i'm actually not hating riley as much as i did the first time

anonymous asked:

I'm the same anon who asked you if you could write a Faith meta a month ago. I just read what you were looking for. I want a meta on why Faith acts the way she does, what attracts her to the "darkness" inside of her, why she compares herself to Buffy, why she is so sexually aggressive, and how she deals with her redemption and trying to be a better person.

You know, Nonnie, the reason this meta has taken so long to complete is because I have really struggled with it, and I have no idea why. Faith Lehane is a character I know inside out, and yet every time I have attempted to write this meta and answer your questions, I’ve gotten stuck. So, I’m just going attempt a method I use when I have writers block, and that is simply to write and see where I end up. So, apologies in advance, because this meta may not end up covering all of your questions, but at the very least, it will finally be done and will hopefully still be a good read.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I have never identified as deeply with a character as I once did with Faith Lehane. This girl was everything I was in my youth – lost, guarded, self-destructive, promiscuous, aggressive and above all ridiculously broken. When she first turns up in Sunnydale, she is initially presented as a light, carefree personality, but within that very first episode we see that all is not as it seems with Faith, as she ends losing control and pummelling a vampire into a bloody mess while patrolling with Buffy. The revelation that her Watcher was brutally murdered in front of her goes a way to explain her behaviour, but as we see over the season, there is something very broken in Faith.

We know little about Faith’s background other than she was raised by a single, alcoholic mother, who passed away at some point before Faith arrived in Sunnydale. From her overall demeanour and attitude, it would be safe to say that Faith suffered some sort of abuse as a child, as she projects a very tough and invulnerable front to the world, and clearly hates feeling or being perceived as weak, something a lot of abuse victims have in common. Her attitude towards men suggests some sort of sexual abuse or, at the very least, sexualisation from a young age. When girls are sexualised from young, they can come to both loathe and grow attached to their perceived attractiveness and “sexiness”, believing that not only is it their fault that they attract unsavoury and/or older men, but also that this is all there is to them, that their sex appeal is their only weapon and that no man could ever see past this and actually want them for who they actually are.

We certainly see evidence of this with Faith through many of her interactions with male characters. She attempts to call The Mayor “Sugar Daddy” indicating that she believes that he will demand some sort of sexual payment for her new digs. Later in the series, we see her seduce Robin Wood, then rebuff him the next day, only for him to actually persist in his romantic pursuit of her, throwing her off-guard when she realises that he may actually want to get to know her and start a relationship. And then there is her rape of Riley, after which he says “I love you” to her while believing that she is Buffy, and her reaction to his words, which shake her so badly that she immediately tries to escape the situation, tearfully asking Riley “What do you want from her?”.

Faith’s disconnect from emotion-based sex is, I believe, another indicator of possible sexual abuse or assault in her past. Victims of rape often detach from the act of lovemaking, unable to associate the act with positive emotions, because it was turned into something violent and ugly. This is one of the reasons a lot of women who were abused/assaulted as children/teenagers enter the sex industry, as sex becomes something unemotional, something easily given and forgotten about. We certainly see this with Faith, who speaks of men in terms of things to be used and discarded, never allowing her emotions to get in the way.

Faith is also a very sexually aggressive person, once again indicating that she may be a victim of sexual assault. Abuse is like a cycle, with many victims growing up to be abusers due to the deep psychological scars they carry, and Faith certainly seems to fit this pattern, attempting to rape Xander and later actually raping Riley and possibly Buffy too (it’s unclear as to whether she did rape Buffy, given that Buffy’s consciousness was not actually in her body at the time of the rape). But this aggression, coupled with her general aggression and sadism, could definitely indicate sexual assault or abuse.

Outside of her sexual activity and attitude, there is still so much to unpack when it comes to Faith. Like Buffy, she suffers simultaneously from an inferiority and superiority complex, both sides of which drive her over the course of Seasons 3 and 4. When she arrives in Sunnydale she and Buffy are equally jealous of each other, but while Buffy’s jealousy (mostly) disappears after one episode, Faith’s jealousy of Buffy follows her through pretty much the whole series, and is a major driving factor in her hatred towards and victimization of Buffy.

