Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Girl in the Woods Begs for a Poly Ship

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Shipping is, for better and/or worse, a significant component of the fandom world. Fans always have opinions on what characters have chemistry with each other, who has romantic or sexual tension, who is healthy for each other or not, and what possible relationships best represent them. This is especially true for shows like The Girl in the Woods, which features teen characters and appeals to a younger audience.

I’m sure that, over time, those who watch this show will gravitate to The Girl in the Woods for its main characters. Said main characters are an escaped member of a monster-hunting cult named Carrie, a Black girl named Tasha who encounters Carrie and helps adjust her to life outside said cult, and Tasha’s best friend Nolan, who is nonbinary and has a massive crush on Tasha. A crush which she shares but that neither acts on for reasons largely due to Nolan’s insecurities and struggles with being nonbinary in a small mining town that mistreats them for it.

Tasha, Nolan, and Carrie from The Girl in the Woods
THE GIRL IN THE WOODS — “The Door in the Woods” Episode 102 — Pictured: (l-r) Stefanie Scott as Carrie Ecker, Misha Osherovich as Nolan Frisk, Sofia Bryant as Tasha Gibson — (Photo by: Scott Green/Peacock)

As people gravitate to this show and these characters, I am sure people will toss out fierce opinions about how this love triangle should shake out. Carrie and Tasha kiss, Tasha and Nolan constantly tease something more with each other, and Carrie and Nolan find understanding in each other that they do not with anyone else. You can add in a fourth factor with Carrie’s ex from the cult, Sara.

There are so many possibilities, but really, The Girl in the Woods demands its audience just let them all find an understanding and happiness together.

Where most shows would use all the various crushes between these characters to create tension, this one never really does? They have moments of conflict but they almost exclusively involve one of the characters refusing to do anything about the fact they could literally be together right at that very moment. The most obvious early example of this is when Tasha admits to having a crush on Nolan and Carrie encourages her to say so, only for Nolan to panic over the half-confession.

Mostly, though, they just all click together in ways suggest they could all just be happy together. When Nolan panics over Tasha, they end up having an important bonding moment with Carrie about being misfits in society. Carrie obviously knows nothing about “normal” society after spending her life in a cult and is currently questioning every belief she ever had. Nolan has severe existential questions because of the backlash and abuse they face for being nonbinary.

There are some signs each character is okay with multiple loves. Tasha clearly has a prolonged crush on Nolan, but there is also some immediate spark with Carrie that causes them to kiss as well. Carrie still has feelings for Sara, but that doesn’t stop her attraction or feelings for Tasha. It is not like the idea of these characters being polyamorous is completely unfounded.

The big obstacle here is seems to be Nolan. The only definitive love triangle moment in the season comes during the aforementioned makeout between Carrie and Tasha. Nolan simultaneously gets attacked by Tasha’s bigoted neighbor and sees the two kissing as they are recovering from the attack, which causes them to run away. Even then, the conflict does not seem to so much revolve around romantic jealousy. Instead, the incident seems to combine with the attack to exacerbate their identity issues. They return home after the party and try to force themself to be more like “a man” while furiously rubbing off makeup and removing jewelry.

It would be naïve to say their feelings for Tasha had nothing to do with their mindset in this scene, but anger towards Carrie or Tasha does not seem to factor in as much as their own self-loathing.

Carrie and Sara from The Girl in the Woods
THE GIRL IN THE WOODS — “The Lure” Episode 103 — Pictured: Stefanie Scott as Carrie Ecker, Kylie Liya Page as Sara Ramsayer — (Photo by: Scott Green/Peacock)

Really, all of these characters bond over simply not fitting in. It creates a connection between them and a fierce loyalty to help each other. At the same time it establishes that none of these characters are prone to respecting society’s expectations for them or life in general. Yes, Nolan obviously struggles with the expectations society has for them, but they largely resist those expectations because of Tasha’s support. Add Carrie’s (and possibly Sara’s) support and they will have a system in place to encourage Nolan to be who they want to be.

We don’t really have any idea what the romantic standards in the cult are. Carrie and Sara seemed to be open about their relationship but we never really see anything about what others think. The fact they seemed open about it at least raises the possibility that Carrie was raised without the monogamous, heterosexual standards that most of society is raised with.

Look, do I think The Girl in the Woods is going to do anything like this? Definitely not, and mainly because real life does have those standards and no show ever has the courage to set up poly ships.

If any show has ever made it so easy to justify one, though, I cannot think of it off the top of my head. Which, really, is very nice to see?

I have seen my share of TV at this point in my life and I went into The Girl in the Woods thinking I knew exactly how the dynamic between these characters would play out. I have seen the jealousies between three teen characters play out dozens of times, and the ship wars in fandoms play out as a result. Shows love to mine miscommunications and petty rivalries, especially between teens, rather than show groups of characters who find reasons to like each other and grow closer. They just want to be there for each other.

It was unique to see a show practically beg its fandom to just ship everyone together. If you’re looking for a show to satisfy your trash shipping side, The Girl in the Woods is right up your alley.

Images Courtesy of Peacock

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