The Supernatural fandom has been enduring Hellatus for a while now, so we thought we’d post some feel-good things to keep us all going until Show returns in two weeks.
We’ve written four books on why people become fans and why that’s a good and healthy thing. When we started out in fandom more than a decade ago, there was still a great deal of shame around being a fan – especially being a fangirl. When we fell head over heels for Supernatural, most of the people in our lives shook their heads in confusion (and perhaps a little dismay). What had happened to us? Our parents, our children, our partners, our colleagues – everybody seemed to be judging us for engaging in something so frivolous. Why write fanfiction when we could be publishing textbooks or novels? Why spend good money to fly across the country to go to a fan convention? What was this Supernatural show anyway??
Things have changed a little – it’s cooler now to be a geek. Everyone is allowed to like Star Wars (even if most of the merchandise is still missing the main character…). It’s probably even okay to spend money you don’t really have going to the Big Apple to see Hamilton the Musical. But going to a Supernatural convention? Hyperventilating a little over Jensen in single layer or Jared’s gorgeous hair or Misha still looking like an adorable teenager? And reading (or god forbid, writing) fanfiction about the Show? Still as likely to garner “grow up, young lady!” as it is to garner either an understanding nod or maybe even a positive comment on your writing.
That’s what makes this show so important. OTP The Show is about many things, not just fandom – but it’s written by a fangirl, from a fangirl point of view. It doesn’t shy away from portraying fans as passionate or talking about fanfic or shipping or Tumblr. It’s witty and funny and sometimes poignant. And it’s different. I mean, it’s called OTP – something most fans recognize from the fannish lexicon.
I had the pleasure of chatting with creator and star Laura Jordan – who also happens to be best friends with Supernatural’s own Kim Rhodes. So, by proxy, SPN Family. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon – chatting with a fellow fangirl!
Lynn: I’m so happy to finally talk to you! I’ve watched Season 1 of OTP the Show and really enjoyed it.
Laura: Thank you! So you got into this in sort of a similar way, watching Supernatural, is that right?
Lynn: I did, yes. I’d been a fan of things but never really been in a fandom and then when Supernatural came on the air, I got lured in by a friend and then fell down the rabbit hole of fandom, started writing fanfiction, going to conventions. And then because I’m a psychologist, I had to ask myself, what the hell is happening here? That’s how I started researching fandom and started writing books about it.
Laura: Wow. Isn’t that crazy? I mean, my experience as a fan – it’s kinda been lifelong, my parents were definitely fans of stuff, they watched the original Star Trek when it originally aired. My mom was like, take the phone off the hook, lock the front door! So she wouldn’t be disturbed whenever it was on.
Lynn: That sounds like me watching Supernatural.
[As fans often do, we had to share our fannish histories…]
Laura: And they went to conventions in the 70s when Shatner still went to a couple of them. They got autographs and stuff. I grew up in the Detroit area, and the local channel would play Star Trek on the weekends and I grew up watching that. When Star Wars came out, my brother and I were wildly into Star Wars. I used to read a graphic novel series called Elf Quest, loved The Hobbit as a kid. And I read Star Trek fanfiction as a kid because my parents had like published novels about it.
Lynn: Right, because there was no internet. There were just zines back then for fanfiction, and published tie in novels.
Laura: It’s funny, the Star Trek ones I read were definitely just like the ones that I would write in my own imagination. Although I did what I now know was Mary Sue-ing, like I would insert myself into the story.
Lynn: Well, of course. To some extent, every writer does that really.
Laura: But most of the Star Trek novels I read, they took the Star Trek characters and were like what if this happened? Let’s do this, let’s do that.
Lynn: Which is exactly what we all do with fanfiction.
[The phone then cut out, leaving us both mid-sentence. If you’ve read ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’, you know that technology and I have a very rocky relationship. Just ask Danneel Ackles.]
Lynn: [after calling back] We totally just got disconnected.
Laura: [laughing] I was like, and this is why you prefer to do interviews in person!
Lynn: Exactly! Because I am not good with technology – though this time I wasn’t doing a damn thing. But this is what I have learned. If you rely on technology, it will fail you every single time.
