Let’s face it; there are a lot of television shows instantly available. Thanks to programs like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, there’s no reason to wait until the DVDs come out, or until the episodes play on cable. Because of these streaming services, starting a new series has become easier than ever. There is only one difficult step remaining in the process – which television show to start.
On Netflix alone, there are a lot of options: Doctor Who, Criminal Minds, Pretty Little Liars. While all of them are great options, there’s one show that a lot of people skip: Supernatural. A long-running series about two brothers roaming the country as they take down monsters of all kinds, it’s commonly overlooked because of the supernatural aspect to it. In reality, this shouldn’t be the case.
While the paranormal is involved, it’s surely not the only aspect of the show. Supernatural holds many other wonders and it shouldn’t be forgotten about, as it’s a show like no other. It focuses on family bonds instead of romantic ones, it’s been holding strong storylines since the first episode, the characters are fully-developed, the fan base is highly committed, and everything is wrapped together with a paranormal-crime twist.
In practically every show, including Supernatural, romance is somehow tied in. A lot of shows have romantic relationships as one of their main aspects, as there is a big audience for it. With that being said, even for people who like to watch sparks fly between characters, it’s always nice to have something different. Supernatural offers that difference.
The show’s main relationship focus is Sam and Dean Winchester, who are the central characters. They’re not together, they’re not acquaintances, and they’re not even friends – they’re brothers. Brothers who have been side-by-side throughout the series, even though they’ve both had their ups and downs. Within eleven seasons, romance has never taken over. Both brothers have had their share of relationships, but they only work as extra storylines. This is unlike most shows in the market, including ones of the same supernatural aspect.
In The Vampire Diaries, it’s all about vampires, werewolves, and witches. While that’s going on, the show focuses mostly on a love triangle, like many shows out there. The main character, Elena Gilbert, falls in love with two men at the same time: Stefan and Damon Salvatore. Without this triangle, the show would have no substance.
Many shows, like The Vampire Diaries, focus on romance to keep their shows alive. Supernatural, on the other hand, hardly brings it into the story. The show instead stresses the importance of family; especially the bond between brothers.
Continuing on. Unfortunately, shows often don’t start off very strong. This leads to people turning away from it before it even really begins because they believe that if the first few episodes are no good, no episode will be.
One thing that Supernatural definitely strives in is great storylines, which start right at the beginning. In the first few minutes of the pilot, the main backstory is set. The brothers’ mom, Mary Winchester, is seen putting Sam into his crib. When she goes to leave, a figure is seen standing by the crib. The brothers’ father, John Winchester, then hears her scream and runs to the room. Mary is on the ceiling, surrounded by flames. To protect the two kids, John has Dean run outside with baby Sam in his arms. This explains their family, and what’s left of it.
The episode then continues into the present, where Sam is in college. The brothers haven’t spoken in a while, but Dean comes to pay a visit, saying their dad has disappeared “on a hunt”. This storyline is focused on throughout the entire first season. Near the end of the episode, yet another insane incident occurs; Sam’s girlfriend dies the same way Mary did. This is the moment that the brothers decide they’re going to stay united, and do what they do best; hunting down monsters.
Supernatural immediately pulls in viewers and keeps hold of them throughout every season. Without this powerful beginning, the show wouldn’t have as strong as a foundation as it does. The foundation is what made the show interesting in the beginning, and it’s what makes it interesting now.
Another problem in many television shows is how their characters are developed. A lot of potentially fantastic characters end up being flat and uninteresting, leading to the inability to emotionally connect to them. Some are seen as so distant, that it wouldn’t even matter if they disappeared and never returned. Some can also seem interchangeable because their personalities lack any kind of identity. Once again, Supernatural succeeds in the category.
For one, Sam and Dean Winchester are impossible to mix up; they both have their own distinct traits about them. In an episode in season seven (“The Girl Next Door”), Sam came across an old friend who was killing people to help her son. Sam refused to kill her, as he believed that after her son got better, she’d stop. Dean went and killed her as soon as Sam told him about her.
