The Winchesters – oh baby! Six seasons of Dean and Sam (and soon to be seven)… life couldn’t be peachier.
When Eric Kripke thought up Supernatural, and finally convinced the powers-that-be to finance the series (ten years later), he envisioned a show powered by monsters. Instead it became this:
It’s always been a show about family, much more than it is about anything else. The mythology is only an engine to raise issues about family. A big brother watching out for a little brother, wondering if you have to kill the person you love most, family loyalty versus the greater good, family obligation versus personal happiness. – Erick Kripke
So, whilst the folklore is fascinating, the urban legend alluring, the monsters magnificent and the blood-guts-and-gore gloriously gagerific, Dean and Sam drive the show’s cultish popularity. As does a great script.
Supernatural takes risks – the writers have a vast knowledge of the horror film genre (and film in general) and apply said intelligence to the series with wit and sensibility. Many episodes are blatantly experimental and although some miss the mark, most work brilliantly… and therein exists Supernatural’s charisma; the risk taken inspires excitement, tension and addiction. Rather try… and fail, with the chance of producing something sensational, than not try at all. The show is fearless in its confrontation of horror, and everything that makes horror so enticing and expressive a genre. And so far, Sensational has the upper hand.
But what cannot be written is chemistry. And Jensen Ackles (Dean) and Jared Padalecki (Sam) have bucket loads.
The close friendship that has developed between the actors in real life translates onto screen with emotion and hilarity in a manner that is totally natural. The actors are believable. Dean’s devil-may-care swagger is complemented by a subtle nuance of expression that hints at a delicate fragility; an emotional turmoil that has built and expanded as a result years of forced repression. Dean has baggage. Lots of it. Jensen Ackles emphasises Dean’s hooliganism but not at the expense of fooling, and thus disconnecting with, his audience. The typical over-protectiveness of an oldest sibling, magnified by the Winchesters’ family history, is played with a sharp humour and scrupulous sensitivity – beneath the bravado is substance. But the bravado is equally awesome. And Sam’s role as the reluctant hero, the hen-pecked younger brother, is fraught with anxious complexity. The brotherly bickering and cool one liners are just so damn funny! And real. The individual confoundedness of both Dean and Sam’s emotional identity, and how that lends to their convoluted relationship, is built over the course of each series. And now, just as season 7 is about to launch, there lives and breathes an emotional quagmire; a labyrinth of visceral entanglement that entices and includes demons, vampires, reapers, ghosts, ghouls, goblins and an insane reinterpretation of religious mythology. Bring it!
Supernatural is no mere ‘gore fest’ – as much of the horror film genre is (often mistakenly) typecast. Not that there is anything wrong with gore. There’s always place for a little, preferably a lot, of blood and evisceration. But Supernatural is more. It is clever, funny, sexy and scary as all hell.
And Dean drives a killer car! And listens to killer music. Hello… get your asses watching.