in an otherwise high-fantasy, sometimes narm-tastic setting.

There are some characters that you think could never survive outside their own canon because they're so specialized and adapted to their own world they can't really exist anywhere else. (e.g.: What would Josh Lyman and Donna Moss, two 20th century US political operatives, do with themselves if you dropped them into Star Trek's universe and a post-scarcity, near-utopian political system unlike anything they know? They are defined not just by themselves or their relationship, but what they do.)

Just as in the ideal marriage, Xena and Gabrielle have their own likes and dislikes and hopes and dreams, but as for defining who they are? They can't do that without first inextricably tying themselves to each other. They share their strengths and weaknesses and are each stronger for it. Each of them admits several times in the series they are only what they are because the other one is in their life, for better or worse. They would have no trouble anywhere or anywhen because what they are--before anything else--is each other's, always and forever. Their relationship is immutable and independent of the setting, which is what real true love is suppose to be.

That wouldn't change even if they were the weirdly affectionate "roommates" who moved into the house next door to Rob and Laura Petrie in the 1950s and lived completely peaceful lives and only showed up as drop-in characters on The Dick Van Dyke Show when Rob and Laura needed a babysitter. It wouldn't change if Xena spent her days fixing hot rods with Tim Taylor while Gabrielle wrote best-selling novels and griped affectionately with Jill about their partners' lack of appreciation for things like opera and high art while Xena and Tim tried to make sense of Wilson's life advice. It wouldn't change if they were an experienced and rookie detective pair just partnered together by Lt. Fancy, ready to patrol the mean streets of New York City.

They don't need extraordinary lives to justify or energize their relationship, because what makes their lives extraordinary is each other.

So, I kind of went off on a mini-ship manifesto anyway, I guess. As to the video that I decided to use for this, there's a compilation of canon clips from an episode that chronicles what they do when they're not being legends. That they operate as demigod heroes in a high-fantasy setting and the most important part of their personalities and relationship with each other is utterly rooted in something so completely normal and pure as mundane human companionship fills me with squee. It's the only thing about their lives that isn't rooted in the supernatural and myth and legend and the eternal battle between good and evil.

And most of the time that normality translated into them being utterly adorable goofballs that we all identified with and loved to watch.

In conclusion, the series finale never happened. Because I'm not ever going to accept that something this adorable and lovely and pure could end like that.

lordyellowtail: (Captain Picard Squee)
Okay. I think it's safe to say watching the modern, pre-Mysteries Inc Scooby Doo movies while writing tons of X-Men Evolution fanfic (which means having several tabs open to the appropriate wiki and trying to fight Chrome's desire to crash all the time while browsing Wikia) does strange things to my brain.

I found myself staring at Thorn (Sally McKnight), because the idea that she looks exactly like Evo!Wanda Maximoff would not leave me alone. Along the way, Dusk (the middle one with the X-shaped necklace (because the writers and designers are deliberately encouraging my insanity, obviously)) began to look a lot like Kitty Pryde in a blonde wig with pigtails. Trying to match a character to Luna (the redhead on the left) was much harder, but eventually I decided she looked enough like X-23 in a red wig and having gone to smiling school that my madness was satisfied, for a time.

Not so long that I haven't managed to invent a plot arc for my When Distracted by Kittens and Rubies fanfic series. Because I've totally done that. It wasn't even that hard: obviously, Wanda, Kitty, and X-23 (who is in fact an expert in stealth and infiltration and disguises and all those other related things you want to teach your underage brainwashed Hydra murder-person) need to go undercover as a band for ... for ... MUTANT SUPERHERO CRIMEFIGHTING reasons THAT I WILL FIGURE OUT THE DETAILS OF LATER. Much hilarity and surprise musical talent and even more surprising international stardom ensue.

Does it count as a midlife crisis if you wait till your early 30s to come up with your first I'm-totally-serious-about-this band AU?

This would be more of a fusion since I'd be abandoning the Hex Girls' canon personalities and backgrounds in lieu of the X-Men's. Logan and Ororo would tag along as (disturbingly effective and into it) manager and music instructor, and also because I love putting them in awkward and bizarre situations together when I ship them. But I'm totally including this in the Kittens and Rubies timeline, with the initial undercover op happening some significant time before they become actual rock stars and meet Mysteries, Inc.

Also, I decided Scooby is either a mutant dog or a HYDRA experiment, hence the talking and human-level intelligence. Either way, my brain is led in surprisingly angsty directions.

Seriously, send help.

PS.: I made this image macro comparing the Hex Girls to Wanda, Kitty, and X-23 because the voices in my head my plot bunny demanded it.

I made this image macro comparing the Hex Girls to Wanda, Kitty, and X-23 because my plot bunny demanded it. )
lordyellowtail: (Juicy Tropical Goodness)
None of you sent help. It's too late for me. And also for you. Plot arcs are totally a thing now.
 
This one fought with me for about ... nine days, I guess? Nonetheless, here's fic number 3 in this series.
 
Well, chronologically, it's number 2 as of this moment. Please check the AO3 series page for the current AU timeline order. I'm jumping around a bit, so this is going to be a thing.
 
