Lost Girl, Social Media, and the Nature of Bias

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A Cohesive Response

Last week, I got a lot of feedback on Twitter. Within my reply page were a lot of people who disliked something I said and who responded by suggesting the review was ‘biased.’ It mostly did feel angry, though some of that can be translation and the medium. Whatever its impetus, it is relevant and interesting, and way more than I could delve into on Twitter. And so, with a week off of regular reviews, I thought we could dig into that a little bit here.

What is bias in relation to TV viewing, why is ‘biased’ an accusation, is bias a bad thing for a movie/TV consumer, and how do I think I am impacted by and use bias in my reviews?

More Direct Access Than Ever Before; Cuts Both Ways

We’ve entered a new age of interaction with television. Shows suggest their own hashtags in the corner of every significant scene (hatehatehate,) Dan Harmon starts a viral campaign for #sixseasonsandamovie (love), and writers, actors, creators, etc., take to twitter, tumblr, reddit, and more to talk directly to fans.

In general, despite the pitfalls which can accompany all social media, I think it’s a fantastic thing that people are more engaged, and I think this on both sides of the coin. We as an audience get more out of the viewing experience when it’s communal and our thoughts are heard by those making the art. We as a production team get much quicker and more detailed feedback than can be given by Nielson. It connects viewers to each other, allows a quick exchange of various readings and conspiracy theories, and lets creators talk directly to viewers and find pockets of fans. 

Lost Girl, a Show Which Engages More Than Most

Lost Girl is one of the shows taking real advantage of this, from live-tweeting episodes, to reminding fans to vote in various polls which increase the show’s media presence (for free!), to continually getting the show’s airtime out there for new episodes as well as reruns.

Heck, we’re having this conversation right now explicitly and only because of Twitter, and because Lost Girl‘s production team is so engaged. The blog is a labor of love in my free time, a way to study current art and thus up my own game, and I’ve been lucky enough to have an incredible audience who will tweet and tumbl and comment and react and keep it alive in the social mediasphere.  I assume that is how Emily Andras found it late last season, and then last week she retweeted my link, and people engaged, and voila here we are.

Twitter as a Platform

There are a couple problems, however, which occur directly because of social media and technology.

The first is the mass volume of information available on Twitter. It can overwhelm. It can obscure. Quantity isn’t quality, especially when you’re talking about how many tweets are devoted to discussing portemanteaus and continuity flubs. Interesting things to plenty of people, but things which aren’t going to improve the in-universe action, and things which can rapidly drown out other feedback. (I’m sure there are also, as with anything on the internet, trolls, but I’ve not had to deal with that in relation to this blog, knock on wood.)

The second problem is the anonymity and social distance created through the internet. Besides enabling the trolling thing, this can create impossible expectations. When certain show creators take a fan suggestion, or reply to some fan tweets, through the magic of online dehumanization, the fan interaction becomes expected, sometimes even demanded. Demands are going to come from all sides, and of course you can never make everyone happy all the time. Plots which don’t flex or shows which don’t engage may get slammed for not meeting certain subjective expectations, missing opportunities for ‘grassroots marketing,’ or not having producers/directors/runners who ‘do’ social media.

The third problem is that Twitter gets really confusing really quickly. It’s hard to clarify a complex thought in 140 characters, so often thoughts get chopped across multiple tweets. Or, words get omitted or subbed out for ones with fewer characters, but not as focused or accurate. Add to that the fact that most of the people you’re talking to you aren’t familiar to or with you. Suddenly, not only are you all trying to keep straight who’s who, but you’re trying to project the correct tone of voice onto a stranger’s choice of words. Things get misread very quickly, maybe because your word choice could have been better, or maybe because you pointed out a plot problem, or maybe just because you said that Bo looks hot making out with the ‘wrong’ cast member. Whatever the cause, suddenly your replies page looks like a papier mâché project on steroids.

And then, in those words and those tones of voice from those strangers, come accusations of bias.

It’s a Review, not a Recap

Sometimes people use those words interchangeably, like ‘oh did you see the What’s Alan Watching review/recap of How I Met Your Mother?’. It’s kind of entered the colloquialism, and I’m not the grammar police insisting people use one or the other. But it’s problematic when one assumes they mean the same thing. I call what I do ‘reviewing’ intentionally; there are plenty of sites which will tell you ‘A guy drugged and was trying to rape a young woman named Kenzi, this bartender named Bo sucked blue light from the guy until he died, Bo then helped Kenzi to safety, two cops showed up and it turns out they use their jobs to help investigate and cover up supernatural deaths . . .’ and that’s great and those sites have a purpose and making those sorts of writings interesting and funny is a whole skill set, but that’s not what I do.

Someone reporting on or recapping something (say for a TV menu, etc) should give the clearest possible rendition of the facts. Someone commentating and analyzing and speculating about something is allowed – nay, I say encouraged – to be biased, so long as it’s clear how the bias affects the interpretation of events and how any cant is substantiated.

The Nature of Bias

“an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment” – Merriam-Webster

It always amused me how Roger Ebert would like anything Nicholas Cage was in at least a star better than most of the rest of the population. Whether he and Cage simply had similar tastes, or he had a predilection for Cage, or he could see something deep in the acting of even the cheesiest or most absurd role, he did love him some Nic Cage.

Ebert had other biases, too. Against chainsaw slashers and torture porn. Towards beautiful women in impossible situations, actors playing against type, and films which toyed with the very nature of cinematic art. I mean, he gave Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow four stars.

I’m not saying I’m Roger Ebert (heavens!). I’m saying everyone is biased.

We’re all inclined to a certain viewpoint based on our experience and the compilation of cultural interaction, specifically our art and literature and media consumption. I was predisposed to like Lost Girl because of the strong female lead, extensive metaphors, low-budget can-do construction, and that it was described to me as ‘like Buffy but with more sex’ (ding ding ding, we have a winner!). I’m extremely interested in any show which touches on hyper-religious upbringing, and I’ve written pages on how fundamentalism shaped and stunted and continues to affect Bo’s psyche; I see and lean towards that because of my own past and present. Bias. Not unreasoned, but personal.

In the same way I’m biased, everyone who says my viewpoint is biased has his or her own particular tendency or inclination, based on a plethora of things. There can be mostly objective analysis of technique and production value and execution etc., but keep in mind when it comes to the whole, there is no “objective” lens through which an individual views art.

Bias becomes a problem when and if it becomes “an unreasoned judgement.” So, when and if I start saying things entirely unsupported by the text, the arc and structure of the show, the context of TV culture, that would reflect a bad bias on my part. But in my reviews, I work to provide not just clinical analysis of shots and angles and scene breakdowns and plot mechanics, but personal story interpretation which is informed by my own understanding of literary structures, my ongoing work in the film industry, my life itself including good and bad experiences, and the things I value most about humanity.

