Art by Maine Manalansan
Ah, yes, fanfiction. What’s not to like about stories starring our OTPs in our deeply-seated fantasy romance arcs? Never mind if they’re clichéd. Never mind if some lines and scenarios are a bit too cheesy. We all just want kilig and fanfiction is a guilty pleasure that we all can’t help but get obsessed with.
But where did fanfiction really start? One could argue that its beginnings could date as far back as the 1980s, when Manga started to rise in prominence outside Japan, or many years before that, when sci-fi enthusiasts would come together to talk about Star Trek. But for us millennials and Gen Zs, who could ever forget the most famous fanfiction of all — E.L. James’ Fifty Shades series, which was based off our beloved vampire (with some stalker issues) Edward Cullen? The increasing popularity of fanfiction encouraged fans to create content based on book and movie characters, but also gave birth to Real Person Fiction (sometimes called Real People Fanfiction, or RPF), and boy, did the stans go hard.
Ethics issues aside, RPF has become the gateway for stans to reimagine and reinterpret events and relationships of their OTPs. As social media became more popular, social media AUs (alternate universes) became a popular sub-genre, giving readers a newer and more exciting way to consume stories. Conversation screenshots and fake Twitter and Instagram accounts are made using apps like Social Dummy, and just like that, we can pretend that our OTPs are living lives different from their own.
There’s an undeniable charm in these types of stories that stems from the fact that readers get to imagine their idols as “normal” people. It’s like stans just took matters into their own hands and stopped waiting for TV and movie producers to make the storylines they were craving.
Which leads us to the social media AUs featuring local love teams. Think about the movie Vince, Kath and James, which was based on a book that contains conversation screenshots instead of prose and dialogue. Think about all the Kathniel, Jadine and Lizquen Wattpad stories. There’s an undeniable charm in these types of stories that stems from the fact that readers get to imagine their idols as “normal” people. It’s like stans just took matters into their own hands and stopped waiting for TV and movie producers to make the storylines they were craving. The fact that famous local love teams star in these fics make them much more prone to social media virality, because who could ever really question the power that these love teams’ fans have? I know I wouldn’t.
I read a whole lot (*cough, 23, cough*) of social media AUs of local love teams over the weekend, and found out that most of these fics circle around student life, and tropes of chance encounters and longstanding crushes are always there. And with all the memes and relatable scenarios, these fics are practically a trap for anyone looking for an easy pastime. So yes, I read over 20 of these stories, but were they all good? Nope. If anything, most of them were cringey as hell and downright juvenile. There’s always those stories that might as well be ripped from a 12-year-old’s diary, but hey, I also found a few that are actually quite entertaining and kilig-worthy. Here are my faves: