Gwynevere1 (gwynevere1) wrote in ship_manifesto,

Partners: Carlton Lassiter/Juliet O'Hara (Psych)

SPOILERS: Seasons One through Four.
Thanks to: txvoodoo for the promo pic; rawr_caps and inadream_caps for the screencaps.
May be image-heavy for dial-up users.


Carlton Lassiter (played by Timothy Omundson) is the by-the-book, competent head detective for the Santa Barbara Police Department. He's an emotionally repressed, often exasperated control freak, with a dry sense of humor. Juliet O'Hara (played by Maggie Lawson) is a junior detective for the SBPD. She's adorable, affable, and bright. In the second episode of Psych, she's assigned as Carlton's new partner, so we've seen the entire evolution of their relationship, since its beginning.


Carlton and Jules are both dedicated to the police force.

They've studied, trained, and worked hard for these positions—even harder than most. They both possess an encyclopedic knowledge of the police code and are able to quote sections, subsections, paragraphs, verses, and exceptions to exceptions. They're good at what they do and have come to respect that about each other. They also have high expectations for themselves on the job--e.g., Carlton still considered a pre-series case a failure, because, even though he arrested and helped convict two bank robbers, he was never able to locate the stolen money. They also put the law above personal feelings; for example, when all evidence suggested that her brother had committed murder (he hadn't), Jules was able to put her anger and doubt aside, in order to arrest him. They're loyal to each other as partners and to other police officers, in general, but not to the point where they'd cover up for a dirty cop. They are both brave and risk their own safety in defense of others. Most importantly, for both of them, police work is about protecting and serving others, and it's this protection of the innocent that makes their (often-tedious, paperwork-laden, underpaid) jobs worthwhile.


Carlton and Jules care about each other.

Even if you don't romantically ship them—maybe see them as having a big brother-little sister dynamic, you have to admit that, canonically, they adore each other. They are constantly hugging--like, Doctor/Rose levels of hugging. Well, actually, she was basically forcing the hugs on him at first, but now they're comfortably equal, with him even initiating. They also high-five and fist bump, for goodness sake!

When Carlton was wrongly accused of murder and temporarily suspended from the force, Jules protested like mad when assigned a new partner and was clearly upset when the Chief gave her no other choice:


As soon as Carlton sees Jules with this new partner, he's visibly jealous:


[Also, Tim Omundson has gorgeous eyes. I feel the need to mention this.] Another time, a Federal Agent who was working with the SBPD kept flirting with Jules, and Carlton was, again, clearly envious and had to be physically restrained from going after the Fed at one point. Granted, some of Carlton's annoyance may have come from a jurisdictional pissing contest, but I also think it had to do with Jules, who was clearly responding the agent. (Of course, the Fed was played by Lou Diamond Phillips, so I don't blame her. I would have tried tapping that, too. Ahem.)

Carlton and Jules also talk about their feelings with each other and seek each other's advice on personal, not just professional matters. In a recent episode, we find out that Jules had made a Before Sunrise pact with a college boyfriend; while she waits for hours (he doesn't show), she spends the entire time talking to Carlton on her cell phone--wondering how long she should wait and what the no-show means. The next day, she confides in Carlton about her feelings; his response is characteristically tactless—basically telling her that it's better that her heart was broken now rather than inevitably later. His concern for her, however, is sincere, and they hug.

Later in that episode, Jules is waxing on about missed opportunities and how seemingly minor decisions can change the course of your life, and Carlton asks her, "Are we still talking about Grease?" She responds that they always were. The conversation shows how synched they are by this time. She's obviously talking about herself, but he gives her an out so it doesn't seem overly personal. She knows that he's giving her this out but accepts it. They can communicate in subtext.


Their affection is mutual. In the Season Four finale, Jules is kidnapped, tied up, and dangled from a high clock tower à la Vertigo, about to be dropped when the clock strikes the half-hour, Carlton broke protocol *and* went against the Chief's direct order to rescue her. If he were a renegade that wouldn't be a big deal—but he isn't. He's a rule-abiding, red-tape type. Carlton sacrificed his *gun* to save her, and he *loves* his gun. He jammed it into the clock's mechanism and stopped time for her. He also opens up enough to offer her solace after her ordeal. Again, this is a man who used to have to have hugs forced upon him but is now the one offering comfort. Carlton's love for Jules isn't just shown in the grand gestures but also in mundane details, like noticing her hair smells like peaches.

