ER’s Luka and Sam: In pursuit of a family

I have so many thoughts about this post that I’ve decided to reblog. I haven’t really done much diving into the “Fandom” part of the title of my “From Fandom to Family” blog lately but today I want to, with a nice mix of “Family” and my aromanticism coming back to the surface.

This blogger below is a fan of the Luka/Abby ship on the show ER, which can be watched on Hulu in the USA (and I’m not sure where else these days- sorry international readers), and so I have access to more easily rewatch episodes if I so choose. I started occasionally watching ER on reruns on TNT when I was under 14 years old, which I recall because the show was rated TV-14 and I was breaking that suggested age guideline, getting sucked into a show that was too adult for me. Once I broke my foot at age 14, I began to watch the reruns religiously until I caught up on the entire series in order, and watched the new airing episodes too, using my VCR to record any/all episodes, re-run or first airing, that I could not watch live. I was addicted.

I also was (albeit slightly less) addicted to the reruns of Judging Amy on the same TV channel which I never did watch new airing episodes live, only via reruns did I watch that series. That show heavily influenced my desire to become a foster and/or adoptive parent one day, a thought that first crossed my mind around age 13 as I was also finally coming to understand just how abusive my mother was at this age of my life. A lot was going on for me at this point.

See these blog posts:

Being an Aro Ace and Desiring (Foster and/or Adoptive) Parenthood

and the 3 part series that starts here: Figuring Out My Mother Was an Abuser

I was at an age when I for the very first time was starting to use the internet a little, discover the start of fandom in some ways with tv.com (although it was called TV tome back then) and stuff, paying attention to what other people considered the best or worst episodes of a series, those kinds of things.

I also was at the age when I finally was starting to realize other girls my age definitely crushed on attractive guys and actors on tv were universally considered attractive and I, as an aro-spec asexual who didn’t have the framework to understand myself yet assumed I was straight and felt the pressure to figure that part of myself out.

Carter and Luka from this television series ER, alongside Matt and Wilson from the TV series 7th Heaven (which is where my username “luvtheheaven” comes from, loving the family TV show 7th Heaven) were my very first celebrity “crushes” I can recall. I knew I crushed more on the characters than the actors behind them. I knew they were conventionally attractive actors and I had intense feelings toward these characters, so I assumed that was a crush. It was more like an admiration and identification and letting a work of fiction touch me emotionally probably, and maybe being impressed with acting skills even… and fabricating a crush out of that and society’s expectations of me… but I digress.

This blog post is fascinatingly (to my aromantic soul) an analysis of Luka/Sam on the show as a relationship that is not a love story. The author, toralil, writes,

“Love is not really part of the equation when these two manage to convince themselves that they’re a good fit.”

And her opinion on their “I love you”/”me too” episode, Season 10 Episode 3 “Damaged”, is:

“Luka likes to rescue women, but Sam doesn’t really like to be rescued and blows him off when he offers them to move in with him so they’ll feel secure.

“This turns into the most unromantic ‘I love you’-scene ever witnessed on TV. Outside in the ambulance bay Luka explains to Sam that he didn’t ask her to move in to because of what happened, but because he loves her. ‘I love you. I’m in love with you’ he says in a voice that is neither loving nor passionate. He continues to matter-of-factly inform her that he doesn’t want to waste any time and wants her to let him know when she is ready. Sam is totally surprised, not happily surprised, just genuinely surprised: ‘Did you just say that?’

“At the end of the episode extroverted Sam, who never has had any problem expressing her feelings before, tells Luka that ‘what you said earlier, me too’, not bringing herself to say it out loud. Then she seems relieved and happy having made that decision and as Luka starts walking away, Sam runs after him and they kiss.”

In 2014, when I was 24 years old, I vidded both of those 2 Sam/Luka moments and pretty much nothing else in a short part for an ER multi-couples collaboration fanvideo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLGhCiA2Ywg which you can see just my part (also half about a different ship) embedded here:

I must say I find it so fascinating for this to be analyzed as the most unromantic I love you scene ever on television. I clearly thought I was vidding it romantically here, less than a year into understanding my asexuality and still over a month before writing this blog post: I think I’m… wtfromantic. Or maybe heteroromantic. Or aromantic? Or panromantic? AH I DON’T KNOW.

