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I worship at the television altar
Smallville: Death of a Shipper
I've always been a romantic fool. I fall for a good love story every time, and I've always thought that life is better when you share it with someone special. My favorite movies are romantic comedies, and my favorite television shows are fraught with sexual tension. And for me, there's always a ship (short for relationship).

As I flip through the television DVDs that fill my shelves, I notice a trend. Most of the shows I watch again and again feature a couple, a couple who must get together, but maybe won't. A couple I care about as if they were my RL friends. A couple I root for, agonize over, and even shed a tear for. Mulder and Scully. David and Maddie. Lois and Clark. Buffy and Angel. Ross and Rachel. Luke and Lorelei. Rory and Dean. Seth and Summer. Veronica and Logan. Jim and Pam. The list goes on.

Often, for me, the ship is everything. On the X-Files, I cared more about whether or not Mulder and Scully would ever finally kiss than if the aliens were real, or what was behind the government conspiracy. So it should come as no surprise that I have been keenly interested in Clark's relationships on Smallville, right from day one. And yet today, on Smallville at least, I ship no more.

Smallville has always been different from my other shows. First of all, it's about the young life of an iconic figure, a figure whose adult story has already been written. So we know going in that Lois Lane will be the love of Clark Kent's life. That is the ship, the only possible ship, right? Secondly, my ship has always been a steadfast ship, a one and only true love. But on Smallville, I think I've shipped Clark with just about every girl possible at some point. It's been a crazy ride, to say the least!

In Season 1, I fell for Clark before the end of the Pilot, and my first ship was Clana. I wanted Clark to have whomever he wanted, and he wanted Lana. I was on board. But the bloom went off that rose before too long. Hug was the episode that made me look twice at Lana. She treated Clark horribly in that episode, and never apologized, even after it was obvious she was wrong. As the season went on, Lana displayed other character traits that were less than admirable, especially towards Clark. She seemed fickle, judgmental, and selfish, and she didn't seem to have faith in Clark. What was happening to my ship?

Then I started to notice Chloe. She was everything Lana wasn't, completely loyal to Clark, and devoted to him as well. She was smart, independent, cute, and snarky, and all of a sudden, I had a new ship! And the second half of the first season seemed to agree with me, as Chloe and Clark grew closer. I was thrilled when, in a sweet, romantic moment, he finally asked her to the dance. Even as Clark abandoned Chloe to rescue Lana in the last moments of Tempest, I had high hopes for Chlark.

Everything changed in Season 2. In a move that some say was calculated by TPTB, Chloe came back a completely different person. First she pushed Clark away, and then acted like a jealous harpy most of the season, culminating in a dirty deal with Lionel to spy on Clark. Some episodes, like Fever, made me love Chloe more than ever, while others just made me annoyed with her, or even downright angry. But I didn't like Lana any better than before. I momentarily fell for the romantic loft scene in Calling, because Clark was so sweet in it, but by the time I saw the sucking face scene in the next episode, I was over it. I finished Season 2 confused, and a little lost.

In Season 3, my Chloe was back, and better than ever! She and Clark fought their way back from betrayal and abandonment, and their relationship seemed stronger for it. When Chloe used the pen name of Lois Lane in Delete, my heart soared, and I Chloised with the best of them. I was momentarily distracted by the explosive chemistry between Clark and Alicia in Obsession, but she turned out to be buckets-o-crazy before the episode ended. By season's end I was a true blue Chlarker, and distraught that they might have killed off Chloe in Covenant.

In Season 4, I was shocked to see Lois Lane show up on Smallville, and I struggled to shift gears. A devoted fan of LnC and the Superman movies, I was all about Lois and Clark, so I gave the iconic ship my best shot. At first I adored Lois. She was tall, gorgeous, full of life, and a real breath of fresh air on this angsty show. The Clois snark was hilarious, and there was no denying that Lois and Clark made an attractive couple. But Devoted broke my Chlarker heart, and as the season went on, Lois looked less and less like my iconic heroine, and just seemed dangerously reckless, and not terribly smart.

I was also sidetracked when they brought Alicia back. I still think Alicia and Clark had amazing chemistry, and I could have shipped Clalicia in a heartbeat, but of course they killed her off after two episodes. I went back to Chlark. With Pete gone, Chloe's friendship with Clark grew even deeper, especially after she learned Clark's secret in Pariah. Blank was a brilliant episode, both funny and deeply moving, that was a high point for Chlark. I finally had my Smallville OTP!