I like my AUs to have a political infrastructure. In any version of the Marvel Universe, especially where mutants are featured, I feel like it's especially important. Even if I think some of the policy positions and moralizing could be hamfisted and even elitist, The West Wing is still the best version of an (idealized) functional White House filled with genuine real people we've been given in television. So I'm incorporating that universe, using the post-series Santos Administration.
 
This story is designed to give one possible answer to the question of who Rogue's real parents are, and how Mystique and Destiny got a hold of her. It also sets up a situation where the political dynamics of the existence of mutants have the potential to be much different than in Evolution canon.
 
Enjoy. As usual, thanks to [personal profile] sharpest_asp for giving me the pebble-sized bit of encouragement that got the, ahem, avalanche rolling. After this, it's back to more Rogue and Kurt centered stories for a bit.
 
An AU wherein Kurt gives up his crush on Kitty much sooner, and is drawn to Rogue instead. She appreciates that he's not completely oblivious to her own feelings, and the two recluses stumble around each other with all the shared flustered, fumbling lack of social experience they can muster.

Somehow they meet in the middle, and by the time they find out they were supposed to be related, it’s far too late…for Mystique’s plans, at least.
 
Title: Hallowed Eve, Nightmare Night (3568 words)
Fandoms: X-Men: Evolution (Season 1 AU Divergence); Iron Man (Movies); The West Wing (Post Season 7, Pre-Series and Season 6 AU)
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Raven Darkholme (Mystique)/Irene Adler (Destiny); Josh Lyman/Donna Moss
Characters: Donna Moss, Helen Santos, Irene Adler (Destiny); Raven Darkholme (Mystique); Rogue
Additional Tags: Rogue's Real Parents; Teen Pregnancy; Crack; Crack Treated Seriously; Crack Crossover; Adult Fear; Villains are the Heroes of Their Own Stories; Draco Wears No Leather Pants Here
 
Summary:

Everyone knows Chief of Staff to the First Lady of the United States, Donna Moss, hates Halloween.
Or at least, Donna lets them think so. It’s better than everyone knowing the truth.
Still, Donna wishes the First Lady weren't so oblivious.
Set in the third year of Matt Santos' first term as President. Knowledge of *The West Wing* not required, but will fill in some unnecessary background information.
 
Mini Meta on Chosing a Political Infrastructure for this AU and Choosing Rogue's Mother )
lordyellowtail: (Let's Talk Crack Pairings (Snape/Roker O)
Let me first preface all this by saying that this isn’t a longwinded way for me to justify wanting to see Liv with Peyton or any other female character (though I have read some of those fics/shipping manifestos, and they are excellent). At the moment my iZombie Shipping Goggles are treating me to an overdeveloped internal plotbunny revolving around a massively AU version of Season 1 of both iZombie and The Flash where Barry/Liv is a huge, happening thing. If I write iZombie shipping fic, it will be them. Because they both need so many hugs and ohmygod I need chocolate when I watch these shows because my heart. And Ravi and Caitlin working on the zombie cure together while Cisco tries to invent "zombie gear" and Joe and Clive try to pretend everything is normal would be just great.)

The usual disclaimer: all the spoilers, all the time.
So, bisexual Liv (twitter tag: #BiLiv, which makes no sense whatsoever if you see it without the capitalization and aren't deeply submerged in this fandom) is a thing among an apparently considerable minority of iZombie fans. It has been since pretty much the first episode, when her roommate Peyton declares Liv is her "freakin' heart," in a way not nearly as platonic as it was probably meant to be. Episode 1.02 has her eating the brains of a monogamy-challenged artiste and being attracted to and aggressively flirting with both Perpetual Purported True Love and Angst Object (need an acronym for this) Major Lilywhite and the dead artiste's rather quite attractive female lover. And a random Dudebro. And some other people. This was a busy brain.
 
The show's writers and actors seem to be aware of the whole #BiLiv thing: this hilarious Vine-style send-up of one of the most famous scenes from Thelma and Louise (tweeted by Peyton's actress) was part of the Season 2 viral marketing push.
 
 ... .... ...
 
Sorry. I watched it again and laughed until my sides hurt. Again. I'm back now.
  
(Note to The Flash writers: first, The Flash and iZombie are my two favorite series on air now, or in, like, the last 6 years; I love you guys. Second, this little clip is an example of how you playfully acknowledge and have fun with the fans who are sailing a crackship/not-likely-to-ever-be-canon ship in your fandom. The crackshippers and pirate shippers know they’re not getting canon, so it’s not too much fun to have it dangled in front of you in a semi-serious way and then taken away. iZombie is very, "yes, we know you're here, and this is never going to be canon probably, but we love you, you crazy lunatics. Fandom on." Compare with The Flash's bait-and-switch approach to Snowbarry (Barry Allen/Caitlin Snow). I know it's not The Flash writers' intention, but sometimes it can come off not so much "having fun with you, not at you" as the opposite thing. In particular I'm thinking of that time everyone got hyped up for Caitlin and Barry kissing on screen and it turned out to be a serial thief/killer/possible-sex-offender shapeshifter wearing Barry's face and grabbing Caitlin to conduct an impromptu "How to Commit Sexual Harassment/Assault in the Most Horrifying Way Possible" seminar.)
  
