Love Is The Answer (Feminist Media)

A Wrinkle In Time was one of my favorite books as a child. So when I first saw the trailer for the Disney adaptation, I was eager to see it. Meg Murry was just like me: wore glasses, self-deprecating, stubborn, misunderstood, and angry with a world that devalued her. So I was excited to finally see her save the day on the big screen.

What I wasn’t expecting was to burst into tears as Meg angrily declared to the monster that she was flawed, but regardless, she deserved to be loved–a message that 14 year old me really needed to hear. Hell, that’s a message 21 year old me needed to hear.

Less than a year ago, another woman-empowerment movie, Wonder Woman, also directed by a woman and also starring Chris Pine funnily enough, came out. Both movies tell the story of powerful women who fight monsters that are portents for humanity’s inner darkness. At the end of the movie, Diana says that “only love can save the world”, meaning that we must spread love for one another to fight hatred and violence, but A Wrinkle In Time teaches a different but equally important lesson: we must also love ourselves.

This is an important lesson to show young women, especially girls of color. Girls are taught from a young age that they’re automatically in competition with each other, that they must be skinny, dress like mini-fashion models, that they must smile and swallow their anger. Girls of color are especially impressed upon to be more like white girls. Meg’s naturally curly hair is a reoccurring topic in the movie. She ties it up at school because she’s embarrassed that’s not sleek and straight, and when the IT shows her ideal self, her hair is straightened like the popular girl from school.

And society is rough on teenage girls. They mock their YA books, their music, their makeup, their UGG boots, their pumpkin spice lattes. And from as young as age 12, men are already sexualizing these young women, yet teenage girls who want to explore their sexuality, they’re labeled as sluts. So a movie with a girl who saves the day by something as simple as appreciating who she is is a refreshing take on adolescent girlhood. And note, once Meg had learned to herself, the first thing she does is show kindness to the girl who had bullied her at the beginning of the movie, who we see is suffering as much insecurity as Meg herself.

Diana said, “It’s not about deserve. It’s about you believe in. And I believe in love.” Well, Meg Murry shows us there is one person who deserves our love: ourselves. Because our love for ourselves will spark love for others. And only love can truly save the world. ~TRL


How The Greatest Showman Avoids La La Land’s Mistakes

Woo, first post and first movie review of 2018! Let’s dive right into this.

The Greatest Showman deserves every award it’s nominated for and more. I haven’t felt this emotionally boosted and moved by a flick since…well, okay, Moana. (Lin-Manuel Miranda gets me every time.)

Movie musicals are often a hard sell, but with TGS and 2017’s La La Land, they may be on the rise. But I believe the former has shown us all–filmmakers, critics, and casual viewers alike–how to make a truly beloved musical film. Let me explain.

***Ahoy! Spoilers ahead!***

1. Fun!

What is a musical? It’s happy. You’re supposed to leave the theater feeling happier than when you came in. Sure, there are the rule breakers like Les Mis, but the whole point of musical numbers are to evoke emotion, and when you have a diverse cast in colorful costumes inviting you to the circus, how can you expect to feel any way but joyful? The songs and plot are so much more fun than watching two people struggle for a career and whine and be in a miserable relationship with each other. It’s obvious how much fun Hugh Jackman is having in this movie, and his natural charisma and sweetness oozes out in ways he’s not normally allowed to show.

2. Good, Well Sung Music

TGS stars major musical talent: Hugh Jackman, Zendaya, Zac Efron, as well as Broadway power from Keala Settle. Nearly every song was memorable and is sure to make one want to sing along. LLL had two songs of note: the opening number, which had the most charisma of the whole movie because it was actually entertaining and didn’t involve the lukewarm romantic leads, and “City Of Stars” because its monotonous seven-note piano riff gets played over and over throughout the entire movie and gets stuck in your head for a week after watching it. Plus Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are actors, not singers. Gosling sounds half asleep for most of the numbers he’s involved in and Emma Stone, apart from the audition song toward the end, sounds like she’s getting over a case of laryngitis. I know the point isn’t the singing, but for a movie with as high a production quality and as much Oscar buzz as it got, it was an immense letdown.

