7 Unconventional Ships Only We Love

Nothing brings a fandom together — or pulls them apart — like a ship. People love love and it’s only natural we get obsessed with our favorite on-screen couples.

But what about the couples we’re obsessed with that aren’t beloved by a fandom? What about those couples that most may hate — or not even think about — that we still remember?

These ships deserve love too! Here are seven unconventional ships only we love… or maybe someone out there agrees with our obsessions?

Shane and Jenny aka Shenny (The L Word)


Kate Moennig and Mia Kirshner smile at each other in bed.

I mean, anybody could’ve called this, I think, we did after all turn the entire website into a Shenny Fansite for April Fools Day 2018, aka the best day of my life, I talked about it when I was on the Pants podcast and not a week goes by that I do not somehow squeeze Shenny into conversation. But basically the thing is that I think Shane understood Jenny in a way that nobody else did, and Jenny was uniquely capable of seeing Shane’s entire self and loving her not despite that, but because of that — everything she’d been through and how she came out the other side. They’re also both very self-destructive in different ways and I think that makes them really in a good spot to get healthier together. I also think Jenny would be more accepting of Shane being poly than other partners which seems to me to be the best relationship structure for Shane, just saying! This is all very clear in my magnum opus of fan fiction, This is What I Want!

Arizona and Doctor Peyton Lauren aka Laurizona? (Grey’s Anatomy)

Valerie Anne

Lauren in focus in the background looks at Arizona out of focus in the foreground

This was very hard, because a lot of the “unconventional” ships I have are just sapphic crackships that most other queer viewers are on board for (e.g. Mulan and Aurora from Once Upon a Time.) Or ships that split the fandom but I definitely wasn’t alone in (#Emaya Forever.) Or ships that are just silly because one of them is a canon queer character with a string of very lovely girlfriends and the other is the presumably straight star of the show (Bess and Nancy, Nancy Drew). But the ship that has perhaps gotten me yelled at by my friends, peers, and coworkers the most is probably Arizona and Doctor Peyton. I loved Lauren Boswell. I know it’s deeply rooted in my decades-long love of Hilarie Burton, but that doesn’t make the on-call room thunderstorm makeout session any less sexy. I know it was a bad idea. I also ship Calzona and knew they were endgame. But, like Airzona, I couldn’t resist Lauren’s effortless charm! Arizona was one of my favorite characters in the history of Grey’s, and watching someone smirk at her until she was a human puddle??? Electric. Lauren was a relentless flirt, Arizona was happily married, I should have been mad at this whole situation, but sorry not sorry, I loved every second of it. Dr. Lauren’s stay at Seattle Grace Mercy West Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital for the Disaster-Prone and Critically Horny may have been short-lived, but the sound of that on-call room door locking will echo in my heart forever.

Santana and Dani aka Dantana (Glee)

Drew Burnett Gregory

Santana kisses Dani in matching red waitress outfits.

My hottest ship take is that Joey and Rachel were better together than Ross and Rachel, but since we’re specifically doing gay ships I’ll save that argument for another day. And yet my official answer also breaks up another beloved endgame. I understand why Gleeks everywhere shipped Santana and Brittany — I did too during the high school seasons! But Ryan Murphy’s obsession with pairing off gay high school sweethearts into early marriage like some sort of assimilationist mad scientist is one of many reasons “the college years” of Glee fell so flat.

There are real-world exceptions, of course, but I think one of the greatest things about our high school loves is they help us develop into ourselves and then those relationships… end. And there’s a brief moment where Glee went this route and it led to the most interesting late-season moments: Santana breaking up with Brittany singing “Mine,” Blaine’s sad “Teenage Dream” reprise, and, of course, Santana singing “Here Comes the Sun” with her hot coworker Dani played by Demi Lovato. Unfortunately, this is a brief moment. Soon enough, Santana and all the main characters are being pulled back into the orbit of their high school and Dani is written off with little fanfare. But this moment and this chemistry promised an alternate late-season Glee — one more committed to growth and new connections than empty happy endings.

Kate and Juliet aka Jate (I’m borrowing this from the Jack/Kate shippers, sorry bout it)(Lost)


Kate and Juliet covered in mud handcuffed together.

There was a time when Lost was my entire personality. Next to the WWE, it was one of the first properties I actively sought out online content about, but there never seemed to be a huge queer fandom associated with the show. Which tracks, I suppose, since they started sowing the seeds of the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle in the literal pilot.

