We asked Amanda Brennan, who is in charge of analyzing traffic at Tumblr, to talk us through the 2017 list.
Scroll to the bottom for the full list.
This year’s top ship comes from the animated sci-fi show “Voltron: Legendary Defender,” where fans have latched on to the chemistry between the solemn loner, Keith, and the goofball sharpshooter, Lance.
The clip above, from season three, is a nice sampling of their (so-far platonic) relationship.
“They’re just adorable with each other,” Ms. Brennan said of the pairing, popularly known as Klance. “On Tumblr specifically, a lot of the content about Klance is really cute fan art.”
Keith and Lance are not canon, meaning that their relationship is not part of the show’s scripted story line. It’s a popular misunderstanding that one can only ship two characters who are not already romantically involved on a show.
In fact, it’s perfectly appropriate to ship, for example, Jim and Pam from “The Office.” It’s a way to express approval of a romance that was canon from the beginning.
A case in point is the relationship between Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, characters from the Freeform series “Shadowhunters,” who are romantically involved on the show. The couple, often referred to as Malec, came in second on Tumblr’s list.
“They’re just beautiful human beings and watching them kiss is like, ‘oh yes,’” Ms. Brennan said. “There’s no way to not ship that.”
All 10 of the year’s top ships are same-sex pairings, a testament to how friendly Tumblr is to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as to the long history of slash both off and online. But Ms. Brennan did point out that shipping tends to skew male-male, and she was pleased that there were several relationships between women on the 2017 list.
Actors and other creators don’t always have an easy time accepting that they’re part of a beloved ship. But as the concept has become more familiar, many have accepted it as an aspect of fan culture.
Katie McGrath, who plays Lena Luthor on the CW series “Supergirl,” told TVLine in April that she understood how people had come to pair her character with Supergirl, who is played by Melissa Benoist.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” she said. “It’s not just what we put into it. It’s what the writers put in, and the directors, and then what people can take from it.
Shipping may seem like a playful pastime. But Flourish Klink, a host of the podcast “Fansplaining” and an expert on fan communities, said that the phenomenon was often explicitly political, and should be understood that way.
“People really want to see themselves reflected in media and that has become wrapped up in shipping culture,” she said.
Some actors actively embrace the ship.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Katherine Barrell, who play the couple Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught on the SyFy show “Wynonna Earp,” have consistently expressed appreciation for their fans’ enthusiasm.
“Gay people’s relationships are underrepresented, totally, and their deaths are overrepresented,” Ms. Provost-Chalkley told TV Insider in June. “I think our relationship on the show managed to achieve that positive representation.”
Ms. Brennan said that shows like “Wynonna Earp” showed how, as young people who understood fandoms start to contribute to mainstream programming, the nature of the shows themselves may change.
“I feel like the newer content that’s coming out is more queer friendly than ever before and I think that’s due to people growing up in fandoms, becoming writers themselves,” she said.
The full list
The show’s name comes first, followed by the name of the characters and the preferred name for the ship. The exceptions are Daniell Howell and Phil Lester, who are YouTubers, and Park Jimin and Jeon Jungkook, of the K-pop group BTS.
1. “Voltron: Legendary Defender;” Keith and Lance; Klance
2. “Shadowhunters;” Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood; Malec
3. “Yuri!!! on Ice;” Victor Nikiforov and Yuri Katsuki; Victuuri
4. YouTube; Daniel Howell and Phil Lester; Phan
5. Park Jimin and Jeon Jungkook, Jikook
6. “Supergirl;” Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor; Supercorp
7. “Overwatch;” Jesse McCree and Hanzo Shimada; McHanzo
8. “Yuri!!! on Ice;” Otabek Altin and Yuri Plisetsky; Otayuri
9. “Supergirl;” Maggie Sawyer and Alex Danvers, Sanvers
10.“Wynonna Earp;” Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught; Wayhaught
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