Season 5 did nothing to sway me from Chlark. Lana and Clark were together in the beginning of the season, but their relationship was burdened by the secrets they kept from each other. Chloe and Clark were true partners, drawn ever closer together by the same secret that was tearing Clana apart. The season ended with the glorious Vessel kiss, and I was convinced Chlark would finally have their moment in the sun.

Season 6 drove me crazy. I felt like TPTB were stringing every shipper along, teasing and taunting with scenes that went nowhere. Some episodes were wonderful, while others were awful. Some, like Labyrinth, were both. Chloe was happily paired with Jimmy, while Clark pursued another man's pregnant wife. Oliver displayed all the heroic qualities I wanted to see in Clark, while Clark disappointed me, time and again. Not only was my ship floundering, so was my hero, and I wasn't sure which bothered me more. By the end of the season, I began to realize that my shipper hopes were coloring my view of the show, and not in a good way.

I spent the summer before Season 7 watching old episodes and falling in love with Chlark all over again. But when the season started, and I found myself lamenting that Chloe and Clark weren’t getting together, and searching every episode for clues that they had feelings for one another, I finally figured out that this show isn't about Clark's love life, or at least it shouldn't be. It's the story of Clark Kent’s journey to become Superman, and as Lex said in Action, “when you're destined to save mankind, you're destined to be alone.” That line was the final wake-up call for me, and it convinced me it was time to give up my shipper ways.

Sure, I still want Superman to find true love, someone who can love the man as well as the hero. But I'm more concerned with Clark finding his destiny than a girlfriend at the moment. And letting go of all my hopes and dreams for a Chlark pairing, or any pairing for that matter, has been tremendously liberating. No longer do I gauge my enjoyment of an episode by how many Chlark moments it contains. No longer do I need to curse the slightest hint of affection between Clark and Lana, or worry if Lois appears to have a future at the Daily Planet, thereby undermining the Chlois theory. I can revel in the awesomeness that is the Chlark friendship, without pining for the Chlark romance. I'm enjoying the show more than ever, and I feel free.

No shipping also allows me to completely disengage from the wank that arises from time to time in fandom. Evidently, being invested in a particular pairing compels some people to disparage any other female character who might be considered competition. Some fans take it further still, attacking the fans of any potential love interest, and even the actress who plays her. It's ugly, and unnecessary, and unworthy of the celebratory nature of fandom as a whole.

So, if you made it all the way to the end of this marathon post, what about you? Are you a shipper? Why or why not? If you are, what made you fall in love with your ship, and how has it enhanced your experience as a fan? What about ships on other shows? What's your all-time favorite ship? To ship or not to ship? Tell me your story.

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31 comments or Leave a comment
hils From: hils Date: January 20th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

This could turn into a long comment

My TV shows are pretty evenly split between ones where I have a ship and ones where I don't. Although saying that even my non-shippy shows didn't start off that way.

Let's start with Buffy, because that's where it all began for me. Buffy was the show that first propelled me into online fandom. The year was 1999 and after joining a couple of forums someone asked me if I wrote fanfic. My reply? 'What's fanfic?' LOL! Oh, if only I'd known where I'd wind up 10 years later. LOL

But I digress. Like you, I tended to follow what the main character wanted. Buffy wanted Angel so I wanted her to be with him. At least, unlike Smallville, Angel was a hero like Buffy and was worthy of her love. But it was not meant to be and at the end of Season 3 he left to be in his own show. It didn't really matter though because I'd already latched onto my new ship thanks to some stellar fanfic I had read. It also lead me to my thing as far as ships go. I'm all about the forbidden love. I really go for ships where the characters shouldn't be together for whatever reason. In the case of Buffy it was Buffy/Spike.

Spike, like Angel, was a vampire but there was no soul keeping him on the right path. Instead it was his love for Buffy stopping him from embracing the dark side (sound familiar?) I read and I read and then I wrote and I wrote. Finally the show gave us what we wanted, but in that Joss Whedon way where it's not really what we wanted. LOL. Buffy and Spike started sleeping together but it was a very dark and twisted relationship. Ironically this was when I started to lose interest in them. I'm all about the subtext and when what I imagine happens on screen it loses the magic, plus it's never quite the way I want it. LOL.

Let's jump ahead to Smallville, because that's what this post is all about. Like you I am a big fan of the whole Superman story (although I never got into Lois and Clark. I have Season 1 on DVD so I can give it another go but I hate Teri Hatcher). When my housemate bought Seasons 1-4 of Smallville on DVD (just so she could see Jensen in Season 4 and still understand what was happening) I was curious. When she told me that she'd watched Season 1 and the best thing about it was the Clark/Lex shippiness I recoiled. You DO NOT ship Superman and Lex Luthor!

