Spoilers: Entire first season, but not heavy
Personal Site: Coffee Cup Love
Notes: Thanks to biorhythm for always being there to beta my string of George/Rube. And to the rest of the George/Rube people I've met in the fandom... I love you all! Special thanks to gypsy_tart for pulling me through this essay and helping me revise it!
"He likes you, George." - Mason
In the beginning, there was Rube:
My mother was watching Reaping Havoc and doing the laundry when I was bored enough to come and sit down to watch television with her. I’d heard my family vaguely mention this new show on Showtime called “Dead Like Me”, but I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with it. I hadn’t even caught the first half of the episode my mom was watching, but I was sucked in by the feel of the show.
It immediately became a permanent part of my schedule. I waited for Sundays (or Fridays, I think it started on). I watched the rest of the season with the family and promptly bought season one when it came out on DVD.
Still, before all of that we come back to the first episode, the one I missed and would later see:
Enter Georgia Lass, stage right. She likes to be called George. She hates her mother. The only mention of her father she makes is to say he’s sleeping with one of his graduate students. Her sister is all but invisible to her.
She’s a college drop-out who hasn’t had a boyfriend, doesn’t really seem to have friends. Her mother sends her out to work a temp job, which is a crappy filing job she got for ticking off the recruiter, Dolores. She breaks for lunch and gets hit by the toilet seat from a Russian space station, which blows her into little bits.
Not nice, but that’s how it happens.
George is standing there confused about what has happened. Enter Rube, stage left. He’s the boss of the group of reapers who cover “violent deaths” such as suicides, murders, and being hit by falling objects. He’s also the first person George meets after she dies.
Rube, for all purposes, guides George through her death and through the beginning of her being a grim reaper. And this, this is only the very beginning of their relationship.
Why even the first episode makes shippers very happy:
I’ll admit that I had no chance to sit down with the first episode and become a shipper. For me, I saw the first episode after the finale. Though for most people, you were busy learning the characters and there really was no decision on ships yet. At least, unless you are a George/Mason shipper, but those people are a whole different story.
But when you come back to the first episode, you find things that really make you wonder about the nature of George and Rube’s relationship. It might be taking things a bit far to assume there’s something romantic between them just because he automatically assigns her a pet name. It’s understandable to assume that she sticks by his side for the first half of the episode because he’s her guide to the afterlife.
Making something significant out of Rube's initial parting from George with the words, “I love you, Peanut, but you’re wearing me out”, might be reading too much into things.
What I find most hard to explain away is the fact that these things are all paired with the fact that George and Rube walk together in the first episode with their hands around each other’s waists after they’ve only known each other for a week.
It’s something you do with people you are pretty comfortable with, and George does not come off as a people person or a touchy-feely person. Why then the sudden show of intimacy?
I don’t think you need me to spell out what I’m hinting at.
Special Treatment: Why George and Rube’s relationship crosses all the lines
Rube is the boss, and to ignore this aspect of his relationship with George would be to shove facts away in order to ship, and it’s not necessary. Yes, it is shown in many episodes that Rube, as the boss, feels the need to look after each of the reapers, much like taking care of Mason in “Reapercussions”.
For bosses, though, we all know the rules against playing favorites and doing things for one person you wouldn’t do for the others. It smells of favoritism, affection, and romantic liaisons in the board room. Bosses shouldn’t do things like buy one employee a big gift…
Like say a bicycle.
You say that’s ludicrous, because George obviously frustrates Rube a lot. Yeah, she does, I’ll admit. He has to lecture her and tells her in one episode how much of a pain in the ass she is. When you really look at it though, Rube just tells George what she needs to hear. Even when he backs off and is almost affectionate because he knows she’s having a hard time, he tells her what he knows she needs to figure out. He’s looking after her best interests, and you really feel that watching moments in the show where they really connect.
Frustration also indicates that someone really gets to you.
Not to mention the fond smiles Rube uses when George does something he can see coming. Frustrated, but very fond.
George, too, seems to have a certain regard for Rube that you rarely find she has for anyone else. Sure she ignores what he tells her to do, but there are plenty of instances where what he says matters to her.
Like, for example, of all the times in the first season George gets told she’s pretty, she reacts the most to Rube implication she’s pretty when he says, “Peanut, all men are liars where pretty girls are implicated.”
To which she actually responds, “So you think I’m pretty?” Even Ronnie, who she ended up having her first kiss with, got an “Oh.”
At the end of “Nighthawks”, she obviously needs Rube’s company, especially considering how reluctant she seems to let him go when he starts to walk off at one point.
And for George, there are almost times where she seems ashamed of what she has done when Rube’s telling her how it is. He is the one character she will defer to at times, the one character she shares moments of realization with, and the one character whose words seem to affect her most. In my opinion, Rube is the one character George is most like herself with.
