A few weeks ago, one of my favorite people on tumblr sent me this message:
In this post, I’m going to attempt to do exactly that: Sell you Supernatural by explaining what I think makes the show so special. In addition, I’ll discuss a few things you should know if you’re considering getting into the series. Along the way, I’ll make some cross-comparisons with other fandoms such as Glee and tell you how I personally got sucked into the series.
Hang onto your bobby socks, ladies and gents. ‘Cause this is going to be a long post.
Let me begin by saying that I’m fandom promiscuous. I spread my love amongst a lot of TV shows/movies/books/etc. There are those, such as Inception, True Blood, The Big Bang Theory, and Sherlock, that I really enjoy and have great fandoms that never fail to make me laugh. But as much as I love them, I know that eventually they’ll be phased out and replaced by another, newer obsession.
Then there’s those handful of stories that resonate with me on a much deeper, emotional level. They’re the ones I can gibber on about forever, analyze to death, and have become very near and dear to my heart. Harry Potter is one. Glee, much to my eternal surprise, also wormed its way into this category.
And then, of course, there’s Supernatural.
Supernatural came into my life during the fall of 2009. I was still in college at that time, and I was laboring over an immense and rather tedious art project in my dorm room (I was making what seemed like 5 bazillion paper tissue carnations) and I needed a show to watch to pass the time. I chose Supernatural because gifs from the show kept popping up in just about every web forum I visited. Bombarded with these puzzling images of two derpy yet handsome men, I finally threw up my hands and said, “Fuck it. Why not give this show a try?”
Little did I know that within the span of a week, my feelings about the show went from this:
I streamed 4 seasons in a single month. How I managed to avoid failing all my classes that semester will forever remain a mystery to me.
Now, for anyone who’s not a part of the fandom, the intensity of Supernatural’s following is probably a bit baffling. Because on its surface, Supernatural doesn’t seem all that remarkable. The show is about 2 brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, who drive around the backroads of America in a really cool car and kill monsters and baddies wherever they go. I mean, this is a fairly basic concept and not one that’s exactly going to win any awards for originality. And God knows no one watches the show for the stunning special effects.
So why Supernatural? What is it about this show that makes it so special and has its fans foaming at the mouth?
Well, I can’t speak for everyone (I am but one fangirl), but these are the reasons why Supernatural has become such a beloved series for me.
1. Dean and Sam’s relationship
This is the one I’m pretty sure most Supernatural fans would agree with me on.
At the core of Supernatural, there’s this beautiful, compelling, and often twisted relationship between two brothers who would go to the ends of the earth for each other. While fans tend to fall into Sam and Dean factions (I’m a Dean girl myself, though I have nothing but love for Sammy), most will agree that you can’t just choose one and refuse to care about the other.
Because Dean and Sam’s lives orbit around each other. Their personalities have been shaped by their shared experiences and their roles as siblings. And if you watch the series, you’ll see just how utterly lost they can become without one another.
If you like dysfunctional families, man, the Winchesters will be your cup of tea. Because both Sam and Dean are incredibly damaged. This is partially because of certain spoilery events I can’t reveal, but a lot of it also has to do with the way they were raised. Every once in a while, you get glimpses of their childhood. These are the moments that always make me sob like a little bitch because even though they grew up in the shadow of an immense tragedy and were raised by an aloof and distant father, throughout it all, they had each other as their constants.
Now if you’re turned off because I’m making it sound like all Dean and Sam ever do is clutch each other and cry, I want to assure you that there are also healthy doses of humor in their relationship. They still practice the brand of mischief that’s common among siblings everywhere.
2. You become very intimate with the characters
Unlike Glee, where there’s a huge ensemble and practically a buffet of characters and personalities to choose from, Supernatural really only focuses on a few. Primarily, of course, Sam and Dean. This means that if you don’t like either of them, well, you’re shit out of luck.
But here’s the good part: The writers are rigorous about laying out each individual’s motives and you’re given a lot of background information. So even when one of them is being a total douche and I want to punch him in the face, I pretty much can always at least see where he’s coming from even if I don’t necessarily agree with him.
It’s vital that both Sam and Dean are so fully fleshed out because while Supernatural has great story arcs, it’s an extremely character-driven show.
And that brings us to…
3. Character development
Sam’s hair is not the only thing that changes throughout the seasons.
If you look at the Dean and Sam that are currently on air, they are vastly different from the Dean and Sam of the pilot. They’ve gone through a lot (BIGGEST UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY) and their experiences have left definite impressions on them. There are things that will never change. I mean, Dean will always always love pie. But the fact of the matter is that the changes they undergo are what make them more tangible to as characters despite the fact that they go about doing fantastical shit like hunting ghosts and demons for a living.