I sat down and watched it and by the end of The Pilot I could see that she was right. There was an amazing chemistry between Clark and Lex that was so much more interesting than the stupid crap that was going on with Clark and Lana (aside from the cute graveyard scene I was never a Clana shipper). It took a few more episodes but by Shimmer I was well and truly on board the Clex ship and I was reading as much Clex fic as I could get my hands on. Seriously, I got told off by the mod at sv_inquiry for posting too much. Not long after that I started writing it and I've never looked back.

To me it will always be about Clark and Lex, even though the shippiness on the show has well and truly died. I am content to make it up in my head (as my episode snippets will demonstrate)

I have never really been into a het ship on Smallville but if I was it would definitely be Chlark. I actually have a bunny for a sweet hurt/comfort Chlark fic set around Sneeze which I am hopefully going to write this year some time.

I'm really having trouble seeing how Clark is going to end up in love with Lois, and I agree with your assessment that she started off great in Season 4 (see my love of Crusade) and then slowly faded away. I suppose it doesn't help that the writers of the show seem to think it's as much about Lana as it is about Clark. Grr!!

So I will continue to be a Clex shipper until Lex leaves. Who knows what will happen after that. I'm not even sure I'll continue to watch the show once Lex has gone, but I will certainly continue to write until I run out of bunnies
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 20th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: This could turn into a long comment

Thanks so much for your long, thoughtful response! Oh, I struggled with Buffy and Spike! I remember I felt like it was bad for both of them, and just so twisted. The part I hated the most was how awful she was to him, and how ashamed she was that they were together. But at the same time I was rooting for them. Leave it to Joss to make me think and feel in ways I never expected, and to redefine shipping altogether on that show.

It's funny, I had a whole paragraph written about Clex, because how can you talk about Smallville ships and leave that one out, but I deleted it, because honestly, I can't truly ship something that has no hope of happening, and I know AlMiles are not going to give us the first gay Superman. I read Clex fic, I love the HoYay in the show, but for me it's a fantasy world that exists outside the show. I don't say that to discount it in any way, mind you, but rather to point out that whatever stupid stuff they're doing on the show doesn't affect it. They could have Clark marry Chloe and have ten little Chlark babies on the show, and everyone would still write passionate and tender Clex fic. Of course you could say that about any ship; that's what fanfic is for, isn't it? To give us what the show doesn't? But Clex in particular, for me, is fanfic driven.

I have a hard time reconciling Smallville's Lois with my idea of the iconic Lois Lane, but I've decided that's not really my worry, and I'm not going to stress about it anymore. I feel like this show has made plenty of missteps with the legend of Superman already, and I can't fix any of those either. And in spite of all that, I unapologetically love this show, and I will watch it until it is no more. I love Clark, and Tom's portrayal of him, and that's pretty much enough all by itself.

Thanks again for reading, and commenting. I hope people understand that I'm just talking about what works for me, and that I don't mean to diminish or disrespect anyone's beloved ship, truly!
ellyfanfic From: ellyfanfic Date: January 20th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
"...I finally figured out that this show isn't about Clark's love life, or at least it shouldn't be."

Ah, but to a great degree, it IS. Clark's love life is a lot of what we're being shown on screen, and it's related to his destiny. Therefore it is impossible for me to watch the show without some shippiness. The way I see it, I'm being shown that Lana is holding Clark back, so there's no possible way I can root for that ship. And yet the question of who he'll wind up with is a big one, to me, because romance has been an integral part of the show since the beginning. Who is part of his destiny? Who will stand by his side when he reaches his destiny? To me, these are not insignificant questions.

"Sure, I still want Superman to find true love, someone who can love the man as well as the hero. But I'm more concerned with Clark finding his destiny than a girlfriend at the moment."

To me, the two seem tied together. Chloe supports him and works with him and accepts him for who he is. Chloe is his Lois. Lana, OTOH, is the girl he needs to grow out of in a big way. His destiny is tied into his love life.

"No longer do I need to curse the slightest hint of affection between Clark and Lana, or worry if Lois appears to have a future at the Daily Planet, thereby undermining the Chlois theory."

For me, Chlois isn't all a shipper issue. The problem is that I don't see EDLois as The Reporter-- that's Chloe's role, and has been since day one. I don't appreciate seeing what ought to be her future given to EDLois. Sure, some of that has to do with Chlark, but more of it has to do with who Chloe is and always has been on the show. She's the show's Lois, to me. And I *do* curse the affection between Clark and Lana, because she's holding him back from his destiny. The end of "Action" made that quite clear.

