Relationships over character development

I’ve recentely come to a conclusion about storytelling. Some writers always strive to get characters into a relationship. It seems to me that stories seem to be focused on romance more and more. In some cases this disables the character development.

Anyone even remotely familiar with a fandom must have also heard of ‘shippers’, fans that support a couple from a show. Whether it’s official or not. But these shippers aren’t the only one. Storytellers seem to have a natural instinct to create couples in a story. Peeta/Katniss and Gale/Katniss from the Hunger Games, Asami Sato/Mako or Korra/Mako from the Legend of Korra. Wait, another pattern. Love triangles are also a thing nowadays. Which doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s actually an important element of The Hunger Games series. But in Korra’s case, it’s not so necessary.

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Let’s take Asami Sato and ‘Masami’ for example. Be warned, there be spoilers ahead. Beautiful, independant, strong woman that has to save her father’s company from going bankrupt, after she decided to go against him. She’s on the verge of a huge change within her that can make or break not only her career but also herself. She’s fine for a few episodes. She makes a deal with a big businesspartner that she believes will make everything alright, until it turns out that he sabotages her. We don’t see what happens after that. We don’t see what she does to honor the company that her father left behind, we don’t see a solution she comes up with. We only see how she falls into the arms of her ex that’s broken up with his girlfriend about a week ago. Then there’s no saving it. The promise and potential her storyline has gets completely ignored and the only screentime Asami gets is for an unwanted love triangle and a couple of cool shots of her driven a vehicle by choice. Did I mention I was dissapointed?
I’m a fan of Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino. With Avatar and sometimes Korra they and their cowriters have produced some of the greatest writing and character development for children out there on television. This just does not fit in.

Why do they feel the need to do that? Does it have anything to do with the fact that one of human’s biggest fears is to end up alone? Do we want only the best for our characters? When you really work on a story and your heart is in it, those characters become your babies. It’s natural that you want them to get treated equally. But I don’t think it benefits the story if everyone has a relationship. A book or televisionshow can only tell part of the story. I think it’s wise to let some characters be single, so you can really focus on their individual growth. I’m noticing that I’m becoming less of a shipper and actually prefering characters to stay single for a while, because their own story needs to be told.

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Another example is the ‘shippingwar’ of Once Upon A Time. Be warned, there be spoilers ahead. Emma, the saviour and main character of the show, was once a strong independant woman. She had one important relationship: her son Henry. In the latest episodes there seems to be a need for a romantic partner. The father of her child Neill or the charming bad boy captain Hook. Especially the latter has been gaining a lot of fans. ‘Captain Swan’ is a hot item on tumblr. But people, think about it. Forget your infatuation for this obviously charming man with that accent and think about the situation. What would a storyline between Captain Hook and Emma Swann bring to the table? What would it matter to the plot? I think both are great characters, but putting them together will make a terribly boring story. Would you really want to see Captain Hook as Henry’s second daddy? Where’s the adventure in that? I think Captain Hook is to represent the adventurous side of Emma. The risks she loves to take and the badass power persuasion powers she can possess. Putting them together will take this away for both of them. I like Emma at her best when she is the independant mother, fighting for her kid.

It’s not that I don’t love romance stories. One of my favorite books and all time classics is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This doesn’t necessarily tell the story of them as a couple, but it does show us how they came to be. It’s exciting and thrilling even to this date. It makes almost every reader want a Mr. Darcy. The thing is that Lizzy and Darcy grow as a person by overcoming their prejudice and getting together. Nowadays I feel like some couples in stories only take a step back by starting a relationship.

What I want to see is powerful single women and men! Sometimes a person doesn’t need to have a relationship, but actually needs to be alone for awhile. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s called personal growth. Why do we feel the need to ship everything just to fill our own void?

Do you disagree on anything that I’ve mentioned here? Different people, different opinions and thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think on this matter. Don’t be afraid to start a discussion and let me know what you think.

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2 thoughts on “Relationships over character development

  1. noirfifre says:

    I am only recently became familiar with this ‘shipping’ term. At first I wondering “what are so many people shipping two people?” Only when someone added more detail to “I ship so and so…” I understood the phrase (weird one).

    I have more patience for Mr. Darcy’s approach than Lizzie. She is just so annoying in the first half of the novel. I do agree that they did overcome some obstacles before their relationship formed.

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