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I mean, yeah, that's what ended up happening, but I don't think the primary reason for giving Serena a crush was for clickbait (although they definitely took advantage of it after the fact). I'd say the biggest candidate behind that decision was the "Kalos = France = romance" line of thinking...
Yeah, I wasn't trying to imply most of what people liked about XY was done on purpose to "win back the crowd" or anything. I believe it was almost entirely an accidental perfect storm of factors that attracted a larger number of fans to that series than usual, especially during the XYZ era.
This might come off as overly harsh, but I honestly think part of it is that it was a big reminder to older fans that they aren't the target audience and never have been. It was easier to ignore/forget back in XY, where despite Ash still being 10, he looked, sounded and acted in a way that...