With Halloween fast approaching, Eevee’s Ben McCarthy tells us why we should all be watching long running drama series, Supernatural…
Over on the CW channel in the states, and Living here in the UK, a little show has been airing for some time now by the name of Supernatural. Starring Jenson Ackles and Jared Padalecki, this series has been running for nine years, has developed a huge cult following… and is still, surprisingly, not that well known. Its ratings have kept it on air for nine consecutive seasons, yet when compared to shows such as the uber-popular Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, it attracts nowhere near the same amount of publicity. However, despite its low viewing figures, one thing can be absolutely certain about Supernatural: it’s, by far, one of the best shows on TV.
The premise from the outside would appear to be quite simple, and indeed this makes it very easy to get into at first. The Winchesters were a normal, happy family, until one day something evil came to their house and murdered the mother. The father, hell bent on revenge, trained his two sons, Sam and Dean, to be hunters; experts who track down just about anything evil you’ve ever heard of, and kill (or gank) them. It’s not an easy job; both brothers have been conditioned to be pro-martial artists and researchers, as well as adequate with pretty much every weapon there is. When season 1 starts, it’s 22 years after their mother’s death. Dad’s very suddenly and mysteriously gone missing, so the brothers hit the road to find him, encountering ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves and monster trucks, while all the time trying to piece together the real reason their mother was killed.
While you might think this sounds very much like what you’ve seen before in the likes of Buffy, one thing Supernatural does well is take an idea pretty much done to death and give it their own unique twist. Each episode in season 1 is littered with pop culture references, which the writers want you to notice – except they know exactly how far to go before it becomes just another rip off. The episodes can be gripping, scary and, at times, hilarious. Indeed, it is definitely a show, particularly in its later seasons, that knows how to laugh at itself. In fact, some ideas behind the episodes are actually downright ridiculous and would fall completely flat on pretty much any other series, yet Supernatural manages to make it work, every time.
Despite the premise being very simple at first, it soon develops beautifully as the series progresses. Without a doubt, Supernatural has the most extensive, fascinating and complex mythology of any show I’ve seen, including Lost (which, as Lost clearly made up most of it as it went along, doesn’t really impress me anymore). The overriding arc, beginning with the mystery of their mother’s death, is beautifully constructed and ends up going in a direction that I simply cannot spoil for you, but is absolutely shocking and, well, awesome. Believe me; they touch on everything, whether its horror movie icons, mythological stories, religious events… you name it, Supernatural has probably done it. Even now, in its ninth season, the writers continue to expand their universe, and despite the show pushing its 200th episode mark, it does not feel tired. If anything, the cast and crew seem very happy to keep going!
Ultimately, however, the show would just not work half as well if it wasn’t for its characters. Sam is your typical protagonist, who wants more than anything to have a normal life but cannot escape the family business. He’s sympathetic and, at first, definitely the most moral of the two brothers. Dean is the opposite; an anti-hero who embraces hunting and will happily con his way to some money if he needs it. It helps as well that he is very, very funny. Indeed, half the pop culture references come from him. But, on the interior, there is a hell of a lot more to these characters. Sam goes on quite a dark journey as the show goes on, where he begins to question not just himself but everything around him. Dean is, in all, a very tragic character, having practically raised his brother when he himself was very young, and being utterly dedicated to his family. Both characters grow beautifully in their time on the show, yet one thing remains the same; they will always sacrifice pretty much anything for each other. And most of the time, they end up doing it, for the Sam and Dean story is not a fun one.
Outside of the brothers, there are a multitude of brilliant characters that show up throughout the nine present seasons, just as complex, interesting and likable as Sam and Dean. You’ve got John, their very skilled and dangerous father. Then there’s Bobby, a father figure to the boys who is an expert on most monsters and demons. And, as the show progresses, you eventually get some of the most entertaining villains on TV, as well as fan favourite Castiel, though to reveal more would be to spoil some really massive plot points. And trust me, you want to go into this show knowing nothing; it loves its cliff-hangers. Believe me, it loves them.
The acting from everyone here is not just good; it’s superb. Jared and Jenson utterly own the roles of Sam and Dean, and they have a hell of a lot to act through over the seasons. They can make you laugh and, more than once, make you cry. Everyone here is on top of their game; the scripts like to challenge their actors, but it seems the actors love the challenge.
In all, Supernatural is a truly brilliant show. It’s exceptionally well written, has a brilliant cast and gripping characters you will want to see succeed, even the villains. Just when you think they are running out of ideas, they sweep the rug out from under you and just keep on delivering. It’s a show that challenges, entertains and, at times, even scares you to death, and I simply cannot recommend it enough. Trust me, if you like any show in this genre, you will love this one.