Funnier in Latin

A Rationale for Fredslash: Why it Really, Really Works
by Jennifer-Oksana


Originally, this was a question of why Fred and Gunn broke up. (See?) And why Fred needed both Wesley and Gunn to explain to her that love isn't all hugs and puppies; or as Wesley put it, "it's not always about holding hands." However, in talking about that, I got into one of the aspects of Fred that is often underestimated by both Fred friends and Fred haters, and that is her justifiable emotional immaturity.

I'm not saying that Fred is a horrible person; I'm not saying she's incapable of love and that she's a manipulative little bitch. No, what I am saying is that given the events in Fred's life, she's very clearly somewhat naive about love and blurry lines. Think about this. We're not exactly sure how old Fred is, but I would venture to guess thanks to Amy Acker interviews (where she's stated that Fred skipped a few grades in school) and the way the show writes her, Fred is probably somewhere between 25 and 27. Take off five years for Pylea. Fred could have been as young as 18 or 19 when she was sucked through that portal, and she was a graduate student at that point. As someone who knows a little something about that, 24 is young for a graduate student in many disciplines. A nineteen-year-old graduate student, besides being a social pariah thanks to academic jealousy, is one of those people who never did ANYTHING except study. To get through high school and college and into graduate school by twenty requires not only a big brain...it also requires intense amounts of work. At best, Fred's social life was non-existent before she returned to Angel Investigations.

But wait, you say! What about Spin the Bottle and the part where Fred was a conspiracy theorist stoner in high school?

Dude, did you ever watch the X-Files? Conspiracy theorists, Lord love 'em, are not the most socially engaged people. Also, they're not the most obsessed with finding themselves. They're too busy finding the truth--or in Fred's case, scoring some weed before acing her Calculus final. :)

So what does this have to do with Fredslash? Well, it has a lot to do with how Fred reacted to Willow in Orpheus, and how she reacted to Wesley and Gunn and that little triangle of turgid supernatural soapiness. It's also saying that I believe that Fred doesn't have a deep understanding of her own sexuality because she didn't have TIME. All of her energy in Pylea was focused on staying alive and just sane enough to keep going. Also, one could imagine that the possibility of being a cow sex slave would not tend to inspire deep explorations into one's sexuality. Thus at best, Fred came home from Pylea emotionally about the same age when she left...which, as I said, is somewhere between 18 and 20, the traditional age one starts having deep epiphanies about who one really is, doing crazy stuff like running off with the tattoo guy, et cetera. And then we have to consider that Fred was probably not the most socially adept teenager of all time; she was more than likely the youngest person in her classes in high school, and to perpetuate a stereotype, she is from San Antonio. That may not have any affect on all on her personality; it may just mean that she loves King of the Hill and hey, big belt buckles. At the same time, you can get some decent angst playing on the Southern stereotype--Dorothy Allison gets away with it, William Faulkner gets away with it...you can, too!

So. Basic point. Fred is very very young emotionally. Comes back from being a slave and being crazy and having a puppy love crush on Angel (she thought it was nifty when he bought her ice cream, and not in a postmodern ironic way) that durn near broke her heart, and the minute she gets sane, two uber-hottie men who save the world on a regular basis want to take her out for pancakes, chat her up on her theories, et cetera. People with half the trauma of Fred would be swept off their feet; Fred doesn't have a chance. But notice that she chooses Gunn. Gunn who seems more innocent, less likely to get all choppy with an axe, less serious and dour, the guy who gets pancakes with her and gets her a crown on their "perfect day." Many of Fred and Gunn's romantic activities are very old-school, teenage, aw-shucks kind of dates--the Pier, lots of kissing, picnics. There's a certain innocence to it that's at odds with two people so embroiled in a dark world. Which in some ways is refreshing and in some ways recognizes that both Fred and Gunn view love as a retreat. And the minute it's not a retreat (Supersymmetry), Fred is confused and angry and withdraws. She doesn't react well when Gunn calls her on it, either. And then her behavior to Wesley confuses all three, destroying the relationship for good thanks to a problem with handling the darker side of their lives maturely.

Enter Willow, enter slash, enter why it can work. Everyone who saw Orpheus saw Fred perk up and flirt with Willow. Part of that, sure, was Fred's delight at being appreciated--but who doesn't appreciate Fred? Wesley even has a special voice for her. Willow herself was sure Fred was flirting with her. And it's more than likely she was.

But she's straight! She's gone through the males of Angel Investigations! say naysayers. How do you know? Fred had more visible chemistry with Willow than any of her male love interests. And more importantly, how would Fred know? Like I said, not big with the time to explore her sexuality. Also, Fred not really hanging out in spaces where there would be lots of strong women compared to strong men. Angel Investigations? Stronghold of fine men. Physics graduate programs? Stronghold of smart, not-so-fine, often emotionally retarded men. Groups of conspiracy theorist stoners in Texas? Men.

Also, Fred has been isolated from women who could be her friend, let alone her lover. Cuz Cordelia? When not evil, basically indifferent to Fred's existence. Also not the kind of woman who clicks with Fred's personality. And then there's Lilah, who Fred regards as the bitch queen of the universe and who hates Fred right back for being Wesley's Madonna. So it's been the better part of...ever...that Fred has met a woman that she could respect who hasn't blown her off. And the reaction to Willow proves that Fred could use some female companionship that isn't antagonistic or cut from the mold Power Diva. That Fred wants that, and that Fred is open to flirting with girls.

You can take that as far as you want. There's no proof that Fred's a lesbian in denial; but there's no proof that she isn't. The subtext is fairly aboveboard and given the explanation above, there's no compelling character reason that she can't decide to go after girls...or boys. Or both. The thing to keep in mind is that it's probably not going to be an overnight thing. It took Willow time from meeting Tara to realizing that hey, "gay now." She's not Kennedy in that sense. But Fred is looking for where the girls are...and that can go where you want it without being out of character.