Friday, May 29, 2015

Viewing Emotional Chastity through Fictional Characters

Quick apology about the lack of posts and activity here lately. More about that later... For now, I spontaneously felt like sharing some feelings and thoughts milling about my head today. 


OK, I mean, come on: how cute are they?
If you know me in real life, then you probably know I have a small place in my heart for science fiction. Maybe it’s the fact I’m a scientist, or that I have a big imagination. But while I love my British historical fiction, my current “mini-obsession” for the entrance into summer is the ABC show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a spin-off from the Marvel “Avengers” franchise. While the series is overly violent and frequently makes me mad because the evil forces are just so powerful and cunning, one of the best parts to me is the science dynamic-duo consisting of characters Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, or “FitzSimmons.” 

I can’t tell you how often I go for the science-nerds in TV shows or movies. This instance is no different. The two characters enter the series with a deep friendship, like brother-sister bond, and serve as comic relief with their adventures helping the team escape from dangerous missions. Throughout the first season, we see how much they really care for each other – and they’re close enough that in one scene they’re bickering or arguing, and in the other they’re saving each other’s lives and saying sweet things to each other.

Fitz and Simmons both proclaim each other to be best friends in the whole world. That is evident in the way they interact and work for the better of the other person.

As the season progresses it begins to be clear that Fitz cares a little more for Jemma Simmons, triggered by the emergence of a new operations officer who Simmons takes a small fancy too. Fitz is definitely jealous of the interest Agent Triplett holds and wonders why he’s so special. We don’t get any professions of love from Fitz though – just more caring looks and jealousy on his part.

That is, until the Season finale. I don’t want to spoil it too much – since if you’re into this sort of genre, I recommend the series – but Fitz ends up showing Simmons – with his life – how he really feels.

OK. Cue tears and all the emotional feels. I definitely like to live vicariously through other people’s relationships. Even fictional ones. I want them to get together! They’re both so innocent, and don’t really even understand their feelings or what to do with them. Yet my mind will be satisfied with nothing less than a reunion and a romantic love story between the two.

But this got me thinking. Before realizing there was something more romantic on the part of Fitz for his best friend in the world, I was happy to see them love each other platonically. It was refreshing to see a male-female duo live and work beside each other just as friends. But I think that culture has trained us to hope for nothing short of romance between two compatible characters. And the carry those hopes to real life too.

How many times have you seen friends tease a girl about how good she’d be with her best guy friend? “You’re both so great together and so compatible! You have to get together!”

And then the girl begins to wonder if maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. We want to see other people get together and be perfect, happy couples. We “ship” characters on TV. I’ll be honest: I’m shipping FitzSimmons very much right now, and eagerly await season 2. I have a sinking feeling we won’t get the happy ending that’s expected, and I’m bracing myself for the frustration that brings me as I watch through the next season.

But let me go back to uncover the problem here. We’re almost not OK with having a platonic male-female duo. We want any possibility of character chemistry to resolve into romance.

I don’t really think that’s real life though. Real life is hard, and yes, we frequently have feelings for other people that we don’t quite understand. But that doesn’t mean every girl-guy friendship should turn romantic. What is that saying regarding our thoughts about “emotional chastity?” I’m pretty sure projecting our desires for romance onto other character pairings isn’t entirely healthy when those desires become more serious than playful.

And so I’m writing about this. Writing helps me process things, step back from emotions, evaluate the situation. Because isn’t self-sacrifice more important than romantic feelings?

How can we expect to live out chastity in our own lives when we don’t expect characters in TV or movies to act the same? Yes, we’ve come to anticipate risqué relationships in television. From a distance they almost seem romantic. You want the two characters to get together…say the romantic things…do the “romantic” things….

Um. Yeah. Not so good though.

I think that may be why I was so easily attracted to the FitzSimmons relationship – they were platonic throughout nearly the entire first season. They truly cared about each other, and sacrificed for each other. But that doesn’t mean they need to end up together! As much as it would make my heart so much happier in my chest. Real life isn’t like that, and we can’t project our desires for romance onto other couples, especially not fictional couples. It may seem like a safe outlet, but I think ultimately it’s messing with our minds and emotions a little more than is healthy.

I’m curious to hear what you think about fictional couples and their relationships, or lack thereof. Why can’t we all just rest easy, and enjoy a platonic couple – demonstrating real service and love through their actions – without also desiring a romantic conclusion?


  1. Great post, Liz! I do like romance and wish for romance at times when watching a movie/series or reading a book. However, I find it refreshing when we're given a couple who are in a platonic relationship rather than a romantic one. "Because isn't self-sacrifice more important than romantic feelings?" Yes! It is! You made me tear up a bit here because self-sacrifice is so beautiful. It also made me think of "Come Rack, Come Rope" which is a really good book which shows the beauty of sacrifice among other things. Anyway, like I already said, great post! I enjoyed reading it and now have an incentive to finish my school for the year because I totally want to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    God bless!

  2. I feel the same Liz =). Maybe cause deep down we desire that for ourselves? hehe..


  3. Excellent post! I might be a hooked reader now ;) Emotional chastity is very over-looked by most Catholic young women. It isn't spoken about, so most don't even know it exists. Great post though!


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