Several things operate in a cycle of ebb and flow: waves, fashion trends, and the realization that from 2005 to 2009, Disney Channel aired a Canadian television series featuring teenage step-siblings with copious amounts of unresolved sexual tension.
Every now and then, someone on Twitter goes, “Hey, remember that weirdly horny Disney Channel show about the stepsiblings who obviously wanted to fuck?” And for a day or two, the timeline will reminisce about Life with Derek, the (Canadian) Brady Bunch of the aughts about a divorced father of three and a divorced mother of two who marry each other and combine households.
The mother’s eldest daughter, Casey (Ashley Leggat), is a Type A academic with an ambitious streak who finds life very chaotic now that she lives with her new stepbrother, Derek (Michael Seater). Derek is the father’s eldest son and is Casey’s polar opposite: He’s a laid back slacker who is more interested in his band than his grades, and he enjoys playing pranks on Casey and generally making her life a living hell. The fanfiction writes itself.
Within the last week, Life with Derek nostalgia made the rounds and even became a top trending topic on Twitter with the help of a series of viral tweets, including one featuring a clip from the show’s finale. The overarching theme was the same: This show definitely hinted at step-cest, right?
Both Seater and Leggat tweeted about this most recent round of step-cest speculation and made it clear that they’re in on the joke.
“I love the yearly nostalgic Life With Derek trend that happens,” Leggat wrote. “BTW I still go down with this ship.” She added the hashtag #Dasey and threw in a very uncropped photo of her and Seater.
It’s easy to find fanfiction, fanart, YouTube compilations, and entire fan communities from LiveJournal and Tumblr accounts dedicated to the Derek/Casey (Dasey) pairing. A quick Google even landed me in an appropriately titled and appropriately GIF-heavy Buzzfeed article from 2015 titled “What The Hell Was Happening On ‘Life With Derek’?”
Good fucking question.
I was a teenager when Life with Derek first aired, and I watched enough of it to come to two conclusions. One, the actor playing Derek was kind of cute. Two, there was something horny about Casey and Derek.
If I was a younger viewer, I might have likely just written it off as something inexplicably weird between them that I couldn’t put my finger on and blissfully ignored. But I was 15 and moderately aware of what sexual tension looked like—even if it was woefully lacking in my own life—and those two were riddled with it. The way their eyes met, the body language, the touches, the banter... frankly, people have shipped two characters for far less.
But this was the Disney Channel, and even though Life with Derek wasn’t exactly a Disney Channel original in the way that Lizzie McGuire, That’s So Raven, and Even Stevens were, there was no way The Mouse would sanction a show with a stepsibling romance. So, of course, that Pornhub friendly plotline never transpired, and the series ended with Casey and Derek both getting into Queens University in Ontario, Canada, and living happily ever after. Whether they had sex or not was entirely up to the fanfiction writers.
But Seater and Leggat have long leaned into fans shipping their characters. In a 2016 interview with MTV News, Seater and Leggat said that they caught on to Dasey’s popularity early on in the show’s run and they saw nothing wrong with it. If anything, they might have even tried to incorporate Dasey into the show themselves.
From MTV News:
And because it was always at the back of their minds, and the fans were so into Casey and Derek being a couple, Seater noted how actors always want to find subtext in their lines and give fans what they desire. Leggat pointed out how Dasey was just like the experience of simultaneously hating and loving someone, since the stepsiblings rarely got along, but did prove to be there for one another when it really counted.
This fan service even extended to Seater and Leggat acting out Dasey fanfiction on a Life with Derek “podcast” in 2007.
And they’re still here to push the Dasey agenda. Here’s more from that MTV News interview, emphasis mine:
While the spin-off series, Life with Derek, Again, never came to fruition, there was a script. “I can tell you the pilot started with Casey and Derek in bed together ... [but] I’m not gonna tell you the context of it,” Seater teased.
In fact, Seater revealed he thinks the duo should’ve ended up together on the show, and perhaps they did — in some kind of Twilight Zone parallel universe, that is. Leggat explained how it just made sense for Casey and Derek to be together and is “a natural progression for them.”
Both actors proudly ship Dasey and want fans to continue shipping the stepsiblings. “Never give up. Keep on shipping,” Leggat said, with Seater adding, “You never know.”
As recently as 2018, Seater and Leggat asked fans if they would be interested in the two of them reading Dasey fanfiction for a new podcast. The interest was palpable, but the podcast has yet to materialize.
Seater and Leggat know that the pairing of their two characters is what holds the fanbase of this relatively obscure Canadian sitcom together, so it makes sense that they would continue to legitimize Dasey a decade after the show has been off the air. Still, whether this is pure calculation or sincerity, it’s hilarious that Seater and Leggat continue to post flirtatious tweets and suggestive photos, igniting the imaginations of the former teens and young adult women who obsessed over Dasey in the mid-to-late 2000s, and the fans who continue to today. People are still writing Dasey fanfiction and making Dasey fanvids, and the fact that their characters caused enough of a stir on a holiday weekend to become a trending topic suggests that maybe there really is a little more interest in the Life with Derek universe than anyone ever anticipated.
As for the ick factor, well, they have some competition: There’s Cher and Josh from Clueless, former stepsiblings whose primary creep factor comes from their age difference. There’s also foster siblings Brandon and Callie from the TV series The Fosters, but they are not related by blood or marriage and many “Braille” fans were quite adamant about the fact that they are not an incestuous pairing, thank you very much. Then there’s the most chaotic step-sibling sexual relationship in recent pop culture memory: Kathryn and Sebastian in Cruel Intentions.
Unlike the aforementioned, Dasey’s truly romantic interactions exist strictly in the realm of fan-made content. And regardless, it’s perfectly legal, albeit not exactly socially acceptable, for step-siblings to have sex and get married. And when there exist fandom nerds who have no qualms shipping fictional blood relatives—the Jamie/Cersei Lannister fans are still reeling, folks—Dasey is definitely one of the more harmless pairings out there.