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Re-Evaluating SUPERNATURAL

The roller coaster that is television quality is often very predictable. Seasons 1-3 feel fresh and new because everything is just that, brand new and interesting to the audience. Season 4 drags a little, but ultimately succeeds. Then season 5 takes the show back to its roots and becomes awesome again. But after season 5, things usually take a turn for the worse. Arcs feel dull, characters feel tired, series simply lose those things that make them great in earlier seasons. After a while, there’s nothing else to do… and that’s what makes Supernatural one of the best series on television. Despite losing its original creator and show runner, Eric Kripke, at the end of season 5 and going through a bit of a rough patch in season 6 and parts of season 7, by the end of season 8, the series had not only re-found itself, but was able to create a new path that never has to end.

Arguably, the driving force of Kripke’s tenure was one question: can you fight destiny? Sam and Dean were the chosen vessels of Lucifer and Michael in order to bring about the apocalypse. What made the dynamic interesting was towards the end, it seemed Michael and Lucifer had no interest in actually battling; they just felt it was what they had to do because it was the path written for them by God. We know how the rest of the journey plays: Sam and Dean fight off the angels and Sam goes to hell at the end of season 5, and a whole new world opens up in season 6.

What makes the show great is instead of cowering in an existence filled with nothing but a never ending monster-filled procedural, the series – like its characters – simply threw out the rule book. Suddenly, the driving question was no longer “Can you fight destiny?” It was, “What do you do now that you’ve changed it? What do you when your future’s no longer written in stone?” Those questions opened up Supernatural to the world of Purgatory, falling angels, power struggles in hell; these are not the dynamics typical of a show in the ninth season of its run. Somehow, through a consistent drive to keep the series at the top of its game, Supernatural cracked the code on television longevity, without suffering in quality.

How many series can you name delivered one of the best episodes of its canon in season nine? Because that’s what happened in “First Born.” Not only did the hour contain one of the best Timothy Omundson performances on record, it actually dared to subvert one of the most well known biblical stories ever (something that’s become typical of the CW series). Suddenly, Cain isn’t an envious ass that killed his brother Abel for the heck of it; he’s a protector that saved his brother’s soul from being damned to hell at the cost of his own morality. What Supernatural realized after season 5 is it doesn’t have to be beholden to the idea that the Bible ends at the end of days. Instead, it started looking to the Bible – among other ancient writings such as Greek mythology – for inspiration to build out the question of what happens after the world ends in biblical terms.

But in addition to all of this, and most importantly, Supernatural’s managed to keep its characters lively. When Dean cries for a fallen comrade like Kevin, you still feel it. When Sam feels lost and betrayed by decisions made for him by his protective older brother, you still care. When Castiel stumbles through another element of humanity, you still laugh. Even in one of the most recent episodes, Garth, a character that’s been all over the map in seasons past, was given a proper goodbye and true love as a freaking werewolf. Now, that’s some really clever writing.

The reason it’s important to point out the consistency of a show like Supernatural is because it’s proof television can sustain, that just because a show’s old, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still kicking. Despite existing on the fringes of the airwaves at The CW – the series actually holds the rare distinction of being older than the network it airs on – Supernatural’s a show from which every other series on television can learn something. It’s a show that dares to say to the world, “age is no excuse for laziness.”

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37 comments

  • I have never watched a show and loved it as much as Supernatural. This show is amazing. It has a way of pulling you in. I believe this is working because not only is great but you can tell they all enjoy what they are doing. The cast and the crew are really like a family and take pride in what they are doing. Having Jared and Jensen is a plus also. They all connect with the fans and you can see that. I do have my favorite ones but in all this show is amazing

  • Great article and I am with ya! I will say I had hoped Season 9 would be a tad better (not that is is bad mind you) but I have enjoyed it.

    Season 1-3 are still my fave and I would love to see some more sarcasm and light heartedness between the boys. I miss that.

    However, the show has kept me guessing and continues to surprise me.

    I love the fanbase and how crazy we are all about this show and the interaction we are able to have with the actors. I am super excited about Season 10 and I am ready for some fresh new ideas..hopefully this Cain mark will be it.

    But seriously, my Sam needs to forgive Dean already, give him a hug and move on. We got demons to kill..no time for this drama!

