I believe that Sam/Kara would have been a better pairing and overall plotline if Samuel T Anders was replaced with Samantha T Anders.
Oh Ray, you might say, you and your femslashy ways. Seriously, hear me out on this one. I will list here my main reasons and potential problems with this scenario.
Reason #1- Oh look, some canon queer!
Let's count the queer characters guys!! Cain. Evil and dead. Gina. Cylon and dead. Gaeta. Mutinous and dead. Hoshi. Who? Also apparently there was some stuff going down between D'Anna and Caprica Six but was only expressed via Gaius Baltar.
The world of BSG is different from our own in the way they handle gender. At least that was the ideal behind the world--a world that has no gender roles, people are clearly gendered but it does not define their role in life or how they are supposed to act. Granted, occasionally the writers would frak this one up, but what can I say? The writers live, unfortunately, in our world. Our world has a system and internalized sexism that a lot of people aren't even aware of. The fact that they went for it at all is brilliant and has my undying appreciation.
This is one of the things that is brilliant about the punch between Kara and Lee in KLG, she punches him and he punches back, but it has no connotation of "Oh my god! He hit a girl! That's wrong!" I had a friend who didn't really watch the show go "It's okay because Starbuck is one of the guys." To which, all my BSG inclined friends roared a simultaneous "No!" She's not one of the guys. That implies a male standard for which women need to reach. She's his equal and he is hers.
Extrapolating from "Yes, there is gender, but it does not define one's place in the world," it is reasonable to assume that the dynamics of relationships change as well. In a world without women's roles and men's roles, one should be able to assume that there is not a prescribed "woman/man" relationship. Given the assumption that relationships are not formed along the lines of gender, a romantic and sexual relationship among two (or more!) consenting adults ought to be considered the norm.
Yet with the exception of two gay relationships in side stories, there was no queer. While the show Caprica is handling this better in my opinion, BSG really dropped the ball. Automatically, a Kara/Samantha plot line fixes the fact that within the main part of the show there are no gay relationships.
(I shall not get into how BSG's perception of gender plays into trans themes because I do not feel as though I am qualified to talk about this in depth. One gripe at a time please.)
Reason #2- BSG Makes You Question Your World View (At least it tried. Most of the time.)
So two chicks meet, play sports, get physical, and fuck. No questions asked. You're either watching a porno or The L Word in which everyone is a lesbian... just everyone.
Someone I know once complained that she hated how lesbian relationships in the media, when portrayed at all, are generally a friends first thing. That's because a lot of the time, that's how it works in real life. In most places, most of the time, you need to figure out if a potential love interest of the same gender is inclined the same way as you. How do you do that? You get close, get friendly, figure them out. Asking out someone of the opposite gender is easy in comparison to asking someone out of the same gender. You have a pretty good chance that they will not be repulsed at your implications about their sexual orientation at the very least.
But let's say it's Samantha that Kara meets in Resistance. They play the same game of Pyramid with the same sort of sexual energy. Next episode they're in bed together. A bunch of people in the audience go "Wait. What!?" Because we've seen Kara with men. We've seen her sleep with Baltar, we know she was engaged to Zak, and we know she has sexual tension that could fill up the vacuum of space with Lee. And now she's with a woman? And the show isn't talking at us about it? It's just there??? Oh, and hip hip hooray it's no more exploitative of any of the male/female relationships.
The end result? Sure, some people are gonna get pissed off, but some people are going to get an education, and others are going to go "hip hip hooray! Gay visibility that isn't a gimmick!"
Reason #3- Sure, BSG passes the Bechdel Test, quite a bit, we could give it some more though
Kara doesn't get too much female interaction. We see her rivalry with Kat and every once in a while she'll have something to discuss with Madame President, but the majority of her interactions are with Adama, Lee, and Helo--her father figure, her... complicated, and her best friend.
Guys, let's face it. She doesn't actually that much on screen interaction with Sam. Not when you compare it to other characters. Making the Samuel/Samantha switch, wouldn't necessarily give Kara more interaction with Sam, but it would give her more interaction with women. Also how much awesome would it be to see some more Women in Charge--Samantha the resistance leader.
Perhaps it is my real world gender bias coming into play here, thinking that female-female would be a different kind of bond than male-female. But we've already given the concession that the gender neutrality in their world is offset by the gendered perceptions of our world and system.
Reason #4- The Farm and Scar would make WAY more sense
Even if you want to side-step the potentially problematic "two women would bond differently than a man and a woman in a gender neutral world" statement, I have one very, very good reason that would change the basics of the Kara/Sam relationship. The real moment that K/S seems to be sealed is the end of The Farm, in which Kara flies back to The Fleet leaving Sam behind on Caprica. A moment that I feel is rather forced. Okay. You've known the guy for a week. Kara barely gets weepy when she confesses to Zak's death. Unless Sam is a total Zak fill in, I cannot understand that level of emotion.
At the end of the episode, Kara's just escaped from the hospital where she was held prisoner, operated on, and killed a bunch of women forced to get pregnant to Cylon spawn. The very fact that Samuel T Anders is a guy means he does not have to worry about this ever happening to him. Sure, there's a million ways the cylons could get him, but there's a million ways the cylons could get anyone at this point.
