Saturday, 7 October 2017

October Nightmares III #7: Supernatural (2005 - ) - The One With the Scary Fanbase

By Sam Graham

It’s easy to forget that there was a time when TV shows weren’t long running extravaganzas that required our constant attention. Though only 12 years ago since Supernatural (2005 – they’re still making it) first aired, it was a simpler time. There were no after-show programs discussing what you’d just watched, starting a conversation with ‘spoiler alert’ wasn’t a thing, and if you wanted to have sex with someone, you could just get them drunk without having to use the gossamer guise of ‘Netflix and chill’. 

Supernatural followed the same format as Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003), which was to have a different monster each week, but introduce, build up, then reveal a greater evil over the course of a whole series. Even if that evil turned out to be a shit Frankenstein monster living in an army base underneath a college campus. Hmm, not your best idea, Joss...

It was as much better as it was worse. On one hand it didn’t require as much dedication. You could skip an episode or two and not really miss much. On the other hand, they were never shy of a few filler episodes. Saying that though, we all wasted an hour of our lives watching Walter White chase after a fucking fly, so there you go.

Supernatural follows the adventures of two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester- who no matter what they appear in, will always be known as Sam & Dean.  These two guys were perfectly cast in their roles, not for their chemistry, or for their acting chops, but because they’re the type of ruggedly fuckable guys you see on the front of sleazy romance novels and are therefore bound to get the chicks watching, then writing/flicking themselves off to slash-fiction of straight after.

The setup was simple.  They’re a pair of ‘hunters’, because if ‘blogger’ is a legitimate profession now, so is hunter, and they’re looking for their missing dad.  Every episode offered a new location, a new evil, and a new clue to their dad’s whereabouts.  Throw in a few heavy metal and film references, the occasional light hearted moment, horror moments, and you had a serviceable TV show.

You might have also noticed that though the program is still running, I’m referring to it in past-tense.  There’s a reason for that... Reason being, Season 4 decided to wipe its well-toned arse on the format and adopted the formula we all know and tune into like a bunch of fucking zombies for today. However, the real problems started after season 5. See, 5 ends with the brothers thwarting Armageddon. Sam sacrifices himself to stop the big bad and Dean starts a normal life. It’s a bittersweet, but a serviceable ending I could have been happy with. Sam is gone forever unless the awesome power of the ratings can free him... Which of course they did straight away.

But where do you go after the apocalypse? Downhill, that’s where.

For Supernatural, the bottom of the hill is a place of cliché ‘comedy’ characters straight outta The Big Bang Theory (here’s looking at you, Charlie you 1-joke, neckbeard-bait.  “Ooo look at me, I’m a female nerd. I’m into fantasy and RPG and pop culture references. Ain’t I kooky?” - Fuck off), the new King of Hell is an annoying, cockney midget, who is English in real life, but plays it more like an American pretending to be English, a la Dick Van Dyke, and sad little plotlines about bits of magic rock with runes on them being the main evil, and an Asian kid who’s too lazy to decipher them. Jesus Christ.

Every episode becomes the same. Brothers look for evil, they argue about something from a few episodes ago, they fall out, one saves the other, they make up, one of them isn’t telling the whole truth just so the cycle can repeat the very next day, Sam’s t-shirts get smaller and tighter with every passing series and throw in some arguments with Angels in there. Rinse. Repeat. Cheque please. All of this pales in comparison to the plots though, my word.

There are dragons in it now, but they’re not the Game of Thrones variety. They’re just men and women.  Everything too expensive to render is human-looking. And unless you can colour someone’s eyes black/yellow/red, or make teeth sharper, it’s too expensive.At one point the brothers kill Death.  After that they kill God’s sister after she tries to kill God.  Yeah, you read that right, and yeah, you know it’s silly. They know it’s silly. Watching Supernatural now is like listening to Hey Jude on repeat, never knowing when the fuck one ends and the other begins.

The problem started when they decided to introduce Christianity as the main religion.  Not a problem in itself, but until then they’d had monsters from all kinds of folklores and such.  From S4 onwards though, it was stuck on rails. Now they can’t veer away from it, trapped by their own writing, and have been flogging that horse for almost a decade and it shows.

Now when a character dies you can look forward to seeing them once or twice in the following season, they’re running out of ways to make Sam & Dean argue with each other, and they just keep piling on the recurring secondary characters hoping they’ll accidentally shit out another K-2SO (Rogue One), when all they’re really doing is creating a clone army the likes of Mutt Williams (Indiana Jones 4). It’s become tiresome and cringy when they pull out episodes about LARPing and fangirls who want to fuck Sam.
Still, it’s not like any of this even matters. If shit like The OA has taught us anything, it’s that a bad story and overtly ridiculous writing does nothing to derail a TV show nowadays. It certainly didn’t teach us that interpretive dance can avert mass shootings at any rate. The majority of Supernatural’s fanbase is made up of lonely middle-aged housewives, chaste to the point of spending their Wednesday nights on the sofa while their husbands are out shagging someone younger and hotter bowling, the third of many glasses of red on the table, kids upstairs on the Xbox, calling one hand Sam and the other hand Dean as they stick them under their clothes.

The writers could ditch the supernatural elements of Supernatural altogether and they’d still get ratings. Ask me, all they’d have to do is a crossover with Magic Mike. In a sad way they’re too big to fail.  They’ve flogged the horse all they could, but it still won’t die, now the writers are trapped by their own success. Can’t imagine Ackles and Padalecki mind though. "Oh no, all these cougars and hard bodies want me inside them, what shall I do?" Quoth the raven. Nevermore.

Seasons 1-5 were great. Since then, it’s lost all focus due to segregating themselves within Christianity and really having nothing to top 5’s finale.  But let’s face it, the only reason anyone still watches this program is because there’s still a slim hope that Sam and Dean might suck each other off.

And Tumblr will explode.

Enjoyed this piece? Then 'like' The Crusades of A Critic on Facebook. Sam also has a novel which can currently be viewed here, and features ten times the swears, snarc, and rage of the above piece.