The “Roy was nice” argument treats Aisha like a trophy for good behavior. It also means nothing since he’s not the only nice guy she’s met or been interested in. Despite what the Winx fandom thinks about Nex, he’s supposed to be a nice guy, too. Rainbow didn’t mean for him to seem like a jerk; that’s clear from the way they describe him vs. how the fandom describes him.
2. Part II: Going Nowhere Fast
Aisha and Roy’s relationship felt rushed and fake for four reasons:
Their courtship in Winx season five only lasted a couple weeks at most (episodes 6-9) and had no defining moments.
We didn’t see them interact at all for fourteen episodes in a row (episodes 10-23), so their lovey-dovey moment in episode 24 felt sudden and unearned.
Aisha mourned Nabu for most of the courtship period, and that should have hindered Roy more than it did.
Aisha and Roy’s scenes together didn’t build on each other, so the relationship had no sense of progression. We couldn’t tell when or how the pair’s feelings for each other grew or changed.
A Love Story With No Story: The Next Chapter?
Okay, Aisha/Roy fans. Let’s say in an alternate universe, you get your wish. Roy wins the love triangle, and he and Aisha officially become a couple at the end of Winx season six.
I mean it. How did you imagine the rest of their story?
If Aisha and Roy had become a couple, how would Rainbow have developed their relationship? What would have moved their story forward? What would they have gained from each other by the end of the story?
Note that I said “each other“. I’ve noticed that shippers judge a couple based on what the guy is like: his personality, his appearance, how he can meet his girlfriend’s needs, etc. It’s as if the success of the relationship depends on him. The girl doesn’t have to do anything but admire him and bask in his attention.
How is that love? The guy might as well be her servant, not her boyfriend! (Wait a minute. Roy was Aisha’s servant. Hmmmm….)
Anyway, what would Roy have gotten out of a relationship with her? What were his needs? How would she have met them?
Conflict and Cake
Aisha and Roy may have had the least problematic start to their “love” story, but I hope the fandom didn’t expect things to stay pleasant. This is Winx Club we’re talking about. Something needed to go wrong eventually, just like with all the other couples. (Just look at Flora and Helia in the last few seasons.)
Besides, conflict is essential to a story. Imagine your friend said this to you:
Guess what? I went to the store today, and I bought milk. Then I made my mom a chocolate cake for her birthday.
It’s a pleasant story with a nice ending, but it’s not that interesting. Your friend had a normal grocery run and did something nice for their mom. Yay. You smile, you wish her Happy Birthday, then you forget about it a few hours later.
Birthday Cake v. 2
Let’s spice the story up with some conflict. How about this instead:
Guess what? I went to the store today to buy milk, but they were out of it! Everyone’s stocking up for the blizzard! But I promised my mom I’d make her a chocolate cake for her birthday, so I drove around to, like, five different stores — there was a lot of traffic, too — and I finally found some milk! And it was the last jug! Can you believe it?
I hope you get the point. This version is more entertaining because things went wrong. Your friend had a goal (get milk to make their mom a cake), but they had to overcome obstacles to achieve it (a milk shortage, traffic). Even at the end, they almost failed again! If they’d reached the last store a moment later, someone else might have bought the last jug!
The result is the same — your friend made a birthday cake for their mom — but you appreciate it more because of everything they went through. As Beth Hill, author of The Magic of Fiction, wrote in her blog:
Conflict drives your story, powers it….When something’s at stake, when conflict is real, the resolution that arises after the conflict is played out is sweet (or bittersweet) and rewarding.
What was the conflict in Aisha and Roy’s supposed love story? What did they need to overcome together? What would have kept them together no matter what? (Note: we’re still in our hypothetical season seven where Roy won the love triangle.)
Aisha/Roy fans seem to think the pair’s lack of conflict meant they had an ideal relationship. But what if it really means Rainbow never planned a real love story for them in the first place? To quote Beth Hill again:
You don’t have much of a story if everyone gets along and all get what they want and there’s not one moment of contrariness.
A story without conflict is like a cake without milk: flimsy and not as sweet.
Where does conflict come from? It can come from outside forces that get in the characters’ way (like milk shortages and traffic), but it also comes from the characters themselves. Kristen Lamb, author of Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, put it this way:
Take a handful of flawed humans with agendas, put them together, shake, slowly turn up the heat and watch the drama ignite. Great fiction is fueled by bad decisions and human weakness.
One keyword in that quote is “flawed”. As most writers will tell you, characters need flaws. Why? Author Angela Ackerman from the blog Writers Helping Writers made a list of 10 reasons. Here are a few of them:
Realism and empathy: “In real life, people have faults — no one is perfect. It stands to reason that for a character to be believable, he also must be flawed.”
Relationship Friction: “When everyone gets along, a story flat lines. Flaws act as sandpaper in a relationship, rubbing characters against one another…” (Sounds relevant to a love story, doesn’t it?)
Creating conflict: “Flaws mean blind spots, biases, pet peeves and irrational emotional reactions to name a few. All of these things cause the hero to mess up along the way, creating conflict.” (Hey, we’re back where we started!)