"Evidently, being invested in a particular pairing compels some people to disparage any other female character who might be considered competition."

Maybe, but perhaps you're confusing the cause-and-effect here, at least in some cases. I don't like Lana-- I think she's bad for Clark. I don't like EDLois-- I think she's rude to Clark, horribly ungrateful after everything he and his family have done for her, and this season, a Grade-A skank. Do I disparage them because they're "competition" for Chloe, or simply because I see Chloe as the only good, solid, likeable female character on the show? I believe it's the latter. My disparagement of Lana and EDLois has more to do with the unfortunate way the writers tend to show women on this show (incompetent, foolish, and defined only by their current love interest), and with the fact that Chloe is the ONLY woman they've written halfway decently.

Again, JMHO. But the point is, I don't look for excuses to diss Lana and EDLois because I ship Chlark-- I ship Chlark BECAUSE I don't like Lana and EDLois.

"Are you a shipper? Why or why not?"

The only two Clark relationships I find really interesting on the show are Clex and Chlark. They're the only two relationships I can write about, because they're the only relationships I can find a real basis for on the show. And I'll agree with hils that early Clex was ten times more interesting than Clark's relationship with ANY girl on the show at that point. I wish they'd done more with it (even if only friendship), though it's too late at this point, I'm afraid.

In short, the show is not all about shipping, but to me, shipping is certainly part of the show, and intended to be part of the show. And I will continue to root for Chloe and Clark as long as she's a character on the show, because I believe she's the one who is helping him on his journey toward his destiny.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 20th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Elly, I really appreciate your comments! This is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping to have. This post has been swirling around in my head for more than a month now, but I hesitated to actually post it because I was worried my inability to express myself articulately would lead to misunderstandings. I guess we'll see about that. :) Obviously everything I say only applies to me, and not what I think is right for anyone else.

I agree that Clark's love life has been a big part of the show, but only in fits and starts. He has never had a real relationship, IMO. A teenage obsession, yes, a drug-induced quickie marriage, yes, a dysfunctional sexless sham of a relationship, yes, but nothing lasting or real. And certainly nothing approaching the amazing relationships you write about in your fic. I feel like much of the show has been a huge tease in the romance department, with no follow through. After 6+ seasons, I think that's all we're ever going to get, and I'm just not going to play anymore.

I do think it's significant who stands by Clark's side, and who contributes to his journey, and I'll always believe that in the Smallville universe, that's Chloe, first and foremost. But I'm willing to believe she could be standing there in friendship rather than romantic love, because that's what the show seems to be telling me. I honestly don't think AlMiles will ever make Chlark a couple on the show, and I'm just trying to accept that, rather than rail against it and become bitter, which is where I feel like I was headed. If I get a happy surprise, and I'm wrong, that's great. But in the meantime I'm cool anyway. laurelnola's Chlollie fic is convincing me I just need to see Chloe have a happy ending, even if it's not with Clark.

Of course I agree that Lana holds him back, but I also think that's just a big stall because they're trying to keep the show going and continue to make money from it. I think they're scared to death to let Clark step away from Lana, because doing so would send him hurtling towards his destiny and the end of the show. I also think they're idiots, but as long as that's their motivation, no storyline will break him free.

And I do believe there is a leg of his journey that he must make alone. Whether it's training in the Fortress, or traveling the world, or going to college, at some point Clark has to find a way to look inside, examine what he's made of, and willfully and voluntarily take the step from man to Superman, and I don't think he can get there by someone else giving him a push.

I'm willing to believe Chloe's future at the Planet isn't mutually exclusive of Lois's, but I'm letting go of a lot of things here. I do want justice done by Chloe, but as I already said, I don't see Chlois as the only happy ending anymore. I'm dismayed at Lois's characterization on the show as it compares to who I want the iconic Lois Lane to be, but there could be a long road ahead, and I don't think she's irredeemable just yet. She does have some qualities I embrace.

I really hope you didn't think I was referring to you when I talked about the wank. I honestly have no problem with character bashing that's rooted in characterization; in fact, I do it all the time. I'm talking about the fangirls who have said in the past, for example, that Chloe's fat, or that Lois looks old, hurling childish insults just because they want Clark to like someone else. Who then proceed to troll and spam other people's journals, and make fun of the actresses the way they do the characters.

