You may have noticed how Alice and Betty never did get together before the comic ended and how Alice is kind of COMPLETELY in love with an actual ship instead.
I think audiences become accustomed to the idea that if they identify with a certain character, and that character spends enough time trying to romantically win over another character, they will be rewarded with that character’s love. This is such a pervasive thing in so much of our media, it’s rare to see a character we like end up alone at the end of a story.
Which to me is 1: boring as hell and 2: plays into real life ideas that real life people are entitled to real life other people just because they like them and are nice to them. We’re all the heroes of our own stories, and being told over and over that the hero “gets the girl” so to speak, it’s no wonder people get downright angry when their affections are not returned. I know it’s not caused by media alone, and is more of an entire cultural system that’s been going for centuries and the media is merely a feedback loop/ method of perpetuation.
I know one small webcomic doesn’t really change that. But it just didn’t feel right to me to play into it without subverting it. As I was writing it, while I originally intended it to be a lot of comedic teasing before they eventually got together, the idea became less and less appealing to me. Alice was headed towards becoming a Nice Guy TM. Pining for this girl she’d put on a pedestal, never actually making a move, getting upset when Betty dated other women. And Betty just wasn’t interested in Alice, even though it “made sense” for them to get together. Betty might not have had good luck with the other girls she fell for, but that’s who she was attracted to. It didn’t really go completely over into Nice Guy territory, but I felt kind of weird when I realized that’s where things were headed, to where the audience is expecting it because we’ve all been taught that being nice to someone means you’re entitled to them.
When I decided not to have them get together, I wondered what then was the point of all the back and forth teasing that it would happen. I’m part of this culture, too, that says X + Y = Z, so if I don’t do Z, what was the point of mentioning X + Y at all? So many writerly advice essays I’ve read talk about not including a subplot if it doesn’t go anywhere. But I also like science, and if a theory says X + Y = Z, and you find a way in which X + Y = Q, you absolutely need to mention it. And writing advice is never set in stone.
It’s no secret that I’m not personally a fan of shipping. To me, I feel like a Nice Guy thinking that my own ideas of who belongs together are more important than the characters’ desires, or at least more important than the writers’. I know that’s not why everyone ships, but that’s what it makes me feel like when I think about shipping. I like characters to feel autonomous, I like characters with agency. I can wonder what it would be like if two characters got together, but demanding that they do, getting upset that they don’t, ignoring all the parts where the characters express who they do and don’t like because I think I know better than them makes me feel personally icky, makes me feel like I’m taking away their agency.
This is in no way meant to say that anyone who wanted Alice and Betty to get together was in any way bad. Of course you aren’t. I know it’s how many others choose to enjoy a story, and I did tease it rather heavily. But I think we take so much for granted in our stories, and I wanted to examine a piece of it.
~~~personal opinions on a story I wrote~~~