Samantha, on the other hand, is very much in danger of going through the exact same trauma that Kara just went through. It's something very specific (not a general "she could die") and we know that Kara views this as a fate worse than death. Leaving Samantha behind in a place where she might be forced to go through exactly what Kara had just gone through, would be much harder for Kara, a much better send off for the relationship in terms of a plotline, and, as the show would go on, more fuel for all of Kara's late season two problems.
I'm not quiet about the fact that I hate Scar. I like Black Market more than I like Scar. Yeah. That's how much I dislike it. I think it's a terribly constructed episode that keeps missing the point. The point is not that Kara needs to stop showing off and pulling crazy stunts, more than anything the rivalry with Kat undermines how much this episode is about how Kara internalizes letting people down and her past coming back to get her. Coming back, very literally, with the Raider that she killed in Act of Contrition. I wish they could've nailed that fact a little bit harder, and possibly given us fewer flashbacks to Anders thrown in and around the episode. Really. There were four. That's a little bit excessive, don't you think? (And how do you do an episode about Kara's angst and trauma without one mention of Zak!)
How does the Samuel/Samantha switch change this? Well, the episode IS called Scar. What's on Kara's hip from The Farm? Scars. Who could possibly be going through the same pain right now? Samantha. Hello, angst central.
Am I giving the writers a little too much credit to assume this would have been the follow through from a gender swap on one character? Possibly. But I maintain that it forms a more solid plotline and followed through on that trauma, instead of "Hey, we haven't talked about Anders for almost ten episodes. HAVE SOME FLASHBACKS THAT COME OUT OF NO
*takes a deep breath*
I did mention earlier that I like Black Market more than I like Scar, right?
Reason #5- It Changes Who Kara and Sam are to Each Other
I haven't done much in depth thinking about how Kara and Sam's relationship would change in season 3 and 4. But given that there has been a change to the beginning of their relationship with the trauma link, I think that the plot line might deviate from what we know. How would the reunion change in LDYB with the Samuel/Samantha switch? The reunion as it stands is extremely sexually charged. With a brief interlude with Lee. Kara calls Sam her personal property. Drunken good times--unless you are Lee.
I think, given the specific trauma of The Farm maintained in Scar, there would be another level to this reunion--one of gratitude and safety perhaps? I'm not saying that it would be less sexual by any means, but possibly more intimate and less drunken good times.
This scene, for me, defines the Kara/Sam relationship. It's the good times simplicity of it all that seems to be the fandom appeal to this relationship, and that is what I see in it as well. However, it seems to lack a deeper connection, especially when Kara calls Sam her personal property. Throughout the series, Sam proves to be the man that Kara cannot drive away. She can be flatout disrespectful, violent, neglectful of him, and he won't leave her.
On some level, I think this can be healing. Much like the kids I work with, many of whom make Kara's upbringing look like a walk in the park, they're used to people leaving them. That is their norm. So when they feel emotionally compromised, they provoke, they insult, they injure, they drive people away. The therapy comes from staying and working it out. I don't feel like Kara/Sam ever reaches that therapeutic level of working it out, but it has to be a positive force for Kara having The Man Who Stays And Loves Her No Matter What. At the same time, though, it does a disservice to Sam to be that man. It makes him read like a plot device because we never see that level of love reciprocated. It's uneven. Especially after New Caprica.
Would Kara/Samantha be an even relationship? I don't know. But if there was more intimate indication of safety and gratitude linked to the Farm trauma in LDYB, I think that the relationship itself would be a little more intimate with a stronger connection between the two of them.
Potential Problem- It Could Play in to Queer Stereotypes and Tropes
Kara is revealed to be openly bisexual. Kara is also reputed to be the kind of person who sleeps around, and has this crazy "will they, won't they" with Lee. Welcome to the stereotype of the bisexual slut who can't make up her mind.
Oh, and her relationship with Lee becomes problematic. Because even though Kara has a relationship with a woman, her strongest emotional tie and soulmate is a man, thus making the lesbian relationship seem less worthy than a heterosexual relationship. (Edited in after ivanolix reminded me of this one... why did I forget to put this in earlier? Freudian slip? Me? What? )
Also, all things kept the same, Sam still ends up with a bullet in the head in a comatose state. Hello, more dead lesbians.
Yeah, this section isn't long at all because I think it speaks for itself.
Thoughts to End On
I haven't really thought out how Kara/Samantha would change things after New Caprica, how it would affect the Quad of Doom, how it would affect Sam's cylonness. I don't even know how it would affect my OTP of Kara/Lee. I think I would actually fall into the category of multishipping these pairings, because I'd understand that K/S relationship a little more, and it would feel to me like less of a plot device and more of a real pairing.
Perhaps I am the one being sexist to say I would get Kara/Samantha better, that I think Kara/Samantha would have a stronger bond which would sustain it better, that I think Kara/Samantha would have improved the show and it's themes. However, that is my opinion and I'm sticking to it.