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on Supernatural's draw, good and bad

In case anyone was wondering, SPN still has what originally sucked me into the show. That is, writers with an uncanny ability to channel 14-year-old fic-writing fangirls. The last ep was an h/c + presumed dead bonanza such that I've rarely seen (if you're familiar with the show, they've added a new plot twist to make the threat of death actually seem threatening. Well, not to the audience, to us it's more like setting up Chekhov's latest gun and I'm looking forward to how it's going to go off. But Sam & Dean are slightly more nervous about biting it than usual. And Dean takes the idea of Sam dying as well as he's ever done, to the tune of [Spoiler (click to open)]temporarily killing himself to try to puppy-dog-eyes a Reaper into giving him Sam back. (Said Reaper, Billie, is one of the more awesome chars they've introduced and I'm already dreading when the show kills her off. But she survived this ep! \o/ Also the actress is apparently a fan herself...))

The problem - or, maybe not the problem, because in a way it's a strength as much as a weakness? - the thing about Supernatural is that it has maybe the tightest character focus of any show. Which makes it an all-or-nothing proposition, at least for me, when it comes to fanning. Because if you buy into the basic conceit, that the Winchester brothers and their relationship is the most important thing in the show's universe and the reason to watch, then it's one of the most fannishly satisfying series ever made, bringing the angst and melodrama and smarm and love like no other TV I've ever seen. Even Starsky & Hutch, while it might beat out SPN on pure physical h/c (and not by that much), can't measure up to the emotional revelations and mutual sacrifice of brothers both figuratively and literally selling their souls for one another.

The issue is that if you ever stop caring about the Winchesters, the show loses most of its fannish appeal. While it has plenty of other temporarily fun characters, most of them do not survive, and usually die in the service of causing more angst for the boys. Even the few who have endured (almost all white males, except Jodie Mills, who has lasted so long by being much more minor than Castiel or Crowley) are still just supporting cast.

You can watch it just for the OTT and crack - I did for several years; by the time I dropped the show in 7th season I actively hated the Winchesters but still enjoyed the crazy meta absurdities. (And I dropped it partly because that aspect was lost, too - after just watching the whole series, s7 is definitely the nadir. This seems like a common problem for the ludicrously long-running shows; SG-1's s7 was its worst as well. I wonder if TNG or DS9 might've picked back up if they had lasted beyond it?)

When I dropped SPN, I thought it was for good. Even if I watched it again, I never imagined I'd get back into it (in my defense I never thought it would make it to 12 seasons, come on that's just ridiculous!) Now that I am...it's embarrassing, yeah; but it's also a ton of fun. Sibling love has always been my Kryptonite and nothing delivers like SPN. And while there's a part of me that thinks the show would be objectively better if it widened its focus and grew its characters, the fangirl in me wants Sam and Dean to go on being one another's most important people, through it all.

...Also, the real-life factor doesn't help. Way back in first season Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles said that they hit it off from the start and were becoming great friends and all, bonding the way casts often do, and that was sweet, and translated well to the fraternal chemistry of their characters. Eleven years on when they still say they're best friends, and their wives are best friends, and they talk about how their kids play together - in the same preschool, as JA moved cross-country to live within a mile of JP...I am not into RPF, at all, but they make it hard! Possibly worse because I'm not slashing them at all (their families are far too cute), but the friendshipping is harder to resist when as far as I can tell it's 'canon'...

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
kimberlyfdr
Apr. 3rd, 2016 11:54 pm (UTC)
Welcome (back) to the dark side. We have cookies...and Winchesters :)
xparrot
Apr. 4th, 2016 01:18 am (UTC)
You do have Winchesters! Agh why must they be so cute? And codependent? And pretty much everything I could want in that kind of brotherly relationship, siiigh...(I have a bad feeling I'll probably get out of SPN again in the next months or year, only to fall back in a few years from now. And the way it's going it'll probably still be on the air!!)
sholio
Apr. 3rd, 2016 11:55 pm (UTC)
The issue is that if you ever stop caring about the Winchesters, the show loses most of its fannish appeal. While it has plenty of other temporarily fun characters, most of them do not survive, and usually die in the service of causing more angst for the boys.

Yeah, for me that was really THE big reason why I stopped watching (well, a combination of getting tired of the Winchesters, and getting REALLY tired of getting attached to characters only to lose them). I'm really an ensemble girl at heart, even though I invariably have a "most important relationship" in the group I'm fanning on ... but I need that ensemble-ishness.

