It's Valentine's Day weekend, and like many fans of television around this time, our thoughts have turned to shipping. Wait, not sitting around and waiting for Amazon to send you 1,000 K-Cups for $40. Not that kind of shipping. That would be a weird way to spend a Valentine's Day.
We're talking about the relationships, or 'ships, we root for between characters on our favorite shows and then writing about it. If your first reaction to this is "What a horrible waste of time!" we say, welcome to the Internet! Mind the cats.
But if you read this and thought, "I wonder if, after explaining it all, Clarissa grew up to marry Sam," well, now we're on the same page. In honor of the season of Cupid, and rather than strive for an authentic relationship in the real world, we recently got together and thought about characters in recent and past TV whom we've shipped, and how they've made us feel. Read on while we evaluate why we're still alone. So very alone.--Martin Moakler
New Girl -- Nick & Jess
I wanted it to happen. I expected it to happen. Hell, I knew it would happen. So why was I so surprised when Nick and Jess kissed on New Girl? After years of being conditioned to follow the ups and downs of the will-they-or-won't-theys of Sam & Diane, Ross & Rachel and Jim & Pam over so many seasons, Jess and Nick Amazon Primed their hook up so we got it on the second business season--six seasons before the norm. Now I'm left wondering what to hope for with the show. Perhaps this is the future of sitcoms, having come full circle from when we would read books in a single sitting and experience love and loss, life and death over the course of a couple of hours, minus the commercial breaks and the product placement. Maybe we're losing our attention spans for TV series and don't have the patience to wait around for something that could be canceled at an executive's whim. Or maybe, we finally aren't going to put up with TV characters in a manner we wouldn't tolerate of our friends. "Enough of the back and forth, you two! Get a room!" -Martin Moakler
Held Up at Customs
Supernatural -- Sam & Dean
Do you like the show Supernatural? Do you enjoy watching the hard-knock adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester, the handsomest demon-hunting brothers on TV? Would you like to search for say, a nice gif of one of Dean's facial expressions to add to your Tumblr?
Do it at your own risk. You might find yourself falling into one of those deep, dark pits in the Internet's subculture underbelly--because, apparently, "Wincest" is a thing.
Sure, Sam and Dean are both good-looking fellows. They fight ghosts, eat cheeseburgers, yell at each other, and occasionally slay things that they recently slept with. So what about their relationship has aroused this phenomenon of people shipping the two of them getting it on? Their affection for each other on the show never goes beyond brotherly, but you'd never know if from the amount of fanfic, fanart, and general frenzy out there every time one of them claps the other on the shoulder. Despite this, we can only hope the producers will never allow their illicit love to actually blossom (not even in a dream sequence, alternate reality, or time travel episode, please).
So, to recap: Don't google Wincest. Unless, well, you're into that kind of thing. And if so, we'd like to see what you make of this clip where they sacrifice ties with everyone else they care about to be together forever. Then they broodily drink beer in front of the TV. Then it fades to black. Phew. Is it hot in here?
See also: Destiel. Or don't. We're going to go clear our cache now.--Naivasha Dean
Parks & Recreation -- Leslie & Ben
There was never any REAL doubt that Leslie and Ben from Parks and Recreation would end up ecstatically engaged and planning a wedding catered by a waffle place. They went from instant enemies (Ben arrived on the scene to slash the Park's department budget) to kissing in front of The Knope-Wyatt Unity Quilt and becoming one of the most adored ships out there. Seriously -- all of America is personally invested in this romance. Even those of us who are simultaneously rooting for Leslie and Joe Biden, or Ben and Calzones (yes, people are doing that).
But for a while there, they really had us going with the unsanctioned workplace romance - because if there's anyone who would screw up true love to keep a thankless job in low-level government administration, it's Ms. Knope. City Hall's no-dating policy had the couple (mostly unsuccessfully) sneaking around, and the tension only mounted when Leslie decided to run for office at the end of Season Three. Eventually, they confessed to everything - but Ben had to resign his job in order to save Leslie's candidacy and get the city's stamp of approval.
Worth it though, for the waffles. --Naivasha Dean
The X-Files -- Mulder & Scully
Relationships traveling via ground shipping take a very long time to get where they're going, almost to the point where you worry that they've fallen off the truck.
