OK, a while back awesome regular Spidey reader Andre revealed a hidden dark side… he isn’t a Forwood unicorn lover!
He made very valid, rational arguments about why he isn’t a fan of the potential Tyler/Caroline pairing on The Vampire Diaries, and prefers the Matt/Caroline relationship.
I’ll admit, The House Guest, the last episode of The Vampire Diaries before the recent hiatus, left me one hell of a bitter Tyler/Caroline shipper, and it was there for all to see in my Got Forwood recap. (I stand by every word that I wrote though).
I make jokes about Tyler/Caroline bringing rainbows and sparkles into my life. But don’t let the Forwood unicorn stuff fool you into thinking that I view this pair with rose coloured glasses. If anything, I have responded more strongly to the gritty nature of their pairing than the Matt/Caroline set up, which has followed the more traditional storybook first love break up/make up lather-rinse-repeat conventions.
So, why exactly aren’t Matt/Caroline deserving of being called a unicorn in Spidey world?
This is the first of a few
rants posts up my sleeve breaking down why the Caroline/Tyler pairing works infinitely better for me. Believe it or not, I have put actual thought into this beyond Trevino being hot. Shocking, I know. I’ll even talk about what works for me in terms of Matt and Matt/Caroline, as well as the shortcomings of the Tyler/Caroline relationship.
Trevino being hot is entirely acceptable reasoning for loving Tyler/Caroline though IMO 😉
I was struggling to find a good starting point, and decided that where we left off before hiatus is as good a place as any. Although I adored Candice Accola’s gorgeous voice in the karaoke scene, where Caroline serenades Matt in an attempt to win him back, the actual grand romantic gesture itself made me throw up in my mouth a little.
Whether she really should have felt like she needed to win him back in the first place is open for debate. On the one hand, Caroline had been acting weird towards Matt for weeks, sending conflicting signals like telling him she loves him but then running away, as a result of the upheaval being a baby vamp has caused in her life. On the other hand, although both Matt and Caro showed signs of unresolved feelings through loads of longing glances, they had been broken up for some time, because Matt dumped her… about a week after she almost died in a car crash over her acting neurotic and jealous. Now, admittedly, Caroline had deliberately played up her jealousy issues to get Matt to break up with her because she realised the danger she posed to him as a human in her early baby vamp transition period. It just still gets me that Matt was so willing to drop her for strange behaviour so briefly after she had almost been killed in a car accident; surely this experience warranted her being cut a little more slack?
But really, this scene just bugged the hell out of me because it embodies all that I hate most about the Matt/Caroline dynamic.
I am just gonna put it out there – I am deeply unimpressed by grand romantic gestures ( as opposed to acts of love, which I’ll get into a little later). Romantics at heart, please don’t take this as me being an utterly emotionless cynic! I just like my romance to come in a slightly different form.
Of course there is nothing wrong with making someone feel special, but I think that doing so in a low key way is far more meaningful. If you feel the need to orchestrate a public declaration of love, or are only won over by one of these, I would actually question whether your relationship is lacking in substance. Or if you need an audience to bear witness to your twu wuv in a really exhibitionist way, perhaps you are play acting at being in love and inhabiting a role that you are trying to convince yourself actually exists, or that you think society wants you to be part of (like the Golden Boy Football Player and Golden Girl Cheerleader having the ultimate romantic connection).
The Matt/Caroline relationship, for me, has been one grand collection of grand gestures (i.e. overly dramatic first kiss) and big speeches – there was a whirligig of them in season one, like after Caroline grabbed Matt’s hand possessively at a party in front of respective ex’s or the infamous double date where it was clear Matt was not really over his ex, who was one quarter of the part present, and the karaoke scene was prefaced with Caroline giving Matt a big ole speech too. Seriously, it feels like Matt/Caroline spend more time talking about why they should be together rather than actually being together!
The small moments that make a couple sing for me have been sorely lacking in Matt/Caro since their initial friendship.
If there were more moments between Matt/Caro where they bonded over a shared enjoyment of cheesy reality dance TV like in The Turning Point or painted signs for a town event together, rather than their conversations being an endless parade of conversations about why they should be together, I’d probably be shipping them hard, or in the very least could understand their appeal beyond being a photogenic couple.
As it stands, the way they have been written ever since hooking up in Unpleasantville, I get the impression that if they weren’t surrounded by so much “getting together, breaking up” drama all the time, they would realise they were actually BORED with one another. Heck, when hanging out like a normal couple, Caro in canon stated “I’m bored” and “let’s do something bachelor pad-dy”, which to me emphasised a physical rather than emotional or intellectual connection. I don’t mean intellectual as in chatting about academic topics; just a shared sense of fun and respect for one another’s opinions. And don’t get me wrong; a physical connection is important, but if it is the defining aspect of a relationship than I doubt it would last long.