Moving on, because I have accepted I’m not getting Snowbarry and I’m okay with that. Really.
  
I think we can make the following suppositions about what the iZombie showrunners are actually trying to do.
 
  1. Liv and Major are, at present, endgame. They hit us over the head with it once every episode on average, with varying degrees of (lack of) subtlety. Lowell's relationship with her was incredibly genuine and satisfying, but his actor had to leave the show, so we'll never know what was going to happen there. It could change later, but as of right now, endgame Livjor is where we are.
  2. Peyton's "freakin' heart" line was almost certainly meant to imply a depthless platonic friendship, befitting people who have been best friends since at least 18—almost ten years. See also the similar vibes (and even phrasing) one gets from "freakin' friends" Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane. (Full disclosure: fans ship the tar out of them, and I’m one of them. They’re like the Xena and Gabrielle of animation.) I feel like iZombie is going for this vibe but never quite gets there, in part because Peyton's screen time is so limited. (Something I really hope changes in Season 2.)
  3. Liv's mental changes when she eats a brain (which I can't help but think of as a zombie version of Mega Man's Variable Weapon System, because I am a huge dork), follow a predictable pattern. She gets, generally, altered in 3 ways.
    • a. Triggered flashback "visions" of the victim's memories related to certain stimuli encountered during the investigation, used to help solve the case via actual detective work with Clive (Cagney and Pasty!).
    • b. One or two (usually one) large, noticeable-to-others personality alteration, that lasts as long as she is eating that particular brain. In one episode, she picked up a combat veteran's PTSD; in another, a confidential informant's rampant everyone-is-trying-to-kill-me paranoia; in another a new mother's (hilarious when coming from Liv and getting directed at everyone around her) parenting instincts; and so on.
    • c. A tangible skill: speaking the murder victim's native language; kung fu; l33t gamer skillz; special ops sniper training (though, tragically, not the mental conditioning that goes with it); etc. These skills, regrettably, tend to fade by the next episode. Liv doesn't get a "Become a Polyglot Free" card, or put another way, can't eat her way to being Jarod from Pretender.
    • c.(1). At least, so far. She managed to outfight a zombiefied professional hitman that had cracked Peyton over the head and was gonna eat her, while Liv wasn't on any sort of combat brain at all, so it's possible that she did retain some combat skill. Or it could have come down to her being a zombie longer (are she and Blaine Master Zombies?), or perhaps she was supercharged by The Power of Friendship, Heroic Resolve, and a mystical gift from Stabzor, Goddess of Knives. Or it's Liv/Peyton forshadowing, just like that Vine (I seriously doubt it, but that would be crazy awesome). I'm really not sure exactly what happened there, save to say Liv is badass when she's pushed to the wall, and beating up Peyton is bad for your health.
  4. Every canonical indication is that Liv is supposed to be straight. Except for when it's blamed on brains, she does not appear intended to be attracted to women at all. See 1.
  5. In episode 1.02, Liv eats the brain of a Philandering Artist who has been murdered, with the intent of solving his murder (and not starving and becoming a Romero zombie, because she is like an adorable, badass, NC-17-rated Snickers commercial with legs). Philandering Artist is known to have had sex with a lot of women. Seriously, Dwayne, a lot of women. But it is never suggested he also sleeps around with guys. He is deeply committed to cheating on women, with women. Liv gets his memories, all the skills and temperament of an artist (including the ability to paint beautiful things and an inability to describe colors in a way that can be expressed with anything less than the largest possible Crayola set) ... and the sudden need to flirt hard with several quite attractive fellows and one of the victim's female lovers, with whom she practically has hilarious, hand-holding eye-sex at one point while Clive apparently mentally questions the life-decisions that have brought him to this incredibly awkward moment.
    • (It must be pointed out just how crucial Clive's often-befuddled but unwavering acceptance of his pseudo-psychic partner's personality shifts and quirks, without ever being given any real explanation (because Liv sucks at secret identity’ing), is to Liv's continued mental health. She's likely actually clinically depressed at this point and the scripts occasionally hint at the barest suicidal ideation. But she always makes it through by sheer force of will, and I believe she couldn't do that without Clive's support. He is her island of normality and stability. Go, Clive.)
  6. In episode 1.02, Liv's attraction to women is implicitly blamed on her ingestion of Philandering Artist. In 1.07, her awesome and lovable (I shipped them and am totally not still ragey that he's gone and she’s back to pining for Major) boyfriend Lowell goes completely cold on her romantically, but is still platonically way into her. This is attributed to him eating a "gay brain" and being temporarily gay, so for an episode he's her Gay Best Friend and they continue to be adorable and perfect together, but with less kissing and more goofy dancing, for some reason. This continues until Lowell eats his next brain and begins "feeling more heterosexual already." Everything is played very effectively for laughs, and the episode ends with situation normal restored: Lowell is straight and wants Liv terribly and we never speak of this again.
The implication we're supposed to get off (6) above is that Baseline Lowell is supposed to be straight and it was totally the brains that made him attracted to men (in particular, Idris Elba, because Idris Elba).
 
