Autostraddle March Madness: Fill Out Your Canon vs. Fanon Brackets Now!

Last night, the NCAA selection committee announced the names of the 68 men’s teams that, presumably, will take part in March Madness. This year, though, teams face an additional hurdle: they’ll have seven consecutive days of daily negative coronavirus tests in order to be cleared to participate. It’s possible that some teams will have to drop out or be replaced. If the team can’t be replaced, their would-be opponent gets a no-contest victory and will get to move on. It’s also possible that some teams will travel to Indianapolis with a skeleton crew — just enough players to field a team — while the rest of their team waits to get their COVID clearance. As I filled out my first bracket this morning, I thought: “there has never been a more unpredictable tournament.”

But then, Autostraddle March Madness 2021 entered the chat.

That’s right, we’re back. After taking a year off to adjust to the new normal of a pandemic, we’re back, asking you to make impossible choices between your favorite kisses and coming outs. But we’re taking things up a notch this year, hoping to make the experience more fun and interactive for our readers.

We started that on Friday, when we invited our A+ readers to become this year’s selection committee and help seed the bracket with some of our favorite couples. Our selection committee sorted through 90 couples in four categories to make their picks for the 2021 tournament…and honestly, they did an incredible job. Their picks are going to make for some of the most difficult choices in the history of Autostraddle March Madness.

But here’s the surprise: A+ readers only seeded half the bracket. While one half of the bracket is devoted to some of our favorite canon ships, the other half celebrates the fanon ships…the fandom driven by on-screen subtext and fan imagination. Here’s this year’s March Madness bracket, Canon vs. Fanon:

Bracket for the 2021 Autostraddle March Madness contest

Click here for a full-size image.

The format looks a little different than usual, to account for the sub-regions, but it still works the same way: we’ve got 64 couples, ready to decide — once and for all — if fanon or canon ships are superior. While you may be itching to vote, that’ll have to wait for another week…we’ll start March Madness voting alongside the NCAA women’s tournament’s opening round games on March 22. But in the interim, we’re debuting a new feature of Autostraddle March Madness: a bracket challenge.

What’s a bracket challenge? Just like with basketball, our bracket challenge asks you to pick the winner of every March Madness contest this year. How do you pick? There’s no secret formula. You can pick all the higher ranked seeds to prevail or you can chose lower seeds, in hopes of scoring some upsets. You can pick the cutest couples to advance or just pick your favorites. You can look at what fandoms are trending on twitter or which fandoms are producing the most fanfic. Do whatever you want to help you determine which ship might come out on top. You’ve got one week to get your predictions in.

The bracket challenge will close on March 22, just before the first round of March Madness voting begins. With each round of new voting, I’ll update readers on who’s leading in the bracket challenge. The winner of the bracket challenge will win bragging rights and some fun Autostraddle swag. Register for the bracket challenge now at:

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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 396 articles for us.


  1. Omg I am SO EXCITED. This is exactly the level of conundrum my brain can handle right now. And what a conundrum, choosing between Emma/Regina and Tahini/Eleanor in the very first round!

    I just want to shout out for Ana and Mariana from the Netflix show Madre Solo Hay Dos because they make my brain short circuit when I think of them. My partner saw a side to me she had never seen when I realised I’d watched the last episode of the series, and that side was a puddle on the floor.

    • Omg yes! I also was a puddle on my floor after finishing Madre Solo Hay Dos (Daughter From Another Mother).

      Idk how I wasn’t alerted about this series sooner—come on, Netflix algorithm!! I never imagined a world where the actors I’ve grown up watching in heteronormative telenovelas would play meaningful queer characters and bring to life this new lovely ship.

      I hope more people watch the show and that the writers don’t mess it up in season 2 with the Mariana x Ana storyline.

  2. I may need to do some research into ships from shows I haven’t seen much of, but I am predicting Faith and Buffy end up against Xena and Gabrielle in my own bracket.

  3. I searched through the entire list twice hoping to find Sterling and April from Teenage Bounty Hunters, but alas, they are nowhere to be found. Such a bummer! I’ve been single-mindedly obsessed with them since I discovered the show. I guess I’ll be pulling for Syd and Elena instead!

  4. This was really hard, but also really fun! Mine came down to Juliantina vs Supercorp. IME both of those fandoms go hard for this kind of stuff, lol.

    ALSO, was Callie & Addison really a thing that people shipped on Grey’s? Despite watching the show for the last 84 years I’ve never gotten into fandom stuff for it, however Callie/Addison fanfic is now something I need immediately.

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