  • This show has something other shows don’t – the fanbase that does most of the fan recruiting, and has kept the show onair when even the network didn’t support it. Supernatural survives due to the talents of Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, with stalwarts like Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Jim Beaver, and some great guest stars – but let’s call it like it is, this show succeeds DESPITE ITS WRITING, while new showrunner Carver has written some of the best single episode, he has failed to keep the narrative coherent, and keep the show continuity (And this show’s audience is most rabid in keeping to canon) now as we go into season ten, everyone in the writing room get to your flatscreens and WATCH past seasons, get these characters in your head and do them justice! then Jensen and Jared won’t have to swap character lines anymore, and Castiel can do more than be tortured each week.

  • Thanks for this! I am really loving season 9, and I loved season 8 as well. I totally agree about First Born — it ranks up there with the best episodes of the series for me. Jensen was (and has been all season) phenomenal in that episode, as was Tim Omundson and Mark Sheppard. All the actors still bring their A-game 9 seasons later and that’s really commendable.

    I am so, SO excited for Dean’s mark of Cain storyline. I hope they go all the way with it, and keep this one Dean’s… and hopefully this time it will be Sam taking Dean’s role, and saving his brother this time around. It looks like Dean may go dark this season, especially after the talk at the end of The Purge, and that’s an exciting thought.

    Really looking forward to seeing where they take this season from here! Thanks for the review.

  • Amen!!!Great show good ppl.I love the fact that it is about love and family and care for everyone.BC what some don’t see is if we as ppl don’t take of eachother we are doomed.

  • I belive part of the success is due to the hard work the cast does in conventions ..they keep close to their fans they listen to us to what our feelings are towards their characters..quite hard job together with keeping honest and genuine their acting full of enthusiasm and care. All this is tranferred to their characters and create amaizing atmosphere energy…we can clearly feel and appreciate. Thanks u all and keep going. !!!

  • Supernatural is this gem of a show that has been long over-looked. They win awards and don’t even get invited to the awards ceremony. It’s a damn shame, because the actors are amazing. I’ve been blown away at how fresh they’ve kept it. Still new stories, new ground to cover. How many series are there, that have been on nearly a decade, say the same?

    Oddly, the only show I can think of is Grey’s Anatomy. The show that has been parodied on Supernatural (remember Dr Sexy, MD, anyone?) and even had Jeffrey Dean Morgan guest star in several episodes. Like the characters Sam and Dean, Drs Grey and Yang are each other’s “person”. And also like Sam and Dean, the good drs are growing apart.

    I know it’s a stretch, but I’ve always had in my mind “SuperGrey” when I watch Grey’s Anatomy. Even the annoying April Kepner (or rather the actress) played a demon (which makes April a bit more fun for me, I picture her ripping patient’s hearts out, instead of using a scalpel) who was really rather nasty, vile and slightly fun. Although all demons fall way short of the mark of awesomeness, compared to
    Crowley.

    So, yeah, maybe all that was a bit of a stretch. My point is one of a parallel, two shows that are still going strong, still interesting and barely noticed by anyone but their most loyal fans. Which is a shame, because there’s not a lot of quality television these days and I’m just glad I still have my two obsessions.

  • I have to say that, for me – I thought seasons 6 and 7 were the worst the show could do, and then season 9 came along xp Buckner/Leming as a writing team (who have, sadly, gotten to write entirely too many of the episodes this season) have made the show all but unwatchable. Compared to season 8, which I think has been, hands-down, the greatest Kripke-era season yet, most of the wonderful promise of season 9 went swirling down the drain.

    I was heartbroken when I heard that Ben Edlund would be leaving to work on Revolution and only wound up more heartbroken when I saw how Buckner/Leming mishandled Castiel’s human arc and pretty much everything else their writing came into contact with. They’ve blatantly ignored existing canon and introduced a bunch of stuff that makes exactly zero sense (oh, so angel blades can kill demons now, too? since when? and why make such a big deal about Anna finding her grace in season 5, if all Cas had to do was ‘suck’ some from another angel, effectively rendering his entire human arc all but pointless?). I really wish Ben would come back – he was the only one out of all the writers to really get Cas.

    But I judge the seasons on whether or not I actually go back and rewatch the episodes. In this season, I’ve done that with maybe 4 episodes out of the 13 we’ve had, and that’s a pretty dire ratio. I’m also rather tired of people talking about Sam’s ‘agency’ but not bothering to think about the promise Sam extracted from Dean to go and be with Lisa after he kicked the bucket. So, you know, what about Dean’s agency?