As for Jules's fondness for Carlton—well, she'll help him with banal tasks that aren't part of her direct duties, like making a PowerPoint presentation for a continuing education seminar. She'll buck up his feelings like a spouse, such as when his perfect case-solving streak was broken and she reminded him that every perfect streak is eventually broken, even Joe DiMaggio's. (Yes, Jules knows baseball trivia, because she is just. that. awesome.)

Also, Carlton once threw up on her hair, and she was all, "That's OK, partner. Don't worry about it." IF THAT'S NOT LOVE, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS.


Carlton and Jules are different in ways that balance out each other.

Where Carlton is skeptical, Jules is accepting. Where he's uptight, she's amiable. Where he's insensitive, she's considerate. Where he professionally calls her "O'Hara," she personably calls him "Carlton." Each provides equilibrium for the other.

More importantly, they've become better people for knowing each other. He's taken on some of her traits and become more outgoing. In Season One, Jules complains that Carlton never talks about anything; he just nods or asks if they can ride in quiet. Even the Chief warns Jules that Carlton has set boundaries that shouldn't be crossed—and that she doesn't even want to discuss the infamous Secret Santa Debacle of 2005. By the most recent season (Four), they're as comfortable sharing with each other as I mentioned above.

As trolllogicfics explained Carlton's character development better than I could:

Lassiter went from a rather socially inept, friendless cop who was too proud to ever ask for help to someone with healthy relationships (in Jules, [Chief] Vick and more recently Shawn) who would seek out Shawn’s help when needed. Though still the biggest skeptic of Shawn’s charade he accepts Shawn’s genuine skill and usefulness. Now, instead of being a constant stick-in-the-mud and product of Shawn and Gus’s pranks, he’s a more active participant in banter and a genuine give and take. . . .

[D]espite the massive amounts of character growth, the characters are still the same people. . . . No matter how much Lassiter may secretly respect Shawn, he’s still going to be uptight and disapprove of his methods.

[I'll discuss Shawn (and Gus)—the actual protagonist(s) of the series—more in a bit, but this quote was just too spot-on not to use here.]

Jules has become more assertive during her tenure as Carlton's partner. A large part of the reason she had left her previous detective job in Miami was a lack of self-assurance and an inability to gain the esteem of her colleagues. She was shaking the first time we saw her pull her gun against a perp; now, she's completely calm when wielding her weapon. She was nauseous the first time she saw a dead body; now, she's unflinchable. In the beginning, she was not as likely to pursue a challenge against Carlton or any other superior officer; she was also less prone to vocalize her doubts and had difficulty commanding respect. Later on, she has no qualms about smacking Carlton on the back of the head when he's being rude. (If NCIS has taught me anything, it's that headslaps = love.)

Some of her evolution of self-confidence has come as a survival technique in response to Carlton's alpha male posturing. However, this change has largely derived from emulating Carlton--i.e., she's reciprocally taken on some of his characteristics.

In turn, this increased assertiveness has made her a better detective. She's insisted that Carlton let her be the lead detective on a case—and he agreed. He was so happy with and proud of the job she did on the case, that he offered her his handcuffs to arrest the criminal. (Plus, he's giving her *handcuffs,* people. The kink potential is high.)

It's the Pride & Prejudice scenario: they're better people for having known each other. Just as importantly, they were *not* making a conscious effort to change the other. They were accepting of who the other person was, not trying to "fix" what was wrong. They improved and influenced each other JUST BY BEING THEMSELVES.