3. Engaging Romance

Efron and Zendaya immediately have 10x the chemistry that Stone and Gosling had. Maybe that’s just because their characters were so much more likable. Stone plays a bratty, self important, wannabe actress who is either good or bad at acting as the script demands it, and Gosling is an elitist hipster douche who shouts over jazz bands to mansplain what an amazing lost art jazz is. (Also, it’s really irritating watching a white person completely appropriate black culture all for his greedy little hipster self while John Legend, a really talented black musician, is barely a cameo in this movie and his opinions on jazz are chucked in the bin because he added synths and that’s just too mainstream for Mr. Jazz Jesus over here.)

Once all the dazzle of new Hollywood romance fades away, Mia and Sebastian do nothing but spend time apart to focus on their careers or bitch at each other for not being supportive enough because both of them are narcissistic assholes. Zendaya and Efron’s love story gets about 1/4 the amount of screen time that Stone and Gosling had, yet they manage to make you care about their relationship way more effectively. Maybe it’s because their main obstacle is period racism and not each other.

4. A Heavily Featured Ensemble

Even though this is a highly inaccurate because P.T. Barnum was a jerkass con man in real life biofic about the man who invented the circus, the other characters are significant in the movie, and not just props in the protagonist’s story. Efron’s character who is roughly based on James Anthony Bailey, Barnum’s family, and of course, the members of the circus, all get their fair due. My favorite character is probably Lettie, the bearded woman. She could have easily been made into a cheap joke about women with masculine features, but she is arguably the character with the strongest spirit, develops from an insecure washerwoman to a proud performer and shows leadership skills with the rest of the troupe, and leads the most acclaimed number in the whole film, “This Is Me”. La La Land makes the mistake of focusing solely on Mia and Sebastian, who I’ve already defined as uninteresting and unlikable.

5. Depth

La La Land has none of the charm that Greatest Showman has in spades. Also it is incredibly shallow. Now, a good movie doesn’t necessarily have to send some profound message about society or morality, but without charm or wit, it can feel about as vapid as an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Greatest Showman touches on serious subjects like racism and classism without ever crossing over into heavy handed self-importance. La La Land‘s message is more or less, “I deserve to have all my dreams come true because I’m in Los Angeles and I’m giving the absolute minimal effort to be successful and I’m young and attractive.” Greatest Showman‘s message is simple, and a little cliché, but true: “Don’t be a sell out.”

Man, I didn’t realize how much I hated La La Land until I wrote this review.

Anyway, it may be way too early to say, but I think The Greatest Showman is going to end up being my favorite film of 2018. Like I said, it deserves every award. ~TRL

Why I Like Slash


I am a queer person, and I use the term queer to describe non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people. If you don’t like that term, you may not want to read this article.

There’s a nasty stigma around slash fiction that all the enjoyers and creators of it are crazy fangirls that fetishize same-sex relationships between men. But in my experience, that’s only a very tiny minority. Most slash writers are women, yes, and queer women at that. Here is a forum that talks a bit about the phenomenon of transformative fiction, and why generally women and other minorities are drawn to it more than to straight, cisgender, white men. Basically, minorities enjoy expanding past, or even straight up changing, canon because they crave representation, and material they are able to relate to.

But I’m not here to get into a big conversation about demographics and socio-political zeitgeists. I want to talk about why I like gay fanfiction.

To clarify, when I say “gay”, I don’t mean just mean gay male fanfiction. I have almost as many female/female ships as I do male/male. It’s sad that, as many queer women are involved with fan fic, that the amount of femslash pales drastically in comparison to dudeslash and het fic. (More on that at this link.)

First of all, fan fiction is not exclusively smut. Sex scenes do take up a good portion of the medium, but in most cases, smut accompanies real plot lines, usually a buildup of romantic tension between characters. Most fan fiction sets up the scenario where the characters in question finally admit their feelings for each other…which is usually then followed by sex as a form of catharsis for all the romantic and sexual tension that’s built up over time. The sex is usually a celebration of the getting together, not just porn for the sake of porn.

