Author has written 5 stories for Young Americans, and Joan Of Arcadia.I stumbled into the world of fic in 2000 thanks to a little WB summer drama called Young Americans, whose brief but beautiful life ended after a mere 8 episodes, which, at 352 minutes, comes out to less than six hours, and filter Jake/Hamilton out of that, you get down to two hours, so we’re talking a movie here, really. *sigh*
If you had told me it was possible to fall in love with a TV show, I wouldn’t have believed you. After all, this one shouldn’t have stood out at all. It was at times badly written, badly acted, badly edited, and it whored its product placement so shamelessly that it played like one long commercial for its sponsor, Coca-Cola. It also aired during what I think of as the Golden Age of Television, when our small screens were graced with brilliance the likes of The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a non-sucky ER. I had learned to expect more.
But something happened when I saw Jake and Hamilton kiss. It wasn’t the stolen kiss in the pilot, not even the climatic moment in “Cinderbella” when Ham threw caution to the wind. It was the reconciliatory kiss at the end of the episode, when they both stood on tiptoe, followed by the sweet morning kiss at the beginning of episode 5. Lips open, hands on faces – those of you who watched the show know what I’m talking about. Watching it was like being kissed. I’ve got to hand it to Kate Moennig and Ian Somerhalder. They really gave it everything they had, and I’ve never seen their equal either on TV or at the multiplex. It’s cliché, but I’ll say it anyway – the chemistry was off the charts. It wasn’t just the kissing, it was everything about the couple: cute, funny, fumbling, neurotic, vulnerable, innocent, sexy, and in love. And did I mention sexy? They were two spoiled rich kids living in the ivory tower – no real problems as we would know them. They were androgynously interchangeable; the boy was so pretty he was almost hard to look at sometimes, and the girl dressed like a boy and had a voice so throaty it made Kathleen Turner sound like Shirley Temple. He was artsy; she was into computers. He was a mama’s boy; she rode a motorcycle. They were a post-modern, deconstructionist version of a ‘40s screwball comedy.
I’ve sailed on many ‘ships, and maybe when I’m done here I’ll list them all for you as seems to be the fashion, but never did I want one to stay afloat so badly. To put it in perspective, I followed The X-Files for the full nine years, all the while waiting for that Mulder/Scully kiss. Nine years. I was obsessed. And yet, I cared more about Jake and Hamilton after five episodes.
Maybe it was the fangirl equivalent of a hot summer fling. I don’t know. But I do know that when the WB cancelled it, I cried. And I’m someone who *never* cries. I was 25, and I hadn’t cried since I broke up with my college boyfriend, which was probably the last time I was really in love until YA. I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I wrote letters to the WB. I mean, the fans managed to save Roswell, right? I mailed American flags to the network, which was our version of Tabasco bottles. I cursed Jamie Kellner and vowed that one day I would have my revenge. I even wrote to Coca-Cola and told them I would never drink anything but Coke ever again if they would help the show come back.
But it was not to be. I commiserated with my fellow fans on the message boards, and they were the ones who introduced me to what would become the way we kept the show alive – fan fiction. And it was easy, because the show had been cancelled, so we could do anything, and there was so much that remained unexplored. We got to create everything. We created a canon. We created what was the equivalent of a series that ran for four years. I got a lot of it out of my system, and like with any relationship, while my love for Ham and Jake would never really end, I was eventually ready to move on.
By 2002, I had a new obsession. It didn’t come close to YA and J/H, but Lord of the Rings and Orlando Bloom were a nice distraction, and how ironic that Orlando would end up dating Kate Bosworth, who was the star of… yep, you guessed it – Young Americans! I wrote a little LotR fic, read a lot of it, never posted much of it, not here anyway. Also wrote a wee bit o’ Harry Potter, and, thanks to J.K. Rowling, my prose skills increased greatly and my fic got better.
But through that period, TV was a bit of a wasteland. I eventually got over my boycott of the WB, but Smallville held my interest for only so long, and even the ho,yay! (TWoP) of it all eventually got old. Same with Gilmore Girls, except for the part about the ho,yay. Everwood I followed religiously, and I loved the doctors, but I never could care about Ephram and Amy. I actually liked Ephram with Madison, but if it were up to me, there’d probably be no women on the show at all, just the doctors, Bright, undead Colin, and maybe Ephram if he behaves himself and stops yelling at his dad and making me want to slap him silly.
My interests narrowed, and I got to the point where I only wanted to watch family dramas that incorporated teen soap opera but still had good storylines for the adults. Everwood worked, so did American Dreams to some extent, but it’s not a show for fangirls. It doesn’t dig into the relationships and go for romance. Must be an NBC thing, because I felt the same way about Freaks and Geeks. The OC I loved in the beginning, until Oliver happened and somewhere in there I became president of the I Hate Adam Brody club, because that guy totally shanghaied the show and stopped playing the sweet, vulnerable Seth Cohen that Josh Schwarz created and instead tried to turn The OC into The Adam Brody Comedy Hour. Shut it, Adam Brody. I thought you were cute once, too. I got over it.
So while all this is going on, I don’t even notice a little show sneaking up on me until it’s January and I’ve missed two episodes of Joan of Arcadia because my Tivo is full and has absolutely no taste in what it deletes, so I decide I’d better tune in as not to miss too much, and we seem to be about where we left off, because Adam is still mad at her and I’m thinking maybe my Tivo did me a favor, because this is really painful to watch. But then the story unfolds, and it turns into one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and suddenly Adam is standing in this sunny yellow kitchen and he’s calling her Jane again and then Helen’s reading the letter from his poor dead mommy and damned if I’m not crying. And I mentioned how I never cry. And the tears are flowing, and Adam’s crying, and Joan’s crying, and a beautiful song is playing, then the scene shifts and another beautiful song is playing and now Adam and Joan are holding hands at the Science Fair and things are exploding and feathers start flying and OH MY GOD HE’S GOING TO KISS HER! They kissed! *swoon* More agony ensued, fast forward a few episodes and finally they kiss again, and from now on no episodes of Joan of Arcadia will ever be erased from the Tivo, and I went to buy a new Tivo expressly for this reason. Somewhere in there I fell in love with Christopher Marquette -- I don’t care if he’s ten years younger than I am -- and I’ll spare you all the comparisons to my college boyfriend and suffice to say I am officially a shipper again, and you know what that means – four years later I have finally reentered the wonderful world of fic.
Now if only Chris and Amber could learn to kiss like Kate and Ian. My life would be complete.
OK, my favorite ‘ships of recent memory: