Jossed Don't Swing That Way
A show dropping anvils that a certain character is straight
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(permanent link) added: 2014-06-13 12:26:03 sponsor: beyondthesea (last reply: 2014-06-14 01:38:03)

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When writers conceive characters, they often conceive them with a specific sexuality in mind. It may or may not be mentioned in canon, but usually, this still goes off without a hitch due to heteronormativity or because they conform to gay stereotypes. Every once in a while though, a writer will get themselves into trouble.

Maybe the character seems a little too close to their Heterosexual Life Partner. Maybe their bantering with their arch nemesis seems just a little too playful. Maybe the actors have enough chemistry to make even the most innocent lines seem like Subtext. Either way, a Relationship Writing Fumble has occurred, the character is not a part of a wildly popular Fan-Preferred Couple, and Fanon now has it that the character is gay.

Sometimes, writers will just go with it. The character doesn’t have a canon love interest or a large enough portion of the fandom picked up on the correct intention, so it doesn’t really matter. Other times, when this belief is somehow threatening to the writers’ overall plans (if it’s affecting their plans for the Official Couple, for instance), they may feel the need to straighten the fans out. When no amount of Word of God proclamations about the character’s sexuality seem to get the message across, writers may choose to do this with repeated In-Universe hint-dropping that the character prefers the other gender. They may do this by shuttling through a steady stream of opposite-gender love interests or by having characters repeatedly affirm their straightness. These are called Manvils.

The term, Manvil, was coined by the Law & Order: SVU fandom to describe the writers repeatedly dropping hints that Olivia Benson and Alex Cabot, an extremely prevalent Fan-Preferred Couple with enough subtext it was almost just text, liked men. The trope itself may predate the term.

Note that a single, long-term love interest is not a Manvil, nor is a love interest whose relationship with the character actually advances the plot. This is a gender-neutral trope, but seems to be more common between two female characters than two male characters.

This is a Subjective Trope. Examples should be placed on the work’s YMMV page.


Examples

Live-Action Television
  • Law & Order: SVU: The Trope Namer was coined by fans of Olivia Benson and Alex Cabot to describe the writers frequently slipping hints into their dialogue with other characters and each other that they liked men.
  • On Rizzoli & Isles, a love interest is introduced for either Jane or Maura nearly every other week. More often than not, these men's only purpose seems to be to flirt with one of the characters, maybe take them out, and then never be seen again. These Guys of the Week often come up in every non-crime-centric conversation Jane and Maura have in that episode and are usually the subjects of much Character Shilling.

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