Second of all, I mentioned above that most slash fan fiction is about two (usually white) cisgender males, written by female-aligned persons. My friend Gemma made a YouTube video about that phenomenon, which you can watch here. It’s easy to pass off male/male fan fiction as young straight women using it as masturbatory material, but, I also stated that most slash fiction writers are queer themselves. So why would gay (I’m using that as an umbrella term here) women spend their time writing about the relations between two men? Sexually, aesthetically, and emotionally, what do homosexual relationships between men have to do with us?

Right now, on, the dominating fandom in TV is Supernatural, with over 120,000 fan fictions written for it. On Archive of Our Own, the number of fan fictions is over 170,000. Of those AO3 fan fictions, the top three most commonly written about pairings are all gay relationships between two white men, one of which is incestuous. Dean Winchester/Castiel (Destiel) takes up almost 40%, Dean Winchester/Sam Winchester takes up 14%, and Sam Winchester/Gabriel takes up 6%.

The loathsome BBC Sherlock series has 102,021 fan fics (as of this writing) on AO3, and over 50% of them are Johnlock. Again, two white guys. This leaves the next dominant pairing of the fandom, Sherlock/Molly, in the dust with only 6855 (currently) fics to its name.

And the pattern continues. Marvel Cinematic Universe? Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes, Steve/Tony Stark, and Clint Barton/Phil Coulson. BBC Merlin? Merlin/Arthur. The entire pantheon of Star Trek? Kirk/Spock. All of Star Wars? Kylo Ren/Hux. ALL WHITE GUYS.

But, maybe with the exception of Kylux, pretty much all of the fandoms I just named all feature white men as their main characters. They are the most developed and central to the story. And usually, their connection to each other is the most meaningful, even though both parties may have female love interests in their life:

  • Except for his brother, Dean Winchester’s most important connection is to Castiel. The angel even says himself that he and Dean have a “profound bond”. Even though Dean’s supposed “love of his life” is a woman named Lisa, who is promptly shunted to the side whenever the plot shows up and eventually put on a bus, never to return to the show.
  • Bucky Barnes is Steve’s best friend for life, and when forced to choose between Bucky and his loyalty to the Avengers (not to mention his own personal freedom and safety), Steve picks Bucky without a moment’s hesitation. Even though Steve is maybe? dating Peggy Carter’s niece?
  • And everyone, even non-slashers, sings praises to the deep friendship of Kirk and Spock, the slash pairing that more or less started it all. Even Gene Roddenberry himself wrote into the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture that their connection “had been the touching of two minds which the old poets of Spock’s home planet had proclaimed as superior even to the wild physical love which affected Vulcans every seventh year during pon farr” and called them soulmates. Even though Kirk is the essential “ladies’ man” and Spock is “supposed” to have no feelings.

Even a fandom like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is dominated by strong female characters, a good amount of which are lesbians/queer, the second most popular relationship tag on AO3 is a non-canon m/m pairing (two white dudes, of course; ones who have little to no significant interaction, I may add). The first and third are het couples, and the very prominent lesbian pairing that is canon comes fourth.

However, there are exceptions to every rule. The Once Upon A Time fandom (I wrote a bit about feminism, or lack thereof, in the show in this post), despite the fervor of the Emma Swan/Captain Hook shippers, currently has more Emma/Regina Mills fics on AO3 than any other pairing. A f/f pairing! And one of them is sort of a WOC! (Lana Parrilla is Latina, but her character isn’t necessarily. I mean, Mills is a pretty white last name.)

But this is not about me trying to convince you to ship what I ship, or even have a deep in-depth conversation about the nuances of fandoms in cases of race, gender, or sexuality. I’m just trying to explain why I like slash.

Kirk and Spock. Dean and Cas. Steve and Bucky. Holmes and Watson. These are indelible bonds that endure the test of time. Kirk loved Spock so much, he threw away his entire career just for the chance to bring him back from the dead. And to quote the greatest movie of all time: death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

When I ship characters together, it’s not because of how attractive they are or if I think they’d have hot sex scenes together. I see this connection between them, this kindredness in their souls that scream that they are at their strongest together, and that they make each other feel whole and content. And I’m sorry to say, but I usually see that in pop culture between the main man and his “bro” rather than between the two heterosexual love interests. Very seldom do I see the protagonist and their opposite sex partner share that intense yet tender bond (there are the exceptions: Buffy and Angel, Smallville‘s Clark and Lois). Maybe that’s because screenwriters don’t know how to write meaningful romance. Or maybe actors have trouble portraying that deep need. Whatever the cause, for the most part, slash just seems to work better. So until Hollywood dramatically improves its m/f relationships, I’m gonna keep on shipping the gay. ~TRL

Kingsman: The Slash Service???