Liv has eaten many presumably straight men's brains, but has never become a lesbian.
 
That's what happened and what I think the writers mean for us to take away from it, but that is not, however, where I think we actually are. Assuming the rules of zombie-ism must be internally consistent, I think the writers actually ended up setting up Liv as a closeted, unaware bisexual. Lowell, too, but that was even more of an accident because the whole point of that episode was playing the situation for laughs; they already knew Lowell was leaving the show and probably weren't thinking too hard about the long term implications.
  
That's okay. Overthinking the long-term implications of fiction that you're not supposed to think that hard about is kind of my jam. I'm all over that.
 
Here's my hangup: Philandering Artist was never suggested to be bisexual. He was Don Juan with a paintbrush, but unless you were young and nubile and a woman, you weren't on his philander-dar. The personality trait Liv is explicitly said (by Liv) to have uploaded from munching him is obeying her passions without worrying about the consequences. To get a bit Freudian and a bit nautical, her Id gets the chance to sedate her Ego and Superego and seizes the helm.

Crucially, while Philandering Artist is never shown pursuing men, Liv goes after men and women as convenient in 1.02.
 
Thoughtless obedience to passion is a flowery way of saying certain inhibitions are turned off. Sexual orientation is not under any circumstance a result of an active inhibition. Increased passion does not change who you are attracted to. It just makes it more likely you'll try to do something about it without caring about the consequences. By contrast, inhibitions—including those based on fear and self-loathing and the need to conform lest we be ostracized from our loved ones—can and do lead many people to denying their non-heteronormative sexual orientations.
 
 Liv's fear of and misery from being ostracized from her loved ones is a running, depressing theme in the series.
 
So we come to the conclusions:
  
  1. Liv has eaten many brains attracted solely to women and has never become a temporary lesbian. She never stops pining after Major.
  2. Liv, who makes no secret of being attracted to men, also made no secret of being attracted to women when her inhibitions were drastically suppressed, which is explicitly stated to be what the Philandering Artist brain is actually doing. During this time, her attraction to men did not appear to diminish, but arguably got stronger and more overt—more passionate, which, again, is the trait she explicitly identifies as coming from her brain food. It would have been very easy to confirm her heterosexuality by making her attracted to only men. All you would lose is the scene where she flirts with Philandering Artist's female lover, and I am confident the excellent writers could have substituted something equally hilarious.
  3. Liv is never shown developing Single Target Sexuality for the lovers of anyone else she eats. It is an extreme stretch to say that is what is happening with Philandering Artist's lover.
  4. So, final conclusion: given the facts and established rules of the iZombie universe, Liv is actually bisexual and in denial/unaware, at least partially because she's fully committed to pining after Major. She has probably convinced herself passion!brain made her attracted to women, even though no brain changed her sexual orientation before or since. In short: denial. She is very good at denial when she doesn't want to deal with a problem, and "the brains made me do it" is a plausible scapegoat.
 The big counter argument: Lowell's "gay brain."
  
Super short response: I don’t think that was actually a “gay brain” at all. But this is also the part where I have a lot less solid evidence of what was actually going on, so I have to rely more on persausion than fact.
 
First, I do think the “gay brain” thing was possibly a bit of a subtle saving throw from the writing team, assuming they had the same kind of thought process I did above that led me to my conclusion that Liv is bi. It follows that, having realized this, they came up the “gay brain” plot to muddle the issue and get everybody back on the Liv/Major love train (or, at least, the het!Liv train). The problem is, we know from Liv’s internal monologue that the Philandering Artist brain did not make her bi. Once again, it decreased her inhibitions and inflamed her passions. In other words, it altered what was already there. Up until Lowell’s “gay brain,” we had no indication at all that eating a brain could change your sexual orientation in any way.
 
 And really, if it were possible, we should have. Liv has eaten a lot of brains. Philandering Artist aside, they never appear to change her sexuality in any meaningful way. And again, Philandering Artist didn’t change her sexuality, according to the script.
 
So, let’s assume for a moment that Lowell did eat a “gay brain” that actually made him gay. It doesn’t work under scrutiny. A straight zombie eating the brains of straight humans stays straight, but becomes gay if they eat a gay brain? That does not explain Liv’s attraction to women in 1.02. It also raises the question if alteration of sexual orientation is the personality trait a zombie picks up, or if it’s in addition to some other core trait (e.g.: PTSD, paranoia, etc.). Liv is only ever shown picking up one trait, not two, and it’s always been something more overt than sexual orientation. Does a non-heterosexual zombie become heterosexual if they eat a straight brain? Does a gay person become straight? Does eating the brain of a person of the same orientation as you never have any effect, even if you are a woman and eat a straight male brain attracted to women?
 
This really complicates the otherwise very simple rules of how zombies react to ingesting brains, as written in Supposition 3 above. I feel like I need a flow chart to properly map out all the possible permutations of this, and I don’t really understand the rules if Lowell is right about what happened. Given that good writers (and the iZombie team are great writers) avoid overcomplicating the rules of the setting if at all possible, I just can’t believe this was intended.
  
