Fan Fiction vs. Reality: Which version of TV are you watching?


One of the trickiest things about being a card-carrying member of lesbian fandom is bridging the dissonance between what’s happening inside fandom and what’s happening inside your television. It’s always funny to watch people make the leap to an actual TV show after spending months immersed in that show’s fandom without ever watching an episode. It’s always an enormous shock. Fan fiction is what makes it most difficult because it takes real elements of the TV story and combines those elements with deeper characterization — and a whole lot more nakedness — to create a new fictional world within an already established fictional world. (Often times with even better results than what’s on TV, to be honest.) So, here’s a quick crash course in the differences between what’s on TV and what’s on Tumblr, just so you can train your eyeballs and your heart to accept the difference.

Orphan Black

The show according to fan fiction: Cosima is a nerdy clone who wants to make dirty science with Delphine. Even though Delphine is working for Cosima’s enemy, and even though practically every other clone has been played by their watcher (whom they’re all also shagging), Delphine is different because she knows Cosima’s clone number, which, hello, means true love, and is also totally romantic and encouraging. She may have double-crossed Cosima, but she’s definitely not going to triple-cross her. Not after sharing Eskimo Pies in bed to recover from scissoring.

The show according to the show: Every clone is going to get sold out so hard until they’re all murdering their neighbors in fits of paranoia.

Once Upon a Time

The show according to fan fiction: Emma and Regina may have started out as mortal enemies, in both the real world and the fairy tale world, but their sizzling chemistry and their love for their shared son pull them together like magnets. Through the power of Emma’s love, Regina finds redemption. Through the power of Regina’s pants, Emma finds satisfaction. Henry goes off to boarding school forever.

The show according to the show: Regina is Emma’s step-grandmother and if she wasn’t already set on killing every one of the people in her step-family, the way Henry adores Emma would have sealed Regina’s vendetta anyway. Everything’s a scheme with ol’ Regina. Everyone’s a pawn. She is capable of not swooning over Emma in her leather and/or tank tops.


The show according to fan fiction: The L Word season six was Jenny Schecter’s worst nightmare, and Defiance is her best fever dream. A town where she understands every need and every want and also has lesbian alien sex with Jaime Murray at her leisure.

The show according to the show: Kenya is in love with Nolan who is in love with her sister and Stahma is just real curious about that fabled human G-Spot.

Grey’s Anatomy

The show according to fan fiction: The only problem Callie and Arizona have is finding enough time and enough places to satisfy their lesbonic cravings for one another. Shootings, storms, plane crashes, bear attacks, death, dismemberment, homicide, genocide, cyanide: Just minor bumps in the road on the path to more on-call room sexy times.

The show according to the show: Shonda Rhimes is powered by your tears.

Mad Men

The show according to fan fiction: In a world of entrenched misogyny, Peggy and Joan find solace and companionship in each other’s arms (and beds), and together they take on the mad, mad ad world of the 1960s, until they’re both at the top of the game, earning equal pay for equal work, and also sometimes doing it in the SDCP elevator.

The show according to the show: Joan thinks Peggy doesn’t respect her, Peggy thinks Joan doesn’t support her. They smoke together sometimes, but squabble more than that, and mostly never really interact unless it’s by accident or vocational neccessity.

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