I'll still look forward to each new Chlark fic, and enjoy the stories where they end up together, forever. But I feel pretty much the same about Chlollie fics too. The main thing I will never do again is allow my investment in a particular pairing dictate my enjoyment of Smallville. For me to continue to have positive feelings about the show that has been an all-consuming passion of mine for a long time now, I need to let all of that go, and just try to enjoy the ride. But that's just me.
laurelnola From: laurelnola Date: January 20th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, your Smallville story exactly mirrors mine. You have, more eloquently than I could, demonstrated the strange path my own shipper tendencies have taken during Smallville. The only exception is that I stopped watching mid-season 6, because when Superman starts chasing a married pregnant woman, I will be jumping over the rails and taking my lifeboat with me.

But, because I am a Superman and Clark fan, I kept ficwanking with the best of them, trying to explain his behavior. I'd say my biggest piece of ficwank was my "Fix You" series, which, as the title suggests, was my desperate attempt to give noble meaning to Clark's despicable actions on the show. But eventually, even I couldn't wank his behavior anymore. Clark looked more and more like a coward no matter what way you sliced it.

Then I remembered Ollie and how we'd come so close to getting Chlollie on the show. I thought it was very interesting that TPTB backed off of that pairing, and realized it was because the two would have looked too good compared to Clana. Thus, I decided to take a vacation from Chlark and explore Chlollie simply because 1) I was sick of Clark, and 2) I knew it would be more fun, because it had no chance of happening on the show. Much like you, I realized that shipping on SV doesn't pay. In fact, I realized that it doesn't matter whom you ship, because the ONLY ship that will ever matter on the show is this one:

Each individual character + Lana.

That's it. And if you don't love Lana the way the producers do, it makes watching the show very frustrating, I think.

I probably could have watched the show to the bad, bitter end, IF it hadn't been about Superman. Roswell was my first foray into shipper heaven (Michael and Maria) and into fanfiction, as well. I was devastated when the show started out so promising and deteriorated like a cheap suit. The characterizations went kaplooey, the storyline was unfathomably bad, and I kept thinking "but they made the early seasons so good! Surely it's got to pick up at the end! Surely it'll all be worth it by the end!" But it didn't and it wasn't. The end came and went, and we fans limped across the finish line with a horse that had died mid-way through the race. It was a truly sad and unsatisfying way to end a relationship with a series. Because of Roswell, I am a wiser shipper and television-viewer.

I learned that sometimes TV shows can't recover once they've dug themselves into a hole, no matter how much you wish for them to achieve their early greatness. Sometimes, when they're drowning, all they can do is flounder until someone tells them they can give up the ghost and they sink quietly under the water.

I'm not making the same mistake with Smallville. They haven't shown me AT ALL that they've learned from their mistakes- it just keeps getting worse, as Lana becomes more and more integral to the mythology. It doesn't matter to them if they tear down the iconic figures of Clark and Lex to do it, either. And that's something I can't watch. I can tolerate a lot of crappy things on my TV, but screwing with Superman isn't one of them.

I suppose I'm only a shipper depending on the show. Sometimes I care about pairings, sometimes not. I didn't care with X-files or Buffy or Angel or Lost or Heroes and enjoyed those shows just for the story. I think it happens when I fall in love with BOTH the characters of the ship. I loved Clark just because he was Superman, and Chloe made me fall in love with her, too. But now that I've lost my admiration for both of them as individual characters, not caring what happens to their ship makes it a lot easier to digest.

But I can say that when I DO ship, I only have a limited amount of patience to wait before we're delivered the goods. I give up on the show once I feel like fans are being toyed with for too long. I'm not down with contempt for the audience that keeps you in business! That probably makes me a viewer that producers don't want anyway, but oh well! :-)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 20th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
As I've already told you, it was your Chlollie cruise that was the final piece in the puzzle, because it made me realize that letting go of my one ship only freed me up to enjoy all others. Smallville the show is one universe, and the one that means the most to me, but fanfic provides me with countless others when I want them.

I know well all the frustrations with the show you describe, but I still find lots to love. I adore TW, and just love to watch him act. The same goes for MR, and this year for him is much better than the last. And so I go on. I have the proof positive; I enjoyed Gemini tremendously, and I didn't care one bit when it looked like Chloe might be softening towards Jimmy. It was a wonderful relief, and it allowed me to focus on the parts of the episode I loved. Going shipless works for me.

