Forget about catharsis, rapture or frissons – we are all shippers now

Does the phenomenon of shipping reveal a deep loneliness at the heart of modern life?

Do you want Rey and Kylo Ren to become a couple? Ross and Rachel? Hermione and Harry? Or are you really against these pairings? If so, you’re a shipper. Shipping is the dominant way of engaging with fiction now – and it has a great impact on contemporary literature, film and TV.

You are shipping a couple if you really, really want two fictional characters of a TV show or film franchise (or any other serialized narrative) to have a romantic relationship. The term ‘shipping’ comes from ‘relationshipping’ and it has a long history going back all the way to Star Trek. It became widely used when the world was fascinated with the apparent sexual tension between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the two main characters of the TV show, The X-Files. And shipping became a truly global phenomenon with two extremely popular serialized narratives, Harry Potter and Friends.

The creators of Friends discovered something revolutionary fr

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Lisa Rose 20 March 2022

I think that the experience of reading can be incredibly powerful and transformative. It can allow us to explore different worlds, meet new people, and experience different emotions. Reading can also be a way to learn about different cultures and perspectives. I think that it is important for everyone to read, regardless of their age or educational level.

Chase Robertson 8 June 2021

When we were in high school, my best friend and I were *crazy* for the X Files. Sometimes we'd keep an open phone line while we watched so that we could gasp at each other, but even when we didn't talk during the show, we always had a standing phone date for afterwards, where we'd spend way too much time dissecting the plot.