There’s really no point trying to suppress any facet of it: I am, by nature, a nerd. I have always obsessed over things, to a degree that seemed overwhelming to those around me. As a kid I remember my older sister’s raised eyebrow admonishment at my unprompted recitation of a history book on Egypt and hieroglyphs during my Indiana Jones-inspired archeologist phase. I like knowing the mechanics of the things I love – an aspect of my personality that strays into my relationships as well, to some detriment. I like knowing things backward, taking them apart, piecing them together in new ways. Finding the outer limits, analysing why I react, why others react.
So, Julia asked me why I like Supernatural, that it can’t just be that the Winchesters are attractive. It’s not that, it’s far from that. It’s partially that they are so easy to watch, it’s partially my lifelong obsession with ghost stories, my weakness for mythologies and investment in dark stories that are not necessarily lightened. But first, a digression, how I got here.
In my year 11 drama journal, I remember extolling the virtues of Buffy. I can’t remember the details now, and it’s been a few years since Seabas and I re-watched the entire thing (I drag his name into this to show that I am not alone in my sedentary passions). But it was impassioned, it was about the light and the dark, and the difficulty of doing the right thing, and the burden of responsibility on a young girl, the ways her friends were armor but how that was not always enough, and how love can and will ruin you. How the whole thing could be read as a metaphor for being a teenager – there is a darkness to it (there certainly as for me), and there are confusing choices, and powers you have no sway over. A very true feature of being a nerd is that we never underestimate subtext; our toes curl at dark metaphor. It’s why we write our own versions of these characters, because it doesn’t (have to) end where it ends for other people. It’s true for movies, books, television, music. It’s the reason I can happily dissect Lana Del Rey with the (very unattractive) pompous insistence that you’re just maybe not reading the situation right. It’s awful, it’s patronizing – perhaps you’re really just sick of pretty girls singing empty songs – but to me she is begging for deconstruction. Anything that polarizing has something larger going on, there is a proverbial man behind the curtain that is too engrossing to ignore. Why would you want to ignore that? It is the single most interesting thing in life, to study the ways these things, these cultural spectacles, fit in around us, the way we move to accommodate them or not, and if not, why not.
I wrote a thing a couple of years ago about why I found Gaga so interesting – yes she is mindless pop if you hear a single song on the radio, yes a lot of people listen to her and think nothing more of it. But why is she? Perhaps the question at the centre of every obsession I’ve ever had.
So, Supernatural .
While lately they’ve allowed themselves to run to the melodramatic, while they should have wrapped the circus up at the end of season 5, while I cringe sometimes at the ferocity of the fandom, and grimly note that I’m a part of it, in my own way – it is something I actually really love. Brothers, then, who are soul mates. That is canon (canon, for the uninitiated, means it’s an acknowledged, spoken truth of the show – it is spoken more than once). They literally cannot live without the other. That’s not an exaggeration. They have each died like five or six times each, all but once I think in trying to save or get back to the other. It is an unhinged, deranged sort of love (where the Wincest finds, frankly, a totally believable garden to, erm, sow it’s seeds I guess, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about I am certainly not going to be the one to devirginise you). It is about sacrifice and devotion and surrendering everything for another person. And genre television, genre stories, are so great for that. Science-fiction, supernatural, odd sorts of stories, they extract you a hair or two from the everyday and suddenly you’re allowed to show obsession and the ways people fuck each other up. I’m not sure why it doesn’t happen in non-genre television – perhaps it does, I don’t really watch much of it – but for me, there is a really disarming truth to a lot of these stories.
Dean and Sam are forbidden from having normal lives. Their girlfriends are killed or continuously at risk. Sam and Dean drive, live, sleep, eat, and hunt together, every single day. The sickening implications of that, psychologically – that alone fascinates me. Never having your own space, developing a personality in conjunction with another person. They are conjoined, but able to walk around on their own. They were raised from childhood for the lives they now cannot leave. They were bred into becoming these strange, half-empty men. They are each other’s other halves, and it’s unnatural and addictive, for them and us.
I still don’t think that covers it, but there you are Julia. That’s kinda, sorta why I love Supernatural. That, and how hot they are.