Reasonable and Unreasoned Review

The AV Club’s coverage of this show was uncharacteristically abysmal, which is what actually led to me writing my own reviews; the reviewer obviously either didn’t fully understand or didn’t like most of the things the show was doing, and tore them apart mostly as ‘I don’t like when they . . .’ without understanding the actions in context of the show, the genre, society, or functionality as metaphors or tropes. The reviews were quite badly biased, maybe from being assigned a show not in his wheelhouse at all, maybe from not liking ‘genre’ or supernatural shows. Whatever the case, the reviews were often not well reasoned or supported with details from the show itself or shows typical of the genre.

If you think my perspective has become ‘unreasoned,’ then we can talk, but that requires a more thoughtful and supported argument than Twitter supports, and it becomes necessary to engage on not necessarily a more meaningful level, but definitely a more thorough platform. Hurling a water-balloon barrage of tweets isn’t a good way to convince me of either your point of view or my own mistakes. Did I mention I was doing this on my own time as a learning tool? I will make mistakes, and I will say things people don’t like or agree with. 

All this is not to say two reasoned people still can’t disagree, because a text as large and sprawling as a TV show can often support multiple opinions. Often I hear a theory and go ‘hey I think you’re onto something’ or ‘hey I still lean towards A but your B sounds like it could work, too, let’s see what plays out.’ There’s a place where that ends, of course, a place where I can say ‘no, it’s patently untrue that so-and-so was actually doing such-and-such; here’s why,’ or a place where you can point out my logic is flawed or I misquoted a scene. But often both people can have a textually supported opinion, and agree to disagree. Often both sides are informed by some sort of bias, and the better we can each explain our own biases and how it informs our own understanding of the text, the better we understand each others’ points of view, the show, and the world in general.

Thus, simply hurling ‘bias’ as an accusation is neither helpful nor accurate.

My Biases

I mentioned above my biases towards the show as a whole. I also have biases about specifics; liking certain scenes and characters and tropes more than others. I was asked by Drinks at the Dal if I wanted to do a podcast about a character, and I picked Tamsin because I’m almost absurdly biased towards the tropes and types which make up her character. It’s why I love Veronica Mars. It’s why my own first big film project was about a badass female detective.

I do try and either lay those biases mostly aside or clearly delineate said bias (more on that later) when I write the reviews. I’m sure I’m never entirely impartial, but I also support what I say with what happened on screen (as mentioned earlier, and will be mentioned again later, too). One thing which helps me feel I’m doing a decent job is that every major fandom (shipdom?) has been extremely angry with me at least once. This episode people wanted to know why I ‘hated’ Tamsin and/or Valkubus, and that’s actually a first. Just seven episodes ago I had people sending me angry tweets that I was ‘obviously reading something which is not there, you must be a Valkubus shipper’ because I insist Bo and Tamsin had awesome metaphorical sex. So if everybody’s mad at me, at one point or another, am I doing something right? I hope so.

Am I still biased to some degree, even if readers disagree over which way I lean? Yeah, sure. What’s so funny is I mention one bias right in the review. “While I’m being honest, I’ll mention I was a bit biased against the episode before it started. In fact, the Groundhog Day trope is my least favorite episode stunt ever.”

My past experiences with Groundhog Day tropes have almost unanimously been annoying, repetitive, unfunny, and have stymied any overall season arc rather than moving it forward. This bias created a reaction I couldn’t help upon seeing the title “Groundhog Fae.” It is a prism through which I cannot help but look. What I can do, and think I successfully did, is acknowledge the prism is there and skews my sight, and make sure that I account for that when I’m writing and analyzing. When I say the plot does or doesn’t move, am I basing that only on this episode, not the countless other Groundhog Day renditions I’ve seen? Am I judging this episode on its own merits and use of the trope, not on the fact I don’t like the trope? I still talk about it in cultural context, because it is a trope used widely and for various purposes, but I can’t let the fact it’s a trope I’m not fond of dictate my verdict and analysis.

What I ended up saying is the way this episode uses the conceit is more successful than many shows, and then giving reasons for that.

We’ve established bias is universal, bias isn’t always bad, and bias can be accounted for at least somewhat.

But how much do I account for it in my writing? Well, I try not to say anything about anything without using proof from the text. It’s true that in the 4.08 review I did not go into detail about my comment about Tamsin and Bo, and this is another disadvantage to reviewing TV rather than movies. I’ve written so many thousands of words, sometimes I act like everyone has read all of them. What I offhandedly referred to is something I’ve talked about elsewhere scattered through my blog, and actually talked about a little bit in the comments when somebody simply asked. People may still disagree with my reading (the commenter did, and made some points to the contrary), but there is a basis.

Of course, a lot of people came across my reviews for the first time with that tweet, and thus didn’t have a knowledge of the foundation I’d laid before. That’s unfortunate. But if I were to expound on every aspect every episode, my reviews would quickly get repetitive and eighty-three pages long. At some point, however, I did cite what I based my opinions on. To dismiss my reasoned, canon-based point of view simply because it’s not yours is absurd. To make statements assuming that because at this point I don’t think Bo and Tamsin should buy a puppy and go houseshopping I must dislike and dismiss one or both of the characters displays either an egregious lack of reading comprehension . . . or possibly just that thing where Twitter is a sucky medium for discussion.

To come to the comments and say ‘well what about this or that’ or ‘this is how I actually interpreted the scene, and why,’ or ‘you missed something important which informs the whole thing,’ now that’s awesome. I appreciate it in any medium, though some are simply better than others for it. And in fact people who did just that helped me realize 1) I was totally off about Tamsin’s age in the episode and 2) I had misread the originating POV in the opening fantasy.  [Oh, and also I had misspelled Rachel Skarsten's name because I'm actually terrible at spelling and I get really phonetic and proper nouns will kill me one day. So, three things. That one was a Twitter thing, and that's certainly fitting for the length, but no thanks for CC'ing Emily Andras on my spelling incompetence.]

People also disagree(d) with me about a half dozen other things, but we were able to share a little more about how we saw a scene, and gain some insight into another person’s point of view – or bias, if you will. And I don’t have to agree with a point of view to acknowledge it’s a well-thought, interesting point of view. And vice versa.

That, my friends, is the key. The key to good discussions about television. The key to reasoned debates about the nature of life, the universe, and everything. The key to friendship and communication and relationships. The end-all, be-all. Well-reasoned discussion in spaces built for it, interesting POVs, and the love and patience to develop both of them. 

Comments
28 Responses to “Lost Girl, Social Media, and the Nature of Bias”
  1. Suzy Metaxas says:

    Bravo! Well written and thought out :) Glad I found you blog from Audrey’s tweet :D

  2. Very excellent analysis- and in line with a current discussion thread on whedonesque (1/7/14). I also bring up two other ongoing debates: (1) authorial intent vs. reader response, and (2) canon. In fact, I am the Dana5140 mentioned in this blog post: http://deird1.livejournal.com/182556.html#cutid1

    Love to hear your thoughts on this as well. :-)

    • Melanie says:

      *whistles* Boy, howdy.

      I feel as if you have presented me with a 100-foot-tall hydra, and I’ve absolutely no idea where to start taking it on. I give you then, my initial thoughts, but to be honest I have not given this a great deal of thought up until now and thus I reserve the right to entirely reverse or revise them at a later date, such as tomorrow.