Secondly, it is incredibly hard to make any conclusions about zombieism or even what is actually happening when Lowell ingests brains because he is not a deep POV character like Liv is. We understand Liv because we get to see her at all phases of her reaction to her latest meal, have Ravi on hand to analyze her, and most importantly we have her internal monologue, showing what she feels is actually happening to her. That monologue is crucial in episode 1.02 in establishing the inherited trait was increased passion/decreased inhibition in all areas of her life, and not an explicit sexual orientation change. All we have from Lowell is his spoken interpretation of what the brains are doing to him, and not only could he be unintentionally wrong, he himself admits to avoiding situations and stimuli that would cause him to have flashbacks and otherwise really get to understand the personality and quirks of the brain he ate. (This is one of the reasons, I think, his personality is so stable compared to Liv’s. Liv needs to understand the brain she ate and subject herself to flashbacks to solve murders, and does so, heavily.) So, he’s suddenly aware of a sexual attraction to men, and a severely diminished sexual attraction to women, and assumes he’s gay, and doesn’t really probe deeper into it.
 
Okay.

Now, let’s briefly mention an important fact about human sexuality. It is not a gear shift with 3 slots (straight, gay, bi), but rather a spectrum. One can be fully attracted to the same sex, fully attracted to the opposite sex, equally attracted to everyone, or anything in between. (And yes, I realize I’m vastly oversimplifying the sexuality spectrum, but this is iZombie meta, not an article on human sexuality, and I freely admit I’m not an expert and the theory has changed substantially since I actually had any class instruction on human sexuality.)
 
There are a great many people who are bisexual who, while they are attracted to both men and women, are considerably more attracted to either one or the other.

It is entirely possible that Lowell has always been bisexual, but his attraction to women so overpowers his attraction to men that he’s barely even aware of the latter, until he eats a brain that, for whatever reason, impacts him in some way that shifts the balance. I don’t understand enough about how bisexual persons are attracted to other people to make any more definite suppositions than that. The same logic also explains Liv’s sudden attraction to women in 1.02: lowering her inhibitions made Liv less likely to deny attraction to women, and increasing her passions made her quite happy to express her attraction to the Philandering Artist’s lover (and Dudebro, and some other guys).
 
I really like explanations that explain both of their behavior without creating ambiguities or needing an overcomplicated set of rules.
 
I do think it’s awfully convenient that Lowell and Liv would both be bisexual. That leads me to believe Lowell was even less meant to be anything but straight than Liv is, from the writers’ POV. But as a viewer I have to work with what I’m given, and this is the conclusion I get to that obeys the rules we know, fits with Liv’s experiences in 1.02 and Lowell’s in 1.07, and creates the least amount of internal inconsistency without overcomplicating things. I think the writers weren’t really worried about he long-term implications of the whole “gay brain” thing with Lowell because they already knew he wasn’t sticking around and so it wasn’t going to be a problem for writing him: he leaves the show in 1.09. Even at the time it felt sloppy and inconsistent (but at the time I didn’t fully understand why it bothered me), but everybody laughed at their goofy dancing and we moved on. Liv is also endgame with Major, so the writers don’t have to ever really deal with her non-heteronormative sexuality again: the target of her affections is the manliest of action men, so any latent attraction to other men or women doesn’t have to come up in a serious way.
 
(I love Major, but you can probably tell I don’t love him with Liv. I’m trying very hard to stay neutral on that subject in this essay. Apologies if I slip up a little.)
 
And finally, nothing about Lowell’s “gay brain” incident changes anything about Liv’s experiences on Philandering Artist brain in 1.02. Whatever happened to Lowell, Liv’s internal dialogue explanation of what was going on in her mind is still canon and unchallenged. And that explanation in no way implies the brain made her bi. But yet she was openly bi and more aggressively flirtatious (with everyone but Ravi and Clive) while on the brain, because her inhibitions were lowered and her passions were increased. Notice all her internal concern is about how she’s dealing with her increased passions and lack of care for the consequences. Not once does she stop and go “I’m attracted to women now, wait what? This is new.”

She just sort of rolls with it and is signficantly not surprised.
 
And that’s all I’ve got. I do not actually think the show will revist this subject, and I have no problem with that. One of the things I love about this theory as it exists in my head is that, even if Liv ends up endgame with Major and is never shown as attracted to women again, everything I’ve said is still just as convincing (or not, depending on how much you agree with me) as it is right now. It can add another layer to the character that you can enjoy internally as a viewer, but in a nice subtle way that doesn’t require stopping the rest of the plot to acknowledge, and won’t ever contradict any romantic things Liv actually does in canon. Or you can just ignore everything I just said and nothing really changes about how much you’ll enjoy the show.
 
And if you can just ignore all this, why did I spend so much time talking about it? Two reasons: one, I think it is the truth of what is happening, even if it was not intended; and two, as someone who has been reading and writing fanfic for 20 years and is not a fan of the canon shipping in iZombie (at least for Liv), I’m quite pleased that I can make a strong argument for Liv being bi so I can read/write fics where she is paired with whoever I think I can justify and be able to point to canon and say, “no, she’s not just into ladies for the sake of this fanfic, there is significant canonical support for this. Now, shoo: Liv/Sailor Mercury is happening on my screen and it is adorable.*)

And that is all. Thanks for reading.

