The Science of Shipping

May 23, 20173 min read

Shipping: the practice of transporting goods from point A to point B.

While this is the correct definition, that’s not the type of shipping I’m talking about. Sometimes, either in movies, books, or more commonly in television, two characters are “shipped” together. The word “ship” in this context, comes from the butt-end of the word relationship. So when characters are shipped, not from a factory, it means a group of people, large or small, root for them to be together. In most cases, it’s in a romantic way, but rooting for a couple to be in a kickass friendship qualifies as well.

How does this happen? Well, there’s a science behind it. And a clear formula:

Character A + glance + Character B = ship

It’s pretty simple. The glance, usually lingering, transfixes many, and that is how a phenomenon is born. There are even rewards for “Ship of the Year” or “Best Ship.” Shipping also promotes a TV show or movie. You hear all the time “I just watch the show because of X and Z. They are so cute!” Or “I stopped watching because X and Z broke up.”

Usually, if your show has a strong shipper relationship, its going to be a successful show. Of course, everything doesn’t hinge upon that relationship, but it helps.

One last thing regarding the science of shipping, it isn’t an official ship until the characters names are combined together someway. For example, on The Walking Dead, Rick + Michonne = Richonne. It just exemplifies your desire to make them one. A team. Which is what Richonne is.

I have begun to ask myself… is shipping healthy? Is it hurtful? I ship. No shame. In fact, I’ll name some of my favorites right now: Captain Swan, Olicity, Klamille, Bughead, etc. Do I root for these characters to end up together? Yes. But I do regard myself as a rational human. If someone in this said ship did something problematic and hurtful towards the other member, then yes, I usually don’t love that couple as much as I used to. But I also forgive.

The best couples don’t hurt each other though. At least not on purpose. And not maliciously. Shipping, with your head on straight, is normal. And fun! I can’t watch a TV show now and not love when character A glances at character B.

However, the internet can be a nasty place. As we all know. And shipping is a passionate practice. I wish this article can be sent to anyone who has every been disgusting and cruel to people not shipping their ship, or to the actors. Which I also see. It’s heartbreaking and unnecessary. Let your passion breed positivity not hate. Let the science of shipping guide you to be kind, honest, and true.

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Lynsey Neill

I enjoy long walks on the beach, and the occasional cliché. Amongst writing, reading, TV, and chocolate. Copious amounts of chocolate!