Well, Carlton did make an attempt to be a mentor to Jules briefly, but it didn't last more than an episode. He was rubbish at it. His critique of her interrogation skills was that she came across as "lower-case mad" when she needed to be "Upper-Case Mad." Still, he was trying to advance her detective skills, not her personality. Unless, of course, I've misunderstood their entire relationship, and Jules is a Slayer, with Carlton as her Watcher. Which would explain a lot. In which case, I demand more scenes of Jules wielding an ax while wearing a short skirt:


::nods:: I'm just saying.


Carlton and Jules are both a little crazy.

No, seriously. My show is on crack, and Carlton and Jules both bypass Eccentric and drive straight into CrazyTown.

Carlton spends the little free time he has mounting Civil War re-enactments in California. He felt that a perfectly reasonable method of dealing with the emotional fall-out from his separation was to use his then-estranged, now-ex-wife's cutesy figure collection as target practice. "It relaxes me," was his sole explanation. He's so obsessed with his job, that he records every episode of Cops and even has "Bad Boys" as his ringtone. He maintains a Most Wanted chart in his home. He's also been known to make bizarre declarations like, "What in the name of sweet justice is this?" Completely sane people do not talk like that!

Tying into his fervor for his work is his love of guns, which I touched on before. Let me make it clear: he loooooooooooves guns. He's passionate about them and keeps eight of them about his home, including hidden locations, like his toaster, hi-fi, shower, and bowls of snack food. He's at the shooting range so often, that it's impossible to find a time when he doesn't have gunshot residue on his hands. He also thinks stories about clowns being shot to death are funny. (Well, maybe that one's not *so* strange).


On the surface, Jules seems less quirky by comparison (I know, damning with faint praise). Ninety percent of the time, you would think that she's a Perfect Princess; during the other ten percent, however, you come to realize that there's some deep-seated nuttiness inside. She'll have these random bizarre moments, like when she was deliciously happy about breaking the nose of girl while she was undercover in a roller derby team. (Technically, she dislocated it, since the nose snapped right back into place; but Jules's joy over causing an injury was still scary.) Her idea of a relaxation method is to time herself disassembling and reassembling her gun. She claims she doesn't believe in marriage--but has every detail of her hypothetical wedding ceremony planned, just in case. When it's revealed that a suspect is actually a thirty-year-old pretending to be fifteen, she'll stop to ask him what kind of moisturizer he uses.

Jules sees nothing out of the ordinary about casually mentioning that she had dated a Christmas elf or the time she was thrown out of cheerleading camp after two weeks for hitting a girl who had stolen her nail polish. She also gets reaaally into undercover, like when she posed as a sorority sister and took on their shallow traits, almost becoming brainwashed by their superficial groupthink. She has moments of extreme intensity, such as when she had to teach Shawn and Gus to dance and went all Bob Fosse-Jerome Robbins crazy-intense-diva-choreographer on them; she took the exercise way too seriously. Plus, she refuses to go out with men who can't bowl and has kept a comic book collection since middle school. (Again, maybe those aren't *so* strange, but they don't fit the "girly girl" stereotype. One of the things I adore about Psych is that the female characters get to be as quirky as the boys and not the buzzkill, responsible ones, like on so many television shows.)

Furthermore, Carlton and Jules share a slightly creepy underlying love of violence. Don't misunderstand me: we've never seen them use violence except in self-defense or defense of others; but they both seem to enjoy the aggression. Carlton likes shooting people and things. Jules got so into fighting a girl with an ax that the blade had to be removed from her hands so she didn't keep attacking the murderer even after the perpetrator was on the ground and disarmed. It's a little disturbing and makes me hope that neither (or both) ever completely snap. I think the AU versions of them would be some unholy mash-up of Dexter and Parker. Seriously.

A normal person could not put up with Carlton's and Jules's crazy. However, they're totally accepting of it in each other.


Carlton and Jules are insanely competitive.

There's a constant friendly competition between them. He was seriously jealous when he found out that she had scored higher than him on the detective's exam—by 1.2 points, about which she'll remind him. They have a reoccurring game of challenging each other over details of the police code, trying to trip up each other about minutia. They'll time each other on who can coax a confession out of a suspect the fastest. They spend so much time squabbling over who is going to take in an informant, that the guy sits himself in the back of the police car, before any of the criminals in the neighborhood see him talking to two cops.

