stephen@charleneforever.com (michellek) wrote in ship_manifesto,
stephen@charleneforever.com
michellek
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Driving Sideways (The West Wing, Donna/Amy)

Driving Sideways

Fandom: The West Wing
Pairing: Amy/Donna
Essay Author: Michelle K. (dalurve@gmail.com)
Personal site: The Dizzy Dancing Way



Donna Moss and Amy Gardner

Donna Moss: is the assistant to Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff (or, as she describes herself in a joke, Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff). She's a smart woman, but still capable of moments of foolishness. She takes her relationships seriously, be them romantic or friendship, and often shows concern about the other members of the White House staff. Willing to take chances for the promise of love, she often finds that readiness lands her into unpromising relationships. When she's wounded, she's likely to be silent about it, but you still know where she stands.

Amy Gardner: is Josh Lyman's on-again, off-again love interest. A career woman who has trouble holding onto jobs, we first meet her as the director of the Women's Leadership Coalition and was last seen as the First Lady's Chief of Staff. She's more concerned with herself than playing on a team, which is why she didn't stay on in her White House position. She's a smart woman, but she can be inept in her relationships, bringing her work where it doesn't belong. She doesn't like being played for a fool, and will confront people when she senses that something's going on.

They are both strong characters with bright, funny, distinct voices.

And together, they are my OTP.

Them, onscreen

Amy and Donna are not a pairing with a tremendous amount of screen time. Both are most often seen with Josh (whom Amy did date and whom many Wing fans want Donna to date), but they have interacted.

The first time we see them together is in Dead Irish Writers, after Donna is sent by Josh to look for Amy and ends up getting invited to the little drinking party Amy, Abbey and CJ have created. They do have dialogue in the episode but, for me, it's more notable what their interaction doesn't show than any true subtext. There's a faction of Wing fandom that believes that Donna and Amy inherently hate each other because of their respective relationships to Josh, but they aren't snarky or hostile in their interactions. They seem to be friendly enough, if not showing the tiny intimacies of secret lovers that shippers long for.

All things considered? It was enough to please me.

Before and after this episode, you'd have to look really closely to find clues for this pairing and, even then, you'd have to have a skewed perspective to view them as part of an Amy/Donna affair (but I don't think it's that much of a stretch). Amy calls Donna pretty, but it's during her questioning Josh about his possible relationship with her. Donna seems to be supportive of Josh's relationship with Amy, though there are random instances of snark. After Donna learns that Amy is going to work at the White House, she gives a small smile and says, "A new chapter begins."

Then, comes the gold mine of Donna and Amy subtext.

Commencement.

Yes. The title gets its own paragraph. The first time I saw this episode, I was almost convinced Aaron Sorkin had written it for me (and you actually can't prove he didn't, can you?). Every scene Amy and Donna have is together and, while Amy seems interested in hearing Donna's opinion on Josh's reaction to a possibly insensitive comment she made, there is also a strange flirtatious vibe in the scenes. Amy seems to constantly be seeking Donna's company throughout the episode, inviting Donna to ride over to Zoey Bartlet's graduation in her car, asking for Donna's help. (I've read non-shippers say they were waiting for Amy to ask Donna out. I was waiting for it, too.)

Eventually, though, it all comes down to Josh again, as Donna implies that Amy doesn't "get Josh," and Amy asks Donna if she's in love with him.

We never hear her answer.

This episode really jump-started a pairing that was pretty much, well, mine, bringing a lot of new writers out of the woodwork, even if it was just for a post-ep/missing scene fic to the episode. And that is why when people do ask me for the girlslashiest episode of Wing (and, yes, some people have really asked me that. I wish to one day be the poster child for the lesbian side of Wing fandom.) I always say Commencement. And, to this day, no one has ever said to me, "That was not gay at all."

The next time we see Amy and Donna together is in 25 post-Abbey's wrongheaded decision to go into the pressroom to appeal to her daughter's kidnappers. As Amy's on the phone, Donna's just standing there staring at her. Granted, she's upset about what's happened, but there's something *other* than that in her eyes. Like she's waiting to say something to Amy. Waiting.

We never know her words then, either.