The Father/Daughter Aspect
Ah, an easy way to catalog George and Rube’s relationship off, right? Of course he loves her… like a daughter. Of course she is close to him, because he’s her father figure. Except, one quick question you really have to think about first:
Would you really want your father to look at you like that?
I really see no real reason for George to have a father complex. Her dad was certainly not emotionally available near her death, but she was the one that estranged them first. It doesn’t seem to be a real focus of her undead life either, as she spends one episode regretting it and then barely mentions her lack of relationship with her father. In fact, she arguably spends more time talking about how she wasn’t close to her mother.
Rube certainly might be the one that guides her, but then again, that also falls under the whole boss category. There are times when his actions are almost fatherly. These actions are contrasted though by other moments when Rube treats George like he would an equal or a colleague.
Then, when you really think about it, people always have different aspects to their relationship. People fall in love with their bosses. Everyone says you marry someone like your father. Freud certainly thinks that such complexes enter every relationship. And when you try to define George and Rube’s relationship to one type you most often fall short of the whole. The whole isn’t about working together or reminding each other of family members neither can associate with.
The relationship is about a blend of two personalities who seem to match in a way that works.
Why does it work?
George and Rube interact in a way that isn’t perfectly harmonious or completely at odds. They can appreciate each other’s jokes, respect each other’s thoughts, and in general co-exist together in a way that they enjoy each other’s company for the majority of the time.
It isn’t quite the angst-ridden sexual tension you’d find on Melrose Place. There certainly are obstacles to their relationship, but they are by no means impossible to overcome.
George and Rube would have a relationship that would actually last. Neither of them is prone to dramatic changes of mind. George’s perspectives on things stay generally in the same place, and Rube’s had around a hundred years to figure out what he thinks about things. Neither is ever going to be really outgoing, and neither is going to be very proactive. George and Rube both seem to like patterns and set routines.
Despite the fact that they have a lot of similarities, they are different enough to provide texture to the relationship. George is, despite the fact she has never really participated in life, a modern girl. She knows computers and would probably suffer without modern conveniences like almost every other American teenager born into her generation. Rube knows how to appreciate things that she doesn’t, because his life didn’t have quite so many things. He’s stopped and appreciated things. He has life experience to teach her. She can bring him into the modern world.
In other words, it would be a symbiotic relationship of two people learning through each other in a way they both would be somewhat comfortable with. It’d be a partnership and a growing experience.
They’re stubborn enough neither would compromise their personality for the relationship, but they are both realistic enough, they could learn to live together.
They work together, but not just that. They work together as much as two people can ever be expected to.
Age isn’t as big of a deal as you might expect
I’ll admit, considering the characters are the same age as the actors, I think there is something in the range of a fifty year age difference between Rube and George. This is pretty significant, but it really isn’t as big of a deal as you might expect.
Most of the time when you hear about people objecting to age difference there are a few reasons. One is the fact usually the older party looks so much older. Rube though, is by no means unattractive. Also, we are dealing with a canon where neither Rube nor George will ever age.
This connects to the second objection I often hear about a couple with an age difference- the fact that someone is going to end up changing someone’s diaper. Yet since there is no aging process, the whole bodily functions failing problem won’t be a problem. It won’t come up. Rube’s never going to be older than he is in any physical sense.
Therefore, really, it’s not as much of a factor as it normally might be.
When all is said and done
The end of my essay comes back to my beginnings. I watched the entire first season of Dead Like Me before I decided to check out what the fandom was like on the internet. Back then, I was certain everyone had to have seen how obvious George/Rube was. Especially when I searched for Dead Like Me images on the internet and was so pleased to see the number of ‘shippy images circulating.
Even back then I was convinced that Rube was George’s destiny. He was the character created for her, who’d eventually make her happy, and who would eventually be the love of her undead life. The fact that nobody seemed to see the relationship was baffling.
To this day, even with the minor setbacks of season two, George/Rube feels like the memo no one got. I’m still wondering why everybody seems to have missed the meeting about it, because they just are. It isn’t just idle subtext speculation. It is something real in the way they talk together, their body language, and the way Rube obviously has a weakness for George.
It’s destiny. Simple as that.
Websites for information about the series:
MGM's official site for Dead Like Me
Showtime's official site for Dead Like Me
Dead Like Me Online
http://www.dead-like-me.de/ - Foreign Language Dead Like Me site, that's not hard for English-speakers to navigate.
Fanfiction: (All things I would recommend)
Boss by baba_kibbins
Limits by baba_kibbins
Tradition by somethingwicked
Sweet'N Low by somethingwicked
And finally, there is George/Rube on my website if anyone is interested. Please feel free to link to more George/Rube fanfiction in the comments