Acknowledged: that from my teenage years in fandom onward, I was a shipper of some flavour. Except for those joyous hours spent on the Hornblower boards on A&E’s website — and this is back when they were still more Arts than dubious Entertainment — I had my pet couple on every show. I saw love everywhere. It was in my nature.
Since then, I’ve grown to expand my shipping into more inclusive arenas. Got two favorite couples that make equal sense? OT3! Slash? No problem! Love is genderblind, after all. But not shipping at all?
Enter Olivia Benson, post-Elliot Stabler.
Liv after Elliot is different. She’s more sure of herself in a lot of ways. Her dress sense, her hair, her demeanor, it’s all more consistent. Maybe that’s Mariska Hargitay settling into herself, too, but I’m seeing a character who, once out of Elliot Stabler’s shadow, began to be written as a woman realising a great deal of potential. What she wants is what she wants. Nobody’s going to tell her what to do about it anymore. She used to ricochet between tough as nails and vulnerable. Now, even after tremendous trauma (the Lewis storyline), she’s found a middle path. Comfort in herself.
Meanwhile, I can leer at Raúl Esparza all I like, because ADA Barba is a beautiful, beautiful man with a certain sharp gleam in his eye. He’s got the looks and the brains. Yum.
But I don’t need to pair Liv with anyone on the show to be interested in the show. I kinda like it ship-free, actually. I like seeing these people without the love affairs. My headcanon still holds that at some point in their history, Liv and Elliot were potentially better together than apart. Maybe if they bring him back and he’s gotten himself in order (i.e. saw a doctor about why he left; actually divorced his wife instead of staying with her for the sake of an accidental son) then they could be something. Other than that? Meh, I say.
…well, except that Kathleen Stabler is grown-up enough that her meeting Alexis Castle would be interesting…