Part of this jealously comes from her romantic feelings for Buffy, but I believe the deeper reasoning for this jealousy comes down to everything Buffy has versus everything Faith doesn’t. When Faith first arrives in Sunnydale she is confronted with a life she could have had – a Watcher, a loving mother and a close friendship group. She sees how all these people adore Buffy, how they are all there for her and support her. Faith, never having had any of these (bar the Watcher part, and even then, only for a short period of time) naturally grows extremely jealous of Buffy, wondering why Buffy gets everything Faith has ever desired while she is left out in the cold. And, to be perfectly frank, Buffy doesn’t exactly do much to sway Faith from this frame of mind.

In-Universe (and even in the fandom) everyone (including Faith once she starts her redemption) claims that Buffy was always there for Faith, that she tried so hard with her, that Faith was so lucky to have Buffy as a friend. Except, this isn’t really true. In my opinion, Buffy never really tried with Faith. She was openly jealous and distrustful of Faith when Faith first turned up, she kept Faith out of the loop when Angel returned, made a half-hearted attempt to talk to her after the Gwendoline Post incident, but gave up before even really trying (even though it was painfully obvious Faith wanted to open up but didn’t know how), talked about hanging with Faith but never followed through, and really only genuinely tried with Faith when she had Angel try to talk her down after the murder of the deputy mayor, an event which I feel Buffy herself should take some responsibility for, and an action which I suspect was fueled partially by Buffy’s own guilt.

When you add all of this together, the jealousy, the inferiority complex and the lack of friendship and reciprocity from Buffy, it’s easy to see why Faith turns on Buffy (and by extension the Scoobies) so completely, especially when you compare their treatment of her to the way the Mayor treats her. Where the Scoobies and Giles never seemed to much care for Faith, treating her with apathy and even downright mistrust (even before she had done anything to earn said mistrust), the Mayor not only instantly accepts her, but makes it very clear that he cares about her. He moves her out of the flea-bag motel the Scoobies and Giles were happy to leave her in, makes her feel welcome and loved and, above all, special. In the Mayor, Faith finds the parent she has always wanted, the love and acceptance she has always craved, and the feeling of belonging she has been striving to achieve ever since she arrived in Sunnydale.

Now, I am in no way condoning Faith’s actions towards Buffy and the Scoobies, nor am I trying to excuse the evil that she has done. Faith alone is responsible for her actions. However, given her history with the Scoobies and their treatment of her, it is easy to see the reason why she turned on them so completely. She sought love and acceptance with them, and instead received distrust and disdain. When she falls into her coma, they barely give her a second thought, and upon waking, she finds that everyone has moved on without her, a fact which greatly distresses her and puts her back on her path or darkness.

Post-coma, however, something has changed in Faith. Possibly tied to the fact that the world has moved on without her, possibly influenced by her grief over losing the Mayor and possibly tied to the nightmares and psychological trauma she underwent while in her coma, the Faith who emerges in Season 4 is far more self-loathing and suicidal than we have ever seen her. While Faith was never a great example for self-esteem, the Mayor’s love and support gave her enough hope and light that she was able to overcome her suicidal tendencies (which are evident almost from her first appearance) and learn to accept and even moderately like herself, even despite all her evil. Without the Mayor, she is lost, with no one in her corner, and so all her old issues come to the surface, not to mention several new ones.

The Faith who comes out of the coma is not the same girl who fell off the roof at the end of Season 3. The Faith who comes out of the coma is lost, self-loathing, weighted down by the guilt of her past actions and unable to see any solution except death. She still goes after and severely victimizes Buffy (and by extension Riley), but this time around she’s not driven by hatred or jealousy or even her own sadism, but by a desire to escape herself. She steals Buffy’s body and identity, and through this, starts to realise that there may be more for herself out there, the opportunity to have love and acceptance, to do good the way Buffy does, and this exacerbates her self-loathing, culminating in her brutal beating of her own image before she escapes to L.A.