    Jensen took some initiative and went to the writers to ask them to finally give Dean a storyline of his own. About 4 years too late, if you ask me. Dean should have had far more involvement with the Michael/Lucifer arc than he did. Amazing, how so much of that one season revolved around people trying to get Dean to say Yes to Michael and fulfill his role but it got dropped like a hot rock because reasons or something. Ugh. I hope the writers follow through and actually give Dean something to do besides play nursemaid and buttwiper to Sam all season. Yeah, sure, the show’s about the brothers and all that, but it’s getting old. I want to see Dean grow and become his own person – Sam’s already got that. Dean doesn’t, though. I want to see that balance redressed for him.

  • I’ve been watching from the very beginning and I’ve never missed an episode! The writers don’t pull any punches be it in reference to god or any other faith or religion. This is one of the things I love most. Sure there have been soft points over the years. Like for a while there the constant question who’s gonna die and come right back this week. But what do you expect in the nature of a show based in the”Supernatural” world? The thing that sets this show apart from anything else on television are the laugh at themselves episodes like ” The Real Ghostbusters” or ” The French Mistake” removing the 4th wall would usually kill a series but for Supernatural it only made the fans love it even more. As long as the writers keep the stories fresh and the actors continue to deliver the caliber of performance they have been giving us for the past 9 years I don’t see any reason this show can’t go on forever. And now with the new spinoff coming next year we get twice as much supernatural a week! Yeah! The best thing I’ve found as opt this show is that no matter how many times you tardy it you always notice something you didn’t catch before. And I personally never get tired of watching. Keep up the good woke guys and I promise I for one will not stop watching or recruiting new viewers!

  • It is also so well written. The dialogue is natural and sometimes sheer genius leaving you laughing or crying. I love Crowleys sarcastic bites as he calls Sam “moose” and Castiel’s innocence. Dean ” did you have protection? ” Castiel. ” I had my angel sword”.
    I also love how the writers mix serious and sad episodes with ones that are just so funny! The writers and the actors are amazing, love them all!

  • Thank you for the amazing article! I love Supernatural, and it’s a miracle that this show is so long on the air and it is still THAT good!
    I’m totally looking forward to resolving the conflict between Sam and Dean and them making up, and the story arc around the Mark of Cain and Demon!Dean makes me happy beyond belief!
    Supernatural FTW!

  • And, let’s not forget the love and support they show to the lgbtq community! They sort of make light of it with everyone always thinking Sam and Dean are lovers rather than brothers and while at first they denied it, now it’s just a common assumption and they don’t even care anymore. They show it as not being a bad thing or really a big deal at all becuase in reality, it’s not and I think its a great way to represent it on tv.. And not to mention the amazing lesbian character, Charlie. A young, intelligent, beautiful girl who also just so happens to love women. They made it a small detail instead of basing her whole character around it and that I truly love and appreciate :) ) This show has everything a person could ask for and more. Its story arcs have been continuously fresh and exciting and honestly I’d love to see it go far past 10 seasons.

  • Great article! I’ve been saying that Supernatural is the Best Show on TV for years now — Nine seasons in and it still captures my imagination, makes me laugh, brings me to tears and can drive me crazy like no other show I’ve ever watched. In short, still awesome after all these years!

  • Thanks for a positive article on SPN. I think 9 has been really well done, save for a few hiccups. This is one of the few shows that has me wired and counting down the hours til the next episode.

    I think “First Born” really revitalized the show and I hope to hell that Carver gives the boys a strong storyline to support the Mark of Cain and the repercussions of everyone’s choices.

    The theme of this season has been CONSEQUENCES. And Carver’s team definitely hasn’t shied away from showing the ugly side to all of our characters.

    Some of the episodes have been rough on us, but overall it gives me hope that this new myth arc will sustain us through the Angel Wars and give us something to look forward to as 9 progresses into 10.

  • Great article! While the Mark of Cain is an interesting story, I am one of many that is wondering what Sam’s story will be in the second half of Season 9. Sam should be getting the emotional POV from here on out which is long overdue. So excited for Season 10 and the wonderful performances that Jared and Jensen have given us over the years.

