Autostraddle March Madness 2023: Trope-y Wives – Enemies to Lovers

A black ticket with orange and yellow trimming, inside it says: "The 5th Annual Autostraddle March Madness 2023, Trope-y Wives." In the middle of the text is a small graphic of a gold trophy.

Remember a few years back when we talked about what it means to go “chalk?” It’s a slang term that gets tossed around each year during March Madness that dates back to the days of elicit gambling halls. But nowadays, when we say “chalk,” sports enthusiasts are referring to betting on the overall favorites: the top seeds who are often thought to have the best shot of winning.

Through the first round of our March Madness tournament, voters have gone mostly chalk. With only one exception — which I wouldn’t even call an upset, to be honest — all the top seeds won their contests. The only lower seed to prevail over there opponent in the first round? Max and Esther from A League of their Own. Again, not much of a surprise…97% of our prediction brackets selected the ALOTO pitchers to advance in the first round match-up.

For me, the only real surprise of the Forbidden Fruit region was that #7 vs. #10 match-up between GAP the Series and Luimelia/Amar es para siempre. It was, by far, our closest contest of the round. Given how fervent fans of GAP the Series have been, I was surprised that they didn’t dominate their match-up. It’s a real testament to the strength of the Luimelia fandom. We’ll see if the GAP fans show up for their second round match-up with the formidable First Kill fandom.


Screencaps of Sophie and Ryan kissing + Daphne and Velma kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#1. Ryan and Sophie – Batwoman

“So, bartender chick? Fire!” Sophie Moore’s little sister, Jordan, observes from across the bar. She’s only just met Ryan but already she’s sensing the vibes between the bartender and her sister…and so she nudges Sophie in Ryan’s direction.

Her sister, with the precision of military marksman, shoots the suggestion down immediately, “Nope. Not happening. Not even an enemies-to-lovers maybe.”

Methinks, she doth protest too much. Because, the truth is — the truth that Sophie’s not ready to admit at that point (though she will later, in a conversation with Luke) — is that her feelings towards Ryan have already softened. She’s seen Ryan’s resilience in the face of injustice. She’s seen her relentlessness. She’s seen Ryan bend over backwards to protect the woman she loves. She’s been challenged by Ryan and has become a better person for it. They’re not lovers yet but they are definitely not enemies any more. Even if Sophie (or Ryan) is not ready to admit it.

#16. Velma and Daphne – Velma

In hindsight, I’m not entirely sure it’s accurate to refer to Velma and Daphne, from Mindy Kaling’s Scooby Doo prequel, as an enemies to lovers ship. Perhaps the most accurate way to discuss it is as an enemies and lovers ship…because never, for one second, does the hatred between them seem to abate. Even as they discuss the fallout from their first kiss, a fight breaks out between them over who kissed who first. When they try to discuss whether they have genuine feelings for each other, another fight breaks out — this time about the threat liking Velma poses to Daphnie’s popularity — and Daphe sweeps her leg, leaving Velma collapsed on the bathroom floor.

There relationship is a constant push and pull. Everytime you think they’re progressing towards something real, something happens to upend their progress.


Screencaps of Harley and Ivy kissing + Mel and Jada kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#2. Harley and Ivy – Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy could have found them in almost any region of this contest. They could have been in the Opposites Attract region because Harley is erratic and extroverted while Ivy is calm and sardonic. They could’ve been in the Friends to Lovers region because, when they finally unite in the HBO Max series, they are the best of friends…who, genuinely, just want the best for each other. As Heather noted in her season two recap:

…Harley’s real war is with herself. She and Ivy started off the season as just the bestest best friends in the world who love each other so much and know each other better than anyone else and would sacrifice anything for each other, ride or die, favorite person to be with, cuddled up on the couch watching movies and bludgeoning their enemies to death together, blood and guts and staring deeply into each other’s eyes — but halfway through the season, Harley realizes her feelings for Ivy are way more than friends, after they accidentally kiss right on the mouth after escaping from Bane’s cavern prison together.