Her appearance in the two-parter AtS episode is Faith at her lowest, most broken and most self-hating and suicidal, as we see her kidnap and brutally torture Wesley. Wesley’s torture is probably one of Faith’s most heinous crimes, showing just how far she has fallen. While Faith is and always has been a dark person, her torture of Wesley is less about her own sadism and more about her self-loathing and desire to end her life, as she uses Wesley’s torture to try to push Angel into killing her. The weight of her guilt, her darkness and the memories of her crimes have pushed her to a place where she believes death is not only the only option for her, but also the most fitting punishment, evidenced as she screams at Angel “I’m bad, I’m evil” and begs him to end her life.

Luckily for her, Angel refuses to do so, recognising a soul who needs saving and identifying with the darkness that lies within Faith’s heart. Through Angel, Faith is able to take her first step towards redemption, because Angel offers her safe haven and sanctuary, while simultaneously making sure Faith knows that she must make amends, that she can’t outrun her past and that she must face the consequences of her actions, and through all of this, Faith finally realises that she will never find peace or happiness unless she makes a genuine attempt at redemption, until she truly faces the repercussions of all her crimes. As she sits in the jail cell in the final shot of Sanctuary, we see, possibly for the first time, an accepting Faith, a Faith ready to face consequences, a Faith who might finally find some inner peace.

While Faith does eventually find some peace and learn to accept herself, she continues to struggle and fight against the darkness within. While Faith is, in part, shaped by her circumstances, the abuse she has suffered and the rejection she has dealt with, there is a part of her which is just dark, part of who she is at her core. This innate darkness is what Faith struggles with on a day-to-day basis, an inner demon she must learn to control and live with. Similar to the darkness which resides within Angel, Faith’s more sadistic side genuinely enjoys inflicting pain, and the fight to keep it under control will probably follow her for the rest of her life, especially since she gave in to it, let it free and got a taste of it. Because she let the beast out, it tasted blood, liked the taste, and keeps demanding more. Similar to the way alcoholics must resist liquor, Faith must resist her darkness, which we see her do time and again when she returns to AtS and BtVS in later seasons.

I feel like there is more to write, as Faith is such a complex character that she could probably inspire novels of meta, but I also feel that I have rambled on long enough, so I am going to tap out here. I cannot apologise enough for how long this meta has taken, and I also apologise that it may not have covered everything you asked for, but hopefully it has provided you with a good read and a greater appreciation for the amazingly complex character that is Faith Lehane.

