Pop Culture Supercouples - Who Made The List?
As a fan of the much-missed Gilmore Girls, I must have been among the target audience for ABC Family’s Bunheads. Stars Hollow reconfigured as the West Coast town of Paradise? A chance to hear some witty dialogue and see familiar faces, including the matriarch of GG, Kelly Bishop, playing the matriarch of Bunheads? It was like coming home.
Except for one thing. One major, jarring omission. One that had me scanning all ten episodes hopefully, like a sailor looking for sight of land after many weeks at sea. As much as it pains me to say it, there was no “Luke” in this so-called Paradise.
Sutton Foster, the actress who now plays the role-once-known-as Lorelai (minus the Rory), is Luke-less. And where’s the fun in that? I tuned in year after year, not only to take in the fabulous mother-and-daughter duo of Gilmore Girls, but to finally see the guy get the girl. It’s what I do. In fandom, I’m what they call a ‘shipper.’
But as romance readers, we’re all shippers here. I usually get asked this question all the time by the non-roms: What’s the appeal of reading a book when you know how it’ll end? My answer is always the same: It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. I know they’ll get their happily-ever-after, but I don’t exactly how they’ll get there. And it’s that interest in the steps they take towards love that gets me hooked every time. I become the champion for seemingly-impossible relationships, rooting them onto supercouple status.
It got me thinking about the top couples that I’ve shipped over the years. Here are the ones I’ve flipped over:
My road down shipping began innocently enough. Who didn’t want to see Miss Piggy wear down her delectably green Kermie? This is the woman who taught my generation what it truly means to be determined!
Sweet Valley, otherwise known as the series I sneaked into class to read under my desk during math lessons. Besides interfering with my ability to completely memorize the multiplication tables (psh, who really needs that?), it also caused me to ship one of the only couples that I regret — Liz and Todd. One, because Todd turned out to be majorly boring, and two, because as revealed in the recently published Sweet Valley Confidential, he totally wasn’t worth Liz. Can you tell she was my favorite Wakefield twin?
Before it became a hit CW show, the series set of The Vampire Diaries sat dogeared on my desk, many times re-read to answer the question that haunts me still: Stefan or Damon? Stefan was Elena’s good-guy love interest (besides the fact that he’s a vamp). But Damon? Now he was deliciously bad. Having been burned by the sweet guy (see: Sweet Valley’s Todd), I now leaned a bit towards the dark side. But, considering that I was still in Junior High, it didn’t cross my mind that in some scenarios Elena wouldn’t have to choose. Not if the story were redone Lora Leigh style!
If you weren’t a soap fan and you didn’t watch General Hospital, you’ll have no idea what I mean when I say Jax and Brenda. But for the fans that truly shipped this pairing of a golden god Aussie gazillionaire and the mobster’s ex-girlfriend, your eyes just lit up, didn’t they? I was so dedicated to the idea that I actually had cut-outs of Jasper Jax glued to my Traper Keeper. Now that was dedication! (Honorable soap mentions also go out to Lucky & Liz and Todd & Blair).
Whenever someone mentions Felicity, I have to stop and ask them the most important question in the world: “Ben or Noel?” After they get over their initial confusion, because I ask with all the seriousness of an FBI investigator, they usually blurt out ‘Ben.’ Sigh. But why? Noel was clearly the better choice. Those eyes! He played Boggle! Felicity should have snatched that man up.
While I can understand the appeal of Angel, as the seasons of Buffy went on, I was all about Spike. The bad poet turned bad-boy vamp was the underdog I couldn’t help but cheer on. His love for Buffy and his anguish basically jumped right off the screen and latched onto my heart. And when they finally started hooking up, it was like the best gift ever from series creator Joss Whedon.
And, finally, the couple that started my journey down memory lane: Luke and Lorelai. He was the gruff diner owner with a heart of gold and she was the fast-talking, pop culture-loving single mom of a brainiac. In other words, they were totally meant to be. Watching them make their way slowly towards one another was exquisite agony, and oh-so-enjoyable. He was the kind of guy who made the woman of his dreams a hoopa for her marriage to another man — which, thankfully, didn’t happen.
Stars Hollow just wouldn’t have been the same without Luke, the hoopa-building hero, just as its twin city on the West Coast feels a bit off without a Luke-like presence. So, will I keep watching Bunheads? I’ll give it another go when it returns. If the list above didn’t tip you off, I am nothing if not a hopeless romantic with a lot of patience.
But I do need some new couples to ‘ship'. Tell me — what shows are you watching these days, and which developing relationships are you keeping an eye on? Help me fill up my DVR, please!