  • articles about television shows, discussing events that have aired are not spoilers. you should assume that an article posted after episodes have aired will discuss current events in a show. if you’re not watching live, don’t read them.

  • I have loved this show since I opened the US mag before the premiere. Too me all seasons have been great and Jensen Jared mischa Jim and mark are amazing n the chemistry n friendship they have easily carries over to their on screen characters. Great job!

  • “When Sam feels lost and betrayed by decisions made for him by his protective older brother, you still care.”
    Actually, this is something I’m getting a little sick of. In the beginning, seeing Dean being overprotective of Sam was entertaining and endearing but after 9 years of lying, manipulating and tricking each other I’m tired. Watching Dean taking Sam’s agency from him like he did in 9×01 is not fun anymore. It’s sad and boring actually. Fortunately, the show is adapting and changing. Making a good job in maturing these characters so they can become better versions of themselves, preserving all their good characteristics except sacrificing their loved ones and manipulating each other constantly. The secret about Supernatural is that instead of stagnating in the same circle this season, they’re moving on. And having better ratings than ever :D

  • Supernatural is at least 3 different shows now. The first show (1-5) was fantastic. The second show (6-7) struggled a bit. This third show (8-? so far) has sucked beyond the telling of it. Jeremy Carver has destroyed the basic, well-constructed and attentive continuity of the physics of the show, great ideas about After Destiny notwithstanding. My heart has been broken over it, too.

  • Wait, I thought everyone was pretty much in agreement that season 9 has been terrible, especially after all the potential it was given after the season 8 finale.

    But this is cool too.

  • Thank you for such a great well written article! It articulates my feelings about my favorite show :) Supernatural never ceases to amaze me AND impress me. I am so invested in the characters and what happens to them. The story telling always feels fresh to me – like you said, the season 9 episode First Born was amazing. It easily became one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. I think what truly keeps the fans so invested and the show so fun to watch is the actors that work so hard to keep their characters layered and authentic. Jensen, Jared and Misha are all phenomenal actors. They are the life blood of the show. They are what keeps me tuning in every single week. They have the ability to draw out every emotion from their fans and induce laughter one minute and tears the next. Nine years later and Jared and Jensen are still delivering raw and genuine performances as Sam and Dean. This show not only survives but thrives because it has characters that are well written on the page and even better acted out on the screen. I’m looking forward to what the rest of season 9 holds and so excited for the future with the recent announcement of season 10!!

  • Aww, all this love for Supernatural and not one mention of Crowley, quite possibly the best and most entertaining villain/reluctant partner on TV. I mean, Mark Sheppard(the actor that portrays Crowley) is a boss, giving new dimension and style to the demon every season.

  • This is exactly the reason why the show is loved by everyone especially me. When beginners watch the film they fall in love immediately because no matter what season you watching you never get tired of it. That’s why the #SPNfamily is so strong and we would protect and fight for each other. Supernatural makes people love each other and is educational to, it creates a nation of open minded people. Its the best show on tv.

  • In terms of story, seasons 1-5 are solid with 4 and 5 as my favorites of the Kripke era. Theses seasons helped me open my mind even further to the possibility of alternate lore. I really like the Idea of an Anti-Hero Lucifer and Angels who lie.

    Season 6 and 7 in the Gamble Era, although a little slow kept the show going with the idea of Purgatory. The element of Eve and the Alpha’s open’s up the world for some interesting adventures. I’m hoping they bring that back for some monster episodes. I would love to see an Alpha Wendigo.

    Now with the Singer/Carver Era The arc in season 8 started a little slow but really picked up at the end. What a cliffhanger that was. Season 9 so far is incredible. The monster of the week episodes are good. The Winchester story episodes like Road Trip and New Born are amazing. I really hope they keep referencing earlier seasons and bring things back like John’s lock-up and a tracking spell. The way this series is headed, it’s no wonder they were renewed for season 10.

    They really could use an movie though. Like the Ghost-Facers episode but without the censorship.

  • The other great thing about the Cain and Abel revamp episode was that it paralleled Sam and dean and the way they are always ‘betraying’ each other to save each other, willing to sacrifice their relationship and their own life for the safety of the other’s.

    I agree. Season 9 is possibly my favourite one, and I’ve loved even the ones people said were bad. I loved Castiel as human and his recovery from humanity.