      1) Authorial intent

      The interesting thing about authorial intent is that in film and television, there are often a half dozen cooks in the kitchen. For film there may be one writer, or there may be a writer of source text (a book, say), two screenplay writers, and a screenplay editor. In TV the writer’s room may come up with an arc, a couple writers may work on a specific script, it may get tweaked some during shooting. Then the director and actors also interpret it. There’s no homogenous ‘author.’ Usually, the showrunner or creator is used in stead (and often said person establishes an arc and gets final say in how it plays).

      And *then* you get what’s onscreen, and what’s said offscreen.

      a) what’s onscreen

      This can often be interpreted several different ways, a lot of which has to do with acting and how audiences read said acting, and whether the subtext is intentional, and then what sort of metaphors are being portrayed, etc.

      b) what’s said offscreen

      Much more often a concrete answer. it’s also generally the easy answer, by which I mean, there’s a yes or no as opposed to a long breakdown of metaphor or a detailed analysis of feelings. Often, some subtleties can be lost in this, and people can *still* get all up in arms over it.

      2) Canon

      Fanfiction is not canon. Fanfic can be interesting, a way to fill in gaps, a way to make subtext maintext, a way to completely subvert maintext, a way to modernize (generally uberfic) a story and in doing so recontextualize everything in fascinating ways, etc. etc. Fanfic will by its nature vary wildly in tone and quality, and some will stick fairly strictly to canon and some won’t. None of this is to say there’s anything whatsoever wrong with fanfic, but it is what it is. It will by nature often contradict not only the show, but many other fanfics.

      I’ve not read Buffy Season 8. If you’d casually asked me what I thought, I probably would have casually replied that just because they’re in a different medium doesn’t make them non-canon; that having the original show creator involved with the plotline simply makes it a continuation of the story on paper since the story wasn’t able to continue on screen. And then we could have talked about the limitations of the two mediums and how comics enable things you couldn’t do on TV, and vice versa, and how that probably impacted the story, and that’s fun, and probably a little more in my realm of expertise. I’d say if people wanted to act like the TV show was the end of the story, that’s well and good, but the story extension is still canonical. I think it’d be along the same lines as Firefly/Serenity: [SPOILERS] if you want to act like the movie didn’t happen and Wash is still alive, great, but the movie is canon, just as the three unaired episodes are canon.

      It’s obvious this discussion goes beyond this, but I’m throwing my thoughts on the page and seeing what sticks.

      Now you have things like the Marvel universe, written by many different people [and I'm not well-versed in comic books AT ALL, so I'll skip quickly over this]; the Star Wars universe with its many books, some endorsed and some not and oft treated as canon but then with prequels and now sequels destined to be contradicted and swept aside; and even Lost Girl‘s minisodes, or other shows who do comics or YouTube shorts or whatnot after the show has (sometimes unceremoniously) ended, to wrap up loose ends.

      And really quickly people can form factions and get militant over what is and isn’t canon. I suppose off the bat I’d say: any story coming from the creator(s) of the show, even in cross-medium/transmedia form is canon. Anything made fairly independently but endorsed directly by the creator(s) is canon are apocrypha. Anything else is for fun.

      It’s obvious you’ve given this much more thought than I, so if you want to talk about it, with or without my comments as a jumping-off point, go right on ahead.

      • Dana Lawrence says:

        Hee. Yep, there I go raising difficult issues again. :-) So, here is my thinking, summarized. I fall on the side of reader response. Texts are open to multiple readings and just because there is an agreement that a scene means something, that does not mean it means that something to me. Just because Joss Whedon meant to tell a simple story about addiction that led to the death of Tara in order to make Willow evil, and claims he did not mean to invoke the evil/dead lesbian cliche, does not mean those who saw Tara’s death through that lens are wrong and invalidated in their belief. I see Buffy’s “cosmic fracking” with Twilight in the comic as highly problematic- it is either rape (since she was not able to make a free decision to have sex since she was under Twilight’s compulsion) or abuse (since she was sleeping with the man who was trying to kill her and who had killed her friends). Most who love Whedon refuse to consider this reading, since it is truly nettlesome. They simply see it as”the story.”As to canon, well, what does that really mean in the context of a story? Canon makes sense when we talk Bible, but not Lost Girl or Buffy. The comic is canon, but Joss has said he would discard the comic if Buffy were to return to TV. His meaning is not my meaning. In Moby Dick, that white whale takes on many meanings; which is right? And is mine wrong? This seems less an issue in Lost Girl, since the use of metaphor is not at the same level as it was in Buffy, and metaphor always carries implicit and explicit interpretations. But perhaps we see it in shipper discussions in LG- Doccubus, Valkubus, etc.

        • Melanie says:

          But now you’re talking interpretation conflated with canon. Two very different things.

          It is canon that Tara died. It is arguable what affect that had on the rest of the story, and the various interpretations which came across. It is correct that it tells a story about addiction, and violence, and a depiction of the ‘lesbian sex equals death’ trope. Interpretation (as shipping in Lost Girl) is not a zero-sum game. You can argue a perspective is wrong using text, but you can’t argue one event or line of dialogue can’t mean multiple things, because it can. It can mean what the author intended, and the author can intend multiple things, and it can mean other things to various degrees, but of course anything must be backed up. I can’t just say ‘the white wale means male impotence,’ I have to provide textual and/or authorial citations and argument. And in the end perhaps it does have many meanings.

          I’ll argue canon in the biblical sense is actual more divisive than television. What we accept now as modern canon was decided much later than the writings by a bunch of dudes with political motivations, and later changed. When we have a current universe created, and the creator can say the universe stretches across multiple mediums, then that has defined the canon. Interpretations can then be discussed, but you can’t pick and choose. I’ve not read the comics. I’ll say Whedon did some nettlesome things in the TV itself, including depictions of abuse and rape, as does Lost Girl, and people may not want to acknowledge them but they can’t simply un-canonize them. The discussion should be how those things are handled, not plugging ones ears and humming.

          One can say ‘I do not want to acknowledge such-and-such as canon,’ and fine and good, but that doesn’t actually change whether it is or not. Some people would act as if the last season of Gilmore Girls or The L Word, or the finale of The Sopranos, never happened. Great, and write your alternate or your fanfic or simply never watch those parts. But they did happen, and they’re canon.

          • Dana Lawrence says:

            Hiya, Melanie (I hope I can use your name. :-)) Well, sure, but i think you miss my point. I am not talking obvious canon issue,such as Bo being Fae (if she really is, who knows?) or Faith’s last name being Lehane. But in televisual viewing, for example, it does not matter. The kittenboard exists to provide, for example, a place for those upset at what happened to Tara to create their own universe based on their own desires. In their world, S6-7 of Buffy never happened and Tara is not dead. Those seasons are not discussed. Now, clearly, it did happen, but the Kittens have made a world where it did not- that is their view of the program. I am not a kitten, and I am not defending the choice, only noting that it IS their choice. So, there is a canon, and there is not. Who cares, really? My real point is that with regard to the interpretive elements of a show. Joss Whedon says he did not mean to invoke the evil/dead lesbian cliche. Does that make those who see it different wrong? This is authorial intent v. reader response. Did Willow and Tara kiss after Willow blew out the candle? You need not offer any authorial support to say that the white whale equals impotence. I would want to hear what you would offer, so I can decide for myself whether or not I feel your argument is meritorius, but I do not need authorial “approval” to do so. Sorry to be brief here, but am between teaching classes. Will try to add more later. I am not doing my discussion proud. :-)

            • Melanie says:

              I didn’t say one had to support one’s theory/interpretation through statements or authorial approval by Herman Melville (though it’s likely I place more weight on authorial intent than you). I said you had to support statements with the text. I also said it’s perfectly reasonable that multiple interpretations are valid, and in fact often multiple interpretations are intended.