Laura: It’s the truth. How aggravating! I’m just talking on the phone, I’m not trying to download a crazy app or anything!
Lynn: I wasn’t even touching the phone, it was on speaker, just sitting there!
Laura: Anyway…. so there’s this episode – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the original Star Trek…
Lynn: Oh yes, every episode.
Laura: Oh cool, so there’s this episode where Kirk and Spock go back in time, and they hooked up with Polaroid lady, you know the one I’m talking about?
Lynn: Yes yes, and then she has to die!
Laura: Yes, exactly! So there’s a whole novel written where they find out that she actually got pregnant and he has a kid, and they go back and they get the kid. I think it’s called Yesterday’s Son. So that’s what I grew up reading. And because those were novels, it legitimized the whole idea for me. Like if you were really into something, it was perfectly acceptable to read these stories and talk about these stories. There was no shame passed on about being very into something, that’s the environment I grew up in.
Lynn: That’s so wildly different than from a lot of people. And from my parents. They weren’t fans. When I fell in love with Supernatural, my dad was like, you’re a mom, you’re a professor, you’re my serious firstborn, what do you mean you’re going to a convention? So I was ashamed. We wrote the first books to challenge that shame. Yours is a different and wonderful situation.
Laura: I’m very aware of the fact that I grew up with fairly normal parents but parents who were much more accepting, and fans themselves. Especially my mother.
Lynn: Clearly she was a fangirl too.
Laura: She’s been obsessed with Russell Crowe for like fifteen years. I’m sure she was reading fanfiction. She might have even been writing it, for all I know! And she made friends all over the world who are also his fans. She went around the country to see him in a band a few times. And this is my mother! I think through the internet, even if their immediate families aren’t accepting or understanding, the advent of the internet opens up that platform and that world to people. If your family doesn’t get it, go online and trust me, you’ll find 100 people who do.
Lynn: Definitely. That was the big difference when fandom moved online. In Fangasm we talk about how healthy and wonderful that was for people, to find that supportive community when maybe they’d never had any support for who they really were – sexuality, identity, even just talking about something real.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. It’s weird because I’ve been an actor my whole life, but it took me a while to realize oh, not everyone’s parents come to the shows. Just that simple fact – I mean, my parents are in shows. They’re involved, they love it. But there are so many people whose parents have never seen them perform, who don’t give a shit. Or even worse, they don’t approve of it. I have a friend who’s been nominated for a Tony but they’ve never seen him perform. That’s so strange but not everybody comes from families who let them be who they are and support it and love it. Believe me, I just spent three days with my family and they can be aggravating, but they’ve been unconditionally supportive. I mean, would my dad be like, what are you reading? Slash fanfiction? He might think the slash part was weird, he’s a product of his generation, but my mom I’m sure has read a million Master and Commander slash fics.
Lynn: I’m sure there are a million!
Laura: They were really curious to see how I reacted to The Hobbit movie that came out in 2012, since I had been obsessed with The Hobbit since I was a kid. Even that Rankin Bass cartoon of it in the late 70s. I was obsessed – I wrote in my diary about it, like I was in love with Bilbo, I had a record album that had the songs that I’d listen to constantly. As an adult, they were curious to see what I’d think of the film. The truth is, I don’t think the films are all that great, but I love them – I love them so much! I love all the detail and getting to know every one of those dwarves more intimately than I did as a child. They took a 120 page book and made 9 hours of movies.
Lynn: Well, it makes sense that you love it, you loved that world. I’d love a Supernatural movie – or movies – or anything that let me have more of what I love.
Laura: I was happy to spend as much time as possible in that world. So that movie melted my brain and sent me running online. Not even to look for fanfiction, because I honestly didn’t think of that, I just wanted to read stuff about the actors. And it was me reading stuff about the actors and next thing I know, I’m on Archive of our Own. I couldn’t get enough of it! My husband would be like oh please, go to sleep, it’s like 2:00 in the morning!