If you’re like me, you’re getting pumped for the upcoming sequel to the incredible Kingsmen: The Secret Service. I will watch most anything if it has Colin Firth in it, but thanks to Kingsmen, I have added a new British hottie to my ever-growing list: Taron Egerton.

Like any fandom, the Kingsmen franchise has its community on Tumblr. When I dared to venture outside my cozy world of Star Trek, Supernatural, Hannibal, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, all of which have big time OTPs for me (Kirk/Spock, Dean/Castiel, Hannibal/Will, and Buffy/Angel, respectively), I was surprised (although I probably shouldn’t have been) to find out that Kingsmen also had a dominant pairing.

I personally hadn’t found Kingsmen to be a pairing oriented movie. Yeah, there’s the last scene where Eggsy has anal sex with the princess, but that was pretty much the extent of any “romantic” content in the movie. There is a girl in the movie, a fellow trainee for the Kingsmen who befriends Eggsy, but there’s no hint of romance to their relationship.

But the main relationship of the movie is between Eggsy Unwin and his Kingsmen mentor, Harry Hart, aka Galahad. Eggsy, as a baby, lost his father early in the movie (his father was also training to be a Kingsman and was also being mentored by Harry, but he sacrificed himself by throwing himself on a live grenade to save his fellow agents), so when I watched the movie, I was under the impression that Harry was supposed be a surrogate paternal figure for Eggsy. But some people saw their relationship from another perspective.

Hartwin: the portmanteau name for the romantic or/and sexual relationship between Eggsy Unwin and Harry Hart

While I don’t ship Harry and Eggsy in the slash sense, I’m not against people supporting this pairing. It’s a little squick-ish for me, since I see this as an adopted father-son relationship, but there’s nothing abusive or unhealthy about it. Harry and Eggsy do genuinely love and care about each other. Some people who have an issue with age gaps in their pairings will probably not ship Hartwin (at the time of this publication, Colin Firth is 56 and Taron Egerton is 27 – that’s almost three decades between them, and I’m pretty sure Eggsy is actually 19 in the film). I say that pairings with wide age gaps always have other factors to be taken into consideration.

The phrase “age is but a number” should always come with a grain of salt. For example, an adult with a child or young adolescent is never okay. But notice above that I listed Buffy/Angel as one of my OTPs. This is a ship between a 16-18 year old high school girl and a 250 year old vampire – if this is ringing familiar of Twilight, well, I don’t blame you.

But there’s significant distinctions between Buffy Summers and Angel, and Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. First of all…Buffy and Angel aren’t complete idiots. Second of all, there’s no creepy, pathetic codependency between them. Buffy is strong with or without a boyfriend, and Angel doesn’t insist on keeping tabs on her 24/7 or try to control her life. And third, and most pertinent to this discussion, Buffy is a mature young woman who can handle an adult relationship. Bella is a frivolous airhead whom Edward constantly infantilizes.

So even though there’s a wide age gap between Harry and Eggsy, and I still stand by my opinion that it’s a pseudo father-son relationship, it’s still a relationship between two adults. Yes, Eggsy can act like a dumb kid sometimes, but underneath that rough, chav exterior, Eggsy shows intelligence and maturity. Harry facilitates him in achieving his destiny as a kickass secret agent. It’s not so much of a “coming of age” story. It’s more like a “you’re an adult, time to start acting like it” story.

Eggsy and Harry kind of remind me of Buffy and Giles. I always believed that Buffy never really needed a Watcher, but she did need Giles. Buffy’s dad didn’t die, but he was an absentee father, so Buffy needed a fill-in for that role in her life, and Giles was the person to do it. It’s the same way with Eggsy and Harry.

