Autostraddle March Madness: Better Halves — Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Last night, the men played the opening slate of games in their Sweet 16. By the end of the night, my NCAA tournament bracket — which had a respectable showing in the first two rounds — was demolished. Three of the four teams I picked to make it to the Final Four, including my eventual national champion, are out. My bracket for the women’s tournament isn’t dead yet but it’s definitely on life support, thanks to an incredible number of upsets in the first two rounds. Suffice to say, this hasn’t been my month for March Madness predictions.

Am I doing better in our March Madness competition? Only marginally. Just like the decision to by the A+ Selection Committee to leave Sinley out of the field, y’all surprised me with some of your choices and had me second-guessing everything I thought I knew about the Gen Q fandom.

Based on your selections, we can conclude that the Dani and Gigi love is real. That pairing dominated the first round with an overwhelming number of you preferring the version of Dani we got with Gigi compared to Dani when she was with Sophie. I was surprised that folks weren’t sold on any iteration of Bette Porter’s relationships: she lost both of her first round match-ups and doomed her partners (Pippa and Gigi) in their match-ups. Micah and Maribel were a bit of a dark horse but managed to pull out victories in their respective match-ups. The closest match-up of the first round? Much to my shock, Nat vs. Tom. She edged him out by just 43 votes.

I heard a lot of feedback that the Gen Q region was the easiest of the four to make predictions in but I’m not sure that’s the case: after just one round of voting, we down to just 15 perfect brackets. Where do you stand in the updated Leaderboard? If you didn’t do great in that round, don’t worry, you can catch up in the next…or maybe not.

Welcome to today’s region: the Science Fiction and Fantasy ships. Or, as I like to call it, the region that threatens to ruin most of my friendships with the TV team. One team member called this region “mean,” another it a “hate crime.” I try to remind them that I’m just the messenger — these match-ups were (however unwittingly) set-up by our wonderful A+ members — but to no avail. Now I’ve just got to hope that they’ll love me again when this all over.

On the plus side, though, at least no one can accuse me of rigging the game because there is ABSOLUTELY no way I would’ve picked these match-ups. Let’s take a look at the field.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Ryan Wilder vs. Alex Danvers. Voting ends 3/27.

Ryan Wilder, Batwoman

Relationship Status: Officially a Thing

Maybe Ryan Wilder hasn’t always been sure that she should be the one to wear the cowl but there’s always been a certainty about her. She loves who she loves and she’s unapologetic about it. She’s fiercely loyal to those in her circle, determined to have their back no matter what the cost. She rejects a white supremacist system that “decides what justice is based on who can pay the most money.” Ryan has always known who she is.

When Ryan meets Sophie Moore, she doesn’t have that certainty. Sophie’s not sure who she is or how she wants to be, but there’s Ryan…her light shines so brightly….and, as the saying goes, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” By just being herself, Ryan gives Sophie permission to live as her authentic self…she makes her better.

Alex Danvers,Supergirl

Relationship Status: Hers, Always

Alex Danvers is a hero — she has been from the very first moments we met her — and the impulse that comes with the decision to take up that mantle is a desire to save others…to fix them. It is what makes Alex “super” before she’s ever conferred with special powers and abilities. But the moment where Kelly Olsen truly knows she can’t live another day without Alex happens on a day that she suppresses the most intrinsic thing about her.

The day that Kelly comes home broken and battered by the realities of what it means to walk through this world as a black woman, Alex doesn’t try to fix her. Even though it hurts to watch the people you care about hurt, she just lets Kelly feel her feelings. Alex is able to do that because now, the most instrinsic thing about her is her love for Kelly.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Sara Lance vs. Renee Montoya. Voting ends 3/27.

Sara Lance, Legends of Tomorrow

Relationship Status: Married and Expecting

Sara Lance comes to her relationship with Ava Sharpe with a lot of baggage…so much, in fact, that she often doubts that she’s worthy of Ava’s love, even as Ava insists that that just isn’t true. Eventually, though, the tables turn and it’s Ava’s baggage that becomes the center of Legends of Tomorrow‘s story. In the latter episodes of season three, Ava learns that everything she’s ever known about her life has been a lie. She is just one of a legion of mass produced clones. Every memory she has manufactured. The people she’s known all her life as her parents? They’re actors. Ava is understandably, shook.

Sara steps up and immediately affirms that that Ava is real…as real as the feelings they share for each other. She lifts Ava out of her darkest place and assures her that she is extraordinary. In one fell swoop, Sara makes her girlfriend better and proves that she’s worthy of the love that Ava offers her.

Renee Montoya, Batwoman

Relationship Status: Committed and Exiled

The day she injected Poison Ivy with Batman’s desiccation serum, Renee Montoya saved the lives of thousands of innocent people. And while doing so also meant that Pam would spend forever without sunlight or water or human contact…the truth of the matter was that the Pamela Isley that Renee fell in love with died during Marc LeGrand’s experimentation. But that reality never outweighed the guilt of what Renee did…and she carried with her always.