Away from monster hunting, Dean obsesses over burgers, flirts with women he deems suitable every chance he gets, and can’t stand reading. Sam prefers fresh food, usually keeps to himself and almost always has a book in his hands. Dean likes to hold his feelings in, but Sam likes to talk things through. Dean can’t see himself pulling away from the road, and Sam dreams of living a normal life. These facts and traits about them don’t have to be directly stated; instead, they’re discovered when moving from episode to episode.
The characters also grow realistically, instead of always staying the same. While Sam previously hesitated when killing certain monsters, he’s much like his brother now; able to kill without a second thought. This transition happened because as they both killed more and more monsters, they became almost numb to the fact they’re technically taking lives. Both of them have also come to terms with what they do and know they won’t be walking away from it. While Sam constantly tried to get away throughout the show, he has since realized that being on the road with his brother is where he needs to be.
The right aspects of the brothers have stayed, – the protectiveness of each other, and the willingness to risk their lives for each other. The moments where these traits come into play are always strong, and without them, the series wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.
Away from the actual episodes, Supernatural has a huge cult backing.
During the tenth season, the show had an average of around two million viewers per episode. A lot of the viewers are young adults, which leads to something called fan fiction. Fan fiction is a fictional story, based on previously existing characters or people. In this case, Supernatural fan fiction are stories written by fans based on Sam, Dean, and other characters that have appeared on the show. Since the fan base is so large, there are a lot of these stories available to read. Supernatural may not hit every entertaining storyline, but fan fiction can.
Currently, there are over one-hundred thousand stories written about the Supernatural world. This means that even when the episodes are over, the story doesn’t end. This is a nice thing to have, as show withdrawal no longer has to be an issue. If someone has finished every single episode, they can simply go online and find another story. Plenty of them are written beautifully; having correct grammar/punctuation with perfectly executed storylines, all while keeping the characters in-character. Realistically, a lot of the writers are surely capable of being an author if they moved out of the fan fiction section (though some fan fiction has been published).
The big fan base also means that it’s not hard to find other fans. A lot of people like to talk about their favorite shows, as it’s something that takes up their time. Using social media, it doesn’t take long to find Supernatural fans. For example, Twitter offers easy access to fans. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, who play Sam and Dean respectively, both use Twitter fairly often. Within the comments of their tweets, there are plenty of fans able to be seen. There’s also the fans straight from the fan fiction section of the fandom, both writers, and readers.
Since the show has so much involvement, there are even official conventions. They never fail to be packed, even when the stars can’t make it. Supernatural has its own entire community and culture, which plenty of shows don’t hold. The cult following it has makes the show’s experience much more immersive and enjoyable.
Lastly, even though a lot of viewers watch solely for Sam and Dean, there’s another reason people sit and watch the Winchesters; the supernatural/paranormal creatures. While this aspect may turn a lot of viewers away, it also brings plenty in.
Other than Supernatural, there are no currently running shows that involve cases with the paranormal, which makes the show stand out even more. However, there are plenty of shows with regular cases – NCIS, Criminal Minds, CSI. These shows all involve finding a perpetrator, but every single one of them is human. In Supernatural, that’s rarely the case. There are constantly new monsters brought into the show, and they’re always different in their own way. They have their own strengths, weaknesses, abilities. The enemies are never the same, unlike basic crime procedural shows. There are demons, angels, leviathans, wendigos, werewolves, shapeshifters. The list goes on and on, meaning the enemy in every episode can’t be predicted. It could be one of the previously-mentioned monsters, or it could be an entirely new one. This keeps the show from becoming repetitive, as whenever it seems like something is being overplayed, a new monster can be thrown in to surprise everyone.
There are a lot of television shows out there. Nowadays, nearly every show is assessable through some sort of streaming service or website. This leaves television viewers with a harder decision, as there are so many choices available. It may seem overrated at times, but Supernatural shouldn’t be skipped over when looking for a new potential show. There is plenty of paranormal-based murder, but it holds so much more than that.
Sam and Dean Winchester’s story and bond are incredible to watch as time passes, and it’s amazing to see what changes and what doesn’t. There’s also their cult-like fan base, which leaves a viewer with more to do when the show is over – social media conversations, fan fiction, conventions. Supernatural takes everything needed in a show, and ties it all together in a way that makes sense. For anyone that’s looking for a unique and incredibly fascinating show, they should definitely be looking in Sam and Dean’s direction.