Superheroes Unite... on TV - Supernatural

Ensign Lestat's TV Log, 30/05/15

Supernatural

With a fandom of adults and teens, it's no wonder that 'Supernatural' has not only been around for 10 years, but has been renewed for it's 11th season. The story of Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) has captured the imagination of viewers since 2005. I stayed away from the show for several years because I thought it would be too scary (the resultant effect of watching 'The Grudge' was that I was pretty terrified of horror stuff for a while. That's gone now, though). My sister would attempt to watch it, but never got a chance to follow it consistently.

When I finally caught up with the show, it was in 2012, after Mark Sheppard (Crowley) showed up at the local Comic Con and talked up how much fun it was to be on the show. I started watching the show, and voila, I was in love.

There is something addictive about the Winchesters and their ongoing family drama. Sam and Dean's lives are inextricably interwoven with each other's, they can't live with each other and they can't live without each other. They have such a strong sibling-bond that's its undoubtedly one of the main reasons so many people keep coming back to the show.

But, try as we might, even the most ardent fan knows this show is well past its sell-by date. Yes, we love the Winchesters, and most of us also love Castiel (Misha Collins), but that gripping, exciting, overarching compelling nature of the series has long gone.

The best seasons of the show were, unfortunately, the first 2, not because everything was novel, but because it had a sure arc and a clear plan. It was building its world and sticking to it. All the while, the most intriguing part of the story was the brothers (and sometimes their dad), and where their hunting would lead them.

The creators had a five year plan for Sam and Dean, but instead of ending the show after year 5 they went ahead and added 5 more. Pretty much anyone with a brain knows where the final scene of season 5 should have ended. Yes, it would have broken our hearts. Yes, Jensen and Jared would have had to look for constant work elsewhere. Yes, we would have missed out on Crowley and some pretty crazy-cool episodes later, but, it would have meant some actually interesting stuff outside of the 'Supernatural' world.

As long as the Winchesters are around, a lot of the fans will keep coming back to it. They'll have to get replacements for them soon enough, and it may be a bit hard to keep the show going if the replacements aren't as mesmerising as these two. I was sure the 10th season would be its final one, but nope, they've renewed it.

The bad guys in the show have long ceased to be interesting or remotely scary. They reached their peak with the yellow-eyed demon (which was in season 1 and 2, so, not good), but Lilith, Lucifer and to a very small extent Abaddon were also pretty sinister at times. But that is very few bad guys over 10 long years, and the show's intensity has diminished greatly over the years.

There's the occasional episode here and there which is classic Supes fun, or is gripping and intense, but they're few and far between. They've changed up or retconned the lore so often now, that we're confused as to what works and what doesn't (spirits blowing away salt circles was a true sin against the lore). They're also against expanding their universe and including some diversity. This show is egregious in its insularity. The four main characters are all white cis-males. Most of the transient cast are usually white males or idiotic conventionally sized white females.

The only stroke of genius (quickly abandoned) was the awesome team up between Sheriffs Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster) - they were a cool pair of DGAF women and definitely deserve a show of their own (but the creators would ruin that, so please let's not).

With the exception of Charlie (Felicia Day), we had absolutely no recurring female characters of use. She was a really wonderful character, who knew what she was doing, She talked tech, she was part of the LGBTQ (though that was touched on only twice during her stint on the show). We should have known it wouldn't last.

The lack of a strong, scary villain with an equally scary agenda has done the show a great disservice. What was so compelling about the yellow-eyed demon? It's that he had a plan of world domination, but his plan was singular to him. His plan also involved Sam and this brought the trouble home. Later on in the series we've had more relevant bads, or arcs. The best thing about the curtailed season 3 was how Dean's impending fate loomed over his every move in every episode. Season 4 and 5 got pretty convoluted and unfortunately touched on too many religious aspects, but remained compelling because of the continued danger to Sam and Dean and the fork in their relationship and respective destinies.

Ever since, we've had a lot of moments and episodes dealing with their relationship - many episodes, in fact, are geared towards one particular scene between the brothers, establishing or destroying the relationship they have. That's pretty much the greatest thing about the show - the brothers' relationship; their constant ups and downs, how demarcated their views are, who'll sacrifice how much to save the other, which one actually wants to be saved. There are stunning emotional scenes between the two, like the season 9 finale which featured a touching conversation between the two, and season 10 had occasional bursts of the same. It's really these two who are bringing back the fans. But the writers can hardly rely solely on the development of the brothers' relationship. The world around them appears less and less relevant or interesting. The lack of diversity is astonishing, and there appears to be no move to change that.

The season 10 finale was intense and epic. It bodes more ill for the Supes universe. If the creators can decide to end the show on its own terms, and on a big high, we could have the best season on our hands. If they don't, the show will deteriorate to a level where it will lose its remaining. upbeat fanbase and get cancelled. We don't want that, we'd like a legitimate end to the show, and some well-deserved closure for the Winchesters. We'll be back for season 11, but it remains for the writers to ensure we stay.

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