Whenever the police department has a new gadget or device—like new forensic technology, a sonic cannon, or improved bulletproof vests, they fight over who get to try it out first, like five-year-olds with a new toy. The Chief has to intervene sometimes, like a mother with her bickering children, such as when she told them they can both be shot in the new vests, as long as they signed the waiver.

Nevertheless, no matter what, their rivalry is without hostility or rancor. It leads to the kind of impassioned banter that makes other characters mistake them for a couple.


So why do I ship them?

Carlton and Jules share enough similarities to be compatible, have differences that complement each other, and are competitive in ways that would keep the relationship passionate. They've become so in-synch over the years, that they would pass the Broccoli Test--even if they would probably spend so much time arguing over where to purchase the broccoli, what variety of broccoli is best, and who has to fill out the requisition forms, that they may never actually get around to buying it. Throw in their established trust and acceptance of the other's quirks, how could you possibly not ship them?


How could you possibly not ship them?

Carlton/Jules is actually a rare pairing, even for a small fandom. I know that some fans have problems with this 'ship, but I think that none of the objections withstand close scrutiny.


To the best of my knowledge, the age of the characters has never been established in canon. However, it's a reasonable assumption that the characters are the same age as the actors portraying them, and, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, Omundson is 40 years old and Lawson is 29--that means an 11 year age difference. Now, my parents' ages are 10 years apart, so I don't see an 11 year difference as a big deal, because it's what I've always known as normal. Also, I'm 28 and could completely see myself with a man in his late 30s or early 40s. (Not that I'm projecting or anything. . . . )

Apparently, though, this disparity bothers some people in fandom. I think they see this as a power issue—that, if one person is notably older, it can't be an equal relationship. While that may be true in some instances, it's clearly not the case here. Jules is plainly the boss in this relationship—however much Carlton may bluster to the contrary. Even he (half-) jokingly asserts that she's "drunk with power" over him (which he finds attractive). Lassie is Jules's bitch. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.) Speaking of power issues . . .

Isn't he *literally* her boss? He's her superior officer. Isn't that sexual harassment?

Technically, you're right. While I adore seeing this OTP explored in fanworks, it's the kind of pairing I wouldn't want to see actually happen in canon until the end of the series, like in the last half of the final season, for about six or seven episodes. (Yes, my sense of fannish entitlement is high. Why do you ask?) I know everyone uses Moonlighting as the ultimate example of when a romantic/sexual hook-up ruins the show—which isn't 100% analogous to Carlton and Jules, since they're not the lead characters, but the basic concept still applies: as much as you want your OTP together, you don't want it to happen too early and ruin the UST.

I could actually see Jules receiving a promotion being the impetus for Carlton and Jules finally getting together; like Jules becoming a senior detective, in charge of her own unit and junior partner. Say, maybe, the Chief informing Carlton that Jules is going to be promoted, but she need his recommendation as her direct superior. Then, Carlton's all conflicted, because he knows what a good detective Jules is and that she indubitably deserves this promotion; but that would mean that he wouldn't be working with her everyday and someone asks why this bothers him, it's not like you're in love with her and Carlton protests like "OF COURSE I'M NOT IN LOVE WITH HER"--all the while clearly realizing, "OH, HELL, YES I AM." Jules, being a great detective, would have worked this out two-and-a-half years ago and be like, "I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO FIGURE IT OUT, CARLTON."

[Only, hopefully, professional writers would make it much less clunky and run-on than I just did. Not that I'm entirely expecting this to happen. My little shipper heart will most likely be broken like it always is. If anything, given my shipping track record, I should just be happy if both parties are still alive by the end of the series. (Also, I seem to have a lot of parenthetical asides in this essay.)]

Basically, a relationship might only be palpable if they're closer to equals, where she doesn't report directly to him. Even if you disagree with this train of thought, have you *seen* how many police and detective partners have been shipped by this community? Clearly, I'm not alone.

In a nutshell, I think Carlton and Jules could work as long-term best friends whose relationship evolves into something more. In the meantime, I really would not want to see either of them in a romantic relationship with anyone else in canon, which brings me back to . . .

