Amidst E!Online's TV's Top Couple run, Zimbio once again opened its doors to its TV Couples March Madness Challenge, another online polling competition that pits TV couples in a March Madness format. Compared to E!Online's though, Zimbio has kept in mind a broader degree of eligibility criteria, which allows even the non-canon pairs (such as last year's runner-up Bonnie and Damon from The Vampire Diaries) to compete in this competition.
As usual, 64 of television's top couples will go head-to-head throughout the competition's run in March in a knockout format, with one winner standing tall in the end. Clarke and Lexa are set to defend their title, while new and recurring names set to break their domination this year.
A long time ago in 2012, a site known as Zimbio opened its doors to television couples to compete in a March Madness-styled polling competition, with winners advance through the next round until the final where the best couple, with the effort of their respective fandoms, will be determined. The competition's Hall of Fame included Glee's Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray as the first event's winner, Supernatural's Dean Winchester and Castiel (with two titles), Person of Interest's Root and Sameen Shaw, and most recently The 100's Clarke Griffin and Lexa. Apart from the Glee couple for eligibility reasons, one of the three names mentioned could once again defend their title. This year, Destiel could earn its third one, maybe either Shoot or Clexa tie up their win record with the Supernatural couple instead, or could be worse: a new name rising from the ashes to earn their first ever glory.
As with the original March Madness, 64 TV ships, canon or not, are separated into four conferences of 16. In Zimbio March Madness's tradition, they are the Ross & Rachel Conference, the Sam & Diane Conference, the Pacey & Joey Conference, and the Zack & Kelly Conference. There's no specific categorizing or criteria for all four categories, which allows even couples originated from comedies, dramas, and Sci-Fi shows drawn together in one conference.
Voting duration varies, from three to six days minus one hour depending on the round, compared to other polling competitions, such as SpoilerTV's competitions (24 hours, with 48 hours for the final round) and Top TV Couple (54 hours). The longer voting window allows for more participation, meaning that either couple involved in a match can have a comeback if the gap permits. The lack of decimals though can be a bitch in case of a tie, with last year's notable cases included the Maggie/Glenn vs. Annalise/Eve match in the first round, and Mulder/Scully vs Margaery/Sansa in the second round, which all went to Annalise/Even and Mulder/Scully respectively. I could see it's due to the voting system it uses. The total votes counted throughout the competition progressed within millions, with last year's running rallied 4.7 million votes, the highest so far.
This year's Zimbio competition marks the second batch of the online poll competitions in this Fandom Season, also being the seventh round in the World Fandom Championship calendar with Oscars taking over the sixth round. E!Online's TV's Top Couple took the honor as the first poll competition to roll out this season, and is still running as of this post.
Last year's winners Clarke Griffin and Lexa from The 100 took the stage and claim the victory after their 2015 adversaries Root and Shaw from Person of Interest conceded defeat against Teen Wolf's Stiles and Lydia in the Elite 8. Instead, they faced OUAT's Emma Swan and Regina Mills in the Final 4 before finally facing Bonnie Bennett and Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries in the final round to claim victory. The competition marked the first time an all-female pairing win the competition since 2012 and, with the recent circumstance of Lexa's fate during the show's third season, earned a donation to The Trevor Project, an organization providing suicide prevention services to LGBTIQ youth in crisis. With Zimbio's donation of $1.000 on Clexa's behalf, the donation has reached $166.671 as of this post, with 4347 donations bagged. The rise of the Clexakru also resulted in crusades over other polling competitions, which also includes last year's Top TV Couple win.
But will there be new names that can topple Clexa's reign? With the rise of LGBT ships in polling competitions, Shoot is a surefire name, but under the stipulation that this will be the last time we see this couple in polling competitions like this, considering the show has ended last year. With Shoot's days being numbered, the fandom will need to give their last appearance a lasting one, and had to be always at maximum effort. Swan Queen has every bit of revenge that should give a good fight to The 100's ship, although it might be unlikely that they could square off against Clexa.
The all-male pairs Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood of Shadowhunters should be the one to watch, if their last year's Top TV Couple campaign were to be considered. Despite an awful defeat to OITNB's Alex Vause and Piper Chapman in the Sweet 16 in the last year's running, the Malec fandom will have to rally more votes if they want to be at least on par against Clexa. Don't forget the Norwegian sensation though: Skam's Isak and Even. They could be the one name to run away fast from, with a breakout Top TV Couple performance this year, reaching Final 4 in their first year at the time of this post. Being originated from a non-English series doesn't deter them to perform well in online polls thanks to its international fanbase, but will they can live up to its hype and maintain the momentum in their possible ZMM debut this year? I'm sure nobody dares to say no about this pairing.
Hetero couples also need to take their stand in this competition. Damon and Bonnie could repeat their successive campaign and finally seize this year's running, but with Elena's return in The Vampire Diaries's final season, Damon and Elena will definitely be another threat worth watching with a massive fandom. Conceding defeat against Barry Allen and Iris West last year by 55-45, Delena will have to step their game up. Teen Wolf's Stiles Stilinski and Lydia Martin also set to be one of the greats this year, having reached Final 4 before losing against Bamon in the end. Sizable fandom, combined with the fact that this is also the last of Teen Wolf as it now airs its last season this year, every vote will count to improve their chance. Last but not least, Outlander's Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp-Randall will have to make a lasting impression following their bitter defeat last year. Their impressive Top TV Couple run this year and last (following the mentioned event), combined with both actors Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe winning People's Choice Awards this year, mean that they should be able to finally break free out from Round 1, but for how far? Will it be Final 4 as they have always been in the E!Online competition or even worse? Only time will tell.
Last but not least, Supernatural's Dean and Castiel, the two-time winners whose last year's performance suffered a deterioration. For two years in a row, they couldn't get past Sweet 16, first being defeated in the hands of Orphan Black's Cosima and Delphine, and most recently conceded defeat to the eventual champion Clexa. This year, can they step up past Sweet 16, stay where they usually would, or go even worse? The Destiel fandom definitely has to find a way to rally more votes in order to break through that deterioration, especially having to face the rising amount of lesbian ships that has performed well over time. Being drawn against lesbians such as Clexa, Root, or any other with a sizable fandom would be an instant dealbreaker and a one-way ticket to a worst performance.
The 2017 Zimbio TV Couples March Madness Challenge will launch on March 1 along the closing of the nomination phase, with the revelation of the 64 competitors followed with Round 1 voting to be announced. Be updated by following Zimbio on Twitter and this page for more Zimbio March Madness!