Or maybe they’re even Forbidden Fruit because, when Harley finally recognizes that her feelings are more than platonic, it seems too little, too late: Ivy is engaged to Kite Man. But ultimately, they were slotted in Enemies to Lovers because — like any good superhero story (or villain turned superhero story to be more precise) — it was important to pay homage to their origin story: when Pamela Isley, the newest inmate at Arkham Asylum, crosses paths with the hospital’s psychologist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

#15. Mel and Jada – Charmed

Like so many others in this category, Mel and Jada’s relationship on Charmed could’ve ended up in a different region…most likely, Forbidden Fruit. Mel and the Charmed Ones have an alliance with the Elders and Jada is a member of the Sisters of Arcana, “a group of dope rebel witches who reject the rules of the Elders and use unsanctioned magic when necessary to protect those who are most vulnerable.”

But two things push Mel and Jada over to the Enemies to Lovers region: first, their allegiances are not firm. Mel and Jada aren’t being kept apart by their allegiances; those can and do shift. When Mel finds out that the Elders aren’t exactly who she thought they were and that the S’Arcana are the villains she thought they were, her allegiances shift. But second — and perhaps more importantly — when Mel and Jada cross paths for the first time, it’s in battle. She uses her powers to steal the Scythe of Tartarus from Mel and her sisters and a fight ensues. When you use your electrokinetic powers to injure your future girlfriend, that immediately puts you in Enemies to Lovers territory.


Screencaps of Casey and Izzie + Alejandra and Veronica  kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#3. Casey and Izzie – Atypical

Izzie doesn’t exactly give Casey the warm welcoming she was expecting when she shows up for her first day at Clayton Prep. Izzie’s heard about the new kid from Newton — specifically how Casey was suspended for punching a girl in the face — and she’s not interested in her bringing that drama onto the track team that she’s worked so hard to build. Later, Izzie attributes her behavior as being about the pressure she feels to be perfect and the pressure starts to thaw…that is, until Izzie believes her boyfriend’s story about Casey making a pass at him and things turn frosty again.

“Dude, I’m sorry. About everything,” Izzie admits when she slips into Casey’s room during her birthday party. “I was a dick and I got jealous, and I was afraid of losing someone that I love.”

Convinced that Izzie’s talking about her boyfriend, Nate, Casey promises to never come between them. But Izzie corrects her, “Screw him. No, I was afraid of losing you,” and, with a forehead promise and near kiss, the relationship between the two girls evolves.

#14. Alejandra and Veronica – El embarcadero (The Pier)

Alejandra/Alex had the perfect life or so she thought. She had a successful career and loving 15 year marriage. The future seemed bright. But then, one night, the police show up at her door and ask her to identify the body of her husband, Óscar. Alex doesn’t understand any of it…just a few short hours ago, she was talking to her husband — who claimed to be in Germany — about the future and now he’s dead…on a Spanish pier? None of it makes sense so Alex sets out to piece together the secrets of the husband she thought she knew.

The greatest of Óscar’s secrets is Veronica, the lover he’d kept for eight years in the Spanish town where he ultimately died. Alex rushes to the town, furious, prepared to hate this woman who’s upended everything about her life. But while she comes to town expecting to make an enemy, Alex finds the unexpected: happiness with her dead husband’s mistress and the young daughter they shared.

It’s a complicated enemies to lovers story made even more complicated by the fact that Veronica doesn’t know that the woman that she invites into her home and, later, into her bed, is the woman whose husband she shared.


Screencaps of Villanelle and Eve + Janai and Amaya kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#4. Villanelle and Eve – Killing Eve

Technically, Eve Polastri and Villanelle are enemies. Eve is a British spy tasked with bringing in Villanelle, an international assassin. The nature of their respective work almost obligates us to consider them enemies. But at they ever really enemies? Their obsession borders on romance almost from the outset. Here’s how Kayla described it:

The first time Eve Polastri meets Villanelle, she thinks nothing of it. She doesn’t realize who she’s looking at. Villanelle, who often uses her beauty to get exactly what she wants but can simultaneously merely blend in when she needs to, unflinchingly approaches Eve in the very first episode of the series. They’re in the bathroom (gay), make brief eye contact (gay), and Villanelle compliments her hair (gay). When Eve eventually puts it together, she’s transfixed by the image of Villanelle. She describes her to a composite sketch artist with too much detail, incidentally revealing that she thinks of Villanelle as more than a target. Their relationship has always been a strange one, full of yearning and chemistry and betrayal and suspense. It’s obsession. It’s chaotic sexual tension.

