Who doesn't have a favorite character when watching a tv show or a movie? Exactly. It's perfectly normal to develop some sort of preference towards a certain character. But why stop there? According to some of my best friends I have the unhealthy and somewhat inappropriate habit (their words, not mine) of wishing my favorite male and female character would get together, become best friends forever, or at least have as much screen time together as humanly possible. Ever heard of the term 'shipping'? Yes, well when I ship, I ship hard.
I can't even remember when I first started doing this, it's a subconscious thing. However, it does make watching a tv show all the more enjoyable, if and when my shipping-prayers are answered by the writers of course. Take Felicity and Oliver from Arrow for instance. I personally don't go as far as to give pairings a name ("Olicity" for all you die-hard fans out there) but I was definitely onto something when I started watching Arrow when it first aired. Actually, these two are a good example of how the fans can influence the course of a show. First came the vibes, then came the highly anticipated kiss, followed by a slight letdown. Felicity's even moved onto the next one. There's an anticlimax for ya. The same happened to Jess and Nick from New Girl. We (this one got the approval of my friends) were just WAITING for them to get together. It did happen, so we shouldn't complain, but it didn't work out. The struggle is real.
You're probably thinking, "that wasn't so bad", but there have been plenty of times when my two favorite characters resulted in a less than ideal pairing. I spent the entire first 3 seasons of the O.C. thinking Ryan and Summer would make a better couple than Ryan and Marissa. Yeah... that didn't happen. It's okay though because I was fangirling Seth almost as much as Ryan. Let's see, who else. Claire and Sawyer were my favorite Lost characters, they had some good scenes but never anything significant. Then there were Tim Riggins and Julie Taylor in Friday Night Lights, which, when you think about it, might have been a little weird. How about Angel and Fred in Angel? I mean, he saves her from a demon dimension and she's forever indebted to him. Last but not least: Amy Pond and the 11th Doctor. Come one though, that one is understandable.
So why bother, why do we "ship"? Shipping is seen as the fans' "involvement with the ongoing development of a relationship in a work of fiction". If we're involved with the characters then that means we're involved with the show, and shipping is a reflection of the direction we want the show to take. And hey, sometimes we're lucky with our pairings because the writers take note, whilst other times they just get it 'right' to begin with. Anyhow, I wonder if I would have stuck with Gossip Girl until the end if it wasn't for the epic Chuck and Blair love story. Behold the power of great pairing! Still, a shipping doesn't have to be romantic. Look at the Penny and Sheldon and their adorable friendship.
Let me end with some trivia. According to our favorite 'Free Encyclopedia' one of the first official "ships" originates from the 60s and was that of Kirk and Spock, which I'm sure is still going strong amongst Star Trek fans to this day. Also, for those who don't know, the term "shipping" is derived from the word... wait for it: "relationship", and the term is all-inclusive. The large amount of fan fiction and fan shipping artwork that is available on the World Wide Web alone comes to show just how broad and creative our imagination can be.