Once coupled up, the best moment for me that the pair shared, when I really felt like there could really be something between the two of them, was when they were talking about his Mum before Caroline went on the ill-fated car trip that led her to discovering Vicki’s body. They talked like any ordinary supportive couple about an everyday problem, with Matt appreciating Caroline’s sentiment that “Maybe people can surprise you” (although I still feel like he felt she was only being cute rather than making a point he would take seriously). Such a shame that small moments like this have been so rare with them.
In contrast, Tyler and Caroline not only have a special connection forged through their shared experiences of being baby supes, but they have always seemed to “get” each other. Way back in the episode Haunted in season one, they shared conspiratorial glee about how Caro was going to get drunk until someone was hot enough to make out with – a tiny reference to them sharing the same spirit of fun.
300 Tyler just for you Gen!
Matt saw Caroline’s attempts to repair the breakdown in the Tyler/Matt friendship in late season one (admittedly a result of Tyler being a supreme douche) as interference, as seen in his nasty “give it a rest, Care” moment when she tried to convince him to chat to Tyler. No matter how mad he was at Tyler, there was no need to take it out on Caroline, in my opinion. Although Tyler was the one at fault in the friendship breakdown, I still think it was significant that he later revealed he recognised Caroline’s “interference” for what it was; an example of her goodness (“the girl’s got heart” comment in early season two was not out of the blue to me for that reason).
Caroline and Tyler also keep it real with each other. For example, Caroline called Tyler on his crap with his inadequate apology to Matt for kissing his Mum, and most amazingly, Tyler took this in his stride, at a time in his character arc when the smallest thing would set him off into a rage.
Caroline and Tyler perhaps found it easier to talk about things that matter (like in the “I get it” scene, where Tyler shows that he understands why Caroline had, at least temporarily, sacrificed her relationship with Matt) as they grew closer in season two because of thing that brought them together – the shared experience of being new baby supes. Yet I would argue that if they didn’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders with the were/vamp issues, I can’t imagine Caroline ever saying to Tyler that she is bored in his company, judging by the ease of their interactions before everything went to hell.
The supernatural issues catalysed their unlikely friendship, but I feel like if they had both remained human, they would still be far more compatible than Matt/Caroline ever were – it’s just that they probably never would have thought to explore a deep friendship with each other in the first place. I know a lot of people feel like Tyler expressed disdain for Caroline in season one and early season two, but I think it was more that he was concerned about losing Matt to a girl (“I need my boy single”).
Forwood haven’t really had any grand relationship moments; their big kiss moment was actually really just a pared back scene on a porch. They didn’t need the backdrop of a karaoke scene to make them seem epic; the kiss seemed epic in scale when I was watching it because THEY are together as a pairing.
But the thing is, I can easily become completely weak at the knees… by an ACT of love, rather than a big romantic gesture.
I was so very, very deeply moved by Caroline’s care for Tyler during the transformation scene, because this was an act of profound love for a friend, and what’s more was private. It didn’t need to be showcased to the world; indeed, no one even knows the specifics of what they went through together yet. I feel like Caroline hasn’t told the others all about what happened because it feels deeply personal; contrast this to her very public, and IMO rather empty, declaration of love to Matt in the karaoke scene. I usually find that if I need to overexplain how awesome a relationship it is, rather than just carrying the emotions within me, I am overcompensating for something that is lacking in that relationship.
Even if Caroline HAD shouted from the rooftops of the world about what happened with Tyler, the act of being there for someone so unequivocally, especially in shitty circumstances, is, for me at least, much more special than constructing a grand romantic moment. She could sing karaoke until she is blue in the face and I doubt I would be anything but unmoved and faintly nauseated, whereas the Tyler/Caroline transformation scenes made my Ice Eyes tear ducts function for once.
Now it just remains to be seen whether Tyler can give Caroline a reciprocal act of love in return. Anything less and any reunion between the two, especially a romantic one, would be hollow to me.
I for one will be hanging out to see whether their shared understanding of one another is enough to overcome being from warring species, trust issues and betrayals on both of their sides, through well-intentioned though ultimately damaging lies on Caroline’s part and as a result of confused inaction on Tyler’s.
(For the record, the reason why Damon’s “I love you” to Elena worked so well for me was that despite being a moment small in scale, lacking fireworks, it was made epic by it being his first real act of love towards Elena. The subtext of the scene, where he told Elena that he loved her but he didn’t deserve her like his brother did, before compelling her to forget his words, was about Damon deciding to give up pursuing her because he wanted to put his relationship with his brother and friendship with her first. Her happiness came first.)