So Hartwin isn’t really my cup of tea. I only ship it in the friend or familial sense, but, I wouldn’t condemn anyone for shipping them romantically. With two such attractive men with great chemistry as Colin and Taron, it’s only natural that people might see potential there. I always say, as long as it’s not advocating abuse, incest, pedophilia, or total codependency, ship and let ship.

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle premieres in theaters in the U.S. on September 22, 2017! ~TRL

Review: “Elena Undone”

I am a queer person, and I use the word queer as an umbrella term for for non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people. If you dislike the term "queer", you may not want to read this post.

Finding movies with LGBT+ characters is difficult. Finding movies that focus on LGBT+ people is even harder. Finding movies on LGBT+ people that isn't about AIDS or social condemnation or being rejected by family or any of the other depressing tropes that seem to come with queer narratives is damn near impossible. Most queer stories end unhappily, like Blue Is The Warmest Color, and most of the time in horrible tragedy, like Brokeback Mountain.

But as I was perusing the gay side of Netflix one day, I chanced upon a movie called Elena Undone, a lesbian romance between a pastor's wife and a free-spirited writer. It sounded like a cookie cutter lesbian romance (shy, innocent straight woman falls for mysterious, seductive lesbian and cheats on her neglectful husband with her), but I was bored, so I thought "what the hell" and hit play…and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, as I predicted, it pretty much follows the standard formula for lesbian romance films, but I still enjoyed the movie. In this instance, the plot felt less like a tired old tread and more like a cozy blanket to wrap myself up in. Warm, soft, and familiar.

It's an indie film, and its format is unusual. Tyler, a mutual friend of Elena (the pastor's wife) and Peyton (the writer) narrates the film through his sparse cut scenes. Tyler is a "love guru" and believes in the idea of soulmates. Elena and Peyton's actual story is interwoven with clips from Tyler's informative video about finding one's soulmate, and therefore serves as a narrator of sorts for the evolving romance between the two women. It's an interesting idea, and works surprisingly well.

And then of course there's the electric chemistry between the two female leads. Both actresses exude affection, intimacy, and desire when they're onscreen together. Their making out/love-making scenes are luxurious and pulsing with heat. I haven't seen two lead characters with such a magnetic attraction since…well, since I watched the third season of Hannibal.

But the best part is, the women get a happy ending. They have their issues, as real people in real relationships do, but in the end, they find each other again and realize that they were meant to be together. It's a poignant yet simple ending.

The movie isn't perfect (the pastor character and the homophobic church member are a little flat), but it's a movie I'd gladly watch again. I'm a romantic at heart, and I've always loved the idea of soulmates, so I was glad to have found a real movie about two women were perfectly made for each other. If you can get past the dumb title, I recommend this film as an effective feel good story for when you're blue.

Oh, and for all you Supernatural fans out there, Peyton is played by Traci Dinwiddie, who was Pamela Barnes, the psychic who had her eyes burned out from trying to see Castiel. ~TRL

The Art Of Writing Female OCs


Television and film writers, I get it. You wanna have more awesome girls to even up the playing field and level out these awesome guys you’ve got to work with – and that’s great! But there is a way to go about it, and there is a way to NOT go about it. As a woman, and a writer, will you please…just listen to me? Because I’m about to give you all the secrets to creating strong original female characters.

*Note, this is an article focusing on creating female OCs for media based on pre-existing material. Not that it can’t help with purely original works either.

Comics have been dominated by men since forever (even though their female audience is larger than they realize), so naturally, there are a lot of strong male superheroes. Yeah, we’ve got our Wonder Womans and our Black Widows, but let’s be real: when you think of  “superhero”, you probably think of Superman, or Batman (because money is totally a superpower, right?), or Spiderman. I mean, how many of you have actually heard of Ms. Marvel? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

With shows like Arrow and The Flash, stories about boys saving the world, there’s a crying need for a female counterpart. A Bonnie for every Clyde, a Scully for every Mulder. Oliver Queen has Felicity Smoak. Barry Allen has Caitlyn Snow and Iris West. Even Kara Danvers on Supergirl has her sister Alex. All badass secondaries in their own right. But the grandmother of all these awesome OFCs is the intrepid right hand of Smallville‘s Clark Kent – Chloe Sullivan.