But a relationship where their idea foreplay is one person stabbing the other or one person shooting the other…well…that’s feels like legitimate “enemies” territory to me.

#13. Janai and Amaya – The Dragon Prince

From Heather’s season four recap of The Dragon Prince:

In season three of The Dragon Prince, General Amaya is captured by the Sunfire Elves. Janai sees her as nothing more than an enemy prisoner. But over the course of the season, Amaya find herself trusting and relating to Janai. Ultimately Amaya joins the Sunfire Elves in their battle against their enemies, and Amaya keeps Janai from riding to her death after her sister is killed. They smile at each other a little bit. They say thanks. They hold hands. And in the between-seasons time-jump, they fall for each other!

Season four, which landed this month, opens with the two of them getting engaged in an elaborate and romantic ceremony that nearly made me swoon right out of my skin! You might think it sounds like a cop-out, to miss out on their courtship, but actually it sets them up to have one of the most mature queer relationships on TV.


Screencaps of Ava and Sara + April and Sterling kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#5. Ava and Sara – Legends of Tomorrow

Soon after Time Bureau Agent Ava Sharpe meets Sara Lance for the first time, she’s taken hostage by Julius Caesar. The Bureau’s attempt to undermine the Legends has failed and they’re forced to rush to the rescue…both to stop Caesar from rewriting Roman history and to save Agent Sharpe. But when Sara arrives to rescue Ava from her captors, she isn’t exactly greeted as a liberator. Ava can take care of herself, she assures Sara, despite all evidence to the contrary. At the moment, it feels so far away…the moment when Ava and Sara will get past their differences and fall in love…but, really, it’s the just the start: the first rescue of a lifetime of rescues.

>Here’s Valerie on the start of this enemies to lovers ship:

Sara and Ava were at odds almost immediately, but in that sexy kind of way? They were both fierce women with opposing objectives: Sara wanted to protect her team and Ava wanted to enforce the rules that Sara’s team was constantly breaking. Ava was the first woman in a long time to be able to go toe to toe with Sara Lance. Did it frustrate Sara? Yes. Did it scare her? Maybe a little. But did it intrigue her? Definitely. And I had to agree.

As the season went on, it became clearer and clearer that these two had feelings with each other. Ava went on a mission with the Legends and started to understand why they do things the way they do. Sara spent more time with Ava and started to understand why she viewed these rules as important to keep people safe. They started to learn that the other’s strengths didn’t have to be an opposing force, but that if they teamed up, they could just be doubly strong against their common enemies.

#12. April and Sterling, Teenage Bounty Hunters

April and Sterling started out as friends and then became enemies before finally becoming…well, whatever the age-appropriate equivalent of lovers is. Sterling tried to introduce April to new people and April took that as Sterling not wanting to be around her anymore and, instead, pawning her off to new people. April was left heartbroken and the pair went from friends to each other’s arch-nemesis. It happened in the fifth grade and April’s still smarting over the slight.

Once the truth of what actually happened back then is out, tensions starts to ease and feelings start the come to the fore. Still, though, the relationship doesn’t come easily. Here’s how Valerie talked about the couple in her review of the show:

one thing I love about Sterling and April as they figure out their feelings is that neither of them have really internalized the homophobia they are surrounded by. They have smartphones and the internet, they’re growing up in the era of shows like One Day at a Time, Euphoria, and The Bold Type. (I just realized I don’t actually know what teenagers these days are watching but everyone on the CW is gay so my point is, they’ve been exposed.) April is already fully aware she’s a lesbian by the time she is forced to confront her feelings for Sterling. But April isn’t ready. Not because she’s ashamed of who she is, but because she’s afraid of the backlash


Screencaps of Adora and Catra kissing + Vi and Caitlyn kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#6. Adora and Catra – She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Adora and Catra didn’t start out as enemies. They were the best of friends, inseparable almost, training together in hopes of one day conquering the world. But when Adora defects from the Horde to join the Rebellion and to claim her destiny as She-Ra, Catra feels betrayed and lashes out in response. Adora’s absence gives Catra the opportunity to lay claim to the mantle she once held: now she can be the favorite, she can now be the best. But even that pursuit is thwarted and Catra responds with more fervor, attacking Adora and hew new friends…over and over again for four seasons.

