Stupid Cute OTP, or, Why I hate to love Sam
I've made no secret of the fact that until Stargate, I never really
shipped for any pairing of characters. In fact, I was pretty scornful of
the concept altogether. It's usually handled poorly (either in the
resolution or lack thereof), it's so often a huge cliché, it doesn't
always add anything to the plot or the story unless it's being used as a
plot device, and eight times out of ten, it ends up turning into a soap
opera. Not to mention those shows where the female character ends up a
two-dimensional caricature of herself to further the romance.
And yet, here I am, filled with squee for a pairing that would normally
make me leap to change the channel. It's horribly cliché, what with the
smart girl/smartass guy dynamic, the superior/subordinate relationship,
and the endless, angsty UST tension. It's been used as a plot device,
it's not necessary to the interaction of the characters... But damn it all
if I don't find myself adoring Sam and Jack, and gleefully looking for
every hint of subtext between them. I don't know if it's the chemistry I
see between the actors bleeding through the characters, the fact that I
really like both characters individually, or the fact that the ship on
Stargate is better written than on almost any other TV show I've seen, or
what. But despite my innate curmudgeonly-ness toward television romances,
I want these two to have the happy ending.
So yes, I ship for Jack and Sam. But lately I've come to the conclusion
that shipping for them doesn't make me a shipper.
I think part of the problem is that I have a different definition of ship
than most people seem to. To me, stating a liking of a pairing of
characters doesn't automatically imply that I ship for them. To me,
shipping is an "active" endeavor. I can like a pairing of characters
without actively having any desire to see them together, on screen or with
an implication that it could happen off screen. So while I think Sam and
Barrett are squee-worthy, that doesn't mean I want to see them in a
relationship. I can like Sam with Pete for the purposes of the story and
not think he is "the guy" for Sam, nor think that they're perfect for each
other and want them to end up together.
On a related note, just because I ship a pairing doesn't automatically
mean that I think the pairing has to be together now or end up together.
I have no problems thinking of and proposing all the ways and reasons that
they may not work out as a romantic pairing, while still hoping that they
do. Because, for me, it's not so much about the ship as it is about the
individual characters and all their relationships.
Which leads me to the big reason I hate ship. From my experience in ship
fandom, ship far too often ends up only about the relationship, and either
forgets or ignores the individual characters involved in it. I've made this
argument in regard to Sam and the events of "Chimera," but the same
could be said for an episode like "100 Days," as a number of shippers hate
the episode primarily because Jack is with someone who isn't Sam, and
vilify Laira because she dared to make a move on Jack. And the issues of
not liking Sam and Pete based on Pete's behavior aside (because I do
consider this a separate issue), I saw much the same reaction to
And to be bluntly honest, I find the demonizing of secondary characters
like Laira and Pete (including the name calling and mockery based on
physical characteristics), as well as the inability to separate Sam and
Jack from the ship absolutely baffling. Especially in the case of
Sam and Jack, where there is no confirmed committed relationship between
them (and no, while I do think they love each other, I do not agree that
the relationship they have now is in any way equivalent to a committed
romantic relationship. But that's a whole 'nother rant).
Certainly I want to at least see some hint that Jack and Sam get a shot at
a happy ending, but it won't ruin my enjoyment of the show as a whole if I
don't get that. In a show like Stargate, where it's only one small piece
of a complicated set of character relationships, which are in turn only
one aspect of the show (though granted, the best one) making it any more
blatant would detract from the whole web of character dynamics on the show
(which are all handled rather subtly for the most part). A hint of romance
is fine, but really, if you watch a show like Stargate just for the ship,
then I think you're bound to be disappointed.
In conclusion, I'm... not sure I actually have a point. Maybe it's
because I get irritated with the insinuation that there is only one way
to ship, or because I just ship for this one pairing, or because my
definition of ship is so broad that it really isn't much of a definition
at all, or that I'd rather see the ship as just one small part of a whole
suite of character interactions, or because, for me, the ship isn't what I
want out of the show. But while I ship Sam and Jack, I'm quite content
with not being a shipper.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go write about Sam getting into Jack's