Chloe was my idol growing up. She was whip smart, witty, brave, and indomitable. She wasn’t just a love interest or just a sidekick. She was a person, with an identity and a personal life and a mind of her own. Yes, she did have a crush on Clark for a while, but it didn’t define her. Helping Clark and the Justice League was important to her life, but it wasn’t the only aspect of her character. She wasn’t stuck as a prop in the narrative. Chloe was so freaking awesome, she actually was put in DC Comics as a real canon character. That is the way you write new female characters.

So let’s just make a little list of dos and don’ts when writing strong, three dimensional women:

  1. DON’T make a woman just a love interest or helper for the main protagonist.
  2. DO give your female characters a backbone (or have them develop one over the course of the narrative – because character development is always a great tool for a writer to use!).
  3. DON’T presume that a “strong” female character just means a woman who punches people a lot (because let’s be real, without the ass-kicking, Black Widow would just be Ms. Fanservice).
  4. DO give your female characters a storyline of their own! If they don’t have a life of their own, they’re not really a character, they’re just a object in the narrative. There’s an easy test you can use called the Mako Mori test. There’s only three requirements: 1) have a female character, 2) who gets her own story arc, and 3) her story arc doesn’t support that of a man. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Believe me – it’s not as hard as you think.
  5. DON’T make a woman a damsel in distress. It’s fine if she gets saved sometimes, but it’s great to turn the tables occasionally! Lois Lane saved Superman a few times, you know.
  6. DON’T define a woman by traditional gender roles (romantic interests, mothers, etc.) – be original!
  7. DON’T have “strong” women be romantically interested in jerks or weak guys – because that doesn’t happen in real life. I know men don’t really want to have to try when it comes to getting women and they think they just deserve us because that’s what our society has taught them, but in reality, truly strong women don’t love men who obviously aren’t good enough for them. Instead, have a man truly earn her love – that does not mean automatically receive it just because. Or have the man and the woman be on equal footing from the beginning. When a woman says she’ll never love a man because he’s a jerk, DON’T have her do a 180 by the end of the episode and throw herself at said jerk (lookin’ at you, Supergirl).

This is turning into a rant, I’m gonna stop myself now.

To provide a cautionary tale of what NOT to do, I’ll bring up the infamous BBC Sherlock. The original Holmes canon doesn’t lend itself very well to strong ladies. It’s essentially the excellent adventures of two “heterosexual” male life partners. The only long running female characters are Mrs. Hudson (sometimes Turner), the voiceless housekeeper, and Watson’s beard wife, who except for the one story where she’s a client, pretty much has no dialogue either. So naturally, there’s a crying need for girl power.

Enter…Molly Hooper. Oh, Molly.

In the very first scene she’s in, it’s made apparent to everyone that she has a gigantic crush on the eponymous detective. Okay, that’s fine. But that’s literally where her characterization begins and ends. Throughout the entirety of the series, Sherlock either ignores her, makes outrageously rude remarks to her, or uses her feelings for him to get her to do things for him. There was a brief respite in the beginning of series 3 where it seemed like there was some growth for Molly’s character in being able to move on from Sherlock, but in the last episode of the show, Molly has hit rock bottom in the pit of patheticness, getting weepy over Sherlock and demanding that he tell her he loves her, even though she knows it’s not true, instead of just realizing that Sherlock is kind of a dick to her and moving on with her life.

I pity any woman who thinks they should have been together. If that’s your idea of romance, don’t be surprised when none of your boyfriends respect you.

So, TLDR, don’t make a Molly Hooper. Make a Chloe Sullivan. ~TRL

6 Pairings That Romanticize Abuse


Every time, I swear to God, every time I fall in love with a new TV show, some asshole comes along, sweeps up the main character, and brings down the entire show, causing me to stop watching in disgust. I’m not kidding, this has happened three times this year alone.