Lynn: [laughing] That’s exactly my experience too. When you have kids especially, that’s the time that’s your time.
Laura: I’d put my daughter down and then read read read read.
Lynn: So that’s when you discovered the community of fandom?
Laura: Yes, absolutely. I guess I’m part of a fandom community to a certain extent, being an actor in NYC — people in musical theater, that’s a community of people who are very accepting, but it’s work oriented. So it was January 2013 googling actors that woops, I just fell right down into it. And realized that oh, I have this obsession but nobody in my day to life shares it. So I found new people, and it kinda focused my fangirl brain in a way that it hadn’t been focused in a while, you know?
Lynn: Yes, I do know.
Laura: Every few years something comes down the pike [to fan], but I’d never made it this far, I’d never actually found the online community and people whose writing I liked and had my imagination peaked. And it still hasn’t stopped! I still read, I still write.
Lynn: Me too, if I ever have time. I love the spnj2bigbang every year.
Laura: I do the Hobbit one. But you’re so lucky, because Supernatural is still on the air! It’s still going, and I can see that The Hobbit one is kinda winding down a bit. I feel myself like panicking a little bit, like OMG what am I gonna do?
Lynn: I totally get that. I’m totally going to panic when Supernatural goes off the air. But let’s not think about that…
Laura: Occasionally I’ll read people whose Hobbit stories I really like when they write in another fandom, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t get to me in the same way.
Lynn: I know what you mean. I’m like that too. I love that you called the show “OTP” because I’m very fandom monogamous, for me Supernatural is just it. It’s all I’m really inspired by and I dread the day it goes off the air, I feel so lucky for 11 seasons.
Laura: And there’s also a huge fandom for Supernatural. Even if the show, when that day comes, unless it’s Gunsmoke, it will come eventually…
Lynn: [reluctantly] I guess…maybe…
Laura: But I think there’s still such an enormous fandom. I think Tolkien people are a little more chill than the people watching Supernatural on the CW too, they don’t get hostile about people’s different OTP’s and are very supportive of everybody’s writing. I don’t think I’m unusual being the age that I am either, and I’m 46.
Lynn: There are certainly people of all ages in Supernatural fandom too, it’s a fairly diverse fandom, probably people from 14 to 64. Maybe younger or older, I don’t know! And people are very passionate about their ships, in part because it’s still on the air so you don’t know where canon is going to go.
Laura: OMG and I remember when Kim Rhodes got the job, because I went out to visit her. I was pregnant and it was like January of 2010 and I guess I was like 6 months pregnant and I wanted to go out and have kind of a last little vacation before the baby comes. And she had just been up to shoot her first episode in Vancouver and she was like, it was so cool, I got to shoot a shotgun and there was blood, it was totally up your alley! Because I’ve always liked zombie movies and whatever and we were laughing about it, like this is so amazing, I can’t believe you ended up on that show! And then they liked her and kept bringing her back.
Lynn: Thankfully! The fandom loves Kim, and loves her character too.
Laura: And I remember, it’s funny, exactly when she shot the first episode. It’s been such a great thing for her. She’s a fan of things as well, but it’s opened her as an actor up to this whole passionate, supportive, lovely community of people.
Lynn: It’s a unique and wonderful fandom. Actually Kim wrote a very insightful chapter for my new book about how being on Supernatural and being part of that community, which changes lives for fans, also changed her.
Laura: She’s an amazing writer. She and I met when we were in school in Philadelphia and it’s so weird being back in the area.
Lynn: Wait, what? You guys went to school here?
Laura: Yeah, we went to grad school at Temple University, that’s where we met.
Lynn: How did I not know that? That’s where my daughter went and my niece is there. OMG small world.
Laura: That’s probably not germane to what you guys talk about, like oh you have a Master’s degree.
Lynn: But it’s kinda important!
Laura: Kim is an incredibly intuitive, insightful person and so well read. She always knows just the right way to explain something, and she’s such a phenomenal writer. Plus she’s probably the most compassionate person I’ve ever met.
Lynn: That’s partly why I really wanted her to write the chapter – I knew she wanted to write more.