  3. F says:

    I think the problem here was less what you said, and moreover the fact that it was tweeted by a showrunner. Yes, your review was biased. You said that the relationship Bo and Tamsin have is toxic, which is your opinion and you’re allowed to have that, but the cherry on the cake for the valkubus shippers was Emily Andras tweeting it out as this excellent review of the episode. Not to say that it was terrible, but it’s difficult to disconnect her opinion from yours when she’s perceived to be endorsing it.

    Another example of this happening is when, following the premiere or season 4, Emily Andras retweeted a comment that stated that “Bo woke up when Lauren remembered” as fact. It wasn’t necessarily malicious in any way, and that action wasn’t “wrong,” but it doesn’t change the fact that it managed to prop Lauren up in the “great ship wars” of Lost Girl. As a showrunner, what she does and says in regard to the show is generally taken as a form of endorsement by the viewers. This may or may not be true, but it’s the way these things are viewed. Unfortunately, there’s a tendency for these endorsements to ignore and isolate two of the three big ships on the show, and “endorse” a single, very specific one. So when your review showed up in valkubus feeds from one of Lost Girl’s show runner’s ,more or less stating that Tamsin and Bo could never work (which by the way you didn’t actually back up with any canon facts, for it’s difficult to see them being toxic when there’s an obvious and developing theme of them being protective and truthful of/to each other), it was yet another blow to a shipdom that has little representation from the cast and crew.

    • Melanie says:

      I don’t follow closely with the tweets/retweets or post-show interviews with the creators, etc. Nor did I take Andras’s tweet as endorsing everything I said in the review. She retweeted my review before, and I take it as her saying that on the whole my reviews reasonably express one opinion while digging into interesting aspects of the show and its metaphors and shooting style etc. And of course, there’s the free publicity! But, thank you for clearly delineating what about it may have frustrated some people.

      [ETA: she did also retweet my review where I talked about Bo and Tamsin having metaphorical sex. If you wanted any more ammunition on that front.]

      I never said their relationship was toxic. I’m unsure where you get that. I said that specifically as romantic partners, I think they accentuate bad aspects of each others’ personalities (which I garnered from various places specifically “Fae-ge Against the Machine;” as I said in this very write-up, there is almost no substantiation in the 4.08 review itself, but I had talked about it elsewhere). I agree they are protective of and increasingly open with each other. I have people I’m great friends with and think make my life infinitely better who I would not be in a romantic relationship with because I think it’d not work out so great. That’s nothing against them, me, or our friendship. I’ve never held the idea that friendship is ‘less than’ romantic partnership. Just ‘different than.’ Relationships can be awesome and intimate and not romantic. I’ve said Tamsin and Bo have a great relationship and I like how it’s developed. I reiterated it in the 4.08 comments.

      I don’t believe I’ve said they could never work romantically, I just don’t think they work now. It was pointed out to me that perhaps with this regeneration / incarnation, Tamsin essentially got a reboot. People change and grow – in real life, let alone TV where personalities are written, let alone with a literal reincarnation – and so hey, maybe it happens. Whether or not I think how it unfolds works germanely will depend on a lot, but trust me: I won’t throw a hissy if Tamsin and Bo sleep together and/or date.

      [Heck, if Bo decides to have a poly relationship with Dyson, Lauren, Tamsin, Crystal, Val, and all Aife's thralls for dessert, I'm all for it; the only person not related to her I'm adamantly opposed to with her romantically is Kenzi (*ducks*).]

      I wish you didn’t think that my casually disagreeing with you on this point is the focus above everything else I say, but I do appreciate you taking time to lay it out.

    • Lauren B says:

      Respectfully, I don’t think you actually read to comprehend what Melanie was saying in this piece.

      Bias itself is not inherently a bad thing. Melanie isn’t conducting a scientific or sociological experiment here. She isn’t sitting on a jury deciding if someone should be sent to jail for a crime. If that were the case, she would be required to try to check her bias at the door as much as possible.

      She is reviewing episodes of television, and the act of reviewing is inextricable from stating one’s opinions. Sure, you can make objective comments in reviews (“the director chose a yellow color palette for these scenes” or “this actor was primarily shot from this angle”), but at the end of the day the point of a review is saying whether the author of the review thought that something was good or bad, whether they liked it or they didn’t. And that judgement is an opinion.

      Opinions are biased. They just are. But when I see people throw the word “biased” around in fandom, it’s always used derogatorily, when what they’re really saying is “those people don’t agree with my opinions.” Your opinions are just as biased as Melanie’s opinions, which are just as biased as my opinions. It doesn’t make any of them wrong. It just makes them different. And sadly, having different opinions in fandom often seems to lead to antipathy, which makes me sad.

      I’m also struck by the great sense of entitlement I see amongst hardcore shippers on social media. You say, “it was yet another blow to a shipdom that has little representation from the cast and crew.” Respectfully, Valkubus shippers are not owed “representation” (I’m not entirely sure what you mean by this) from the cast and crew. And neither are Dybo shippers, or Doccubus shippers, or Hale/Kenzi shippers, or… You get the idea. It’s wonderful that Lost Girl’s crew is receptive to fans’ ideas and wishes, but they extend us this courtesy. It is not owed to us.

      We (fans) started watching the show because we were interested in the writers’ and the cast’s vision of this world and the entertainment they crafted. Just because we came on board doesn’t mean they’re required to let us captain the boat. If that were the case, then everyone would be trying to steer the boat in different directions, which would lead to disaster.

      What the cast and crew owe to fans is to tell the best story they can and provide us entertainment. What the writers owe to shippers is for Bo to make a choice at some point, whether it be Dyson, Lauren, Tamsin, Ryan, that cute hydra guy, all of them, or none of them. But they are not required to agree with or to service every (or any) shipdom.

  4. Maigray says:

    I could not believe some of the responses you got on Twitter when I went back and looked. I agree the Internet is wonderful in many ways. But the lack of civility and respect can be scary. It never ceases to amaze me the way people treat real people – with real feelings – over characters that are not real.