I bought Roswell on DVD when Amazon recently put it on sale for less than $20 a season, but I haven't watched it yet. I won't expect much after the first season, I guess. :)
jeannev From: jeannev Date: January 20th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not a shipper either. I can see merit in certain ships, but I can do that without actually supporting any of them. Like you, I believe that the best course for Clark right now is NOT to be in a romantic relationship, but rather focused more on his journey. That should be the most important thing. I also believe that Clark being single makes the most sense right now. The thing with Lana should be ending. Its time. And Clark needs time after that end to detox. The thing with Lois makes no sense in this current time. The characters are way too far apart. And the thing with Chloe seems deeply, firmly rooted in friendship, with her romantic affections focused elsewhere, and I don't see a logical shift from that. I think its way past time for Clark's primary focus to be on things other then his love life.

Also, my reasons for not shipping are rooted in another issue. Clark, in far too many instances (but not all), is more or less irrelevant in the pairing for shippers. It seems to be this big contest for someones fav girl to get the big prize, Clark. While, at the same time, he is constantly bashed and disparaged for not being with someones fav girl, or just being generally unworthy. And I am not talking about every shipper here, of course. But it sure does seem to happen a lot. I see Clana shippers who couldn't care less about Clark being a hero, as long as he worships Lana. I see Chlark shippers who rail on Clark for treating Chloe badly, and seem to think Clark owes Chloe romantic love, and want him to have to beg for Chloe's affections. And I see Clois shippers who are dazzled by the idea that Clark should fall for Lois, while she continues to treat him as insignificant, since thats what happens in the mythos. The fact that it makes no sense in the SV continuity seems to be irrelevant. And lest I forget, I see some of the same things in the Clex shippers, where I've read dozens of Clex fanfic where Clark is the one that must beg for forgiveness, for hurting poor Lex.

Well, needless to say, as a big Clark fan, all of this type of shipping has turned me off SV shipping in regards to Clark. Bigtime! I wish I could say its the exception, and not the rule, but I don't believe thats true. Though I do believe there are lots of exceptions.

I also believe the reality of SV is that as long as Lana remains on the show, she will be the big romantic prize. No matter if he makes no sense. No matter if that time should've passed. That is how TPTB see her, and that is what she will be. And if she's around for a S8, I expect more of the same.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 20th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there's this fear TPTB have that without Clark in some romantic entanglement, the audience will go away, and I've already told you in the past I think that's crazy. Of course he needs to move on from Lana, and contemplate his future alone, and without distractions. Only after he figures out how to become Superman can he consider finding a way to have love in his life as well. However, like you, I'm rather cynical about the potential for Lana's departure from Clark's arms before her departure from the show itself.

One of the things I liked best about Lara (the episode) was how Clark acted on his own to track down and rescue Kara, and to retrieve her crystal. Those were some very heroic moments, I thought.

You make an excellent point about how some shippers see Clark. And in all honesty, every potential love interest on the show has treated him badly at some point, which is another reason why my shipper loyalties have been so fickle over the years. I've always thought Superman to be an awe-inspiring figure, and certainly Tom can deliver that presence, but the women of Smallville seem to have scant respect for him as a potential hero, and are more likely to nag him, dismiss him, or mock him.

I think I told you this already, but watching Gemini without any expectations for the relationships on the show made all the difference in the world to me. I was able to focus on Clark, and TW's performance, and appreciate everything I loved about the show, and it was wonderful!
From: koosh2012 Date: January 20th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hahaha... Oh, Tariel, I'm so glad I read this entry! Very creative & a great read despite the fact that I don't have the knowledge base to truly appreciate it. I'm not a Smallville fan. I fell out of the show years ago (due disruption in access for several years), and never really got back into it. I tried, thank the gods! because it introduced me to Supernatural! but once fallen, I couldn't get back up. I don't know why. It was just "one of those things."

Are you a shipper? Um, er, uh... Shipping is always a bad idea! It's like handing your heart on a platter to TPTB and they do very evil things with it. Neo/Trinity has to be my all-time gut-wrenching shipping slip though, followed by very close runner-up of Buffy/Angel. Oh. But then, I guess I fell for the Spuffy ship hard-core.... *facepalms*
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 20th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Shipping is always a bad idea! It's like handing your heart on a platter to TPTB and they do very evil things with it. "

OMG, awesome insight!! Too, too true! Oh, I fought the Spuffy, I really did, but James Marsters has the ability to make me love him no matter how evil the character he's playing is! I actually became outraged on his behalf that Buffy treated him so badly, but in the end I still wanted them to be together.