4. The series as a whole is pretty cohesive
Title cards from seasons 1-5
I often feel that the writers on Glee are very touch-and-go with their storylines. They take things episode by episode rather than thinking about where the series is going to end up in the long run. This is one of many reasons why even though Glee is ridiculously fun, it’s notoriously schizophrenic and inconsistent.
Supernatural is the polar opposite. Eric Kripke, the series creator, was very conscious about the path of story arcs. Each season deals with a distinct issue (season 1, for example, is primarily about finding missing Papa Winchester), but they also build on each other. Yes, occasionally the writers might take a right turn into Crack Town, but if you step back, there’s usually a bigger picture in mind.
5. The show rewards you for paying attention and watching all the episodes
The Trickster knows something you don’t.
Supernatural is kind of like Harry Potter in the sense that the Chocolate Frog card you didn’t think much about in Chapter 5 turns out to be vital to the progression of the story later on. There are a lot of Supernatural episodes that seem like just another monster-of-the-week type scenario. Later, you find out these filler episodes actually have drastic repercussions on the entire series.
Though this does not apply to every single episodes. I mean, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a filler episode is just a filler episode.
6. The season premieres and finales do not disappoint
Supernatural fans who look at this image know exactly what’s going on and want to cry their eyes out.
Oh God. Raise your hand if you’ve been burned by True Blood. I don’t understand how such a hilarious, campy, fun series can have such consistently craptacular season finales.
But in Supernatural, that’s where the pay-off happens. The series has a lot of good episodes, but the season premieres and finales are where the writers bring out the big guns and pull out all the stops. These are the episodes most likely to leave you whimpering into your pillow or hanging on the edge of your seat and gaping at your screen. Personally, the premiere of season 2 and season 4 are two of my favorites episodes. Both of them manage to be heart-wrenching while shifting the plot in new, unforeseen directions.
I will admit that the only premieres and finales I find weak or don’t particularly care for are the pilot, the finale to Season 5 (love the concept. not in love with the execution) and the premiere of season 6. But hey, we’re all allowed our own opinions.
7. The actors have great chemistry with one another
Both Jared Padalecki (Sam) and Jensen Ackles (Dean) have been in some hilaribad movies (My Bloody Valentine anyone?) Not to say that they’re crappy actors (you try to make a story about Thomas Kinkade that doesn’t blow).
In Supernatural though, I don’t know what it is, but something magical happens. Both of them slide so easily into their roles as Sam and Dean, and they manage to create this brilliant rapport that convinces you that they’re blood, that they’re Winchesters and not 2 dudes from Texas.
Now, there are plenty of other actors and actresses on the show who deserve credit for their amazing work. I don’t have time to name all of them but I have to single out Misha Collins and Jim Beaver in particular. Both are utterly fantastic and have made Cas and Bobby their own.
8. There’s a really expansive mythology
“Eat it, Twilight.”
Demons? Check. Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Obscure monster/demi-god/spell that no one has ever heard of? Check. There are also things I can’t mention because they would spoil newbies, but let’s just say that the scale of the Supernatural universe gets 10x bigger in season 4.
This might sound like the show is just a hodgepodge of monsters rotating in and out on a weekly basis, but the writers like to keep you on your toes. Often times, just when I think I have a handle on what’s going on, that’s when the writers go, “Oh buddy, you don’t know jackshit.”
9. The show has its own distinct iconography
I, along with many other Supernatural fans, am completely smitten with a 1967 black Chevy Impala. To the point where if I met someone who actually owned one, I would feel obligated to at least make-out with that person.
The Impala, the Colt, the Samulet. All of these are absolutely meaningless to anyone outside the fandom. But to Supernatural fans, they’re emotional touchstones. And you’ve got to admit, a series that makes you emotionally invested in a car? That’s pretty powerful stuff.
10. Epic music
How normal people might react to “Carry On My Wayward Son”:
How Supernatural fans react to “Carry On My Wayward Son”:
The music of Supernatural is a classic rock fan’s wet dream. So many Crowning Moments of Awesome in the show are accompanied by Crowning Music of Awesome. The producers of the show know how to exploit music to make an emotional scene all the more potent. As a result, I’m probably not the only one who goes into Supernatural flashback mode when I hear certain tunes (“Heat of the Moment”, anyone?).
(If you’re curious about what Supernatural sounds like, try sampling some of the songs at Supernatural FM, another tumblr I run where you can stream Supernatural music.)
So there you have it. Those are the main reasons why I watch Supernatural and my attempt to sell you the series. Now if you’re considering getting into the series, there’s a few things I think you might want to know.
Warnings/Things You Should Know about Supernatural and Its Fandom
1. The fandom is fucking crazy
You know how if you watch a show like Glee and when you meet someone else who likes Glee you have to spend about 5 minutes asking subtly probing questions to try and figure out if they like the show the way you do—the constantly obsessing, freaking out whenever new songs come out, and listening to cast interviews way you do.