  5. hellotohangup says:

    I think the reason it go so heated on twitter was because people invest a lot into their fandoms and their ships and if they think Doccubus is like the epitome of what a perfect relationship representation on TV should be, are scared of it being tarnished and have invested in that then it becomes natural that they tend to defend it by attacking the other ships or anything else that threatens it or what it stands for. In the process of this there was a lot of dismissal or ill will towards those who shipped Valkubus last season that Valkubus shippers would not have forgotten. Looking at it at from a broader perspective, remember how angry people got when Tara died, or how horrific it was when Sylvia was killed off, people don’t want their characters or their ships smashed to pieces because of what it means to them outside of the show, what it says as a great commentary about people and relationships in real life. I think the sentiment of wanting Bo and Tamsin to be just friends angered people because it was fueling fire from multiple comments on multiple shows in regards to shipping wars and how people try to discredit other people’s ships, by downplaying their existence as being less than romantic or outside of cannon. Not that it was the your intent, just that it stirred that up in people. If I think in a broader spectrum than just Lost Girl of say Rizzoli and Isles, it was almost like when people say (and they say it a lot), geez Jane and Maura are just friends, stop being ridiculous, you are just seeing what you want and it’s all in your heads, maybe people took the comments about Tamsin and Bo not being suited as romantic partners as that dismissive air of get real, never going to happen, it’s not cannon type of thinking, so when the groundhog fae review got retweeted by a writer people may have thought it was being dismissive of the ship almost like when Jtam (showrunner of Rizzoli and Isles) would actively go about denying that Rizzles was written in a way that could be interpreted as romantic, Of course these completely different shows in completely different genres and scenarios but lots of people are involved in these mutliple fandoms and deconstruct the episodes and so it might have hit a chord with them, because there is a lot of speculation about where the writers of lost girl want to take the ships and what their views on them are. It just was that fuel added to the shipper wars, which obviously wasn’t the intent, it is your review, it’s your thoughts on the show and your thoughts on the character interactions and the episodes as they relate to the arcs as a whole. Right from the get go people were in defensive mode just like they are about Dybo vs Doccubus. I think there is merit in all the ships, personally I don’t see Tamsin and Bo as being bad for each other, I think there is a heartfelt empowerment in Valkubus, like no matter what because of Tamsins love the truth will always come out and it forces them to be themselves unapologetically and accept all parts of themselves not just the good parts. After Tamsin kissed Bo and the day didn’t reset she said maybe you should kiss someone you have a connection with, and it was really juxtaposed with Lauren and Dyson fighting over who Bo loves the most, but instead of being mad or jealous Tamsin just allowed Bo to be herself, it feels like she is either not expecting to be liked in return or just is far more accepting of Bo’s true nature and who she is and how she feels. I found it interesting that while the others fought over was more meaningful to Bo and how to keep concealing the box, Bo and Tamsin first had fun but then revealed all their feelings and fears to each other, so there was that sense of instead of having to fight for a connection and hold onto it tightly that the connection between them was organic enough and strong enough for them to be truthful and honest with each other despite of themselves. I always took the ‘moms’ comment to Kenzie as Tamsin protecting Bo and the conversation they just had. I believed that by that stage she had her full memories back but by saying what she said to Kenzie she was protecting and hiding that fact, letting Kenzie think she was still Little T for the purpose of not exposing all the information she had shared with Bo because it was private to Bo, giving Bo time to digest and reveal in her own time.

    • Melanie says:

      [First just a note, to clarify for anyone else reading this, but I think Bo and Tamsin are good for each other. I just think that in a long-term romantic relationship, at least solo, they wouldn't be. I know it's a fine line, and I may be wrong, but that's where I'm at. Though, if my season-starting hopeful projection about a giant poly relationship plays out, that may not matter anyways.]

      Yes – one of the things about Lost Girl is that the VERY POINT is it’s not a zero-sum game. Bo has lots of sex and/or feeding with lots of people, by nature. So if people should feel free to ship any combination on any show, it should be this show. But it can get nasty out there, from all sides. I was careful to note, because it’s true, every ship can blow things out of proportion. I want to make sure nobody thinks I’m calling out any particular shipdom. I am genuinely interested in the new ways we interact with TV and the way we use ‘bias’ as a weapon against people reviewing art, and this was a good jumping off point.

      And everybody should ship who they want to ship and favor who they want to favor. I agree with you that people have been burned in the past and that was projected onto the review a bit and were able to immediately react via social media, and I think that’s one of the downsides with the new ways we interact with TV. But it’s not coming from nowhere. There’s a copious history of people – and I’ll bet $1,000 it includes a lot of the people who watch Lost Girl – seeing their ships treated poorly or ignored entirely simply because of gender, and there’s grounds that’s the only reason, and that’s awful and does serve to compound the whole thing. And while I think homosocial and sexual tension between friends (like Rizzoli and Isles that you note, though I’m not familiar with all your examples, ie Sylvia?) can be awesome and realistic and interesting and funny . . . that’s only if the playing field were level. And it’s not. At all. Are there f/m pairings which enjoy seasons of sexual tension when people think they should get together and they don’t? Yes. But there are also a hundred cases of hetero consumation, as it were, in every direction. I don’t know the ratio, but it’s sure to be atrocious. And that’s not even getting into the even poorer representation of m/m, poly, trans*, etc. on TV. And *that’s* not even getting into the part where in reality, the people who are getting shat upon on TV are getting the same in real life. (getting off track, bringing it back around . . . ) So when you get two or three mainstream pairings with chemistry and obvious compatibility and the writers are teasing it, but then showrunners actively deny any such potential has even crossed their minds, or actors make asinine tweets about ‘just stop shipping you’re an idiot,’ it is a slap in the face. Get slapped enough times, and when someone says – as I did – I’m not fully convinced this one specific instance will work in the long run [and I want to point out I never said they shouldn't throw down, in this episode or any], or people see yet another ship go without complete confirmation on for a season or two, then people react like they’ve been slapped. It’s human.

      But it’s also problematic, in the way we view TV and the way we interact on social media, and the way we critically evaluate art itself and other things like reviews. And this is what I think the new mediums are exacerbating.

      There becomes an idea that every bad thing happening to a character (even in a show full of bad things happening to characters) or a relationship not being brought to fruition *must* be because of sexuality, irregardless of context. More relevant to my topic, there becomes a conflation of ‘someone who doesn’t necessarily ship what I ship’ and ‘someone who tells me I am dumb/undeserving/should not ship what I do.’ And I did not and I will not do that latter thing. People should definitely ship Bo and any- and everyone [my general rule for what I ship, if anyone cares, is the same as life; if it's consensual and of legal age, then eat your heart out. Though perhaps I should add 'and not related;' I've never really had to make that note before].

      It’s not like Valkubus shippers are being absurd with their interpretation; Tamsin has been given more than enough narrative grounds to be shipped with Bo, and hard. Though, people who ship her with Dyson have a leg to stand on, too, and that kind of brings me back to the starting point: especially, especially, especially, with this show, we can all have different points of view, but we should let all ships sail on into that good night.

  6. I’m fascinated by your opinions. We do share some biases, perhaps that’s why. But I’m also fascinated by your opinions and ideas because they are so utterly and completely unlike anything I would conceive of on my own. That’s why you are such interesting reading.