... that said, your posts about SPN (and Sheron's) are making me think about checking it out again. Having taken a good long break from the Winchesters has probably been a decent antidote to the "too much of a good thing" problem I was having with them. I've noticed that with really formulaic shows (I don't know if SPN really counts as that plotwise, but definitely in the Sam-Dean dynamic) taking a break helps make it feel new and fresh when I go back to it. So yeah, definitely thinking about giving it another whirl ...
xparrot
Apr. 4th, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
I'm weird with SPN, because while I generally need ensembles to keep me on a fandom for a while, and especially to write fic (I tend to have an OTP/MIP (Most Important Person) relationship but then want to play with the secondary relationships around it) - SPN is one of the few Type B fandoms I have that I'm not really into the fic at all. I've tried reading it, then and now, and I just can't get into most of it. Mostly because the show gives me so exactly what I want that most fic actually fall short...

That being said, I really wish SPN was kinder on its side chars. Especially because I love a lot of them. Maybe the most...frustrating? thing about it now is that it's actually perfectly set up to become a team show. I don't know when you stopped watching, did you get to the Men of Letters bunker? I didn't know about this myself, but in s8 the show has a major change in that it gives the Winchesters a home base - they now live in basically an adjunct of Warehouse 13. I don't know how the fandom took it - it's a significant enough shift from the basic premise that I can see it really disappointing people - but while I was unsure at first, I absolutely love it now. Among other things, it offers the chance for a happy ending for the guys, giving them a possible future after they're too old for hunting. It also makes a great place to establish a team - they've got a lot of spare rooms, and they've had other chars living with them there (Kevin for a while until he died, Castiel on and off). But the show hasn't yet stopped killing their chars, so it makes it hard to get attached...(OTOH, it is SPN, there's a chance for anyone to come back. Bobby has had a guest appearance in every season since he died. And I'm still holding out hope for Charlie.)

Anyway, I don't know what to tell you about getting back into it! At least for me, taking a break this long reset my feelings and I really have been enjoying it like new. Plus, s11 is one of the best seasons of the show, and I'm tempted to say watch it now and enjoy the rest of the season in realtime - otoh, maybe it's better to wait and know ahead of time if it's going to disappoint or do something cringe-worthy?

If you're looking for something to watch without committing, to see how you feel, I'd recommend watching ep 11x04, "Baby" - it's a monster-of-the-week ep, shot entirely in/from the Impala. It's hilarious and cute and - this might be the fangirl talking, but I think genuinely creative and well done TV. There's a couple conversations that relate to the season arc but I think most of it can stand on its own...

(Or you could just watch the funniest scene from the ep! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuE6Tyq8atc )
snarkydame
Apr. 4th, 2016 06:57 am (UTC)
. . . I really liked the first 2 seasons. And then my interest steadily drained away until I stopped watching (though it took a while -- I think I got to season 6).

The way you talk about it makes me kind of want to pick it up again -- think I can skip a few seasons without too much trouble? Or should I run through them to catch up?
xparrot
Apr. 4th, 2016 10:23 pm (UTC)
This was pretty much exactly what happened to me; I ended up dropping it in s7, but I was semi-hate-watching it for a couple seasons before that. Watching/rewatching the whole show now, I think some of that is due to quality of the show and some that over time you just get burned out.

Depending on how much TV you want to watch, I would recommend either starting with this current season (11) which feels more like the earliest seasons than anything before; or if you want to be more invested, start at season 8. Season 7 is lousy (even at our fast pace, s7 was a struggle to get through; I spent a lot of it actively detesting Dean and he's usually my favorite) but s8 is one of my favorite seasons - it's a toss-up between s1, s8 and s11 so far (and s8 has the most brotherly hugs of any season!) And s9-10 both have great eps, if also some frustrating elements.
darlulu
Apr. 4th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC)
-- The last ep was an h/c + presumed dead bonanza such that I've rarely seen

Ooh, could you share the ep #? H/c is my fave trope and I want to make sure to dl the right ep.
gnine
Apr. 4th, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, h/c, it really is just the best, ne? ^^

Don't mind me just jumping in here. It's episode 11x17, "Red Meat". It really is just...special in terms of h/c/presumed dead/worry...^^
darlulu
Apr. 4th, 2016 09:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
xparrot
Apr. 4th, 2016 10:24 pm (UTC)
11x17, as Gnine said - it's the one with the werewolves. Enjoy! :D
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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