So when Juliet showed up in season three, I knew I found my crackship. Everyone was busy taking sides in the great Kate vs. Juliet fight for Jack’s heart (BORING!), meanwhile I just wanted the two of them to keep snarking at each other while staring deeply into the other’s (lol iykyk) eyes. The chemistry between those two?! Whew! Now that I think about it, this might be where my “Fight! Fight! Fight! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” affinity was born. The two of them have been handcuffed together, pointed guns at one another, and even mud wrestled/fought during the aforementioned handcuffing! If that’s not the makings of a perfect crackship, I don’t know what is. In fact, Juliet is the one who handcuffed herself to Kate because she hoped that maybe, just maybe, if Kate thought it was the two of them against the world that Juliet wouldn’t get left behind by yet another person she cares about. And I truly believe they both cared for each other; what most people saw as competition over a man, I saw as two women fighting against what was expected of them. And look, if there’s one thing ya girl is going to do, it’s ship a blonde and a brunette on a show that refuses to acknowledge the chemistry between them (lookin’ at you Criminal Minds…).

Raven and Abby aka Doctor Mechanic (The 100)

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Abby and Raven stand side by side with the wind blowing their hair back and a manicured bush behind them.

It honestly has been so long since I watched The 100 that I have no idea if this ship holds up, but I remember being positively feral for it back in the day, despite the fact that it’s so niche that even some fans of The 100 don’t know it? To be FAIR it is not exactly a romantic ship canonically (non-canon ships tend to be my favs) and in fact, if you look at the official The 100 wiki, it lists their relationship as “close friends” and even “surrogate mother and daughter.” Furthermore, during the events of seasons one through four, Raven is apparently 19 and Abby is 40. No comment! There’s chemistry there! Let me live!!!!!!

Tammy Gregorio and Eva Azarova AKA Teva? (NCIS: New Orleans)


Tammy and Eva stand across from one another talking in a garden.

Before Kate and Lucy stole our hearts on NCIS: Hawai’i, there was Tammy Gregorio: the New York transplant with enviable lesbian swagger who made her way to New Orleans to investigate and then join the NCIS team. She seems almost impenetrable at first — a consequence of being blindsided by her lying ex-husband — but, eventually, she starts to soften and finds a chosen family. What she doesn’t find, though, is a girlfriend…or, at least not one that’s afforded the screentime to make their relationship feel like something substantive.

But there is Eva Azarova, a Russian sleeper agent who Gregorio first encounters during an undercover assignment. Eva’s history with the NCIS team predates her meeting with Tammy. The team that’s listening to their encounter knows exactly who Eva is and exactly what she’s capable of, but something about Gregorio undoes the typically unflappable sleeper agent. Their chemistry is electric from the start and what is supposed to be a tense undercover investigation ends up sounding very much like a first date.

“Hey, Gregorio, you think you might bring up the Playbook anytime soon, or is that like a second date type of question?” her co-worker quips. “Honestly…how long are we gonna go on with the foreplay?”

They head upstairs to Eva’s place and the mood shifts. Eva knows that Tammy isn’t who she’s pretending to be and a fight breaks out…and even that is hella sexy. It feels less like “we’re trying to hurt each other” and more like an extension of the sexual tension that’s been building between them. It’s like a mini Out of Sight but gay. I love it so much.

It’s the start of just two episodes that Eva and Tammy share and, yet, it lives in my head rent free for the rest of the series. Everytime the show introduces someone who’s supposed to be Tammy’s love interest, I find myself comparing them to the dynamic between Tammy and Eva…and they always come up short.

Ida B. and Hattie aka Hattie B. (Twenties)


Sophina Brown as Ida B. holds Jonica T. Gibbs as Hattie's face as they make eye contact.

Recently, Autostraddle published a list (that you should read!) of 12 Pretty Good Lesbian Shows We’re Pretty Sure You Haven’t Seen Yet and while coming up with television shows to include, I once again suggested Lena Waithe’s Twenties. Promptly I was reminded that it’s less that Autostraddle readers “didn’t know about Twenties” — after all, in addition to its inclusion on multiple TV lists, it also had full recaps for the second season, and a feature length interview with Lena Waithe herself — it’s that, for whatever the reason may be, they were not interested. And maybe that’s a fair point! Maybe I will always be one of a small group of the half-hour comedy’s fan club. Maybe most of the other members of this fan club are my fellow Autostraddle writers who I have bullied into submission. Who is to say?? But I am here once again to beat my drum.