    I’ve been writing about Lost Girl on my blog, too. What I do is nothing like what you (or any other person writing about Lost Girl) does. Using your terminology from this post, I’m writing things that are a whole lot of recap and a little bit of review. The whole thing gets run through my personal interpretation of what body language, facial expression, and tone of voice used by actors means as well.

    I announced my bias right on my blog’s About page. I’m interested in stories about women. Lost Girl has plenty of women and keeps my interest because of it. My interest isn’t in a particular subset of women: e.g., only Bo and Lauren, or Bo and Tamsin, or even Bo and Dyson. I know that people get really invested and attached to their particular subset of interests. Flames, trolling, attacks and tongue lashing can result from getting so attached. I wrote about that last summer here: http://oldaintdead.com/entertainment-gift/.

    So, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with attacks and complainers who want to somehow make you agree exactly with their point of view – or else! But please, keep being you. It’s what makes you such an interesting voice.

    • Maigray says:

      I read your link, and I really enjoyed it. I have to say, being a part of the Lost Girl fandom is difficult, at times, because of the personal attacks against showrunners and actors. Even on moderated boards, I have heard them – not the characters, but the real people – cursed, called obscene names, subjected to online witch hunts; one special instance where a showrunner was accused of being sexually interested in one of his actors, etc.

  7. vexundorma says:

    For a better understanding of what happened to you I think it is necessary to go beyond the mere biased opinion perspective, because erupting shipper battles and attacks in the LG fandom is a daily occurrence on the Net, with a growing side of nastiness that is really off-putting.
    1. Since season 1 the show’s PR/Marketing has been intent on dividing the fans into battling teams as its primary promotion tool, and anyone who has been with the show from the beginning can easily remember the ad nauseum piling of poll upon poll upon poll of “Team Lauren” v “Team Dyson”. The survival of the infamous ‘triangle’ up to S3 was, in my biased opinion, nothing more than a PR imposition on the writers to allow for this tool to be used. The willful promotion of new ships for an extended battleground allowed the writers to ease on the triangle but not on the strategy of endorsing divisions in the fandom – pay attention to what the main producer and the showrunner have been saying and especially how they say it since the beginning of the promotion for S4 – because the idea that “even bad publicity is good publicity” is firmly entrenched in the show’s PR/Marketing.
    2. When the main story (and it is debatable if there even is a story) doesn’t advance an inch for 8 episodes and nobody among the viewers has any idea of what the hell is going on what is there to discuss and argue but the ships? When I say ‘discussion’ I mean obviously raging wars because that is the coin the show always sponsored – one reaps what one sowed.
    You were just caught in the middle of one more of the many storms that a bizarrely stupid marketing decision, in my opinion, has created and will continue to create, oblivious to the rejection antibodies that are growing among non-shippers.

    • Melanie says:

      I started watching from 1.01 partway through the show’s third season, completely oblivious as to any marketing whatsoever (I’d heard of it though a friend). As a general rule I don’t involve myself in watching or participating in forums, shipping, etc. I like analyzing promos, but I don’t read press releases, and I’ve only read two of Andras’s post-episode interviews, both when specific parts of them were pointed out to me. I don’t closely follow marketing of shows I’m not involved in, either, other than specific instances/studies. I loosely follow what Lost Girl does on Twitter, as social media marketing is a small part of what I do and also it’s the place my own reviews have gotten the most traction. But mostly, I act like PR is anathema. If they’re truly promoting vitriolic divisiveness, screw ‘em, but in the age of the internet comments section I doubt they need to do much. I also avoid ‘ship culture.’ I avoid these both partly because I like to form my own opinions, partly because it too easily leads to blindly striking out, partly because it takes even more time, partly because it can easily act in direct contrast to what a show or movie is, partly because it’s all so constructed, etc.

      All that to say, you may be right, but I have no firsthand idea how much the show actively promoted Lauren or Dyson or the ‘versus’ or pitted ‘teams’ against each other. We also both know PR often has an entirely different idea of what a show is and how it should be promoted than the writers and runners. I must say, however, writers are incredibly loathe to allow PR to dictate story, so unless it was coming from higher up to both writers and the marketing department, I highly doubt it was PR shaping story, especially in the third season of a show. As for what they’re pushing, if it be true: ugh.

      I’ll agree and disagree with you about advancement. I’ll agree it’s too slow. It’s been in fits and starts, and it’s certainly been more concerned with character interpersonal advancement – or should I say struggle and dark nights of the soul – than the overall plot, but we’ve gotten somewhere. We could absolutely lose 4.02 and miss nothing, moving the one or two relevant scenes – ie Una Mens and Vex – to 2.03 where we could drop much of the botched metaphors. They made Dyson’s backstory relevant with the helskor, though I feel it was a stretch, I liked the episode. And there’s what I think they’re doing. As I mentioned in the 4.08 review, they’ve made it clear they can and want to pull of individualized trope episodes while weaving in tiny threads of the overall picture. They’re teasing this out, and LOST-style, it’s going to be more mysteries and relational finangling than moving towards concluding a plot, mythology for the sake of it. And to be honest, I’d rather them go back towards a S1 formula. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ll do a rundown at the end of the season, and I’ll likely be more critical of the season as a whole, but I’m taking it individual episode by individual episode, looking at tropes and editing and construction and metaphorical continuity and relationships, and those still hold.

      Last, I’ll put it here in case it’d get lost on the original post: I did start to watch The Fall, through the second episode (I feel 40% of a season is a fair shake), but it’s more like psychological crime-drama pulp than even neo-noir, let alone noir. It’s a shame, I wanted to like it, and I’ve liked Anderson in everything I’ve seen her in [note: have yet to watch The X-Files], but I didn’t care for what they built around her. Too wooden, too obvious, too much like Luther’s third series, too reveling. I still look forward to the Forbrydelsen trilogy and Bron-Broen, which you recommended, as well as Top of the Lake

      • vexundorma says:

        I skip over most things while cruising the net, but I try to keep an eye for the unusual. An interesting piece on the role of wardrobe in the characters’ portrait on a new show was what drove me into Lost Girl (right at Food for Thought). An exasperated comment on the unending excuses to pit Lauren and Dyson fans against each other on the show’s blog in the Showcase site suggested to me a marketing strategy that went unabated through S2 and illustrated the peculiar nature of the show’s approach to PR and marketing. (Like telling your fans, near the S4 premiere, that you’re going to hate it – basically what the main producer said in the London Con; the same guy who declared the triangle will always be there, by the way). Those are the kind of bizarre things that I find interesting. *shrugs*
        As for my recommendations I was talking about, if memory serves, three female noir characters I found fascinating, not about the shows. DS Stella Gibson (The Fall) is the embodiment of the classic male noir character to a T, and the gender reversal acts as a filter, both for the unsavory elements of the classic portrait and for the unease that a lot of viewers feel with a woman as tough, detached, indifferent to anyone’s opinion and sexually free as she. And when you consider that the show was written with no second season in sight the psychological game chess that is at the narrative centre ends with the choice of the less travelled and easy path. Forbrydelsen and Bron-Broen are, like many other European productions, socio-political commentaries that use the crime procedural format (an aspect always dropped in US remakes) for the narrative, and in both cases it serves to enhance the rich portrait of their main female characters. Now some people like it and others don’t; it’s all good.