Shortly after this in the Wing timeline, Amy gets back together with Josh. Then the subtext returns in The Constituency of One. During this episode, Donna seems a little annoyed by references to Josh going to see Amy. The normal person could read this as her being annoyed that Josh is once again off the market, but I think the ending really changes that perception and makes this into an Amy/Donna bit of subtext. After a craptastic day, Amy comes looking to Josh for comfort. He, angry at her and engrossed in his own problems, blows her off and stomps away. Donna seems to disapprove of this, and just gives Amy this *look* as she's standing alone in the doorway.

We don't know what happens between them after that.

Boy is this a pairing made for post-eps.

After that, Donna is seen encouraging Josh to look for Amy. Now, I don't think she'd do this for someone she really felt as a rival. But, someone who she loved and left her but, deep down, wanted to be happy? That, I can buy. And that is just another show of subtle subtext.

Then, of course, there was that episode where Amy and Donna made out for hours. Wait. That was a dream I had.

Where I began with them

I started out in the 'Wing' fandom in fairly conventional ways, writing only Josh/Donna until about eight or so months in the fandom, when the unconventional couple bug bit me. Then, I moved onto slash.

Then, I found my OTP.

I will be honest: my first instinct to write Amy/Donna was a superficial one. I just got this image of them kissing, and wrote the scene pretty much as it played out in my head. But, as I wrote the plot, I got into writing it, I explored the dynamic I would later realize I would have a fascination for: two women, ostensibly in love with the same man, becoming attracted to each other. I'm not exactly sure *why* I love this concept so. Perhaps it's because of my natural inclination to f/f slash, or my obsession with angst. Maybe it has something to do with my discomfort at two women fighting over a man, and have to subvert it with a gay sexual undercurrent.

What I think they are together

Hideous pain?

I kid. Sorta. A lot of the appeal to me of the pairing is that they are destined to hurt each other because they both love Josh, even if they're not in love with him. Then there's the power-play aspect, which I write a lot in this pairing, and in fic in general. I love the twisted dynamic, the fact that it may never be clear to them what the other truly wants. But I also love the idea that they *could* have a somewhat decent relationship with each other, after they got past Josh (as much as they really could). They compliment each other for their similarities and their differences.

Why you, reader, should feel the love

Because I said so!

Oh. That's not good enough? Let's try this, then. Wing has its canon pairings, its pairings that have a lot of multi-episode subtext, pairings that have no subtext, but this is your chance to have your subtext and be quirky, too.

How can you not like that?

The West Wing sites and resources

Bartlet for America and The West Wing Continuity Guide both feature comprehensive information about the show, including episode summaries and facts about the characters.

The West Wing Fanfiction Central is the largest archive of TWW fic, and The Big Block of Cheese is a slash-only fic site.

There are screencaps of Amy and Donna at Nam's Mary-Louise Parker site and Janel Moloney dot net.

amydonna is the livejournal hub of Amy/Donna shippers, where you can post fic, wallpapers, and icons.

Fic Recs

charlotteu is the second person -- as far I know -- to write Donna/Amy. At her site, she has two fabulous connected fics, The Essence of Meaning and What There Is, plus a couple of Amy/Donna drabbles which also come highly recommended.

helsinkibaby generally writes lighter fic, which has led to two of the most surprisingly sweet Donna/Amy fics: A Winning Streak and All The President's Men. The first is a perfect Donna POV post-ep to No Exit, the second a perfect Amy POV post-ep to The Constituency of One.

A spark of that ancient flame by International Princess weaves a Donna/Amy backstory that is credible and intriguing.

My Life as an Ephemeron by daygloparker is screwed up and tasty with a wonderful characterization of Amy and an enigmatic Donna.

Bluer Than the Ocean, Bluer than the Sky by julianlee is a beautiful piece of work that examines a problem in the Amy/Donna relationship not caused by Josh.

the state of play by nothingbutfic is hot and has such a good Donna it makes me dance.

Charlatan Ways by littleloonlost weaves the Amy/Donna relationship through canon beautifully with excellent characterizations all around.

emilys_list is my favorite type of Josh/Donna shipper: one not afraid to embrace the Amy/Donna love, and she does both pairings fabulously. She's recently tackled some things I'd like to see more of in Donna/Amy fic: How the Josh/Donna friendship is affected by Amy and Donna being together (Boys on the Side) and Amy and Donna trying to have a more meaningful relationship in a situation where Josh will always be in their lives (I'm Still Deciding Who I Want To Be Today and The Mattress Sinking Beneath Your Weight).
Tags: west wing
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