Flaws are tools for development. They add flavor and dimension not only to the characters, but also to the story. Let me show you.
Here’s another story for you. Early one morning, a man leaps out of bed and races downstairs to make a sandwich. But he’s out of bread. No worries. There’s a convenience store a couple blocks away. He pulls on his coat and dashes out the door.
It’s a beautiful day. His next-door neighbor greets him as he passes by, and he answers with a wave, a smile, and a hearty “hello”. A kid on a bike accidentally bumps into him, but it’s okay. No harm done.
When the man enters to the store, he waves to the clerk. “Excuse me, ma’am. Where’s your bread?”
She gestures to an aisle way in the back. The man thanks her.
The bread is expensive, but it’s worth the price. He pays for it, wishes the clerk a good day, and hurries home. The end.
What do you think of this man? He doesn’t get angry easily, he waves to people and wishes them well — he’s a nice guy. Also, he’s in a hurry. Maybe you wonder why.
Bread Quest v.2
Now here’s the same story with a different protagonist.
Early one morning, a man drags himself out of bed and slumps downstairs to make a sandwich. But there’s no bread. Sigh. Great. At least there’s a convenience store nearby. He pulls on his coat and stomps out the door.
The sun nearly blinds him as he steps outside. His next-door neighbor greets him as he passes by, but he snarls and ignores him. A kid on a bike bumps accidentally into him.
“Watch where you’re going!” the man growls.
He ignores the clerk’s welcome as he enters the store. “Where’s your bread?”
She gestures to an aisle way in the back. Seriously? Who puts bread in the back of a store? And it’s overpriced, too! With a sigh, he pays for it and shuffles back home.
What do you think of this guy? Unlike the first protagonist, he seems rude and grouchy. He also isn’t in a hurry.
What if I add to the ending? As each man is making his sandwich, he hears a tiny voice from the staircase.
The men look back and smile. “Morning, sweetheart.”
They put the sandwiches in plastic bags and lay them in lunchboxes next to apple slices and juice. Then they hand the lunchboxes to their daughters, kiss them on the forehead, and watch them run outside to catch their school buses.
How does this ending change Mr. Nice Guy’s story? Not much. You now know he’s a dad, but don’t you have the same impression of him you had before? He’s a nice guy. This just confirms it. We’re left with a one-note story — the same cheery tone from start to finish.
What about Mr. Grouch? The ending changes the whole tone of the story. It starts off sulky and unpleasant, but this unexpectedly warm moment brightens the mood. You also see a different side of his character: the loving dad, a stark contrast to the grump you met in the first paragraph.
Also, weren’t you surprised to find out this guy has a kid? Especially after how he treated the kid on the bike? Who would make a baby with this Scrooge? (By the way, where is his wife? Are they divorced?)
But he took the time to buy bread to make a sandwich for his daughter. And seeing her made him happy. Is he really a bad guy? Maybe not.
Contradictions = Depth
Mr. Nice Guy may have been more likable, but he didn’t have the power to surprise the audience. That’s the problem with characters who are always pure and noble. They may be better role models, but they’re one-dimensional. Flaws add depth to a character by creating contradictions in their personality.
If you want an example of well-written characters, play the JRPG Tales of Berseria. What I love about that game is that nothing is black and white. The line between hero and villain is blurred throughout the story. It shows that anyone is capable of good or evil, regardless of their personality or intentions.
Anyway, back to Winx Club. What were Roy’s flaws? How could Aisha have helped him overcome them? If you think he had no flaws, we just talked about why that’s a problem. If you did come up with a few, let me ask you a question. Were they consistent and easy to spot, or did they seem to come and go?
That’s another problem with Roy. His personality traits seemed to change from episode to episode. It didn’t feel like he had contradictions in his character; it just felt like he had no specific, defining traits at all. I think that’s why the Winx fandom settled on the vague label “nice guy”.
I’ll talk about this in a future post.
A love story is still a story. Aisha and Roy’s may had an unproblematic start, but the beginning isn’t as important as the middle and the end. What would the rest of their supposed love story have looked like? How would each of them — not just Aisha — have benefited from the relationship?
All stories need conflict. When all’s right with the world, there is no story. What was the conflict that Aisha and Roy needed to overcome together, in their relationship and/or from the outside world?
Nice characters may instantly likable and good role models, but they’re predictable and one-dimensional. Since Roy had no obvious flaws, how would he have grown as a person throughout the rest of the series?
I asked a lot of questions in this post because I don’t think the Winx fandom has considered them. They say Aisha should have picked Roy, but I can’t remember one time I’ve heard someone describe what an Aisha/Roy love story could have been like. Even if someone has, did it sound interesting? Is it a story the fandom wanted to hear, or is it just less offensive to them than Aisha dating Nex?
Three posts down, at least two more to go. Starting next time, I’ll talk about why Roy made no sense. I don’t mean as Aisha’s love interest. I mean that almost everything about him was poorly written. Stay tuned.