        • Melanie says:

          I find both facets very interesting as well. I’m especially going to look up that wardrobe piece (though it’s not often the first or even fourth thing I notice, I’m always fascinated by it and it’s something I’m working to analyze more).

          Fair enough. I will have to finish the season before deciding, then; some of her traits certainly fit, but I’ve simply not seen enough of her. Obviously the show has taken the more modern/neo-noir approach towards more graphic depictions, which I generally find unnecessary but in the case of her sexual use of Olson – including her brusque dismissal and his audience-surrogate anger and surprise towards a woman acting as such – it was the perfect amount. Though I *did* think they should have been clearer she was physically attracted at the scene, and not attracted to Olson’s status and position. It seemed to be sending a mixed message about a powerful woman being a seeker of others with status (and possibly even having ‘slept her way’ to where she is now), though perhaps that’s a reading most don’t take away, I thought it could have been easily avoided with a small tweak to the conversation in the car before she introduced herself.

  8. overainbows says:

    Wow, I had no idea of what happened on twitter. I’m so sorry for all the nasty comments you got. On the bright side, great post!

    vexundorma, it’s interesting you said the show’s PR focused on this ship war since season 1. I started watching the show by the end of season 2 and only went checking the fandom halfway season 3. I thought it came from the fandoms and then the PR’s took advantage of it, especially with Doccubus. Judging by Lauren’s participation in the first season I assumed they didn’t mean for it to be this big.

    Anyways, personally I find this ship war to be the most off-putting aspect of the show and its fandom. Indeed this is the show to ship everything that moves on screen and I have my personal favorites too, but I see so many more interesting aspects that end up being overlooked. I’m never very invested in romantic relationships in any show, although I try to check the lesbian relationships whenever there’s one to see how’s representation, that’s definitely not the only reason to draw and keep me watching a show. So in a way Lost Girl turns out to be very frustrating for me when it comes to sharing thoughts, as I was drawn to it for the same reasons as Melanie (minus Buffy, cause I never watched it). Even the “lesbian fandom” with a more critical pov on female representation I can only take in small doses as it tends to easily dismiss everything else on the show for petty reasons IMO, like reduced screen time for a character even when it does make sense in the narrative. This blog is very refreshing not only because it discusses other topics but because of the very quality of these discussions.

    • Maigray says:

      I started checking the online fandom about halfway through season 2, and I think I also missed the team strategy. Regardless, I do not think that is a reason, but just an excuse, for people to attack other people online. And that is really no excuse at all. It is too bad, because it has a negative impact on the show all the way down the line. Who wants to interact with a fandom in that state?

      • Melanie says:

        Honestly, I don’t particularly think of any of the comments (at least the ones I saw) as nasty. It’s frustrating because I believe it misses several points, and above all I’d rather be properly understood, but it’s not scarring. I have seen truly nasty social media attacks in the past, and in fact had an incident much nearer the beginning of these reviews which was more egregious. To be sure, the reviews near the beginning were much worse, too, but the angry reply verbiage was far more personal. People calling me ‘biased’ and telling off showrunners (who have surely heard worse) for retweeting me is annoying, but ranked fairly low on the overall life scale.

        Still, of course I’d rather they not (especially the jumping-at-the-showrunner part), and I greatly appreciate the show of support on Twitter and here. I also greatly appreciate people making legitimate arguments and explanations, and some new people did just that after the tweeting occurred. Much of these things happening is due to the community built around these reviews; a community which both knows me a little better and – having likely read the bulk of my reviews – has seen the background for the stuff I say; as I mentioned, TV reviewing is far more difficult in that respect than movie reviewing. Now, if Twitter didn’t exist, if this was 2002, would people actually read more than the one review before jumping on my integrity as a reviewer or using a couple comments to dump the review as a whole? Perhaps, perhaps not. But it would almost certainly be true that more people would engage either on the blog itself or on a less immediate, more individual basis where actual topics could be addressed.

        Where it gets problematic is when communities come together not to encourage or offer constructive criticism but to attack personally or on frivolous bases. It quickly snowballs and escalates, and also tends to boil down to focusing on minutiae, in doing so missing a great deal of nuance. And that sort of thing happens more and more often in great part due to 1) the way different platforms like Twitter work 2) widespread cultural and social expectations about being treated and mistreated, often with precedent but still often misdirected based on assumption of prejudiced attitudes 3) basic misunderstanding of how critique and reviews work, specifically where bias is and is not appropriate and how it comes into play in reviews.

        I think fandom communities are often awesome, but also often too insular, even – nay, especially – in this age of internet. For this and some of the reasons overrrainbows states, as well as a few other reasons (and I’m going to reply to vexundorma up there when I have time and maybe touch on this more then) I don’t really get involved in or follow fandoms or PR organized movements. But this whole thing finally encouraged me to throw down some thoughts at large. With a few tweaks I think the piece could be applied to many current shows and the culture of television watchers at large, and it’s a change of pace from the majority of what I’ve been writing lately. All’s well that ends well, right?

  9. Rachel says:

    I’m biased towards thoughtful, quality, creative TV shows. I want creativity, I want depth to characters, relationships, and plot. I want honest complexity. I want to be inspired and entertained. I want to see interesting, smart characters and stories depicted on screen. I want to see TV where the writers, producers, and actors stand for something. And I’m biased to wanting spaces like this blog to explore all that, to engage with people who pick up on things I don’t pick up on, to be a part of a vibrant and rich dialogue space.

    Also, especially in response to Lauren B’s comment, I agree with you to some extent about Lost Girl not “owing” shippers anything. On another level I disagree. We can’t ever divorce television from politics and social commentary, especially in today’s world. Every show that’s broadcast is viewed by the public, and therefore is a form of social/societal engagement and commentary. Shows are biased. Writers continually make decisions that have social ramifications and are biased. As Melanie mentioned above, the number of hetero relationship pairings that have been represented, acknowledged, consummated, and whatnot on TV shows farrrrrr outnumbers same sex pairings. This is just one example. Race, gender, class, and sexual orientation are all factors in the life/world of a TV show… as they are in our own lives. Shows can address this or ignore this, but regardless ignoring it is biased and a choice just as much as addressing it. Even “ignoring” representation or lack thereof isn’t really ignoring it — because white, heterosexual, patriarchal (i.e. “default position”) is a form of social commentary in and of itself. Howard Zinn said “we can’t be neutral” and for a show to say or pretend it’s neutral isn’t accurate. A show’s decisions about what to relationships to represent or not represent, and how to represent or not represent them, is inherently biased. I feel that there is a responsibility that comes with that. So while I agree with you that writers “owe” fans a quality show, not to pander to a particular relationship fandom, I also think writers in their role as media creators are responsible for the relationships, characters, power dynamics and voices they choose to represent, or dismiss and silence through negative/stereotypical tropes or lack of representation, on their show. Personally, I also feel that they’re responsible for creating relationships and worlds that reflect love, complexity, challenge, maturity. Maybe some of what underlies the heatedness of the shippers in the LG world is this issue?