Shawn Spencer

Yeah, that dude. Who's had an on-again, off-again canon romance with Jules.

First of all, I'm highly incredulous that anyone could be Shawn's life partner but Gus. (By the way, how is there no Shawn/Gus ship_manifesto? Is their love so obvious that no one even needs to argue for it?)

Even if I accept, for argument's sake, that Shawn is not already married to Gus, I still find the Shawn/Jules relationship contrived. It's not clear why Shawn is attracted to Jules, beyond his normal interest in pretty girls, and he doesn't seem to appreciate her wackiness. As for Jules, she suddenly went from blowing off Shawn's flattery—like when he answered a phone call from her, suggesting she rang because she was in the shower and lonely--to being charmed by it.

Additionally, Shawn and Jules don't present any sort of challenge to each other. Jules is tolerant of the more self-indulgent qualities of Shawn and doesn't call him out when he's dumping the other people in his life—including Gus and his supposed girlfriend Abigail—to be with her. Shawn has become increasingly condescending to Jules as they seem closer to a romance. There's also the fact that their entire interaction is based around a lie: i.e., that Shawn is a genuine psychic. It throws off the center of power in their relationship if the key reason he's in her life is a falsehood, which she appears to believe. (Actually, I wish the series would state explicitly just how much Jules believes in Shawn's psychic abilities; however, all signs point to Jules truly thinking he's legitimate.) Also, not only is their association centered around just any lie, but one where she believes that he could know anything about her. That just makes me uncomfortable.

One thing Abigail did do for Shawn was call him on his claptrap. She went to meet his father when Shawn refused to introduce them. She's asked him to compromise and to adjust his plans when she temporarily went to teach in Uganda. I'm not saying Abigail/Shawn = OTP, but it's just an example of how a partner could make Shawn a better man.

Not only does Shawn/Jules bring down Shawn and go against the maturity character arc he otherwise seems to be on, but it's also made Jules clingy and jealous in ways that we've not seen elsewhere in the series. For example, when Jules goes to Shawn's apartment, she acts all petty about seeing signs of Abigail there, like a pink toothbrush.

Shawn/Jules brings out the worst in both characters. It's off-putting, dull storytelling. It's the anti-Pride & Prejudice.

I also think Shawn and Jules have no chemistry, but I realize that's a personal opinion, that can't be backed up with evidence. However, subjectively, I find pretty much *everyone* in the cast has more chemistry with everyone else than Shawn and Jules have with each other (except Shawn and his father, Henry, because that would just be weird; nevertheless, I do think they capture an accurate father-son family dynamic). Yes, I know that Maggie Lawson and the actor who plays Shawn, James Roday, are dating in real life, but I don't find their chemistry to transfer on the screen, whereas (obviously) I think Omundson and Lawson have crazy chemistry.

Perhaps most frustrating about the demi-canon 'ship of Shawn/Jules is that it could have worked, if the writers had played it for comedy. Unfortunately, they went the route of angst and melodrama, emphasizing unflattering aspects of both characters.

I'm going to stop discussing Shawn/Jules here, because I don't want to seem like I'm bashing the 'ship. That would go against the spirit of ship_manifesto. I just wanted to analyze it as a counterpoint to Carlton/Jules. If anyone wants me to go into this further, I can continue in the comments. Although, SERIOUSLY, the HARDEST part of writing this ship_manifesto for me was NOT BASHING Shawn/Jules.

I'm also not even getting into the non-canon issue of Shawn/Carlton, which is, arguably, the most popular ship in fandom. I'm already teetering on the precipice of the maximum word limit.


Resources for Fans:

The Livejournal Community dedicated to this ship is lassiter_juliet -- the L/J LJ!

Lassiter's Blog [use the drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the screen for more entries] on the official USA Network web site. It's written by Tim Omundson (who I would love to see write an episode) and is adorkable.

Fantastic Jules & Lassie Picspam by liviapenn.

Carlton Lassiter/Juliet O'Hara tag at an Archive of Our Own.