Abusive relationships being romanticized is one of the things that I absolutely hate with a burning passion. But gone are the days where the hero dudes go around smacking their girlfriends, because if that happened, everyone would be up in arms. No, TV and movies have found sneaky ways to paint abuse as “true love” and get away with it scot free. But luckily for you, my little raspberries, I’m here to expose their malpractices with the light of truth!

For this article, I’ve avoided obviously abusive pairings, like Joker/Harley Quinn and Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham, or pairings that have been beat to death by the mainstream like Bella/Edward (seen above) and Anastasia Steele/Christian Grey. I’m choosing to focus on those pairings who are the darlings of their fandoms, who can obviously do no wrong. Oh, but they can, my ducklings! They can. I’m about to rock your world.

**Warning: mild spoilers ahead for various media, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and BBC Sherlock.**

1. The Phantom and Christine Daaé, The Phantom Of The Opera

Because every girl’s fantasy is to be stalked by a murderer in the shadows and be forced into marrying him or have to watch her childhood best friend be strangled to death. I don’t give a shit how many roses he leaves in her dressing room – that’s f**ked up.

Not to mention, Christine is 18. Eighteen! She’s barely legal as it is. She claims that the “Angel of Music” (the Phantom) has been tutoring her and watching over her since she first came to the opera house. She’s been living there since she was eight years old. And thanks to Madame Giry’s flashback, we know that Erik is only a few years younger than Madame Giry – so he’s 40, at least. This is a fully grown adult who’s been stalking a child and gaslighting her until she’s old enough to bang. That’s disgusting.

But, you know. Some free music lessons and a candlelit boat ride through a swamp make everything okay.

Gaslighting: a practice in which the abuser gains the trust of the victim and uses that trust to manipulate them into doing things against their will, all while maintaining the pretense of someone who has the victim’s best interest at heart.

2. Rey and Kylo Ren (Reylo), Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

It honestly shocked me that this was even a popular pairing – or a pairing at all. Not as popular as Kylux (Kylo Ren and Armitage Hux), but it’s up there.

There’s not much to go on here, as there’s really only a couple of scenes between them, but what is there, is pretty frightening. I’m going to put aside the fact that Kylo straight up murdered Rey’s friend and father figure. I’ll even waive all the physical abuse in the lightsaber battles because, hey, this is Star Wars, and it isn’t exactly Star Wars without lightsaber battles.

But there is the creepy torture scene (torture isn’t a very good premise for a romantic relationship, now is it?) where Kylo is trying to get information out of Rey and threatens her with a line about how he can force her to tell him what he wants to know, and J.J. Abrams himself admits that this is supposed to be a “rape” scene. Getting inside a person’s head and violating their thoughts is mind rape. Plus there’s the disgusted, fearful look Rey makes as Kylo reaches toward her face that tells us all that Rey is in distress. Rey is trapped in the room, tied down, and can’t escape this situation, where she’s under the threat of physical violence and having her mind raped by Kylo. And that is abuse.

3. Kara Danvers and Mon-El (Karamel), Supergirl

This is what I was talking about earlier when I said TV shows often get ruined by some asshole (Mon-El) swooping in and becoming the protagonist’s “true love”. I’ve stopped watching Supergirl because my once beloved show about a strong, kind lady hero has been hijacked by this entitled jar of mayonnaise.

Upon crashing down in National City, Mon-El has done nothing by lie to Kara (not telling her that he’s the prince of Daxam), insult Kara and everything she stands for (“You fly around, rescuing people, like you’re just pure of heart, but that is crap. Because you love that attention. You love people loving you. You are not selfless.”), and go against Kara’s wishes (“You have ignored what I need from moment one today”), and generally just be a piece of shit (“I never said I wanted to save the world.” “Oh my God. You are so selfish!”). When she doesn’t return his affections, he whines and guilts her into loving him. And somehow – he ends up with her! What kind of message is that sending young girls?

Also, telling someone you allegedly love that they’re your “Kryptonite” (weakness) is NOT romantic. Love is supposed to make you stronger. If your romantic partner makes you “weak”, that’s a bad sign. Believe me, I know.

4. John Watson and Mary Morstan, Sherlock

I’ve been a little harsh on men in this list. But women can be abusers too, and this is a prime example.