    In general it seems to me that Lost Girl has and continues to actively “take on” the responsibility to represent women, same sex pairings, men (to my mind Dyson is becoming a much richer character this season), societal prejudices, humanity, and it also intentionally seems to value creative decisions and creative risks, which is wonderful and refreshing even. I see this attempt throughout the show’s history, and this season I see it with richer character development.

    Also, maybe Emily Andras retweeted Melanie’s review to support the space the blog is becoming. Or because she likes the thoughtfulness of Melanie’s reviews.

    • Melanie says:

      To touch on your comment about shows owing shippers: my comment was to explain the reactions of viewers, in context. And while I firmly believe and push television as a whole must do better in ALL areas of representation, saying ‘because all TV is bad, those shows which are LGBTQ positive must fulfill the desires of shippers who want to see same-sex couples (for the sake of it)’ or anything along those lines is incorrect. Not saying that’s exactly what you’re saying, but the mindset can too easily go from ‘we are owed representation’ (true) to ‘because we get slammed so often elsewhere, we are owed a ‘happily ever after ending’* (not true).

      *what I will argue people are owed is an ending which doesn’t trade in standard gay death or unhappiness cliches, but I don’t see it going that way. Plus, LGBT cinema traffics in its own cliches, too. Kill the cliches!

      In this instance, there are arguments on all sides, and if Bo ‘ends up with’ a man, monogamously, be he Dyson or anyone else, it would not be fair to slam her or the show simply on the basis of her ending up in a heteronormative relationship. That’s the same problem with people protesting Bo being with Lauren simply because Lauren is a woman. Bisexual people end up in opposite-sex relationships all the time. It may happen. (Though I do think they’re edging towards some sort of poly arrangement.)

      And in that case, one can make arguments for and against each character on an individual basis; it’s when it becomes EITHER ‘ew, a boy / ew, a girl’ or ‘must be boy because straight / must be girl because gay’ that it’s a problem. The fact that men and women are equally viable partners is what’s important, not that Bo ultimately ends up with a woman. Yes, even in the wider culture of unequal representation. Who wants to be the default, whether it’s because one is a man (general TV culture) or a woman (in this argument, to serve merely as antithesis of TV culture)? It should stand on its own. Whether the end result serves the story and is germane to what’s happening with the characters is how it must be argued for or against – and yes that can get complex and thus people don’t always want to do it, but too bad.

      The show has been (with a couple hiccups and one giant belch) one of the more woman-positive, unconventionality-positive, LGBTQ positive things on TV. That will stand regardless of whether Bo ‘ends up with a woman.’ Gay and straight people and relationships are equal and should be treated as such: that’s its statement, engagement, and commentary.

      • Rachel says:

        I’m not saying “because all TV is bad, those shows which are LGBTQ positive must fulfill the desires of shippers who want to see same-sex couples (for the sake of it).” I’m saying…

        1. We live in a biased world in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Like… “you can’t be neutral on a moving train” (Zinn). We’re not all starting on the same starting line, or with the same ‘privileges.’ Whether it likes it or not, or addresses/deals with it or not, media operates within this world and helps create and shape our perceptions. So, there is societal impact, and responsibility for that impact, in the decisions any writer or producer makes to represent, not represent, make visible, ignore, etc various groups of people. And, how well or badly they represent groups of people. In regards to Lost Girl specifically, I agree with you — it’s made and makes huge efforts at representing race, and especially sexuality, gender, etc in rich, diverse, non-stereotypical/trope ways. It’s a huge reason I’m a fan of the show. It isn’t trying to be ‘neutral on a moving train.’

        2. Some (not all, by any means) of the charge that seems to be coming from various ships (what sparked your post) might be caused by a fear. Fear of lack of representation, or being silenced, or being misrepresented, or being negatively stereotyped, or…

        3. Whether Bo ends up with a man or woman (or some combination), personally I’m fine with that as long as it’s a rich, interesting relationship that makes a lot of sense for her. And I do think it’s important that Lost Girl makes sure that both the female and the male love interests are BOTH interesting, rich, viable characters and relationships. When both are rich relationships in Bo’s life… that’s wow… that’s ‘breaking the mold’ and it’s not neutral.

        When you say… “And in that case, one can make arguments for and against each character on an individual basis; it’s when it becomes EITHER ‘ew, a boy / ew, a girl’ or ‘must be boy because straight / must be girl because gay’ that it’s a problem. The fact that men and women are equally viable partners is what’s important, not that Bo ultimately ends up with a woman. Yes, even in the wider culture of unequal representation. Who wants to be the default, whether it’s because one is a man (general TV culture) or a woman (in this argument, to serve merely as antithesis of TV culture)? It should stand on its own. Whether the end result serves the story and is germane to what’s happening with the characters is how it must be argued for or against – and yes that can get complex and thus people don’t always want to do it, but too bad.” … I both agree and disagree. When it becomes ‘ew, a boy / ew, a girl’ then nuance has gone out the window, and so have interesting relationships. But I think that due to bias and unequal representation, gay and straight relationships start at different starting lines. It’s not a level playing field. I just think this has to be addressed in any TV show, and is constantly being addressed even if unconsciously (not addressing it is addressing it). From what I can tell of Lost Girl, they happily address it. It’s a fine line… I’m not saying ‘Bo should end up with a woman’ or ‘Bo should end up with a man’ at all, just that whomever she ends up with needs to be thoughtfully considered both within the context of the story and the context of what it’s communicating in our non-neutral, biased world. I don’t think you can fully divorce decisions made for a story or characters, from our larger society.

        • Melanie says:

          If my caveat wasn’t clear enough, I wasn’t claiming you were saying “because all TV is bad, those shows which are LGBTQ positive must fulfill the desires of shippers who want to see same-sex couples (for the sake of it).” Only that the idea TV does owe watchers and shippers a specific kind of fulfillment can easily lead there.

          It’s not a level playing field. But one must be careful to even the playing field, IE give both an equal shot (which I think Lost Girl does; some might even argue canting more towards the women’s side) and be aware of what the cant is, and not to choose one side simply because it’s less chosen. And though of course you should consider what every choice means “in the context of what it’s communicating in our non-neutral, biased world,” you can’t always choose simply on the basis of averages.

          We agree on the way it should be considered both in light of story and in light of society at large, but . . . If the playing field is level within your particular universe, I think that’s enough. I think that’s a strong communiqué to the rest of TV, the world, etc. I will, however, take that under heavier consideration.

          • Rachel says:

            Agreed :) It’s a fine line… and an interesting one… to navigate, I’d wager. In TV, and in our world. This is basically the same issue and arguments that come up with the affirmative action debates. Integrity of the story and characters, and a good story, shouldn’t be sacrificed (and one could also argue that good stories and characters have been sacrificed due to heteronormity (sp?), racism, sexism…). Yet honestly creating a level playing field in a TV show’s universe requires a lot of talent, skill, sensitivity, insight. One that’s rich and rings true to viewers. Lost Girl is one of the best attempts at this that I’ve seen :)

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