Did they or didn’t they? Considering the growing closeness of their characters (and the blatant shippiness that ensues during magical Season 5), one of fandom’s biggest speculations over the years has been whether or not the actors themselves dated in real life. After all, their chemistry is palpable, and their interest in each other is increasingly obvious. For years, fans wondered if the two were an item at any point during their mutual run on the show, and it’s still a topic of fierce contention to this day, as fans and shippers alike discuss how much of Ryan and Stacy’s chemistry was due to their long friendship, how much was due to the actors’ attraction to each other, how much of their interaction was choreographed on the show, and how much of that potential real-life interest bled through to feed the understated romance on the show. This is a question that’s impossible to sidestep, even with only a shallow dip into the fannish waters.
As far as I'm aware, Ryan Lambert has never publicly spoken about this (or any) relationship. Stacy Ferguson, on the other hand, has generously sprinkled a couple of breadcrumbs in her various interviews over the years. In 1998, while promoting her band Wild Orchid's third record, she spoke with a fanzine, and had this to say about her first kiss:
(many MANY thanks to the lovely nonny from 2013 who found this interview and shared it with me!)
As Stacy transformed into Fergie, she gave several provocative interviews. In one, the August 2005 edition of Blender magazine, she had a very interesting answer to a question about her first enjoyable sexual experience:
…and six years later, in an interview with Allure in July 2011, she finally connected the dots for us:
Given this ever-evolving story, it seems like it's safe to say that it's likely that their relationship started with that kiss during the wrap party of the 1986 season, and continued through the summers of 1987 and 1988. There is photographic evidence of their growing closeness over the years, including the candid shot from 1987 that is the basis of my OTP icon ♥
Not that the actors’ personal relationship has much bearing on their characters or their characters’ story arc during the series, but it’s kind of the icing on the shiptastic squee cake, knowing that what we see on the screen was powerful enough to effect the actors themselves ♥ =)
How did I get here? I shipped these two before I even knew what shipping was, LOL. This show was a huge part of my childhood, and it’s had lasting influence over the rest of my life. I had a huge crush on Ryan when I was a kid (like thousands of other girls, I’m sure, LOL), and I wanted to be Stacy – she was so pretty and sophisticated and talented =) But beyond my own childish adoration for either of them, I wanted them to be together forever, because they were perfect together ♥
When Ryan left the show I was heartbroken, and by the time Stacy vanished as well, I was done with it. I was a teenager and too old to still be watching “kids’ shows,” so I moved on. With my own teenage strife and seemingly world-ending drama to deal with, I largely forgot about the show once it left the air for good in 1996. It was only when I was hit with the first wave of nostalgia around the age of 25 that I even thought about the show again, and went in search of it on the internet. That’s when I learned that the cute little girl who played Stacy grew up to be Fergie o.O which took a long time for me to wrap my brain around, LOL. My fannish interests were mostly running in a different direction, however, so I let it lie – until I needed it the most.
I fell back into KI fandom hardcore in early 2010, and my immediate interest was in watching all the episodes I remembered as a kid. Riding the nostalgia train by rewatching episodes, and being aware of organized fandom (with its concepts of pairing and shipping) made me realize just how much I still loved these characters and this pairing. My memories of gushing over them as a kid, combined with my passion for music and interest as a fanfic writer led me to rewatching the canon closely, getting to know the characters all over again, and figuring out how I could “rewrite their ending.” These two are so compelling to me, their bond so deep and strong and enduring – so much so that my headcanon dictates that, even if they grow up and grow apart, they will always find their way back to each other. They truly are perfect for one another, and having such a positive construct to concentrate all of my energy on helped me through one of the roughest times of my life. Having the love and squee for KI fandom continues to help me to this day, and is one of the reasons why I wrote this manifesto =)
Why do I ship them? They are the epitome of my personal idea of a perfect relationship. I like everything about them and about their dynamic together. I like that they are both complex characters who grow and change, and that their friendship changes along with that. Childhood sweethearts are my kryptonite, and these two are just a perfect example of that ♥ I love a slow-burn romance that’s deeply rooted in friendship, and I love watching a bond mature. It’s a pattern that’s happened in my own life, and it’s a pattern I enjoy writing into my stories – and now I know why =)
I still love the characters. I love how amazingly complex Ryan is, both on the surface and at the core. There’s nobody else like him, that strange mix of personal confidence, rock star swagger, sharp intelligence, esoteric interests, and a sensitive soul. I love that he’s so wise and mature, and yet still able to be silly and sarcastic. He’s very self-contained and steady, unafraid to just be himself, no matter what the world thinks.
Stacy is a teenaged bundle of passions that we can all relate to, riding the emotional rollercoaster with dizzying force as she tries to handle being on her own, outside of her sister’s shadow for the first time. Her growing closeness with Ryan coincides with the departure of both her sister and her best friend, two people who have loved and protected her for most of her life. She’s more reserved and unsure of herself, but where she does have confidence (like when she’s onstage), she’s bombastic and attractive.
They are opposites, but their personalities fit together very nicely. He’s mature and steady and sensitive, exactly what she needs as she navigates the hellish world of high school and all its resultant drama. He can ground her when she’s flighty – and she, in turn, shows him that it's still okay to dream, with her own unique sort of naïve optimism. He can still offer the sort of protection she grew up with from her sister and her (male) best friend. They have a lot in common – similar senses of humor, similar stubborn streaks, similar views on love and romance.
