(this is based off my answer to a comment on AfterEllen’s Poll of Favorite Lesbian/Bi TV Character)
Why people like Paige McCullers?
Identification, I’d say. I believe that identification is the main factor that makes you like a character. It could be identification because you are similar to what the character is or because the character is what you wish you were.
In the case of Paige McCullers, I’d say t’s because we saw Paige going as a scared girl, in the closet and wishing she could hide her feelings, who went from that to being a girl who progressively became more confident and comfortable with who she is. Of course, not all of us go trying to drown the girl we like (I wouldn’t do it, even back in time, when I was fighting with all my strengh to convince myself I was straight), but, Paige is an extremely relatable character.
For me, Paige turned into a favorite character back in season 1. There was that episode in which she went out with Hanna’s ex and then she went to Em’s house and she talked about how her evening with Sean had been great, except it felt extremely fake, because that girl in the date wasn’t her - it was someone she wished she could be, because that was what people wanted her to be, but she could NEVER be it.
And then she said a sentence that was exactly what I was feeling back then: “If I say it out loud… If I say ‘I’m gay’… The whole world’s gonna change”. I believe that all of us, who hid (or have been hiding) in the closet for a long time can relate to this fear of the world changing just because we dared to say something so personal, so fundamental, so… true. If this sentence isn’t relatable in the least to you, you are one of those lucky ones who have always been out, since childhood or you aren’t gay at all.
And then, a season later, we have a much more confident Paige, who’s out to her family, who’s happy with who she is… Just like I’m trying to be - out and proud to everyone, not just to a few friends and my mom.
And in the following season she’s getting closer to the girl she’s been in love for a while and then finally getting the girl. The cherry on top, not only to the character that is Paige, but to a storyline of a girl who went from being scared of who she is to being proud of being just who she is.