Laura: That’s so fantastic. And it’s a tough business out there in LA, it’s very different than the way our business is here in New York. I was so happy when she was so embraced by the Supernatural fandom, because she is like incredibly entertaining to listen to, incredibly compassionate, super friendly, and those aren’t necessarily qualities that are supported in LA. Certainly not in that industry. So I was thrilled that she finally had an outlet and a group of people who embraced those things about her. I mean, I have friends who might be like oh, that’s a little strange, but nobody who would judge. But a lot of people don’t have that experience and it’s like, how could you say negative shitty things about a situation and a group of people that make someone who doesn’t feel loved and supported feel that way? How could you take that away from someone?
Lynn: Exactly, that’s why we wrote Fangasm. We wanted people to understand, look, this is what it’s about. It’s so much more important than what people poke fun at. And it’s good, a healthy thing.
Laura: Yeah. It legitimizes it and shows how important it is. It has been weirdly in the shadows, though that is changing. But there’s still a weird thing about people who dress up at Comic Con and people who write fanfiction. It’s acceptable now to go to a con. I used to go to Fangoria conventions when they’d be in New York and that’s when my friends would be like, that’s odd, I don’t understand it. You have to be like a super geek to actually go to a convention, but now it’s a little more acceptable. I mean, everyone should go to a convention! But still, if you cosplay or you write fanfiction, that’s still considered weird.
Laura: That was one of the reasons that I created the show. I was like well, I don’t think I’m really that good at writing fanfiction, but nobody has ever really dealt with in a mature responsible way about people that do like to write fanfiction. Other than being like portrayed as inevitably romantically unhappy and socially awkward, and they’re always the butt of the joke. So I thought let’s show all the different sides of it. Those people are part of it too, and why should they be the butt of a joke? Like dollars to donuts, those people are probably 100% smarter than you are, person who’s making fun of them!
Lynn: Oh yes. I love what you said in one of your emails to me. You said, I thought we were ready for portrayals of fangirls that aren’t so one dimensional and I thought yes, that’s so true. That’s what I really love about OTP. Some of the things that I was initially protective about are the things I love. Sheila is not perfect, Sheila is real. She’s like anyone else, she’s a relatable real woman. And she’s a fangirl.
Laura: Oh thank you, that means so much to me! That was the thing, I thought, I bet people would be fascinated to see real people – and a wide variety of people – that choose to do this. It’s not solely people who live in their parents’ basements – though there are people who do, and you know what, that’s fine! But walking down the street, half the people you pass probably write or at least read fanfiction.
Lynn: Yes, and that’s important, to challenge the stereotypes. People who have read ‘Fangasm’ say that’s what it did – it showed that fans are a diverse group of people, not a stereotype. Just like accountants are a diverse group of people!
Laura: I bet your book – and “outing” yourself as a fangirl – I bet that was really helpful for people who still feel ashamed about it. I totally respect that not everyone is surrounded by extremely liberal creative people like I am, who while it might not be their jam, are certainly not gonna make fun of it in a mean way.
Lynn: In hindsight, I’m glad we were talked into telling our own story, though at first we really didn’t want to. We just wanted to play it safe as academics.
Laura: It was a thought I had too, that people would say well, you must be a part of this world because you’re not making fun of it. But nobody who is part of this world was putting people into their story, unless it was part of the joke. So I thought, I really don’t care, the people in my life who love me and matter could care less. And let’s be honest, most of the people who are interviewing me are going to be excited too. Like I get it, I read it, I love it!
Lynn: And like I love seeing a show about it! What has been the reaction to OTP The Show?
Laura: You know what? It’s been all positive, which is wild. I imagine that people who don’t have anything nice to say are just not saying anything. But in terms of emails or comments or twitter or tumblr, there’s been nothing negative at all. The most was one person who reblogged a post on Tumblr was like, I don’t understand, someone explain this, these people are writing fanfiction and one of them is a guy? That kind of thing. I responded that I get where this might be a little odd, but one of the points of the show is to show the wide variety of people who like this. And he’s gay, does that help [explain why he’s writing slash]? But I never heard back. But if people aren’t digging it, I’m not hearing it.