Ski Lodge Head Script (Reblog if you like it!)
  • (NOT A SPOILER. This is not refined to spec script standards AT all, I'm just trying to get a vibe on writing for all the characters and I need feedback so I threw it together. I can NOT write for Smackle, so HELP ME)
  • Ski Lodge Game Night Scene
  • : Pan In, night time at Ski Lodge. Core 6 sitting around the fire, theme instrumental music playing, fades out, zoom in on kids:
  • : Lucas and Zay on couch, Maya on chair stage left, Smackle and Farkle on couch stage right, Riley on floor center stage by coffee table:
  • Smackle: How about we engage in some young adult recreational activity. : Winks awkwardly:
  • : Everyone looks at Smackle funny, questionably:
  • Smackle: Let’s play a game?
  • Everyone: Ohhhh.
  • Riley(hesitatingly): Maybe we shouldn’t…
  • Lucas(sarcastically): Yeah, cause that always goes so well.
  • Zay: I think it would be a great time.
  • : Everyone stares at Zay:
  • Zay: What? Did I miss something?
  • Maya: Nah, he’s right! C’mon Huckleberry, whaddya so afraid of?
  • : Maya leans forward as she asks, raises eyebrows:
  • Lucas: Nothing. I’m afraid of nothing. : Throw’s hands up in the air:
  • : Maya smirks mischievously, satisfied
  • Farkle: What game should we play?
  • Corey (not on screen): NO TWISTER!!!!!
  • Maya: Ok…How about…” Truth or Dare”!
  • Lucas(exasperated): Oh. Great!
  • Smackle: Maya I have never played this game. (speech quickens) How does it work? What are the rules? Is there a manual? How do we keep score? I WILL BEAT ALL OF YOU! : Shoot’s arm’s up:
  • Maya: Nobody wins.
  • Smackle (in disbelief): NOBODY WINS?!
  • Maya(chuckling): No Smackle, nobody wins. And no manual or game pieces either. Ya just ask someone to pick truth or dare and if they pick dare, you make them do something crazy or funny. If they pick truth... (sits back in chair), well, then you gotta ask them a personal question about themselves.: Pause: It’s a real juicy game.
  • Lucas: It’s a real bad idea.
  • Zay: Well it sounds like a good one to me! :rubs hands together: So, who goes first?
  • Smackle(hurriedly): ME! :arm shoots up again:
  • Riley (chuckling): Okayyy Smackle, truth or dare?
  • Smackle: I want to ask the questions!
  • Riley: But Smackle you just said you wanted to go first?
  • Smackle (interrupts, stands up and points at Riley): LET ME ASK THE QUESTIONS BUBBLES! :Compiles herself, sits back down, smooth’s dress, slowly turns towards Riley: Riley, truth or dare?
  • Riley (laughs): Okay, uhm, truth, I guess?: Smiles and shrugs:
  • Maya: Aww, ya wussy!
  • Riley (half laughing): Maya!
  • Maya: What? Just sayin… :Sits back in chair, half eye roll, pretends to file nails, crosses legs:
  • Smackle: Okay Riley. Who was your first kiss?
  • : Everyone stares at Smackle:
  • Smackle: What, did I say something?
  • Riley: No, it’s just…
  • Smackle: The questions are meant to be personal, am I correct? And a first kiss is a very personal moment in a female’s life. It is very intimate. It is a milestone. Some have concluded that a young person’s first kiss will ultimately determine the way they will-
  • Riley (Half jumps up from the floor): Lucas! My first kiss was Lucas. On the subway. After our first date. :Smiles at Lucas, sits back down: Hi.
  • Lucas: Smiles back: Hey…
  • Maya: Uh, Riles?
  • Riley: Peaches? :Still staring at Lucas smiling::
  • Maya: Technically Lucas wasn’t your first kiss.
  • : Farkle coughs loud and awkwardly:
  • Smackle (Places hand on Farkle’s shoulder): Are you Okay, Darling?
  • Farkle (Through teeth, staring at Maya): Fine.
  • Riley (Also staring at Maya with concern): Maya.
  • Maya: What? I’m just sayin, we were all there, and technically Lucas wasn’t your first kiss. Technicallyyyyy your first kiss was-
  • Riley (With urgency): MAYA!
  • Maya: …Farkle. Your first kiss was with Farkle, remember?: Chuckles to herself, almost talking to herself, remembering: You lied about him being good in that dumb play, even though he completely ruined it (Turns to Farkle)- No offense Farkle- And he got all Farkley over you being all “sunshine and rainbows’. He was soooo excited you got him to try a new thing, even though he was toootally terrible at it. So he kissed you. On your face. :Interrupting herself: Well, I guess it was kind of on your chin. But it still counts! Did ya really think I’d let you forget about that, honey? :(Maya makes smirky fishy kiss face at Riley)
  • : Smackle, no longer smiling or excited, stares at Farkle perplexed:
  • Smackle: Farkle, is this correct?
  • Farkle (scrambling/rambling on): Well, if we are going by the technicality of it all, deductively reasoning if it really occurred and deciphering the fact of if our faces actually touched then I guess yes My Lov-e-sis, it happened. But when you really chronologically break it down to the propensity of-
  • Zay: Oh man, this is so much better than I thought it was gonna be.
  • Lucas: Did I not just say we shouldn’t play games together?
  • Smackle: Farkle I know I am not very physically affectionate with you when we are together but I have always imagined our first kisses were to be with one another. Now I am coming to find out that you have shared a kiss with another woman?! How could you have not told me of this? How could you lie?
  • Farkle (sounding desperate): As I said, technically we kissed, but-
  • Riley (Looking horrified/frantic): Smackle, it was a long time ago and Farkle was just really grateful I gave him some confidence, you know? it was no big deal, I promise. It meant nothing.
  • Farkle: Nothin!!!
  • Smackle: Farkle, do I not make you feel confident?
  • Zay: Oh I see where this is going.
  • Farkle (softly/hesitatingly): Well if we are being truthful, sometimes it is hard to feel confident around you, My Dearest, we both know your level of IQ surpasses mine.
  • Smackle: I told you I regarded us as equals.
  • Farkle (softly, tenderly): Yes. But that doesn’t mean that I do.
  • : Paused awkward moment, everyone still, Farkle staring at Smackle:
  • Riley (Breaking silence awkwardly, too loudly, grandiosely): Well the important thing is it didn’t mean a thing to either of us. I mean I barely even remember it.