I also like that, even though they’re friends and they’ve grown up together, there’s still friction in their relationship. He’s older than her, and is interested in dating and romance before she is, so that by the time she’s finally ready for the same things, he’s already had all of this experience that she can't compete with. She definitely has the first crush, watching him from afar and daring to be flirtatious. While I don’t think he’s unaware of her feelings for him, Ryan is nonetheless kind. He flirts, but he doesn’t lead her on, kinda inadvertently feeding into her insecure notion that she’ll never be special enough to catch his eye…so that when it happens, and he does begin to reciprocate her interest, it’s a little mind-blowing.
I like that he’s so freely romantic, attentive and sweet and open with his body language. I love the lingering looks they share, and how those tiny moments begin to change in tone and timbre. I love that I can actually see them falling in love, but that it’s not overt and full of drama and angst. It just seems completely natural – like it was always going to happen, no matter what they did. It’s a little bit of kismet and a little bit of luck, but they were finally in the same place at the same time, and their relationship blossomed accordingly.
Would I have wanted more? More proof, more concrete evidence, more public displays of affection? Sure – who wouldn’t? I’d love to have a real kiss to cherish, for instance. It would’ve been awesome if the producers/writers/directors of the show had written an episode where the band has to deal with two of their members starting a romantic relationship. At the same time, though, I can understand why they didn’t go there. This show is light and frothy and uncomplicated fun, and it was aimed at an age group that has little notion of or care for the ins and outs of love and romance. They kept it on a fairy tale level, and that’s completely acceptable =)
Besides, I’m a fanfic writer – and this show has left some lovely loose ends to tie up. If Ryan had been given an exit storyline, I never would’ve conceived of the idea for my epic story, and I never would’ve met the awesome people that I have in this fandom without it.
Why should you ship them? Precisely because they aren’t the norm – this pairing is so very different from the usual volatile teenage relationship. It’s refreshing and sweet and very, very reminiscent of first love. If you like friends-to-lovers scenarios, or relationships that naturally evolve over time, stories with a dash of unexpectedly reciprocated feelings – hell, even if you are simply enchanted by the idea of the rock star falling for the girl next door, then this is definitely the pairing for you. Their backstory is so rich, and their future is so open that the possibilities are endless.
As for the fandom: honestly, its three-quarters awesome. Almost everyone is friendly and nice and willing to share their goodies. The show has gained a second life (and new following) on YouTube, thanks in part to people who were fortuitous enough to tape the show while it was still on the air, but also because of Fergie’s rise into the stratosphere. Of all of the characters, Stacy's story arc is most visibly complete, even if the majority of people who view the clips on YouTube are just there to gawk at the kid who would become a juggernaut :P
Speaking of juggernauts – Ryan was one during his tenure on the show (both the character and the actor), so quite a few of us who are left are Ryan fans, first and foremost. Apparently he was a huge teen idol back in the day (sorry to say I missed that particular swath of his career) in addition to being the resident heartthrob on the show. And, truthfully, he was the only real heartthrob to ever cycle through the cast. The other male leads paled in comparison, even the one he originally replaced. As a result, there is a *huge* amount of nostalgia in the fandom. It’s been an interesting and positive experience, finding others who adored him and discovering that our crushes were very similar =) [It helps that Ryan Lambert is notorious for being nice to his fans, even to this day.]
As with any fandom, KI has a couple of wanky trolls, but they are easy to spot and avoid. There are no ship wars or fanon battles or any of the like – we’re all here because we love the characters and the show, in all its cheesy, hilarious glory.
Guide to R/S fandom: Ryan/Stacy is by far the most popular ship for this show, though it’s not the only one. 75% of the fanfiction that’s available revolves around this pairing or these characters. There isn’t anything in the way of fanart or manips that I have found, but there are a couple of fanvids up on YouTube – and, of course, the majority of the canon ♥ There are also a couple of awesome websites devoted to the show in general.
So, without further ado ~ here are the goodies!
• Fanfiction.net’s Ryan/Stacy filter
• AO3’s Ryan/Stacy filter
• “As the World Falls Down” – a Ryan/Stacy tribute, by Jermbuf14
• “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” – a Ryan-centric vid, by Jermbuf14
• “Tribute to Ryan” – a Ryan (character) tribute, by danigeeky
• “Games People Play Remixed” – featuring scenes from “One Glass Slipper,” by danigeeky
• “Land of Confusion” – featuring a hint of my OTP ♥ by danigeeky
• Kidsincorporated.us – Aris’s website, and the definitive guide to the show (with lots of downloadable goodies)
• Kids Inc fanfiction resource – my fanfiction resource post, centered especially on the casts from the 80s
• kidsincdaily / kidsincdaily / kidsincdaily – the daily picture/video/gif community for KI
• Fandom Pitch at fandom_of_one
• KidsIncorporated (YouTube) – also run by the team at Aris’s website, featuring high quality song clips; updated often
• Kornel Kovats (YouTube) – the amazing person who uploaded the first six seasons of KI to YouTube ♥
• Charlieinpcbfl1 and Charlieinpcbfl3 (YouTube) – features episodes, song clips, and livestream chats for KI fans
• kimmyantu2 (YouTube) – song clips and episodes of varying quality; sporadically updated