Um, TPTB? Here's my heart. LOL!
h2osprincess From: h2osprincess Date: January 20th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting discussion! I don't usually tie my enjoyment of a show to a single pairing, but I do think relationships are the heart of any good story.

While I love intelligent plotlines and clever twists, what gives a story depth and really allows me to suspend my disbelief are the relationships, every time. Like in life, meaningful relationships shouldn't be the only point and often serve larger purposes, but everything else means a lot less without them.

My first real "ship" was John/Aeryn on Farscape. They were believable, messed up characters with some unique challenges to overcome while serving the larger story. The writers themselves were closet romantics, and it was sweet that as much as their relationship served the story, the story served their relationship, too.

Farscape is still one of my favorite examples of synergy between intelligent writing and an insanely talented and dedicated cast and crew, all of whom respected their audience. They took risks with their craft, which is unfortunately rare these days.

Smallville is confused, in my opinion. Its producers seem to be trying to make the ships serve the (sometimes canonical, sometimes not) story one minute, then trying to make the story serve the ships the next, and they’re swinging so far in each direction that they screw up both.

The only character they haven’t managed to completely deconstruct is their one original, Chloe, so it’s kind of natural to ship her with those she’s close to. I have to agree with you that I’m more invested in Chloe getting a happy ending than it necessarily being Chlark.

I would, however, like to see their relationship serve his growth more by one day exploring the potential for romance openly (not one date, a single kiss, or hinted jealousy, but actually laying all the cards on the table). Whether it got off the ground or not, it would inevitably teach Clark far more than seven years of pining for Lana has.

With the hit-and-miss writing we've seen to date, I'm not all Pollyanna that I'll actually see it. Seven years in, and they still don't seem to know which destination is the priority.

Edited at 2008-01-21 05:23 am (UTC)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 21st, 2008 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG, I can't believe I didn't include John and Aeryn on my ship list! LOL! They're my model for all other ships, because of the honesty of the emotion that passed between them. I love how you say, "as much as their relationship served the story, the story served their relationship, too." That's so true. Their relationship was never a plot device, it was always the heart of their story.

"Smallville is confused, in my opinion. Its producers seem to be trying to make the ships serve the (sometimes canonical, sometimes not) story one minute, then trying to make the story serve the ships the next, and they’re swinging so far in each direction that they screw up both."

That's a great insight. And the end result is often a inconsistent mess. I do often see Chloe as this shining gem in the midst of the confusion, both because her character, as you say, has been subjected to fewer machinations by the writers, and because AM's portrayal of her is consistently strong. I feel like they should glory in Chloe; they created her, and she's awesome! But maybe because she's an original, and not tied to Superman canonically, they seem afraid to take that final step towards a Chlark romance. My frustration with their seemingly inexplicable hesitation was driving me crazy, and that's ultimately why I had to let it go.

In spite of my frustrations with Smallville, it remains my favorite show, and I miss not having new episodes as the writers' strike continues. I'm just glad I was able to find a way to watch the show in complete happiness again. I even went back and watched all of the S7 episodes again, and I like them all better with my new viewpoint. In my mind, that has to be a good thing.

Thanks so much for commenting. I really enjoyed your insights about the show!
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tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 23rd, 2008 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
At this point I ship Chlark big time in fanfic, but on the show? Not so much. :P Honestly, I'm too much of a realist to continue in the fantasy without admitting that a fantasy is exactly what it is. I read a fanfic once that had the simplest explanation of the Chlois theory: Chloe changed her name to the street she grew up on, Lois Lane. I loved that so much. And she dyed her hair black for a change of pace, and it stuck. She was also a lesbian in that particular fic, but whatever. LOL!

Frankly, I'm pretty much open to any ship if it's well written and well acted, but I don't trust the writing on Smallville to ever give me that. So I'm content to just hope for Clark to embrace his destiny and become Superman, and let the ships take care of themselves. But of course, that's just me. :)

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on this subject, if you find the time to head over here again. Thanks for the comment!
all_you_wanted From: all_you_wanted Date: January 25th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I sign up for the watching without shipping support group too?
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely! :) I'm telling you, it's entirely changed how I see the show. I've just let all that frustration go, and I can actually love each episode for what it has to offer, rather than hating it for what it withholds. I even went back and rewatched all the S7 episodes after my little epiphany, and I liked them all better than the first time. So, by all means, join the club!
pen37 From: pen37 Date: January 25th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
From day 1, I was a chlarker. I think that's because I've been a longtime superman fan, and chloe was the closet thing to lois they gave us.

But Over time I've come to appreciate that if I'm to stay a fan of Smallville, I'm going to have to stop investing in Chlark.