*Liv/Sailor Mercury would fill me with great d’aww. I am willing to assist with crowdfunding. I am also still plotting out my Barry Allen/Liv Moore massive AU of love and criminal punching, and not just because SpeedBrains is the similtaneously best and dumbest ship name I’ve ever come up with. Without question, "The Quick and the Dead" is the best fic title I've ever come up with.
lordyellowtail: (Default)
Anakin/Padme

(Yes, I'm doing these out of order. I'm going to have to work myself up to Tim and Greta—I've still got lots of complex, conflicting emotions there.)

Paging [personal profile] sharpest_asp . Part 2, as promised.

An iconic pairing. The unbeatable crusading knight and his equally unstoppable lady diplomat, who is herself a Badass Normal action hero when the situation requires it. They're not hero and damsel. They're each other's champion against the whole rest of the universe, and may all creation tremble at their passing.

Or at least, that was what they were supposed to be. That was the couple of myth and legend whose love reshaped the galaxy, spoken of in awe and reverence and fear and hatred in the original trilogy. That was what we were promised.

What we actually got was incredibly formulaic, and while it had its moments, too many of the crucial events in their relationship were at best stilted and awkward or at worst completely lacking any emotional resonance. Their wedding, for instance, did nothing for me, largely because it wasn't presented in any detail. It was a several-second throwaway scene with no dialogue and a great booming musical score that had nothing to do with marriage and was pretty much GENERIC STAR WARS SERIOUS BUSINESS MUSIC. Not that there's anything wrong with that music—I love it, actually—but this is the wedding and the love story that effectively changed the millennia-long course of the galaxy forever. It deserved more than a part in a montage. It deserved much more than being simply another item to check off on the "And Then That Thing That Got Us to the Original Trilogy Happened" checklist.

For me this was a larger issue with the prequels as a whole. It felt like 80 percent of the prequel storyline existed merely to provide in-jokes and references that explained gaps in the original trilogy. And you're probably thinking, "well isn't that the point of a prequel?" And yes, a prequel needs to do that, but it also needs to be as compelling and complicated a story as the original material it's based on. And for crying out loud, it has to be more than fanservice. It has to have soul, and you've got to work extra hard to make the viewer care, because we already know the ending. In my {obviously not so humble} opinion, the prequels failed hard at this, and few other places is it more apparent than in the shallowness and emotional numbness of the Anakin/Padme relationship.

This is the love so powerful that the fear of losing it left Anakin, The Hero with No Fear, the somewhat mentally-unstable Chosen One, so destabilized that Darth Sidious was able to seduce him to the Dark Side and cause the ruination of the Jedi, and then the Galaxy. It should have been a great raging fireball, so bright it burned the eyes to look at, from The Phantom Menace on.

That's the love story I was expecting to see, and I'm still waiting.

Instead, we got a lingering glowstick of under-developed inevitability that bored large portions of the audience, and at worst actively turned them off.

Worse, all the terrible things that happened to bring Anakin to the Dark Side and kill Padme—whose death was completely stupid and contrived in the context of a non-fantasy canon with obscenely well developed medical technology—involved Anakin, Padme, and the entire Jedi Order playing Calvinball with every Idiot Ball they could find. Let me cite a couple of the biggest examples.

Anakin was old when he joined the Jedi Order. Not only was it unrealistic to expect him to purge all emotions like an Initiate conditioned from babyhood, especially if all they did to help him along was give him some lectures on suppressing his emotions—which humans aren't naturally wired to do without extensive mental conditioning—and avoiding the sort of emotional attachments that science tells us are actually necessary for a normal human mind to function correctly. Short of actual brainwashing, he was never going to have the emotional control or the ability to go without emotional attachments that a normal human psyche needs to function. Classically trained Jedi possess these things only because of intensive training from infancy that rewires their brains and makes them both more and less than human.

But Anakin was forced into that mold anyway. No wonder he was unstable. To their credit, by A New Hope, Yoda and Obi-Wan seemed to realize their mistake and didn't repeat their error when training Luke, though they sure griped out about how much better the old days were. They also made new and different mistakes, but that's another story. And their behavior with Luke doesn't really excuse the fact that the entire Jedi Council took a brain holiday and not one of them ever put forth the idea that holding a normal human boy to standards used to shape and measure children mentally conditioned to have abnormal thought processes since infancy was maybe a bad idea.

Worst still, the prequels ignore the setting's own rules. We know that there were Jedi allowed to marry because of insurmountable cultural and biological needs. One of them sat on the Jedi Council. The Corelian Jedi were absolutely allowed to maintain personal attachments with their families. This was done because it was a accepted that trying to train one of these Jedi using the standard model would be an absolute disaster. Yet never once was Anakin given any accommodation befitting his unique circumstances. No wonder he thought they were all being hipocritical.

No wonder he leapt at what Sidious offered him.

So, the point of all that: I am deeply in love with the concept and potential of Anakin/Padme. I absolutely loathe the canon version, for the reasons I've outlined above and others I won't bore you with. These are the big issues that ruin it for me.