Because I think to me, the epitome of what I desire is… is something like what Luka, throughout seasons 6-12, desires. And why I don’t really ship Luka/Abby, a ship that I can see this author and many people interpreting as so much more romantic:

“We can see how Luka’s relationship with Abby is all different. She is a pessimist who had never shown any interest in having children and he knows her family history. She never provided him with any vision of an idyllic family future for him to fall in love with. Luka just loved her. For once he took the initiative and made it clear to Abby that he wanted her. He kissed her breathlessly, he said his ‘I do’ and made sure she knew he really wanted this. He took charge instead of just letting things happen to him.

“When Abby becomes pregnant and very uncertain of her maternal capabilities, Luka says all the right things. Not only does he understand Abby this time around, that he has to be patient, otherwise she will run the other way. He has also learned from his time with Sam. He knows he must be clear about wanting Abby first and foremost, the baby second.”

I personally in my life crave a queerplatonic co-parenting partner, I crave a platonic love, I crave a life where I can have a family. I tell people on my online dating profiles and before the first date that I only want to date you if you want kids lmao. Like… I might change my mind one day but seriously. I value other people deeply in my life as friends but I see no point in being significant others, dating, or having commitment or exclusivity of any kind of we aren’t going to be co-parents. I even love plenty of people. In platonic ways.

But yeah I crave the next step of my life, as I turn 29 years old in less than 4 weeks, because I feel some clock ticking on this and idk. It’s all so complicated and intriguing to me. Why can’t two people decide they are a good match for all these reasons aside from love, and love grow out of that? I mean, why can’t they in the fiction I consume and obsess over and adore? That’s where my love for ships like Johnlock on BBC’s Sherlock (but “shipping” in a queerplatonic and pretty canon-based way) comes in, or where a blog post like Blue Ice-Tea’s On Being a Noromo resonates so deeply for me. Where my feels end up being strong for the sentiment:

“For me, being a noromo was a lot like being Agent Mulder. I ‘wanted to believe’ – specifically, I wanted to believe that it was possible for a man and a woman to share a relationship that was intimate, passionate, and affectionate without being sexual.

Except for me it’s more “without being romantic“. (Well, and also being nonsexual, both of these things at once.)

I want to believe it’s possible to not just have such a non-romantic and non-sexual relationship be intimate/emotional/full of platonic love… but also that it could be a pathway to a family. I want to believe it’s not a rare magical unlikelihood that only one aro-spec ace in a million gets to have but that I have a real chance of having it too.

I’m holding on tightly to my dream for now, however difficult it is to feel any hope.

I grew up with parents who weren’t a team btw. My mom is a toxic human being and the thought that my parents were ever in love, ever had sex, ever were close enough to spend time in a room together while smiling even is almost impossible to envision. I grew up wishing for parents that might be more like the Sam and Luka “team” described in this blog post too, and I can’t be sure why and when I started shipping these two. The main reason I think it’s like that I concluded Sam/Luka were one of my ER OTPs though was because I liked both Sam and Luka as characters and I liked the ship better than Luka/Abby for a number of reasons, and I needed to have a Luka OTP. I just had to have an OTP for one of my favorite characters. I also even liked Luka/Carol a lot, probably my first Luka ship when I started watching the show, before Abby was even in the picture.

Check out my Luka/Carol fanvideo haha:

But yeah they also in retrospect, in a vid I edited long before I knew I was aro or ace, seem sorta like friends who care about each other and are trying to force a romance when they don’t really feel it, don’t they…? XD And this blog post below analyzes them in an interesting way too. For sure.

So yeah I have a lot of thoughts and feelings and it’s all so interesting to me, so I wanted to blog to get my thoughts out. Let me know if any of you found this interesting as well. 🙂

Tora on TV and Things

The story about Sam and Luka is one relationship story very well told. So much thought went into this tale and so much depth was given to the characters even though it’s not really a love story, but about a man’s longing for a family.

I’m not a fan of Luka and Sam (played by Goran Visnjic and Linda Cardellini) as a couple and I rather hate seeing them together in season 10, 11 and the first few episodes of season 12. Still, I don’t hate the story as such, I think it is a quite a brilliant one actually, about a man and a woman getting together for all the wrong reasons.

The way the story is so thoroughly written, filmed and acted makes it a gem in relationship storytelling.

Love is not really part of the equation when these two manage to convince themselves that they’re a good…

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11 thoughts on “ER’s Luka and Sam: In pursuit of a family

  1. Hi, glad you have thoughts about the post, always interesting with different views. A platonic, co-parent relationship, I think could be fabulous, if that is what both persons want. In this case I don’t think they did. Luka liked their relationship, but I don’t think Sam wanted it at all. She was never that interested in having a relationship in the first place and to me she agreed to it for practical reasons, but it was not something she was looking for. Luka wanted a family first, but I don’t think Sam was the right person anyway. As I wrote, they were not really friends, the only thing that held them together was Alex, there was no friendship and that is why this relationship didn’t work. It is interesting that we have different view on the “I love you”. To me it wasn’t because I don’t think he meant it, neither did she. It was a mean to get what they wanted, but they were not honest about what they actually wanted, not then, not later. They were pretending as Sam herself said. But one thing I think about is how easy it would have been, if the producers had decided that Sam and Luka should stick together, to have them settling into the relationship and make it a comfortable and happy one, because it could have been, they did complement each others needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the things that is interesting to note though is where Sam ends up at the end of the show, in her relationship with Tony Gates (John Stamos) because to me I still ship Luka/Sam(+Alex as family) more and have more feels toward them than i personally felt all that attached to Tony/Sam BUT still, one could argue with Sarah as Tony’s child they made a blended family of comfort and convenience first and foremost above romance, and one could also argue as I saw hints of in your post here that Sam was more interested in enjoyable sex than romance in her life, which is kinda an aromantic allosexual thing even if obviously the writers and actors and everyone involved in ER had no idea this was even a specific orientation or identity people might be. There’s this aspect of Sam’s characterization that’s. Idk. Interesting in the sense of how low down she prioritizes the romantic feelings in her relationships at the very least. And idk. Her life was consumed by being a single parent and having a full time job so it’s understandable that many allo, typical heterosexual people in that circumstance end up that way.

      I also believe the story we see of Luka is that he deeply was in love with his first, late wife. And when she and his kids died, his emotional baseline shifted and so did how he experiences all love going forward. So Idk.

      As an aromantic asexual, we don’t get characters on tv who want what we want most of the time, so we project onto the storylines that are somewhat close.

      If you watch my sloppy video essay skipping ahead to the 23 min and 53 sec Mark and watch for two minutes until 25:50 or so: https://youtu.be/i_SDrybPU5Y you can see another example of that kind of coparenting arrangement on more recent television being explored but then dismissed as “not really what the characters wanted”. I do find your thought that Luka and Sam weren’t really friends really interesting too, it is accurate, they don’t have a good base of friendship. I believe they could’ve been friends in a fanfiction what if sense but in the actual canon show they weren’t very close of friends, just friendly really. And yes the producers could’ve taken it in another direction so it’s all very interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, interesting about Sam, yes, agree on that, and about her relationship with Tony. Definitely agree that TV is obsessed with romantic love and do not tell much stories about other kinds of relationships. And in that view I understand why you like Luka and Sam. And again, I also love their story, because it is very well told, about a different kind of relationship that we are used to. Will watch your video, but need to run now.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, I watched the video. Very interesting. I never really watched House M.D, and watching this make me have no regrets. I see what you mean with The Vampire Diaris, I never watched that one either, but the little I saw it looked like Alaric and Caroline really cared for/loved each other. And agree it is a pity that those types of relationships are not seen as real and actually get to live on. This made me think about the last season of Casual, where Alex and Rae who were really good friends decided to co-parent, but in the end, she did not want it.
    Going back to Luka and Sam, they were not in love, and they did love each other, but they cared for each other I guess. I think if Luka had ditched the “I love you” in that scene in Damaged, it could have been sweet, as I said, if they had had a more honest conversation. One could argue that Luka wouldn’t know how to do it in another way, you are supposed to be in love, and want to be in love. It was easier to pretend than to have the other conversation. The “I love you” created expectations that the relationship couldn’t handle. And for sure it was not like Luka was pining for Abby during this time, he was totally focused on Sam and Alex. Still I loved how the friendship was built up between Abby and Luka during the years. They really had that.
    Side note: I first watched ER when it originally aired and I only cared about Abby, I loved her character and related to her. I didn’t really care about if she was with Carter or Luka, and if Luka was with Sam. It was not until I rewatched a couple of years ago that I suddenly obsessed over Abby and Luka.
    Another side note: Did you watch Girlboss on Netflix? It’s about a younge woman building an internet/ebay business in San Francisco. I loved the show as a whole, but also because some details, one being the fact that she did not seem very interested in sex. She had a boyfriend, but some scenes just implied this. It was not really discussed as part of the story and I kind of liked the fact that not everyone has to be portrayed as if sex is the center of the world (thinking now about the Grey’s Anatomy scenes in your vid), and it didn’t have to be explained or be made a big deal of. At least I liked that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you say here “and they did love each other” do you mean “and they did not love each other”, with a not in there, but they at least cared about each other?