  • Farkle (slightly annoyed): Yea, right. You said that already. It meant nothing. To either of us.
  • Lucas: Why do I suddenly feel really uncomfortable?
  • Zay: Cause they keep sayin it meant nothing, but that’s makin it look a lot like it meant something.
  • : Lucas smacks Zay:
  • Zay: Man I told you! STOP doin’ that!
  • Maya: Maybe we should change games.
  • Zay (pointing and waving finger at Maya): Yeah, this is your fault.
  • : Lucas smacks Zay again:
  • Zay: DUDE!
  • Farkle (getting more extremely agitated): Guys, no need to feel uncomfortable. Like we said, it was nothing. Right Riley? It meant absolutely nothing? : Stares hard at Riley, dead serious, does not break gaze:
  • Riley (Flippantly, obnoxiously, but also increasingly agitated): Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Squat!
  • : Farkle and Riley keep steady gaze:
  • : Long, silent, awkward pause:
  • Lucas: Guys? What’s going on here…
  • Farkle and Riley unanimously (yell): NOTHING!
  • Riley: Fineh! :Sticks out tongue:
  • Farkle: Fineh!
  • Maya: Hey guys, hate to break this up but, where’d Smackle go?
  • : Everyone looks around, Smackle has excited stage:
  • Zay: Well…this does not bode well.
  • Farkle: No. No it doesn’t.
  • : Farkle stands up, one quick glance at Riley, audience view ONLY, Farkle runs off stage after Smackle:
  • : Riley watches him run off, concerned:
  • : Everyone else looks at each other, concerned and confused:
  • Zay (Breaking silence): So .....I guess that’s why we don’t play games in this group of friends. Good. To. Know.
  • Lucas (Concerned): Riley? What just happened?
  • Riley (Somewhat unconvincingly, way too softly, avoiding Lucas’ gaze): We told you, nothing…
  • Lucas(frustrated): Right. Nothing.
  • : Lucas exits stage:
  • Zay: I’m, gonna go….Yea, I’ll be back
  • : Zay runs off and exits stage after Lucas:
  • : Maya looks at Riley, guilty/remorseful/concerned:
  • : Riley looks back at Maya, audience unable to decipher her stare:
  • : Pan out, somber music:
  • Ski Lodge Porch Scene
  • : Porch scene, fade in, Farkle on outside swing bench stage right:
  • : Farkle swinging back and forth on bench looking down:
  • : Enter Riley from stage right, hot tea in hand:
  • : Farkle looks up, half smile, gazes back at the ground:
  • : Riley half smile back:
  • Farkle: I couldn’t find her anywhere.
  • Riley: Here, it’s freezing outside, I figured you could use this.
  • : Riley hands Farkle tea:
  • Farkle: Thanks.
  • Riley: This seat taken?
  • Farkle: All yours.
  • : Riley sits on bench next to Farkle:
  • : The two swing back and forth for a moment in silence:
  • Farkle (looking at Riley, breaking silence): You know for my entire life, I have believed that science could justify everything. That no matter what the situation, there is always a rational, systematic explanation. But now, we’re growing up and it’s like I can’t keep up with all these changes. There are all these feelings I can’t seem to reason with. No matter how hard I try to solve the equation, I can’t come up with a logical explanation for all of it. It’s like everything I thought I knew, no longer exists.
  • Riley (understandingly): I know what you mean. These changes are tough, Farkle. I mean I always thought that life was about becoming a Princess, (getting more excited) and unicorns and sunshine and rainbows and-
  • Farkle: You still think that.
  • Riley (chuckling, punching him softly): Okay, maybe. But I’ve always had this vision of how things were meant to be. I was supposed to find my prince, my knight in shining armor to ride in on his white horse and come swoop me away. :Pause: It was my own little fairytale. (Matter of factly) It was supposed to be perfect.
  • Farkle: Nothing is perfect.
  • Riley (sighing): I know.
  • Farkle (shoulder nudging her): …You did get to ride away on a white horse though.
  • Riley (smiling/laughing): Yes I did! But that’s kind of my point.
  • Farkle (perplexed); What do you mean?
  • Riley: I’ve always had the same idea of what a perfect relationship was supposed to be like, ever since I was little. That’s what having Corey and Topanga as your parent’s will to do you, I guess. And now I'm growing up and all those fantasies I used to have are actually happening for me and I’m supposed to feel happy about it. Like it’s supposed to be simple and easy and I’m just supposed to feel great about everything. But it’s not simple at all, Farkle. (Exasperated) It’s actually really, really complicated. It still just feels like…like…
  • Farkle: Like something’s missing?
  • Riley (Ponders on this for a minute, somberly replies): Yes. Like something’s missing.
  • Farkle (Nodding): . I think about Isadora Smackle and how wonderful, beautiful and brilliant she is. On paper she is my perfect counterpart, she should be everything I need in order to feel fulfilled with someone.
  • Riley: But you don’t?
  • Farkle: It’s like I said. All calculations point to her being my perfect match. But there is a mystery variable I can’t seem to account for with all of this. And it’s throwing everything off.
  • : long pause:
  • Riley(softly): Love.
  • Farkle: Huh?
  • Riley: The variable. The thing you can’t account for, Farkle. It’s love. It can’t be defined by science. I think it just happens. We can’t pick and choose who we fall in love with, no matter what they look like on paper.
  • Farkle: Or how many white horses they ride in on?
  • Riley: Yeah…Or that.
  • : Long pause:
  • : Riley places her head on Farkles shoulder, they both stare off:
  • Farkle: Riley?
  • Riley: Farkle?
  • Farkle: I don’t have an answer for any of this.
  • Riley: I never thought I would hear you say that.
  • Farkle(chuckles): Me neither.
  • : Another pause:
  • Riley: Farkle?
  • Farkle: Riley?
  • Riley: I’m not sure I wanna be a Princess anymore.
  • : Farkle glances down at Riley on his shoulder, slightly surprised by her words:
  • : Another pause:
  • Farkle: Still Pluto, though?
  • : Farkle holds out pinky finger:
  • Riley: Still Pluto.
  • : Riley grabs his pinky with hers, signifying a pinky promise:
  • : Pan back on porch, instrumental somber music cues, fade out to next scene:
complications

fandom: girl meets world
pairing: riley matthews & lucas friar 
word count: 3,098 
prompt: “i got the first kiss and she’ll get the last.” - written for rucas fanfiction week!  
notes: so i took a different approach with this (mainly bc i didn’t think i could write riley and lucas with people other than each other) so this turned out super super angsty. apologies in advance. pls don’t hate me. also i’m not a doctor so nothing in here is probably medically accurate. 
warning: character death. 

The day that Lucas and Riley found out that they were going to have a baby, unsurprisingly, one of the best days of both of their lives. The young couple had been married for almost a year at this point, Riley had a job as a first grade teacher and Lucas had just finished vet school and was working towards finally achieving his dream. It seemed as though everything in their lives was falling into place.

Lucas still remembered the day like it was yesterday, Riley had shaken him awake before the sun was barely peeking out above the horizon, practically yelling at him about being “late.” At first Lucas had thought she was telling him she was late for school, but soon she got the implication that she was trying to give him and jumped out of bed and swooped her into his arms. She took a test twenty minutes, and one very quick pharmacy trip, later and confirmed what they both had already believed to be true.

They were going to be parents.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I'm a fellow Lucaya shipper and I agree with you that Maya liked Lucas from the start and it developed even more by the campfire I mean they were practically flirting with each other the entire time and that's were my issue came in. I don't like how Maya went from being rucas #1 cheerleader, to wanting to protect Riley from Missy and making her believe she had nothing to worry about in year book to them now being in a triangle I don't think the writers handle it well.

