You ever find yourself enjoying something you shouldn’t? Something you’ve been publicly and vocally opposed to, and yet… there you are, partaking? And liking it!
I’m late to the Supernatural party. The show’s been on for ten years, and I’m just now watching it. There’s a long list of reasons why I should hate this show. But I don’t.
I finished Season One about 30 seconds before I started typing this post (SO DON’T SPOIL THE NEXT NINE SEASONS FOR ME!), but I’ve been thinking about this post since the day a friend warned me that this is a show about men, about brothers, about the relationships men have and that there were “not a lot of women.” I suppose I have a reputation as a Rah! Rah! Girl Power kind of person (well deserved, I might add).
The thing is, I’m not against a show about men. My support for shows about women, or at least shows with a woman or two featured, boils down to the fact that over the history of TV, most shows have been about men. We’ve seen shows about men, we’ve watched stories about men all our lives. So, yeah, I think we need more shows about women. There. I said it.
But back to Supernatural.
I made it through the first few episodes purely on the weight of the opinions of my friends. The first episode started and ended with blatant fridging — Not one, but two, female characters killed to advance the story of male characters. Ordinarily, I would have walked away right there. From there, it became a monster-of-the-week type show usually featuring a helpless damsel-in-distress along the way. Good female characters were there mainly to look good, scream, cry, and to thank the Winchester boys as they drove out of town. Oh, and sometimes to die. Bad female characters were there to look good, be properly scary, scream, and die. Toward the end of the first season, I started seeing more character in the female characters, which I very much appreciated.
So, how did Girl-Power Girl end up liking this show well enough to sit through the whole first season?
To start with, they’re telling an interesting story. They dangle questions and hints and teases. They never let you forget that they’re hunting the demon, that they’re looking for their dad, even while battling the monster of the week. They hold that story arc throughout.
The show explores family relationships, and, yes, while it’s about brothers, a lot of those issues hold true for two sisters or a brother and sister. Family is complicated.
The characters are consistent. Dean is concerned about his family. That’s his priority. Getting his family back together, keeping his family safe. He never gives up on that, even when the only way to kill the demon is to sacrifice a family member, he refuses to give up on family. Sam is constantly pulling away while at the same time obsessing over finding the demon, which, it turns out, makes him very like the father he’s so ambivalent towards.
It has a retro feel to me. It’s more than the old car and the classic rock, just the whole set up feels like it would have been right at home airing alongside CHiPs and Dukes of Hazard. And perhaps that feel is why I don’t object more to the male-centric story. It feels like it comes from a time when all TV was male-centric.
Yes, I’m frustrated with the lack of positive female representation on Supernatural, and it’s certainly possible that it will eventually be enough to drive me away. For the moment, I’m enjoying a fun show.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it, but for now, I need to find out what happens next!