Well, in the Supernatural fandom, when you meet someone who likes the show, you probably don’t have to do that awkward tango. Chances are, they’re just as crazy, if not crazier than you are.
I say this as a Supernatural fangirl. I’m proud to be part of such a ridiculous fandom, one that consistently generates quality art, fanfiction, manips, and lulz. I mean, if you just look at the numbers, Supernatural has about 2-3 U.S. viewers a week. That’s tiny compared to the 10 million+ viewers Glee draws in.
But the reason it might seem like just about everyone’s watched Supernatural while you’re forever alone is because even though our numbers aren’t that big, we Supernatural fans are an extremely vocal lot.
2. Get ready for mood whiplash like no other
Get yourself a proverbial neckbrace, because watching Supernatural will often feel like winning the lottery and then getting hit by a bus. Whereas I’d say Glee is primarily a comedy with some serious moments, Supernatural is more of a drama with hearty helpings of delicious crack. Season 5 in particular is an emotional rollercoaster that will have you laughing and sobbing within a 30 minute span of time.
3. The abyss. Not only does it stare back, it also knows where you live and has your phone number on speed dial
And then all the Supernatural fans started screaming.
Supernatural doesn’t just break down the fourth wall, it load ups a shotgun full of rock salt and blasts it in the face. Starting from season 4, the show starts getting more and more meta. Eveything you usually think is of off-limits, mentioning fan fiction, cons, self-insertion of the writers themselves, yeah, they throw all that shit in there. Sometime I truly believe that there’s nothing that bring the Supernatural writers more joy than fucking with the fans.
4. If you scare easily, you might want to watch the show with someone else in the room
Except, you know, when it doesn’t.
This was actually the reason one of my best friends never made it past season 1. If you like scary movies, Supernatural will not even make you blink twice. As for those of you who are complete chicken shits like me, I can tell you that the scare-factor of the show gets toned down in later seasons (things are still gory but less terrifying, if that makes any sense).
However, if you do get scared easily, just don’t be stupid like me and watch season 1 alone in your room at night while manning a hot glue gun. You will burn yourself when you-know-who crawls out of the mirror.
5. Homoeroticism: There’s plenty of it to go around
Slash fans rejoice. For you have reached the promised land.
I think with a show as butch as Supernatural, you’re going to inevitably run into some Ho Yay. I mean, you don’t have look especially hard because in the grand tradition of fucking with fans, the writers will reference ships and poke fun at the homoerotic undertones of the show.
Though they occasionally realize they’ve wandered too far away from hetero-normativity and try to overcompensate.
The are many slash ships in Supernatural but two of the main ones are Wincest (Dean/Sam) and Destiel (Dean/Castiel). Yes, Supernatural is a show where one of the primary ships involves incest. You don’t have to like it, but I will admit, as someone who ships Cas and Dean (though I never knew people called it Destiel until I got on tumblr), I still see where the Wincest people are coming from.
So as with any fandom, there are ship wars, but there’s plenty of neutral territory for people who want to avoid all the wank. One of the reasons, I’m particularly found of Sassy (Sam/Cas) shippers in not only because they have the best name, they’re absolutely hilarious people (while Destiel and Wincest shippers are busying sniping at each other, Sassy shippers are the ones who randomly pop out of no where and are like, “WHO WANTS TACOS?”).
Personally, I don’t care what you ship. I’m not going to make an effort to try to prove anyone “wrong” because technically, no matter what pairing you ship, we’re all still on the same boat: The S.S. Never Going to Happen.
5. The cast is awesome
I have no words for this picture
I cannot think of a single person in the cast who is not an absolutely lovely human being. They’ll all extremely dedicated to show and appreciative of the fans who support them. They attend cons regularly (I never ever watched grainy con footage before Supernatural—one of many cherries the show has popped for me) and are unfailingly humble and kind. They all have a great sense of humor (important when your fandom is as crazy as Supernatural’s), so they’re surprisingly chill even when they get questions about slash (though every time a fan brings it up at a con, I’m like, “WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”).
One thing that Supernatural fans often get accused of is watching the show only for the mancandy. Well, first of all the actors can’t help it that they’re freakishly genetically gifted. And I’m not sure about other people, but I for one cannot stick to a show for 6 seasons just because I find some people hot. I simply do not have that kind of attention span.
So it’s way past time for me to bring this monstrous post to an end. Jesus, what has become of my lie. I’m pretty sure most people who read this are like,
But like many other Supernatural fans,
I’m really only writing this for one person, but if you’ve happened upon this post and actually read all these rambling thoughts of mine, I feel like I should at least reward you with something.
So here. Have a shirtless Jared Padalecki in a cowboy hat kissing a fake bird.
Hugs and cookies,