      My shipping preferences changed over the years too btw, when I first watched I was a super Carter/Abby fan but in the end I don’t even have an Abby OTP. I cared about Carter, Luka, Sam, and Neela the most as my four favorite characters and also really loved Mark/Elizabeth a lot. Abby reminds me a little bit too much of my abusive mom, not that Abby is a toxic person but she’s traumatized and pessimistic and I see my mom in that, I think literally Maura Tierney looks like her too which my dad laughed at when I said that and was shocked since she’s like a gorgeous actress, how can I see my mom in a woman like that (he also is very bitter toward my mom after everything) but idk I think there are a lot of similarities. I might’ve even originally appreciated the Carter POV on the Abby/Carter ship and maybe both Luka/Abby and Carter/Abby to some degree because both men are trying to save her from herself and there was probably a part of me that would like to save my mother too lol. As I grew and my perspective on relationships shifted, my shipping certainly shifted as well with all my TV shows… In so many ways…

      Casual and Girlboss sound like really interesting shows. I’ll think about possibly checking them out!!

      Like

      1. Yes, I meant “they did not love each other”.
        On top of Abby and Luka, I really like Neela, and also Marc and Elizabeth. Susan was my favourite character in the beginning. Unfortunately she didn’t get that good storylines when she returned. Sorry to hear about your mother. I love Abby because I could relate to her so much. Not the traumatic part, but the fact that she is not “girly”, she doesn’t dream about her wedding, she is an introvert, she is pessimistic, she has this wry humor etc. I hadn’t seen a woman quite like that on TV.
        I love Casual. Brilliant show. The three main characters (a brother and sister and the sisters teenage daughter that kind of make a family) are really a bit sex crazy and they are all more or less depressed trying to find some happiness and inner peace. The brother sister relationship is the core of it somehow and great to watch. Girlboss I found really good as well. It’s just one season though.
        I should say also I loved The End of the F***ing World (and Sherlock), but I get the pattern that you were establishing in the video.
        I’ll check out more of your videos.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for that info! 🙂

          Oh I also love both Sherlock and The End of the F***ing World too, enough to rewatch the whole show with other people because I want to keep watching and all that like. I have a complicated relationship to most of the shows in there but I mean Grey’s Anatomy is so good, etc etc… Even House I actually loved. That one offensive, asexual erasure episode isn’t the be-all end-all of that show. XD

          See the House and Wilson collaboration fanvideo I made 1/3rd of:

          Or how House/Wilson and Sherlock/John were included in my queerplatonic birthday collabs a few years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCl0xLwwZ2U and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwKkocgBYiM (“my birthday collabs” meaning a lot of other vidding friends of mine editing parts of my favorite things and dedicated to me lol)

          Or my The End of the F***ing World fun James/Alyssa vid I made in one day or so lol:

          Etc. 🙂 I mean I’m totally loving these shows I’m also criticizing. It’s so complicated lol. Like I said at the endof my half hour video essay I probably will even watch Riverdale eventually despite all the asexual erasure.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I stopped watching GA some years ago. House never really did appeal to me anyway. Yeah, shows doesn’t have to be perfect for you to love them, right 😊? I’m into relationship drama, I love delving into the psychology. It can be all sorts of relationships. Will watch those videos. And I love getting to examine my texts and views from a new perspective 😊

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I’ve always been such a sucker for hospital/medical TV drama series. I think they are a wonderful medium for exploring the most extreme emotions humans experience and stuff maybe. I don’t know. I find them very compelling lol.

            Liked by 1 person

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