April 6-7, 2024
Supernatural has found a near-perfect formula. Ingredients consisting of the chemistry between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, otherwise known as Dean and Sam Winchester, the rustic yet smooth swagger that is the 1967 Chevy Impala, a rock‘n’roll score which is unprecedented to any other network show of its calibre, and perhaps most importantly, storytelling.
Creator Eric Kripke is the Chuck Shurley to the real-life fandom, bringing his vision to the screen in 2005 on The WB, now known as the CW Network. In a time saturated by demons and vampires alike from Buffy to Charmed, viewers were hungry for a different story.
As the Supernatural story progressed and what was a hybrid of folklore and witty dialogue turned into a beast, both its rabid fan base and studio executives weren’t able to turn away, with season 14 approaching this week under the helm of Andrew Dabb.
Ackles and Padalecki’s chemistry has been ablaze since the pilot episode where Sam tackled Dean, and the now very quotable “Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole” was heard for the first time. While it’s their differences, Sam having his head in between the books and Dean’s quirk of picking up girls in dive bars next to their one-star motels, it is a tremendous loss which twined the two together.
A poetic realisation comes in knowing Dean and Sam would die for each other and that has never, ever changed. Both Ackles and Padalecki’s acting is in desperate need of an Emmy. With the show only having nominations for its score in the early seasons, their many Teen Choice Awards surfboards will have to do for now. Even keeping this in mind, they don’t act like stars at all, touring America’s convention circuit year round and forming a reciprocal relationship with fans who have hardly dwindled over the years.
Good casting doesn’t end there but rather is the start with a lead-up of immeasurable talent. Coming into its fourth season, viewers were used to the amount of airtime the Winchester brothers had, so putting Misha Collins into the mix was a gamble. However, from his first scene and approach to Castiel with a juxtaposition of don’t-mess-with-me attitude and childlike essence, he was a scene stealer. The number of sales for trench coats went up as cosplayers quickly became angels.
With regulars coming and ultimately going, Collins is the only one besides the boys who have been in the highest amount of episodes, and that can be accounted for his multitude of weird accents and character’s hope for humanity. Castiel was the seasoning the series needed when it made its switch from standalone folklore episodes to complex matters of heaven and hell. No matter the mistakes he’s made, and there’s a lot of them. But at the end of the day, he cares. Plus, he’s incredibly awkward – someone we can all relate to.
Ultimately, the series is about characters and family, knowing there were more important stories to tell rather than being confined to love interests. Kripke made this a point with how it had undertones of male ideologies viewed through the lens of hyper-masculinity. On the surface, being flannel wearing, whiskey drinking, classic taste, and gun bearing, makes us think of them as stereotypical men. The Impala, of course, is more than just a metal car. Same, too, with the amulet Sam gave Dean for Christmas one year.
It is the long-running theme of dedication turning an often one-dimensional outlook multifaceted with various characters putting themselves on the line for innocent people, often with nothing in return. More recently, one of those fan favourites was trickster Gabriel. He supposedly died at the hands of Lucifer in season five but that was his biggest trick of them all with him being very alive in season thirteen, which enabled the character to be delved into further and ultimately have his own redemption arc, now knowing he can’t just help himself but also the people around him.
This isn’t to say females are still underrepresented. Supernatural has come along way from killing off their female characters rather quickly with the joke anyone who came close to Sam ended up on death avenue and the only staple for being a villain was it needed female reproductive parts.
Wayward Daughters started off as an idea floating around Twitter consisting of characters’ Donna Hanscum, Jody Mills and Claire Novak. Which then created a charity campaign online and diverted into spin-off territory. We can take a sidebar here to talk about how grave of a mistake it was to let it go, or we could touch on how awesome these women are in their own rights, and despite that mistake, they will be making an appearance this season. Badder and more beautifully vulnerable as ever, with all of their relatable quirks and fresh viewpoints, which means there are many new stories to be tapped into.
Supernatural has earned its place on television with its ability to try new genres, new episodic formats and even delve into the cartoon world. Sam may still have his reservations about Dean’s fascination for anything pop culture, but we’ve come to accept and love it wholly, especially if it’s grounds for a meet-up between them and the Scooby gang. It was a crazy mixture of the past and the new and yet somehow made perfect sense; mainly due to the level of commitment the show had to the style of Scooby-Doo, and the overbearing realisation both had the same message: going to scary places, solving mysteries, fighting ghosts.
The vocal stuttering, cravats and very light humour which was a throwback to Supernatural’s earlier seasons made it work. Whether it’s finding themselves in ever-changing television shows, an alternate universe where they’re their real-life counterparts or trying to dodge the advances of germs in the wild west, the show still knows how to have fun.
Supernatural does what every good series does – it keeps us entertained, brings awareness to societal issues, and reflects reality, but the best thing about Supernatural still being on the air is that it’s like a safety blanket. Sam and Dean aren’t just characters but figments who have spent more time in our lives than some of our own family members.
These hundreds of hours of television have made us absorb their world, living on the outskirt, close enough to have a level of excitement but not to be snapped into oblivion by Lucifer’s doing.
We now have the knowledge to escape any case of the paranormal alive. There has been a time when we’ve all wanted a Chevy Impala – not just because we’d rock up in style but within seconds of hearing the purr of its engine, we know we’re home.
Supernatural season 14 premieres October 11.