So, for Anakin/Padme fic, give me AUs. Alternate universes where the story is written in such a way that their love story actually feels like a relationship with the potential to shatter the galaxy. Make them burn for each other, and make me believe in the magnitude of their devotion.

But that also means making Anakin and Padme and the Jedi Council and Order and their supporting cast the kind of people, in the kind of setting, that can pull off a love story with firepower of this magnitude. So give me an AU that strips out the flood of idiot balls and plot holes canon introduces. Let them be the legends we heard of in awed whispers in the Original Trilogy. Let them not make decisions that go against all logic and common sense just to advance the ball towards the inevitable.

And when you strip out those plot holes and idiot balls, the events of the original trilogy become no longer inevitable. So go wild. If you want to make Anakin fall to the Dark Side still, that's great, but make it a tragedy worthy of a hero of his legend, not the McDonald's Drive-Thru version where he goes from flawed but ultimately heroic to genocidal mass murdering child-killer in about five minutes because he had some bad dreams and Yoda gave absolutely crappy advice and Sidious is really good at being Faux Affiably Evil.

Hell, if you really want to get dark, have Anakin seduce Padme to the Dark Side and overthrow Sidious before he becomes Palpatine and let them co-rule the Galaxy as some sort of sexy, lawful evil Grey Jedi/Sith power couple. Just make it internally consistent enough to be believable, and I'm there. I might need chocolate afterwards, but I'm totally there.

But my personal preference is to write and read AUs where the universe doesn't stack the deck against Anakin, and lets him actually be the hero we was meant to be. Let him not fall, because unlike in canon he has friends and family that love him and he can trust enough to reach out to for help. People that can catch him when he stumbles under the impossible weight they've put on his shoulders, who will smile and let him know they've got his back instead of scorning him for not being the perfect classical Jedi he was never meant to be.

Let Padme be strong and capable enough to stand on her own against almost anyone who would challenge her. Show us the woman who Princess Leia Organa inherited her heroism and political saavy and idealism and iron will (and attraction to lovable rogues) from. I have a lot fewer issues with her characterization in canon beyond the crappy love-plot writing itself, so I don't see a need to change her character that much so long as we're actually made to believe in the love story. But please, show us Anakin's equal. Let them be co-heroes and partners.

Let them stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, his lightsaber lit and her blaster charged even as she kicks just as much aft with diplomacy as anything, united and strengthened by their love for each other, ready and willing to stand against all comers to secure the peaceful future they both want and deserve.

And because this is supposed to be an epic love story, let the galaxy tremble.
lordyellowtail: (Let's Talk Crack Pairings (Snape/Roker O)
Quoting [personal profile] sharpest_asp  from her MemeTime entry:
You know that meme that goes around sometimes where you post your five favorite kinks and then five favorite couples, and it's like a wish into the universe to see if anybody will write it for you? Let's make it a little more interactive.

Comment here if you want to play, and I will give you 3-6 couples that I associate with you, and you make an entry in your journal talking about those couples and fics that you wish the universe would write for you.
So, this seems like it should be pretty fun. Comment if you would like to play.

In the meantime, Asp gave me the following:

1. Rogue/Remy
2. Robin/Secret
3. Anakin/Padme

So, let's go do that. These are turning out a bit long, so I'm gonna divide them up into 3 separate posts.

Rogue/Remy
I'm probably going to disappoint Asp a bit here, but I honestly don't have a lot to say about any present incarnation of this ship. It only works for me in certain versions of the X-Men canon. In others, one or both characters are different enough that the chemistry that draws me to them—particularly the juxtaposition of his extreme intellect, bravery, and deep emotional connection with those in the X-Men he considers his friends and family, all covered up by a veneer of devil-may-care bravado and a show of emotional distance that would fool those who don't know him well; and her outward Type A southern belle, action girl, courageous and kind and gentle outer-shell around a battered, wounded, and deeply, crushingly lonely soul. In universes where they're written this way, they put on acts for the world around them, and some of the only people they can't fool are each other (and Logan, but going into that would disrupt the flow of my over-thought ramblings here). They understand and accept the other for everything they are, and love them for it, warts and all. It's only refusal to fully accept their own selves that stalls their relationship. You can't be in love with someone else when you really don't love yourself—not if you want a healthy relationship, at any rate.

All the fun of their banter and the adorableness of their actual relationship aside, they're a pairing that, to properly work, demands that each participant become a stronger person and consciously fight their personality flaws to be together. It's an explicit element of their relationship, when it's usually just implied in other similar relationships. That's somewhat unique, and so it appeals to me a great deal. X-Men: The Animated Series showed me this version of them and got me hooked. The problem is, not every version of them has this dynamic. X-Men: Evolution Rogue and Remy don't feel like what I described above at all. This version of Remy is a much less sympathetic, layered character and comes off more as a grudginingly enjoyable antihero than a loveable rogue to the people around him, with a tenancy to manipulate Rogue's feelings to his advantage when it's fairly obvious nothing will happen between them, if for no other reason than he doesn't sincerely want her. X-Men:TAS Remy was completely devoted to his Rogue, in his own special way. In Evolution, Rogue still has plenty of problems with interpersonal relationships and isolation, but considerable time and energy is given to developing her confidante/heterosexual life partner relationship with her brother, Kurt Wagner. Their relationship is deep and nuanced and complicated and they rely on each other in a way they don't rely on anyone else, in a completely platonic love sort of way.