The way I see it, AlMiles look at their audience, and they don't see a bunch of fans, they see a bunch of shipping factions. And it's in their best interest to keep each faction invested in the show. If they ever settle on one cannonical relationship, the'll lose a major portion of their audience as the other (three four five six) factions lose interest and drift away.

So they keep stringing us all along by pimping out love triangles. The lexana wedding is ample proof that they may be right: No single faction was happy with that plot point, and it was one of the lowest rated episodes of the show.

Personally, I'd like to see a little less of the love triangles. I'd like to see a show where everyone with a uterus isn't treated like a possible love interest for Clark. (I loved it on Buffy when Wes and Cordelia kissed, and it was *so bad* that they decided to be just friends). I'd like to see character growth.

(again sighting buffy. characters moved on and got into new relationships. They didn't pine for several years in codependant, unhealthy relationships. And once they moved on, they were able to work toghether like mature adults without making cow eyes at each other).

Sadly, I don't watch smallville anymore. Or I ship Chloe with a character from another show. (They can't sink my ship if it's already a sub-marine).

Sooner or later, you just have to tell the pimps that you aren't interested.
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 25th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't agree with you more about AlMiles, and I'm determined not to play their game anymore. I honestly believe that for them, this show is not story driven, it's dollar driven. Why else would they completely stall Clark's natural progression towards his destiny except to extend the life of their cash cow? And so, as you say, we're just numbers to them, numbers to capture in their ratings statistics. Which leads not only to no one group ever being completely happy, but to the rest of the mess to which we're treated: inconsistent plot points, forgotten story lines, random anvils for all possible outcomes, and the Clana that just won't die.

None of which makes me stop watching. :) I freely admit I'm totally hooked on TW's portrayal of Clark, and that in itself is enough to keep me coming back for more. But I can at least stop letting myself respond to the shipper manipulations that AlMiles try to inject into the show.

I, too, would be happy to see less of the love triangles, especially with Clark. As Justice proved, viewers are more than happy to tune in for an episode that has everything to do with Clark being a hero, and nothing to do with him being a boyfriend. I don't know the demographics of the Smallville audience, but even the viewers who were young teenagers when the show started are adults by now! I can't be the only one who would love to see Clark leave the high school romantic angst in the past.

Great comparison to Buffy. Joss always has known how to do it better. That moment with Cordy and Wes was both hilarious and unexpected (at least by me), and I loved it.

Thanks so much for commenting! You can see how passionate I am about this by my long response. :) You captured the essence of why this show drives me crazy in just a few paragraphs, and I appreciate so much that you've added your insights to this discussion.
simplytoopretty From: simplytoopretty Date: January 26th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember when Smallville was in its first season. I tried really hard to watch the show, because I was in the ninth grade and that's what everyone did, but I gave up quickly because of the whole Lana-Whitney-Clark and Lana-Chloe-Clark love triangles. It seemed so soap opera-ish to me, and I couldn't understand how anyone could think that was good storytelling.

I recently got back into the show and while I sort of favor Chlark, I'm not an excessive shipper. I kind of don't like shipping, because shipping seems to lead to bitter feelings. With fandom in general, it seems like shipping just divides a fandom and it always makes me wonder why people get so obsessive about their fav pairing. It borders on ridiculous at times. And so sometimes I may support a ship in fanfiction but be apathetic towards whether the couple gets together on-screen--I was like that for the X-Files and I'm like that for Bones. If romance happens, fine, but I'm not going to base my enjoyment of the show on whether two (fictional) characters get together and make out like bunnies. That seems rather childish and petty.

So, in the end, I totally heart the whole not-shipping anymore idea. It makes life simplier, now doesn't it?
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: January 26th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
If romance happens, fine, but I'm not going to base my enjoyment of the show on whether two (fictional) characters get together and make out like bunnies. That seems rather childish and petty.

Okay, where have you been all my life? LOL! I agree, it makes life much less complicated, and much more easy going, at least where Smallville is concerned. I will say that some of my shipping has been really satisfying, in cases where the writers of the show were talented, and where they shipped the same couple I did. Then the relationship wasn't a gimmick to be pulled out and flaunted when ratings needed a boost, it was an integral part of the story being told. The best example of this I can think of is John Crichton and Aeryn Sun on Farscape. I can't say I'll never ship again, but I certainly hope I'm smarter about it now, and that I can keep it in its proper perspective.

Thanks so much for reading, and commenting. There's a lot of wisdom in what you say.
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