Fan Fiction Recommendations:

Even though this is an uncommon pairing, it has attracted some wonderful fanfic authors.

The best regular writer for Carlton/Jules is jesshelga. Her fanworks journal is finefoxyladies, and all the stories under her lassiter/o'hara tag are worth reading. My favorites of hers are:

Eyelashes (PG) – Shows the shift in Carlton's personality, as the same incident plays out in different ways at different times in Carlton and Jules's relationship. He's transformed from not even being able to comprehend Jules's sense of whimsy to embracing it.

Hugging Theory and Shell Rot (G) – Carlton's Mommy Issues in this story WOULD EXPLAIN EVERYTHING!

A Lovestruck Romeo Sings an Awkward Serenade (G) - First of all, her name is Juliet, so, of course, fans are going to use and abuse "Romeo" labels. The author flips that comparison on its head, though, since, unlike the Shakespearean protagonist, Carlton *can't* find the right flowery, poetic, romantic phrases to express himself.

The Reid Technique - Part I, Part II, Part III (R) – What begins with an argument over the proper way to handcuff a suspect, continues with a debate over interrogation techniques, and ends with Carlton handcuffed to Jules's kitchen chair--and sex. This is exactly how their First Time would go.

Smell of Sangria Zin and Cheap Perfume (PG) – I think this was the first Carlton/Jules fic I ever read, which I found through the multifandom challenge nothing_hip. This community uses "uncool" pop songs as the inspiration for stories, which leads to this fic also having a great Shawn and Gus moment, as they unironically sing "Endless Love" at a karaoke bar.

piecesofalice is another prominent Carlton/Jules author. All her relevant stories are under the tag juliet and lassiter variety hour. In particular, I'd suggest reading:

Comforts of the Miserable (Mature) – This story has an achingly sensual quality, as Carlton and Jules let down their defenses. Also, there's sex in a desk chair.

It's Rilly Hot (Unrated, maybe PG-13) – Chronicles the author's attempt (and failure) to write this coupling for the Porn Battle. Equal parts fic, meta about Psych, *and* meta about the writing process, the result is hilarious.

Where We're At Now (Unrated, maybe R) – A sexy ficlet about moving on.

lo_duclavier (who is lo-sequence @ DW) was writing a series "One Hundred Ways to Smell of Peach" (Unrated, maybe PG-13), which I think was never finished. Each part was stand alone, however, and my favorites are:

Breakfast - Carlton and Jules are held hostage for three days. This is a hurt/comfort story, with a shifting time-frame between the two components and where *both* parties are hurt and *both* provide the comfort. This story has *everything* I could want for this pairing.

Children - In which Carlton is about as smooth as a tack but Jules understands his intentions, anyway. It's a cute yet credible bit of fluff.

As for works by other authors:

Sunshowers by ladyanneboleyn (PG-13) - In this yuletide fic, Jules saves Carlton from a lonely Christmas. This one's worth reading, because it's just so FUNNY and JOYFUL.

20 Times Carlton was glad to have O'Hara as his partner (not that he told her that) by s_c [LJ?] (T) – What it says on the label. Technically, this is a gen fic, not a shippy one, but it captures Carlton and Jules's partnership so well. Part of a larger, if otherwise OT, 20 x 20 series.

A Whisper to the Living by xparrot (Teen and Up Audiences) – Again, technically, a gen fic—and a future!fic; the Carlton-Jules dynamic is exactly what you'd expect them to be like ten years down the road. They're so simpatico that what's not said between them is more important than what's actually said. I appreciate that the author respects the audience's ability to read between the lines.

Til Death Do Us ... Oh Look, You're Dead by dollsome (Unrated, maybe PG-13) – I debated whether to include this fic, because it's a WIP that looks like it will never be finished. However, it left me with such a big, silly grin on my face when I read it, I had to mention it! After discovering that a number of wives who've murdered their husbands had attended the same marriage counselor and rehab clinic, Carlton and Jules go undercover as spouses . . . as do Shawn and Gus. It's funny, because it's true that both couples are *so married.*


The fifth season of Psych begins in July on USA.
Tags: psych
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