But, as Valerie noted in the roundtable about the series finale, Catra earns her redemption:

And also I love that Catra had to earn it. She didn’t just apologize and be forgiven. And her first act of redemption wasn’t even to try to win Adora back; she sacrificed herself to save Glimmer. It was FOR Adora, yes, but Catra didn’t expect to survive. She explicitly told Adora not to come back for her. So she didn’t do it for the reward, or for the praise. She did it because she finally understood. She did it because it was the right thing to do. And the parallels between Catra punching Adora’s first Not!Catra friend in the face, then literally sacrificing herself to save Adora’s last Not!Catra friend…THE JOURNEY! THE GROWTH!

#11. Vi and Caitlyn – Arcane

Vi doesn’t trust Caitlyn at all when they first meet. They’re too different: Caitlyn’s a sheltered top-sider who grew up with wealthy overprotective parents, while Vi’s forced to grow up too quickly in the Undercity slums. Vi might be the one in prison but its Caitlyn that’s just a criminal in a fancy uniform…after all, it was the Piltovan enforcers — of which Caitlyn is a member, much to her parents’ consternation — that killed Vi’s parents. They are enemies, forced to forge an uneasy alliance to get what they each want: freedom for Vi and help navigating the Undercity for Caitlyn’s investigation.

But as they navigate the Undercity, the tension between them starts to ease. Caitlyn recognizes exactly how sheltered she’s been and how, perhaps, Vi’s distrust of top-siders is well-earned. Likewise, Vi realizes that Caitlyn can be trusted…because even though Vi ditches her and even though she persists in calling Caitlyn “cupcake,” when the chips are down — or, more precisely, when Vi’s about to be killed by a cyborg — Caitlyn comes through and saves her life. It’s the start of something between them…if only Netflix would give us Season 2 so we could know exactly what that something is.


Screencaps of Valentina and Luiza kissing + Alicia and Leighton kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#7. Valentina and Luiza – Stupid Wife

Luiza remembers Valentina as an antagonist…a fellow law school student who seems to delight in making her angry. She remembers Valentina as the girl who mocks her commitment to her studies, who decries her as immature. She remembers Valentina as the person who endangered her life when she had no choice but to ride home on the back of Valentina’s bike. That’s how she remembers Valentina and, as it turns out, that is precisely the problem. Because when she wakes up the next morning, it’s 10 years later, she’s married to Valentina and they have a small child and Luiza can remember absolutely nothing besides having hated Valentina.

Luiza is diagnosed with “dissociative amnesia” likely brought on by some sort of trauma. Her memory of the last 10 years could come back but it could be gone forever. She stays with Valentina, for the sake of their son, but she keeps Luiza at a distance. It all leaves Valentina understandably heartbroken but she persists in trying to reclaim the love they once shared. It’s a well-done, if slightly soapy, journey to the rediscovery of love.

In a contest of tropes, Stupid Wife might be the trophiest of all…which makes sense given that the series has its origins in the world of fanfic (rumor has it, the original treatment was an RPF about Camila Cabello and Lauren Jauregui).

#10. Alicia and Leighton – The Sex Lives Of College Girls

One night, feeling suffocated by compulsory heterosexuality, Leighton Murray decides to booze it up on the Essex College grounds and, of course, she gets caught. She tries to buy her way out of punishment by calling on her father — a noted Essex alum — but the University President insists that she take some accountability. Her punishment? One hundred hours of community service at the college’s women’s center. Again, Leighton tries to avoid punishment but the center’s volunteer coordinator, Alicia, refuses to budge: if Leighton wants credit for 100 hours of community service, she’ll have to work for the full 100 hours. Leighton, begrudgingly, agrees and, as Leighton commits to her efforts, slowly but surely, the tension between the two eases.

