I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m really sick of seeing writers who should know better say things like, “Tragedy is more compelling than stories where characters have a nice day and nothing bad happens!” without understanding why.
Tragedy is an effective story element when it’s a deviation from the norm. A character’s peaceful existence is disrupted by a catastrophic event that throws everything into chaos. The character now has to either develop so they can cope with the new status quo, or find a way to put things back the way they were. There’s a good story in that.
But when a character’s life is an unrelenting cavalcade of misery, another heaping dose of shit isn’t all that interesting. At that point, a compelling deviation from the norm would be said character having a nice day where nothing bad happens. And modern fiction is chock-full of misery porn, so by this logic, it’s no wonder the coffee shop AU is such a popular fanfiction trope.
Derek Hale getting a dog and putting his life back together is way more interesting than Derek Hale’s life getting worse for the 26th consecutive episode.
Creators like to hold up “everything is fine and nobody dies” as a sign that fanfic is bland and badly written, but if anything, it’s an indicator that mainstream fiction is bland and badly written.