Having such a well-developed loving sibling relationship in this context is rather refreshing, but it means that there's no hole in Rogue's heart and relationship with those around her that Gambit would usually be the on to fill.

So, the fic I would write and read with them would be anything in the vein of the characterization and sort of relationship they had in X-Men: The Animated Series. At this stage in my life, well into adulthood and still single, long drawn-out will-they-won't-they and Idiot Ball driven relationship obstacles and love triangles for The Dramas don't appeal to me, so I'd not write or want to read any of that. So much Rogue/Gambit material is devoted to getting them together that I want to see them actually be together.
lordyellowtail: (Squirrel Girl)
I'm going to put much of this entry under a cut. Suffice it to say, I've had a very specific theory about the true identity of Harrison Wells since episode 1.09, "The Man in the Yellow Suit." I've wanted to talk about it here for a bit, but I've been too busy to write up the essaylet.

So I'm thrilled to have found an image someone put together that expresses my theory with less than 100 words. I'm linking to it from another image storage website, so if it disappears please let me know and I'll re-upload it somewhere else. For reference, I found it on the Nightmare Fuel TV Tropes page for The Flash.

Put under a cut, because potentially huge spoilers.

Look at the picture. )
lordyellowtail: (Default)
Magnificent episode. This is the most fun I've had watching tv in years. I watched it on Hulu last night. Without further ado, my thoughts as I watched, brought to you by the pause function and my overworked thumbs.

Also: all the spoilers, all the time.

EDIT 1 (Fri., Jan. 30, 2015):
 Added tags and corrected spelling/grammar.

Read more... )
lordyellowtail: (Default)
I've been re-reading the Beauty and the Beast TV Tropes page and re-watching key scenes on YouTube, and it's reminded me how much I love this movie. I've not watched it all the way through in about 15 years at least, probably closer to 20.

(Oh my God, years, how do you happen? Also, spoiler warning.)

It's probably the best straight-up romance Disney has ever animated, and without a doubt one of the most beautifully animated 2D movies they ever made, as well as just being one of the best movies in the Disney Animated Canon. The Lion King is right up there with it in terms of quality, but for me at least this one is the best--it's just ... grander, in so many ways, without losing its sincere heart.

I'm probably too tired to try to make any more sense than that, so I'm going to quit while I'm (maybe) ahead.

The thing is, as I've gotten older my tastes in fiction, and in particular, romance, have changed. When I was little, I was totally on board with the Beast getting turned back into a Prince and he and Belle going off and doing their Happy Ever After thing.

Now, that feels a bit like a copout. The whole movie is about sending the message that true love is not about appearances, but about the people we are inside. So it feels a little hollow that the ending rewards acknowledgement of love of the Beast's inner beauty by giving him outer beauty. The Beast had already regained his humanity by the end, if not his human body, and it's his humanity and personality and heart (and even presumably his use as a living furry blanket) Belle falls in love with.

(Alleged outer beauty. I personally think the Prince is one of the least attractive of the human Disney Princes, and prefer the Beast's design. It's not necessarily more attractive (unless you're into chimera), but it's one of the most interesting and complex heroic romantic couple character designs Disney has ever done. And the fact that Belle genuinely falls in love with him when he looks like that, to the point she's initially disappointed/suspicious it's really him when he turns human until she looks him in the eyes and recognizes him, really sells the film's underlying message.)

I'm tuning in for Belle's romance with a thinking, feeling Beast, not her romance with some generic prince that neatly sidesteps all the really interesting potential character-drama of their relationship with the power of blandness.

So what I'd love to see is an AU where the movie ends almost exactly as before. Gaston is defeated, Belle and the Beast confess their love, the spell is lifted from the castle and most of its inhabitants...except the Beast. And they're still in love, anyway, because their love is epic. Now, there would be some drama, but they fall in love while he's a chimera so there shouldn't be a boat-load of "I'm a monster!" angst, if only because it would unnecessarily rewind Beast's story-arc--he's already gone through that in the original movie, and conquered it masterfully by the conclusion. It actually weakens his character if it's implied he only overcame his outer appearance and opened up emotionally because he was depending on getting his human body back to manage a long term relationship.

There appears to be an actual small cottage industry of these sorts of fics. I've run across a few on FFN, already. If anyone would like to recommend any, let me know. I'm going to keep exploring and will post recs of any good ones I find.
lordyellowtail: (Don't Drink Soap)
 When did Usagi/ChibiUsa romance fic become a thing? Can we make it stop?

Because I've run into a scary amount of them on FFN, and they're just floating there for anyone to see—

Seriously, fandom: I'm not one to denigrate pairings other people like, but incestuous pedophile Sailor Moon is just beyond the—

Okay. I am failing and flailing at the talking. So in sum:

What the Hell, Fandom? No. Just, no. 

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Lord Yellowtail

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