Hi :) So I answered this here. There really has been a steady buildup by the writers in S2 bringing to the foreground things that had previously been subtle and somewhat buried. And the mess we’re seeing with Rucaya has been foreshadowed from GM Sneak Attack: here and here. That’s become almost 100% legit for me since the “Pearl Harbor” lesson was explicitly brought up by Cory to Riley in Legacy, in addition to Riley assuming the exact same position with her face plastered to the window of the classroom looking in.

I’m guessing this is the second part to your question:

I know what the writers are trying to do and ever since one tree hill I had a big problem with two bestie being in love/like with the same person because of the damage it can do and I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to ship on this show because I feel someone’s feelings will get push under the table to move the story along because we are so deep in it already and that’s going to cause an uproar. 

So, disclosure: I never watched OTH fully. I caught a few episodes here and there for the man-candy playing basketball, but I remember back in high school, people were all like Brooke VS Peyton, and again, funnily enough, it’s a brunette and a blonde (from what I did watch, I actually found Nathan/Haley much more interesting lol). From what I understand, Brooke stuck around longer and ended up with what seems like a pretty commendable character growth as well as her own story arcs beyond the Brooke/Lucas/Peyton catastrophe. But I agree that it’s testy when you get into “triangles” with two female friends because there is this tendency in fandom, in our society at large, really, to pit women against each other constantly. It’s right up there with slut shaming, as well as the Madonna/Jezebel fiasco. They did it with Jen/Joey in Dawson’s Creek too. And I gag every time I see something resembling that for Riley/Maya, a purely good/bad comparison, or innocent/whore. It’s downright horrible and twisted, and girls need to stop doing this to each other. We were talking about making the effort to analyze the show objectively, respectfully, here in terms of ‘ships and characters when formulating theories. And the same point emerged, brought up by @mercutiosnake:

The people who act like either Maya or Riley are evil and trying to ruin the other’s life are just getting ridiculous. And this sort of pitting against each other thing only ever happens with female characters, it seems. It was like all the people who HATED Tori/Victoria Justice and spent every waking tumblr moment going on about how Jade/Liz Gillies or Cat/Ariana Grande were so much better. And yet, no one ever seemed to put the guys against each other. No one ever feels compelled to do this with male characters, only the girls just have to tear each other down. This entire mentality needs to change.

Here’s why I’m personally not worried: these writers, this show, are better than that. They are seasoned storytellers who value, above all, real and honest relationships, family and true friendships. AND this is GIRL meets world: Riley’s the titular girl, the main POV, but Maya is right next to her, her first mate - “Because if this is my world now, the first person I want in it is you.” (Pilot)

That hasn’t changed. Riley & Maya will prevail. And every time someone has complained to the writers about the girls fighting over a boy, they have been very outspoken about the fact that that is NOT what they are doing. This is NOT your standard, half-assed triangle with catty drama just for the sake of drama. Even with Farkle’s Choice, it wasn’t - essentially - about fighting over a boy:

So WHY do people choose to see it that way? WHY do they boil it down to that? The brouhaha after Legacy is a prime example of distorting, with this narrow perspective, what we were shown, which is: both girls being concerned about their friendship - first and foremost - but also in the grips of unavoidable different feelings that demand to be explored because they are no longer “back here, in the 7th grade” (Sneak Attack), and, as a consequence, for now, opting to stay in a stalemate. I think the problem is “shipping”.

Hang on, people, before you jump down my throat. Shipping definitely enhances one’s experience and investment in a show, there is no doubt about that. BUT you mentioned yourself, that it’s hard for you to ship on this show out of fear that feelings will be swept aside to, as you say, “move the story along”. I think there is a particular way of shipping that is problematic: it’s this sort of quasi-religious shipping where it’s “your ship or the highway”, and one becomes so obsessed and fixated on that ship alone that we get tunnel vision, and therefore, our enjoyment of the show is solely dependent on that ship prevailing in canon, and our understanding of the whole show is, unfortunately, diluted because it’s from this limited vantage point. And along with this goes this “hating” on characters that one perceives as being in the way of one’s ship (which is, to me, ludicrous), as well as being hyper-sensitive whenever a character flaw is pointed out (which, again, makes no sense to me, because they all have flaws; that’s THE reason they’re engaging and ring true as people - they have qualities AND flaws, and sometimes a quality can double as a flaw, like IRL).