Lynn: There are just a few comments on Fangasm from people who didn’t seem to understand that the book is tongue in cheek at times and we poke fun at ourselves too, like oh they were just trying to interview actors. Like, did you read the book? We ask ourselves those same questions!
Laura: Well hello, if someone can get me to Richard Armitage, I think he would love to be on an episode! Do I have that fantasy? Of course I do, I’m a fangirl!
Lynn: Yep. Me too. Unapologetically.
Laura: Maybe also because in my life I know a lot of gay men and a lot are younger than me, so maybe that felt like a comfortable pairing in a way. But it’s funny like, looking out at the arc of the show – because my husband was like, who’s the One True Pairing? And I don’t know if it’s necessarily romantic. Maybe the OTP is kind of each other, or maybe we all have more than one depending on what part of our life we’re talking about. My original title – I was bouncing titles around with a friend – and I was calling it “All Hands On Dick”
Lynn: [cracking up]
Laura: There was a 1940s show called All Hands on Deck, so I called it that for a while. But it started to feel a little sassy, I wanted it to be a little more serious while still a bit whimsical. So that was a little more gratuitous title. OTP is good because anyone who knows fandom knows immediately what that is and knows it’s a show about fandom. Second, there’s alot of ways it could go. Is the show about finding an OTP? Is it recognizing that they don’t need an OTP in their life, and finding each other? There’s a lot of different things it could end up meaning.
Lynn: I like that. It shows insider knowledge of fandom – I assumed they were drawn together because they share an OTP but it can mean a lot.
Laura: Well, they do share an OTP right now.
Lynn: I do like the original title, but I think this is better. So, do you watch Supernatural?
Laura: I have seen Kim’s episodes because she’s my best friend. I was actually thinking that this summer that I’ll be child free for a few weeks during rehearsal, so I was like note to self, must start watching Supernatural. Because everyone who knows me, the minute it came on the air, they were like you’re watching, right? I don’t remember why I wasn’t, I might have been working doing a show at night. And then the next thing I knew, there were 3 seasons! But it is totally up my alley, two cute guys and supernatural things, that’s something I would absolutely watch.
Lynn: Now that I’ve talked to you, I think it really is up your alley. I know it’s daunting trying to catch up with 11 seasons though.
Laura: But there are so many delicious ways to do that these days. I’ve also been like OMG the last thing I need is to start watching a show that has ten seasons and I can see myself being hooked. Like they did a funny sketch on Portlandia where they start watching Battlestar Galactica on DVD and then two weeks go by and they’re wearing like filthy clothing and there are boxes all around them, like they can’t stop watching it.
Lynn: It’s a good thing I discovered Supernatural at the beginning of Season 2, because I was immediately like OMG, what happened in Season 1? Kathy and I got the DVD set, sat down to watch one morning at my house and never got up. Long after the sun went down, we turned to each other and said, ‘Did we even eat anything today?’ (The answer was no). If it was more than one season we had to binge watch, we would’ve clearly starved to death!
Laura: Now I’m really scared. I need to remember to go to work…
Lynn: So where are you now with OTP?
Laura: We had a very successful kickstarter, we cleared $10000 so far above and beyond what we hoped for. People were so generous.
At the time I chatted with Laura, Season 2 was about to be filmed. Latest update? OTP was an official selection at the NYC Webfest. And the next season should be out by the end of this month! So catch up on Season 1 now – and catch Season 2 coming soon!
Check out episodes and trailer at http://www.otptheshow.com/
You can follow OTP at @OTPTheShow on twitter
And check back here soon for our chat with Carrie Genzel, the talented actress who made the Sparkle carnage scene in ‘Just My Imagination’ so hysterical (and who had some iconic scenes in Season 1’s ‘Bugs’). We laughed so much during our interview that I needed a cup of tea afterwards!
Two more weeks, SPNFamily!
For more Supernatural stories and more on being a
Supernatural fangirl, check out our books on the show
and the fandom – more info at the links on this page!