What? I haven’t yet written about the show Supernatural on the blog? Color me stunned. (If you don’t know the show, or even don’t like it, we can still be friends, but you might want to read the Supernatural Wikipedia page to catch up.)
Tonight my guys and I finished Season 11 of the continuing adventures of monster-hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester. In the eleven and a half years the show has been on television, none of us has watched an episode live, or on a DVR. For the past four or five years we haven’t even had satellite or cable, though two years ago we did get an actual antenna for the television so we could get a few local channels. It’s…spotty. But I think we do actually get the CW, the network the show runs on.
My son and I started watching the show on Netflix, beginning with Season 1. We’re not sure, but I think it was almost two years ago. The adorable crime/psychic show, Psych, had ended and we were searching for something else we could watch together. It took him a few episodes to warm to it, but I was hooked immediately. I get a kick out of its supernatural storyline and am fascinated by its cohesive if slightly loopy theology. Plus it has great music, and cute boys (I was a Jensen Ackles fan from his stint on my longtime soap, Days of Our Lives). I just asked my son what he likes about it and he said he likes the relationships between the characters, and how their struggles seem real, and that he feels invested in their lives. (Obviously he’s way more eloquent and sophisticated than I am.) We convinced my husband to start watching it with us at Season 3, but now find ourselves almost caught up to the live-airing of the series.
It’s unusual for a show to last twelve television seasons. I think Supernatural continues to be successful because it has changed very little. The season usually includes an overarching “save the world” arc with monster-of-the-week episodes interspersed to keep the flow unpredictable and easy to follow. The Winchester brothers haven’t matured all that much. They’re still dudebros who like their beer, attractive women, and pie. They’re focused on, variously, revenge, battling demons, searching for absent God, etc. Occasionally one of them gets possessed or wanders off and lives a regular life for a part of a season. But they’re usually back together at the end, ready to fight off monsters.
The cost of this consistency has been too high for some viewers. The guys have the emotional and social-awareness maturity of twenty-year-olds stuck in 1990. Supernatural writers have been called out for not making more women and people of color long-term characters, and using women, particularly, only as agents for moving the plot and the (small) emotional development of the men forward. That the show is still successful and possibly retting up for a thirteenth season shouldn’t surprise anyone: network shows depend on tried-and-true tropes. (The New Girl? The Big Bang Theory? Any show that has a doofus dad at the center of it?)
But what is the value in a show like Supernatural? Why is it attractive? I think it’s because it has the concept of loyalty at its heart. Sam and Dean make a lot of bad decisions, but they’re almost always made in the service of honoring their bond as brothers. It’s painful–for both the brothers and the viewers–when those bad decisions mean minor characters are killed or their lives are ruined. Often they’re called out for it, but they have short memories. They are wildly flawed and often willfully blind to the damage they cause. Sometimes as our family watches, we find ourselves complaining about what clueless asshats they are being.
Husband is going to start getting Season 12 from iTunes or wherever. I’ve peeked ahead online. Season 11 was very tight and focused on something called The Darkness. Season 12 looks looser, a bit more scattered. I’ll be watching to see if and how it changes trajectory. Personally, I thought Season 11 would have been a great place to end the series. But the fans are loyal and the money is big. I only hope that the show chooses to end itself before Dean finds himself doing stunts with his beloved Chevy Impala, Baby, perhaps jumping it over an open tank of water with, oh I don’t know…a shark in it?
February 5th Words
Journal: 325 Words
Long fiction: 3287 Words
Short fiction: 0 Words
Non-Fiction: 0 Words
Blogging: 758 Words
Exercise: 45 minutes, exercise bike