We all have what I like to call our “alone shows.”
Pretty self-explanatory; it’s that one show that you absolutely love, but can only truly enjoy once you’ve verified the house is empty of all other living creatures, because the last thing you need is a hater sitting next to you on the sofa, judging your intense emotional investment in a group of fictional characters.
Supernatural began as my alone show. Then I caught up – like, nine seasons in three months caught up – and now I need to tell you why it should be your alone show too.
Some quick background: Supernatural is about two brothers, Sam & Dean Winchester, who travel middle America hunting evil. They’re hot, they’re damaged, and they lack a father figure. Based on that description, Supernatural was something I assumed I should be feeling a deep sense of shame for watching, due to the obvious eye candy and the angsty paranormal storylines. Full disclosure: I entered into the world of the Winchester brothers fully expecting a huge pile of CW Tween Camp, but that doesn’t mean I was expecting to have so many real emotions about it.
Where many shows disappoint – in character growth and development, in taking huge story risks, in caring about what its fans think – Supernatural keeps succeeding. Over and over again, right into a tenth season.
It’s the show that launched a thousand GIFs.
If for some reason you feel that the current 188 episodes are not enough, it helps to know that Supernatural fandom is a rabid, beautiful darkness, with an intense social media presence and a lot of free time. Not joking. Watch any three episodes of Supernatural and suddenly every GIF on the Internet will make sense.
This show has covered so many subjects, from the absolutely mundane to the categorically insane, that there is literally a GIF for everything.
Not to mention, Supernatural’s cast and crew continually reward fans handsomely with tweets so quippy you’ll think you’re in an episode of Veronica Mars. Cast members often take to Twitter to live-tweet episodes or argue with each other in character. So, should you find yourself dying of withdrawal during a mid-season hiatus, you’ll have enough internet fodder to keep you going through the dry spell.
Join us; we have pie.
You can drop in any time.
This is the funniest show about apocalyptic death and destruction I’ve ever seen. While season openers and finales tend to be heavy and emotional, the middle of each season offers lighter fare that makes it easy for first-timers to drop in at any point and still enjoy themselves. If you’re looking for a quick, fun show with sass for days that you can pick up and flip to the middle of like a dentist’s office magazine, Supernatural’s got limitless helpings of stand-alone episodes for easy viewing.
All the gory torture and stabbing you’ve missed since Dexter‘s been gone.
Less emotionally-charged episodes can be fun, sure, but this is still a show about two brothers who kill demons and the like, so there’s always going to be a lot of stabbing, violent punching, shooting, dismemberment, terror, creative torture, decapitation and gut-wrenching carnage. A better title for the show could easily be Superlying & Punching, because that’s basically the pattern – punch first, then lie to each other about it; ask questions later.
So, if your life has been lacking some pretty decent bloodshed, your search is over. There are guns and bats and stakes and tire irons – and in some cases, holy water and rock salt can do the same amount of painful damage. If you’re a fan of cut-away shots to a plasma-splattered wall, then you’ve found your Mecca. Need something deranged, like a psychopathic ghoul disemboweling someone? You’re already home. Feel like your life is missing an intense, drama-charged fight scene where people get stabbed with broken mirror shards and thrown through windows? Hello, friend – come on in.
Every monster ever.
Vampires? Check. Ghosts? Check. Obscure creature or demi-god or incantation that no one has ever heard before? Triple check. The scale of the Supernatural universe grows exponentially every season and the mythology is constantly expanding. This might sound like the show is just a jumble of monsters on an episodic Lazy Susan, but the world is actually a pretty intricate quilt where every square fits together quite nicely.
The bonus of a flexible mythology is that just when you think you’ve got a handle on everything, that’s when Supernatural goes, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” And throws a Peruvian Fatsucker in your face.
Good vs. Evil is all about perspective.
We all know that demons are dicks – they’re evil, soul-stealing, double-dealing jerks. So when the angels start showing up, you think they’ll offer some bad guy relief…but they won’t, because angels are dicks too. Even Sam & Dean, our heroes, are 100% capable of being dicks. But that’s the beauty of this universe: heroes aren’t perfect. They’re super flawed. And just like in real life, things aren’t always so precisely delineated. You just have to do the best you can with the flaws you’ve got.
All of this is easily summed up in the fact that I walked away from one episode thinking, “You know, maybe Lucifer wasn’t so bad, maybe he was just really misunderstood?” THIS, coming from a girl raised in the church with a father who went to seminary. And yes, it’s just a TV show – but a show that makes you question your deeply-rooted theological upbringing, that’s a good effing show.
Everyone dies. A lot.
You could build a skyscraper to the moon with the body count of this show. That means, get comfortable being precariously perched on the edge of your couch, because absolutely no one is safe in Supernatural.
The upside of everyone constantly dying is that you learn how to move on. Plus, free trips to Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell (Fun Fact: One circle of Hell is just standing in line at the DMV for all eternity.)! The downside is, even if beloved characters return, you never how long it will be until they’re dead again – maybe forever this time. But, you can’t say Supernatural doesn’t take risks with its storylines. This show is unafraid to knock-off your favorite people if it will aid the story arc, and I bet you wish some of your other favorite shows would do the same.
A car is a main character and it totally makes sense.
The 1967 Chevy Impala isn’t just a cool looking car – it is the veritable home of the Winchester brothers. When everything is falling apart around them, the car serves as a partner-in-crime, a reminder that there is one place they belong, the past that links all of them together as family.
And that’s just the car. The character development and growth in this show is so, so visible, visceral, and rewarding. Unlike this last season of DOCTOR WHO where the new companion has somehow remained absolutely unchanged and unaffected by her travels through time and freaking space, the Dean and Sam of the pilot are unrecognizable from the Dean and Sam of season nine. They have seen some shit and they have matured accordingly.
“The French Mistake” and other miscellany meta-ness.
If 30 Rock’s departure left you with a big metafictional hole in your heart, Supernatural should be able to patch that right up. Absolutely nothing is sacred when it comes to Supernatural – especially (and most definitely) not Supernatural.
The show has speared the fans, the conventions, the universe, the writers, the actors, the crew; there is no stone left unturned when it comes to folding the jokes inward on itself. In one episode, an obsessed admirer writes fan fiction about the Winchester brothers, and in another, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles play Sam and Dean Winchester, who are in turn playing Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean. If that doesn’t break your fourth wall, I don’t know what will.
It makes your relationships look healthy.
If you desperately crave family dysfunction that isn’t your own, then oh my god are the Winchesters your jam. The core of the show is the compelling, and often twisted, relationship between two brothers whose entire existence is defined by filial loyalty. If you are a sibling, you’ll relate pretty hard to the dynamic of loving your siblings so much that you want to murder them, but because you love them so much, you won’t murder them.
Even at their most angsty, their most soapy, their most campy, Sam and Dean always manage to beautifully convey the delicate dance that is sticking with the ones you love, even when it means sacrificing your own happiness.
Now go, watch SUPERNATURAL alone. I’ll go watch it alone, too. And we’ll all be alone, together (on Tumblr, where we’ll all talk about Supernatural).
WHERE TO WATCH:
Past Seasons: Netflix
Current Season: CW – Tuesdays @ 9pm & Hulu
Future Seasons: Crystal Ball, Premonitions