Is 'I Ship It' Based On A True Story? It Follows One Woman's Journey From Fangirl To Creator
The CW's new musical comedy, I Ship It, centers around Ella (Helen Highfield), a fangirl and aspiring writer who lands he opportunity to write for her favorite TV show. The series, a Charmed/Vampire Diaries/Buffy the Vampire Slayer mashup called Superstition, isn't real, and Ella doesn't appear to be based on any real person, either. But I Ship It is a true story based on creator Yulin Kuang's own journey from being a teen fangirl to working in TV.
In a 2016 Tumblr post, Kuang wrote about how I Ship It was inspired by her own early days in the Harry Potter fandom, which she wrote fan fiction for on LiveJournal. "Many of us who were active in peak HP fandom in our teens are now in our 20s and 30s," wrote Kuang. "We went to college, got jobs, figured out who we were now that this massive influence from our childhood was over."
Kuang went on to write about how Ella's journey in the show mirrors her own after college. (Kuang herself went from writing fan fiction to working as an NBC fellow while making YouTube videos on the side.) "The main journey I wanted to show with Ella was how fandom helped me find my way to being a creator," Kuang continued. "Fandom is a comfortable playground for a lot of creators — it's less pressure and more fun and a place to experiment and slowly grow your own creative voice while standing on the shoulders of giants (the shows you watch, the books and authors you love)." Still, she clarified that, "not everyone wants to go from being a fanfic writer to being a screenwriter, not everyone wants to go from being a fan to a creator —that's just my journey and it's the emotional arc I figured I could most honestly distill into Ella."
It makes sense that Kuang drew from her own life to inform I Ship It, as it lends itself to a more compelling story. Interestingly, the first season of I Ship It that aired on the CW Seed had the same actors and characters, but a whole different plot centered around nerd rock and starting a band. It was fun, but not something that was totally in Kuang's wheelhouse. According to Variety, when the CW picked up I Ship It for a second season and moved to the main CW network, Kuang asked if she could "do it all over again" so that the show centered around Ella's love of fan fiction, rather than her music-making.
The trailer shows that the series will still include musical ensembles — following in the footsteps of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — while appealing to the fervent fans of some of the CW's other programs. Ultimately, it's nice to see a show centered on a fangirl who figures out how to turn her passion into a paycheck. Fan fiction is often considered a lower art form, and Kuang herself is proof that being a fangirl doesn't bar you from being a creator — if anything, it encourages it.