Eventually, Renee saw a way to rectify her greatest mistake and she took it. Even if it meant lying to everyone, even if it meant betraying the badge she worked so hard to get, even if it meant walking away from everything…she was going to get Pamela out and she was going to find a way for them to have a life together.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Vi vs. Lilly Fortenberry. Voting ends 3/27.

Vi, Arcane

Relationship Status: Addicted to Cupcake

Based on the League of Legends video game, Netflix’s Arcane features two sisters, Vi and Powder/Jinx, who find themselves (seemingly) on opposite sides of a class war. It’s their relationship and the fracture in it — exacerbated by Caitlyn — that drives the plot of the show. The sisters are orphaned as children and separated as adults, with Vi finding herself in prison. It’s Caitlyn, an ambitious enforcer, who frees Vi, much to Jinx’s consternation.

It’s hard to say something definitive about Vi and Caitlyn inArcane without spoiling how it ends. For most of the series, the couple straddles the line between canon and fanon. There are charged moments, lots of touching and endless flirtation but the true confirmation that there’s something more between them comes from the perception — “I paid your girlfriend a visit this morning,” Jinx tells her captive sister at one point — of those around them.

Lilly Fortenberry, Astrid & Lilly Save the World

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

I was surprised that Astrid & Lilly Save the World made it into the field if I’m being honest. It’s a relatively new show and though it’s earning kudos from critics and viewers alike, it felt a little early to call either of them the “better half” (though, given Candace’s most recent behavior, I’m inclined to say Lilly is definitely the better half). That said, I think it’s the rare show with a fat queer lead and there are a lot of folks who feel reflected in a way that they don’t often get to see.

There’s something particularly endearing about Lilly, the girl with two moms, a love for Xena and posters of Olivia Benson and Jennifer Garner in Alias on her wall. And her crush on Candace — the most popular girl in school — is imminently relatable.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Waverly Earp vs. Anissa Pierce. Voting ends 3/27.

Waverly Earp, Wynonna Earp

Relationship Status: Stronger Than They Were Before

Actions often speak louder than words for Waverly Earp so, fittingly, let’s go to the video tape:

Anissa Pierce, Black Lightning

Relationship Status: All Blissed Out

For years, Grace Choi has tried to keep the ghosts of her past at bay…the deaths of her parents, her kidnapping, the trafficking ring, her real identity, her shapeshifting. And when her past threatens her future with Anissa, for fear that the woman she loves would abandon her if she knew. But Anissa loves Grace too much to just let her go so she searches for her and, in the process, discovers everything that Grace tried to keep secret.

Much to Grace’s surprise, Anissa doesn’t flinch in the face of any of it. She assures her that the revelations don’t change anything and asks Grace to stop running and just let Anissa love her. Eventually, Grace learns that the uncontrollable shapeshifting is tied to her fears of abandonment…and in Anissa, she’s found her cure.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Sophie Moore vs. Kelly Olsen. Voting ends 3/27.

Sophie Moore, Batwoman

Relationship Status: In An Out Relationship With A Girl

When we see Ryan Wilder with Sophie Moore for the first time, it’s not their first meeting. Ryan’s been hauled in by the Crows for questioning more times than she can count and, after spending 18 months in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, she’s just waiting for the next time Sophie and the Crows come along and pull the rug out from underneath her feet. That’s been the story of her life, really…of having the good things in her life snatched away.

It takes a while but eventually Sophie Moore becomes one of those good things and Ryan’s fear starts to take over. But Sophie’s walked away from a good thing before and she refuses to make the same mistake twice. So she shows up again and again and again for Ryan to prove that she’s not going anywhere. This time, the good is here to stay.

Kelly Olsen,Supergirl

Relationship Status: Alex’s Missing Puzzle Piece

When Kelly first meets Alex, the head of the DEO is still nursing the pain over a lost love. Soon thereafter, Kelly stands in for Kara, as Alex goes to meet the child she’s slated to adopt. And she’s there to ease Alex’s heartbreak when that plan doesn’t come to fruition. She excavates her own pain — namely, the death of her fiancée — to help Alex begin to grapple with hers. As Alex later confesses, “When you met me, I was just half a person. I was still hurting from my own wounds and you…you helped me heal.”

When Alex needs comfort, Kelly is there. When Alex needs support, Kelly is there. She is the reason Alex’s wounds turn to scars and, eventually, to memories.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Ava Sharpe vs. Pamela Isley. Voting ends 3/27.

Ava Sharpe, Legends of Tomorrow

Relationship Status: Co-Captains for Life

Before she proposes to Ava, Sara gets a case of cold feet. She recognizes how much she’s evolved but wonders if where she is now is just a phase and that one day, she’ll evolve into someone who Ava doesn’t love. She wonders if someday she’ll hurt Ava. Thankfully, Spooner — this stranger she just met — disavows her of those notions and Sara returns to her love’s side, determined to tell Ava how much she means to her.

She gets down on one knee and says, “When I was up there in space, floating further and further away, I realized something: no matter where I go or when I am, I will never be lost because I have you. You are my North Star. You are my guiding light, and wherever you lead me, that’s my home.”

Pamela Isley, Batwoman

Relationship Status: Living a Fantasy

To be honest, I’m surprised our A+ readers picked Renee and Pam to be part of this region. I mean, there’s a good case to be made that neither Renee nor Pam are each other’s better half…in fact, they may just be toxic for one another. Even as they make their escape from Gotham…on a freight plane to Coryana…Pam’s choice is to be with Renee, under her terms, or to jump out of the plane to a certain death. That’s not choosing love, that’s being forced into it.

But still, I can’t help but think about how Pam spent her years of desiccation, starved of water, sunlight and human contact by the person she loved most in the world. And yet, the person she thought of everyday…the person who kept her alive…was Renee. And when Pam is roused from her “sleep,” she doesn’t want vengeance, she just wants to be loved for who she is.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Caitlyn vs. Candace Powell. Voting ends 3/27.

Caitlyn, Arcane

Relationship Status: Single? Taken? Who Knows?

As I noted with Vi, the relationship between Caitlyn and Vi isn’t the central relationship of Arcane‘s first season, it’s the sisters, Vi and Powder/Jinx, who find themselves (seemingly) on opposite sides of a class war. The sisters are orphaned as children and separated as adults, with Vi finding herself in prison. It’s Caitlyn, an ambitious enforcer, who frees Vi, much to Jinx’s consternation.

Vi and Jinx are supposed to be on the same side, Jinx contends; after all, their parents were killed by the aristocracy of Piltover and since then they’ve were forced to survive in the undercity’s slums. And even though Caitlyn has eschewed the trappings of the aristocracy (well, some of them) to work her way up through the ranks as an enforcer, Jinx can’t see her as anything but the enemy…and by “siding” with her, Vi becomes the enemy too.

Candace Powell, Astrid & Lilly Save the World

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

In the quiet moments, when it’s just Lilly and Candace, Lilly sees her best friend from the beforetimes…before Lilly was fat and before Candace was popular. Those moments were Candace at her happiest. Now, in those quiet moments with Lilly, Candace is her most honest self: lamenting the overbearing nature of her über-religious mother or perpetually disappointing boyfriend. And yes, sometimes, she even leans over and kisses Lilly right on the mouth.

But when someone breaks into that bubble…when Candace feels called again to be the school’s queen bee…that their relationship gets a bit more toxic. Even as Astrid and Lilly are fighting monsters and saving the world, there’s no respite from teenage angst…including the realization that Candace is “open” about being sexually fluid but won’t acknowledge her feelings for Lilly outside the bubble.


Background: a young Black woman smiling and watching TV with a remote in her hand, teal squiggles are illustrated on the sides of the photo. Foreground text in purple against a dark gray and teal background: Autostraddle March Madness / Nicole Haught vs. Grace Choi. Voting ends 3/27.

Nicole Haught, Wynonna Earp

Relationship Status:

Waverly Earp didn’t have the easiest time growing up. Her mother institutionalized, her sister abducted, her father — or, at least, the man she thought was her father — and her other sister are always gone. No one was there to give Waverly regular affirmations of love…though, admittedly, even if they had been there, they don’t seem like affirming types. The absence of that in Waverly’s early life carries on into her adulthood. She doesn’t say the words, she just let’s her actions speak for themselves.

But even though this frustrates Nicole at points — sometimes people just want to hear the words — it doesn’t keep her from loving Waverly or from telling her that as often as she can. She’s there often enough and says “I love you” with such regularity and sincerity…until Waverly recognizes that words — “I really, really love you” — matter too.

Grace Choi, Black Lightning

Relationship Status: Hitched

When Jefferson Pierce first meets Grace Choi, he’s angry…angry that she knows about Anissa’s powers and secret identity. Anissa assures him that her secret — their secrets — are safe because she trust Grace with her life. Jefferson scoffs at the notion, assuming that Grace is just another warm body in Anissa’s bed who will soon be replaced by another.

While it’s easy to be mad at Jefferson in that moment, his skepticism about Anissa is warranted, given her history. Since Black Lightning‘s easiest episodes, Anissa has shown herself to be a commitment-phobe…deftly navigating her way out of a relationships anytime her partner asks for more. As Carmen wondered at the time, “What if Anissa Pierce has been a Shane McCutcheon this whole time?”

But Grace is different. She compels Anissa to change…to realize that there’s value in commitment and love and partnership. Who knew that it’d be the leopard to tame Freeland’s most notorious playgirl?


You’ve got 48 hours to cast your ballot and marshal all the energy of the fandom to vote for your faves. We’ll be back this Sunday with the results and a new region for you to vote on.


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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 278 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. Shess, Micabel, and Gini don’t surprise me, but I’m SHOCKED by people preferring Alice and Nat over Alice and Tom! Then again, Sinley and Shenny are my favorite ships and I have never for a millisecond shipped Tibette so safe to say I’m out of touch with the majority of the fandom

    Anyway, now that my bracket’s been destroyed by Gen Q, I’m hoping these characters from show I haven’t gotten around to watching but feel I made an educated guess on based on fan vids can help save it

  2. A Gigi down in the first round? The same Gigi who had an incredibly hot top-off with Bette and then responded to her bullshit with courageous emotional honesty? How? I haven’t been this disappointed since Jordi lost prom queen.

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