It would have been impossible for me not to love Hattie (Jonica T. Gibbs), Twenties’ protagonist, because she’s cut from the same cloth of pretty much every woman I’ve ever loved and every mistake I’ve ever made. Smart, creative, proud of her Blackness, fine as all hell but also — indecisive, impulsive, immature. Undoubtedly, Hattie’s constant screw ups are what give Twenties its plot of the week. But it’s her former boss, Ida B. (Sophina Brown) who really elevated this messy ass, problematic, uneven power dynamic, workplace romance into the secret guilty pleasure of my heart. If Hattie is every woman I fell for (ironically in my twenties), then Ida B. was every woman I’ve grown up to erotically fear. An ice queen who wears red lipstick like its the blood of her enemies and high heels like they are a dagger. Ida B. is the kind of woman who makes you shiver and then apologize for it. And sure, I could take my attraction to that particular archetype to my therapist, but I’d rather watch her make out with Hattie instead.

Hattie and Ida B. are a Black lesbian couple who, for their many other faults, were never boring. That is rare on television, where the fleetingly few times that Black women are in relationships with each other — they are most often relegated to being side characters or the writers behind them are so scared of “bad representation” that they write time into cardboard cutouts instead. I’ve suffered through both horrors too may times to count. Perhaps no one watched Twenties, perhaps I am standing alone in this ship, but I do not care because I will pick Black women who know how to be both messy and still melt the camera every time.

Honorable Mentions: Bette and Pippa from The L Word: Generation Q, who I almost went with for a lot of the same reasons I selected Hattie and Ida B.! Bette being the frigid ice queen in this scenario, and Pippa being the Black artist with dimples that don’t quit. But they felt just a smidge too popular for me to be alone in the ship.

What are your favorite unconventional ships?

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The TV Team

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, Drew Burnett Gregory, and Nic. Follow them on Twitter!

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  1. I crunched the numbers from AO3, clearly the arbiter of such things. With only 6 fics in 10,000 Grey’s Anatomy fics, Arizona/Laura is by far the most cracked these.
    Coming in second is Dantana. It’s 133 fics are a drop in the bucket of the 44,000 fic powerhouse that is Glee.
    Alas, Twenties has no fics at all on AO3, so someone can get on that and forever be the first.
    With 21 fics out of the 909 for OG L Word, Shenny is practically mainstream.

  2. Wait I thought I was the only Santana/Dani shipper on Planet Earth!! Thank you Drew for helping me feel seen!!

    Literally I had the opposite trajectory most have, whereas Brittana made me not want to be gay bc I was like “I don’t want a relationship like this,” but then Santana/Dani made me go actually being a lesbian is maybe fun and hot and beautiful?

    • I love this!! Yeah like high school first love (especially first queer love in 2010) is kind of inherently going to be a little not great. But move to a big city, coworker queer love?? Great!

  3. I watched (and loved) Twenties, Carmen! It’s the only show I’ve seen on this list apart from The L Word. Although I ship Hattie with Idina more so than with Ida B. Thinking about it, this might also be a rare ship given the masc4masc-ness of it all.

    I know there’s a lot of love for Barbara x Melissa on Abbott, but I am probably in a minority of one in shipping Janine and Ava.

  4. I always like Dantana, but my true alternative Glee ship is Quinn and Brittany. I just see them being so balancing for one another. I wrote a couple of tics about them, one high school and then one as adults where they are married and fostering Brittany’s cousins children and Santana is still in their life, dating Dani but once in a while having some feelings about all of it. I really think Quitt could have had an interesting future.

  5. i agree with true, but my true Glee ship is Quintana. they will never make me hate you Quintana.

    also, i LOVED Twenties, so you’re not alone Carmen! Ida B. is the right choice for Hattie at the season of life she’s in. Adena wants something Hattie can’t give her. in this essay i will…

  6. Even when BTVS shippers were (non-het) shipping Buffy w/ Faith, for crackship hotness, my choice was (Attn: May-December disclaimer) Faith with JOYCE!

    S4 “This Year’s Girl: Faith, “How do I look?” Joyce, “Psychotic”. ZOMG, let the lesbian hate-sex (to Something More? 💕) begin! Total crack: Faith finds out about Joyce’s fatal brain aneurynism and somehow travels back in time to save her—while she’s on the run from the law no less! (I’ll stop now 🤭)

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