In the 1993 pilot of The X-Files, skeptical scientist Dana Scully was first introduced to believer and paranormalist Fox Mulder, and the stage was set for a compelling opposites-attract, will-they-or-won't-they dynamic. Dedicated fans obsessed over every small, chemistry-laden interaction between the characters, searching for hints that they were on their way to sealing the deal and giving birth to the entire concept of shipping (according to this Wikipedia article):
But it wasn't until more than six full seasons and a feature-length film later that the pair finally shared their first on-screen kiss, resulting in long years of pent-up frustration among ardent shippers:
The road to ultimate coupledom was also a bumpy one, as the pair had to survive Scully's cancer, Mulder's alien abduction, the birth and subsequent adoption of their baby son, and a vast government conspiracy preparing the world for new extraterrestrial overlords. Happily, the series ended on a note tailor-made for shippers, as the final closing moments show Mulder and Scully connecting at last over their previously conflicting ideas of hope and faith.--Kristin Knox
Dexter -- Dexter and Debra
Controversial relationships of questionable taste or prudence may be marked as suspicious packages, warning viewers to open with caution.
In season six of Showtime's Dexter, Debra Morgan came to realize that she not only loved her adopted brother, she was in love with him.
Unfortunately for her, she soon after discovered his secret identity as America's most prolific serial killer. Struggling with that revelation, she nevertheless broke down and admitted her feelings to him, demonstrating just how deep this pair's connection runs:
Should Dex and Deb be paired up romantically? On the one hand, after the events of the seventh season, these two have become so broken and interdependent that any normal, healthy relationship is pretty much out of reach. On the other, while not blood related, they grew up together as siblings, which certainly introduces the 'ick' factor. Fans seem to be divided on the issue; while many decry the pairing on comment boards and critics' blogs, there are still plenty of dedicated YouTube videos shipping the duo to sort of wistful muzak. A strong case could be made either way. Will the show's writers ultimately go in that direction? We only have to wait four more months to find out.--Kristin Knox
Modern Family - Dylan and Claire
Dylan once said to Claire: "All women should look as tasty as you when they're old."
Dylan's a junior in high school when he says this. Let's just move on.--Nathan Alexander
Community -- Jeff and Britta and Annie
Sometimes after you move, what's rightfully yours gets sent to the wrong place. Even though the senders are the ones making the mistake, you are the one who looks like an idiot, going over to your old place, mumbling apologies about the mix-up. In Community, Britta is the unfortunate change of addressee. Annie is the tenant living in Britta's former abode, and Jeff is the a-hole sender who doesn't get blamed for messing stuff up.
We love this love triangle because we all relate to the various forms of dysfunction each person thrives on: Annie is looking for a father figure, Jeff is catering to his insatiable narcissism, and Britta just wants a guy she can "fix." While Jeff and Britta are similarly hypocritical, hubristic, and vain, Annie's child-like naiveté (and boobs) make her difficult for Jeff to turn down, and easy for us to root for. After all, she's just the innocent new tenant in all this: She never asked to get Britta's mail. She's merely justifiably annoyed when Britta comes around trying to get it back. And Britta's the worst, but we feel for her. We hate it when people send our mail to the wrong place, too.--Katherine Rea
30 Rock -- Liz & Carol, Her Pilot Boyfriend Played by Matt Damon
Did we really add this one just to make an air mail pun? Yes. Yes, we did.--Ben Collins
The Office -- Jim & Pam
Ah, it's ol' trusty. Jim and Pam are now the archetype for TV coupledom. They have a disturbingly healthy relationship that reminds you why relationships exist at all.
Anyway, guy meets girl. Girl's in relationship with UPS guy. Girl, being decent, rides out relationship with UPS guy until forced to end engagement. Writer now realizes that he is now three layers into this shipping pun. Writer now tries to make joke about this but cannot. Guy also rides it out. Guy rides it out with Rashida Jones, which was not a sex joke, but now it is. Guy ditches Rashida Jones to be with girl, who has now ditched just left UPS guy at the door after three chances at delivery. They get engaged in the rain outside of a bakery on the highway. Everyone cries.
It's The Notebook, basically, but it took about 100 hours to get there.--Ben Collins