Now, sure, I can say I ship Riley/Farkle and Lucas/Maya (although I have sort of a particular approach to shipping), but if the story shifted and didn’t go there, I’d be fine. Why? Because at the very core, as an engaged viewer and fan of the show, I ship every character with happiness, every character with growth, every character with discovery. Ultimately, I want a legitimate, character driven, intricate, real, honest story, regardless of the specific outcome in terms of romantic pairings, and I trust these seasoned writers to deliver that.

How do I see that? I said, it’s not about a love triangle, it’s not about which girl is “better”, which girl “ends up” with Lucas (while conveniently dismissing the fact that in GMW, Farkle - overlooked Canada - is a member of the core cast unlike Minkus on BMW, and that the writers keep saying all their love triangles are actually rectangles). So what is it ABOUT? It’s about identity and coming-of-age, has been since the Pilot. Why am I not scared feelings will be cast aside for the sake of story? Because EXPLORING THEIR FEELINGS is THE STORY. The narrative has gone through 1) Friendship, 2) Growth, and now, 3) Feelings. ALL the characters are going through that; hell, all human beings go through that. Human feelings are complex, and powerful, and varied, and dynamic, and confusing. They will not be swept under the rug on this show; on the contrary, they will be delved into, defined, played with; they will change and evolve as the characters grow. They are an integral part of their journey of self-discovery, their quest for identity, that we have all been through (or are going through if you’re a younger member of the audience). I know I keep referring back to this mega-meta, but it’s because I touched on a lot of major themes for the show in it, in respect to dealing with ‘ships but looking beyond them. Here’s the crux for your specific concern:

IDENTITY: THE CHOICES WE MAKE THAT CHANGE AND GROW US

MJ: “The entire arc of the series is about these friends and the ability to go through emotional arcs with friends. [To] feel one way about them, then another way the next day. This is real life.” (From the ATX panel).

Rowan: “I think as the show went on, we’re just constantly changing and our characters would be changing with us. And so, what once originally may have been more Cory [Pilot], has now bled into, you know, Cory and Topanga [GM C+T], with a little bit of Riley. And then I think the same for Maya.”
Sabrina: “Yeah, I think Maya’s even taking stuff from Riley.”
Riley: “All the characters take stuff from each other, even in real life.”
[Same panel, watch MJ’s face as the girls go into this, he’s like a proud papa]

As people, we all eventually have to make choices in our lives. We choose a career, we choose the people to spend our lives with, friends and significant others, and sometimes, perhaps they choose us. Perhaps “destiny” exists too, and some things will happen regardless of our own volition. But as human beings - conscious, autonomous, thinking beings - we are also endowed with free will. We learn, every day of our lives, from our parents, our teachers, but also from our own experience of the world - from the friends we surround ourselves with. People change people. We do not exist in a bubble, our story is not written for us before we even step out into the world, we all have the potential for growth, and we all go on a coming-of-age journey. We feel. We hope, we dream, we cry, we yell, we smile, we laugh, we fight, we reconcile…

Why does this matter? What is it with all this war talk?

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel …
the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
- E.E. Cummings,  A Poet’s Advice (1958)

Why are the so-called ‘ships important? Because building and experiencing real honest relationships is how these kids will finally feel, and learn - by themselves - what it is they feel. That’s the one thing that can’t be taught. Feelings are not chosen, feelings are experienced, feelings are not elicited by putting ourselves and others in labelled boxes - the choice we make is whether or not to act on our feelings. Sometimes we won’t even understand our feelings until we’ve acted on some of them.

And that is what these kids - Riley, and Maya, her sounding board, the girl who tries to outsmart Cory the “Boy” and “sneak out” Riley down to the subway  - will learn and teach the whole audience:  to be yourself, to be honest and real with each other, to accept each other, to communicate, to connect - in all the possible ways a human being can connect  (Tales of Human Interaction!).

That is how I, as a viewer, can engage and see the story beyond specific shipping interests. Because, from a storytelling perspective, and as someone who has always been intrigued by human nature and development, I can see and value the IMPORTANCE of all character pairings and interactions. I think they are all valuable, serve to grow the characters individually, and show the different ways one experiences and approaches LOVE in all its forms.