Thanks to poor writing from misogynistic, self-satisfied dipshits, Mary Morstan’s characterization has been all over the place. But two things are for sure: Mary is a psychopath and a pathological liar. It eventually was revealed that Mary wasn’t as sugary sweet as she initially tasted. She was actually a killer for hire before meeting John, which she kept from him for almost an entire year, even after they were married. And the lengths she goes to keep that secret from him are outrageous. Namely, attempting to murder John’s best friend – the very same friend who had been missing for two years, whom John had been grieving over, which Mary had to know would devastate John at losing Sherlock all over again. But does she have any regards for his feelings? No. She would rather kill her husband’s dearest friend then have to come clean.

John does eventually find out, and naturally, is a little pissed off by it. So much so that he leaves her. When John finally does agree to speak to Mary again, she immediately guilt trips him – for being rightfully angry about Mary lying to him and trying to murder Sherlock. But for some reason, John takes her back and all is forgiven and forgotten.

(By the way, she never actually says that she’s sorry for shooting Sherlock in the chest. Not until she herself is dying, but honestly, series 4 is such out-of-character, bizarre, melodramatic, sloppily written horseshit that I don’t take any of it seriously. But that’s an essay for another day.)

And beyond all that…she’s just not a nice person. She makes fun of everyone, treating them all like they’re so beneath her. At one point she implies that John is so stupid, a dog is superior to him in intelligence. She’s manipulative, critical, and conniving. And yet, even though there’s little to no affection shown between John and Mary, she’s supposedly the great love of his life. His saving grace. His angel with a sniper rifle. *noise of disgust* Whatever.

5. Emma Swan and Captain Hook, Once Upon A Time

God, where do I BEGIN with these two?

Captain Hook completely ruined Once Upon A Time. He’s been sucking the soul out of Emma Swan for four seasons, and now she’s pathetic, codependent, and completely unrecognizable from the amazing, badass female protagonist that rolled into Storybrooke in a beat up Volkswagen seven years ago.

Hook started off, appropriately, as a villain. He gets into a sword fight with Emma right off the bat and makes lewd, rapey comments towards her. Emma was sensibly repulsed.

Then in season three, Hook decides he’s going to become the guy everyone loves – especially Emma. “I will win your heart,” he growls in her face. Again, another line that’s supposed to sound romantic, but is actually really gross.

Eventually, Emma was hooked (get it?), and her character development was sacrificed for makeout scenes with this guyliner wearing piece of shit. Like Mon-El and Mary, he lies to her constantly, doesn’t respect her wishes, manipulates her, and verbally abuses her when his world isn’t going perfectly ducky. In season 5, Emma saved Hook’s life by using dark magic, turning him into a Dark One (long story). She erased his and everyone else’s memory, but he does inevitably find out, and boy, does he drop that sweet boyfriend act fast. He hits Emma right in the emotional chink in her armor – by saying that all she’ll ever be is an orphan. He knows Emma’s trigger and uses it against her in the most brutal fashion possible. But are there ever any repercussions? Nope. Because Hook is the love of Emma’s life, and he can do no wrong!

Luckily, Jennifer Morrison, who plays Emma Swan on OUAT, has announced her retirement from the show after the end of season six, and this godawful romance can die a festering death. Let’s just pray Colin O’Donoghue (Hook) gets fired and the show is left to be run by the only two likable characters left, Regina and Henry Mills.

And number six…

6. Severus Snape and Lily Evans, Harry Potter

I get it, Internet. You pity him. He never got the girl of his dreams. It’s the age old love story: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy calls girl a racial slur – wait, what?!

There was no fucking excuse for Snape to EVER call Lily a Mudblood. James was bullying him, Lily stepped in to defend Snape, Snape got his sensitive little male ego bruised and had been hanging out with a bunch of wizard white supremacists, and called Lily the worst word possible. She was his best and only friend, and he called her that. So no, I don’t feel bad for Snape at all. Especially since he carried his butthurtedness against her and James past their deaths and onto their orphaned child who had endured domestic abuse for the last ten years of his life. Snape gets no sympathy from me.

Okay. Rant over. Hopefully next post will be something more cheery. Thanks for reading. ~TRL