Much to her surprise, Leighton finds comfort in the women’s center and she tries to integrate her friends from the center — Alicia, Ginger, and Tova — with her roommates and her friends in Greek Life. Predictably, it’s the last part that makes it complicated: a drunken frat boy insults Alicia and Leighton is forced to drag her away from a likely fight. Leighton apologizes, dismayed by what happened and insisting that she’s never seen them treat anyone else like that.

“Of course you haven’t,” Alicia retorts. “I’m just this queer girl that they can’t fuck but you? You’re this pretty, blonde, straight girl who they actually think is worthy of respect.”

And, in that moment, words fail Leighton. She can’t express exactly how wrong Alicia is…so, instead, she just pulls her into a kiss.


Screencaps of Haniwa and Wren kissing + Maze and Eve kissing. In the middle: VS. And a white stamp of a trophy with the letters AS — for Autostraddle — above it.

#8. Haniwa and Wren – SEE

In the post-apocalyptic dystopia that SEE imagines, most of what’s left of humanity — just 2 million people remain on the planet — exists without their sight. The people that maintain their sight, which included Haniwa, are considered heretics and the Queen sends her armies to hunt them. But it’s not the Queen’s army that first gets hold of Haniwa, it’s her stepfather’s brother, Edo, who uses Haniwa to draw out his brother. Edo sends his chief Lieutenant, Wren, to watch over his niece.

The pair grow closer while Haniwa’s held in captivity. At once point, Haniwa even tries to escape but, because she can’t bring herself to kill Wren, she can’t get away. As Wren guards a chained Haniwa, she’s seen for the person she is. Haniwa recognizes that, despite her assertions to the country, Wren can also see.

“How do you know?” Wren asks.

“I’ve spent my whole life hiding it, just like you. I know what it looks like,” Haniwa maintains (they’re still talking about sight, right?).

#9. Maze and Eve – Lucifer

Like a few other competitors in this region, Maze and Eve could have been slotted in virtually any region. Truth be told, I really wanted to do a “fake dating” region and Maze and Eve were on a list of potential competitors (unfortunately, “fake dating is a woefully” underused trope on television). But, really, where else could we put one of the strongest demons to ever exist…and the right-hand of Lucifer…but in the Enemies region?

When they meet, Eve is with Lucifer and while the two eventually become friends, Maze first greets her with a dagger to her chin. Eve is Eve…that Eve…who lived together with Adam in the Garden of Eden until she was tempted by Lucifer. And Maze is one of the Lilim, one of the many demons born to Lilith, Adam’s first wife. At the time, Eve is obsessed with Lucifer and doesn’t recognize Maze’s crush on her even Maze she sings “Wonderwall” to her. Believing that the thing keeping her and Lucifer apart is a world ending prophecy, Eve tries to prevent it but ultimately, she ends up unleashing a whole host of unintended consequences.

“I’ve realized the way I’ve been acting with Lucifer is the exact same way I’ve acted with Adam. You know, I keep trying to change myself to be this person I think they want me to be,” Eve admits.

Maze insists that she’d never ask Eve to change because she likes who Eve is but Eve admits that even she doesn’t know who she is yet…and she needs time and space, on her own, to figure it all out.


You have 48 hours to cast your ballot in the Enemies to Lovers Region. This year, you can vote four times over the voting period (or to be more precise once, every 12 hours). We’ll welcome the weekend with a new region and a new round of voting.

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Natalie

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 410 articles for us.

3 Comments

    • Yes. Absolutely. They went out of their way to make Wren and Haniwa’s relationship a central part of the storyline. I have no idea why AS never covered it, I thought no one from TV team watched it but that blurb suggests I was wrong

  1. Any day that I get to read Natalie write about Wildmoore is a good day in my book.

    (Oh did y’all see how I slipped in Wildmoore? Let me do it one more time — Wildmoore)

    (get the message?)

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