Why ‘Supernatural’ is the Best and the Worst TV Show of All-time

Why 'Supernatural' is the Best and the Worst TV Show of All-time

Derek Wong, Staff Writer

If you didn’t live underneath a rock for the past 15 or so years, then you’ve no doubt heard something about the sci-fi/fantasy CW series, Supernatural. The concept is simple: two brothers with absent parents attempt to save the world, one supernatural creature at a time. Throughout its run, the brothers toyed with angels, demons, even God, meeting some very eccentric characters along the way and gaining crucial allies. Sounds like a stereotypical sci-fi show, right? Yet, somehow, this show lasted 15-seasons, so today, we’re going to briefly examine why it lasted so long in the public consciousness. Obviously, spoiler warning.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. Supernatural is practically a cult series. Its fans are dedicated and just a tiny bit obsessed with the brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester (and their main ally/friend, Castiel, who is an angel). The show relies on urban legends, common or local, that the audience is familiar with, giving the show some familiarity while also giving the writers the room to get creative. It also helps that the two leads are attractive, young, straight men that have the charisma and the comedic elements that make their dynamic so fun to watch. Somehow, the show found a spot on primetime TV, garnering an average of 2-3 million viewership per season, pretty good numbers by any means. 

To be frank, I don’t think anyone knows specifically why they started watching Supernatural. For some, it might be recommended to them by a friend, for others, they probably just casually stumbled upon the show. But for some cursed reason, once you get in, it’s hard to get out. The strength of Supernatural is the effort the writers put into developing the characters.* The attention to detail, the jokes they say, the demeanor of their actions, we can all relate to them in some way. We feel sympathy for Dean shouldering the burden of the family following the death of the mom and we feel understand Sam’s desire to be normal and accepted. When Castiel is introduced in Season 4, we can track his development from a rigid soldier of God to an angel of warmth and humanity. Even some of the recurring characters demonstrate some character development, such as Bobby Singer, the brothers’ father-figure, who serves as a source of wisdom but also suffering his own demons; yet, he faces them head-on while providing a solid foundation for the boys to fall back on. Too often, shows focus too much on their action scenes, their special effects, or their world-building that they forget to focus on the core of the show: their characters. Supernatural avoids that*, making the show so approachable and exciting.

Another reason why Supernatural is good? It’s great with continuity. Having 15-seasons without major screw-ups in terms of continuity of the plot is hard, and the fact that Supernatural can flow from one season to the next without feeling jared from the change of focus is an accomplishment of itself.* Also, given the fact that the show has changed producers many times, it’s admirable that they were able to keep the essence of the characters intact as producers often have competing visions of what the characters could be. Supernatural, on the large part, made any changes to Dean and Sam feel natural to their character development and we are not seeing 15 different versions of the same character.*

Finally, the writing of the show overall is pretty satisfactory. While the show follows the traditional “case of the week” format of many drama series, Supernatural uses it to its advantage, introducing lore of many different cultures and showcasing the diversity of the world’s obsession with the supernatural. Perhaps the show’s most interesting take is on the character God, aka Chuck Shurley. Yes, the God they’re referring to is the Abrahamic God. The writers made God into more of a fallible entity, which might sound a bit blasphemous, but it turns the character into a person that can be defeated, raising all sorts of complications and implications that the show explores. Of course, the writers also squeezed in a ton of jokes and puns, providing enough levity for us to continue a usually more somber-toned storyline.

Now, as you’ve been reading, I hope you’ve been noticing asterisks. You’ve probably figured out that these were intentional (if not, I’m telling you that there are), and here’s where we get into the negative parts. Supernatural is also capable of completely demolishing ALL character development within two episodes. That’s right, I am referring to the penultimate episode and the series finale from season 15. Dean and Sam are consistently portrayed as characters who are willing to bend and break rules if it meant saving the people they love. They are even willing to cheat both capital and lowercase death to accomplish their goals, and yet, somehow in those two episodes, we see none of that fervor and passion as if they simply gave up or are content with their predicament. This instance, while one in many other cases, was the most obvious, and many fans complain till this day about how the writers didn’t stick the landing. (You can feel their rages by looking at the reviews for the last two episodes. They ain’t pretty.)

The other issue with this is representation. Because the show doubled down on its two leads, it sidetracked many other characters from proper representation. There is a lack of lead female roles save for the odd inclusion of two supporting characters as lead characters in season three, making the show feel very testosterone-filled. Most notably, however, is the show’s sidelining of queer characters. I won’t even get into the number of queer characters that kicked the bucket in the most nonsensical way possible. Instead, we’re going to talk about Destiel, the world’s longest instance of queerbaiting. Destiel is the ship name for Dean and Castiel and it is obviously a gay pairing (while you can technically argue that angels don’t have gender, but that’s a topic for another time). Without a doubt, the pair’s chemistry is strong, thanks to the actors’ strong performances, and the showrunners know this. Yet, it took 11-seasons to get any confirmation of a love interest (promptly topping Twitter’s trending page and overshadowing even the 2020 election). What do the writers do after making the audience wait for 11 years? Initiate the age-old “burn your gays” trope and kill Castiel at the climax of his confession. Talking about the most unsatisfying ending of all time. This decision is partially why the last two episodes felt underwhelming to a portion of Supernatural fans, who felt let down at the sudden 180 the writers took with their beloved characters. (If you ask, Destiel is canon, no objections taken)

There’s my 1000+ word rant about Supernatural and if you made it this far, you’re either a Supernatural fan, an avid article reader, or you have nothing better to do. In any case, thanks for reading, and now you deserve a long break. As for Supernatural’s legacy, it will forever be remembered as the groundbreaking show that didn’t really break the ground, but sometimes, maybe that’s okay.