Passion is what being a fan is all about. It’s what makes it so fulfilling, what makes it an important part of our everyday lives and not something we only think about for an hour a week while watching a television show or once a year for two hours in the movie theater. That show or film or band or whatever we fan has the power to change our lives – it provides heroes and heroines for us to emulate, it sends different messages than what we hear from the rest of the world which are sometimes exactly what we need in order to feel okay about ourselves. It can inspire us to be better, help others, change the world, keep fighting for our own lives. The community that forms around the thing we’re passionate about – the fandom – also has the power to change us. Fandom can be a group that ‘gets us’ and gives us that all-important sense of belonging. Someone to share our good times and provide a source of support to get through the hard times. All that comes from the passion we invest in what we love.
When the thing we love is going strong, that is a beautiful feeling. It’s heady, affirming, exhilarating. Research shows that fans of a winning sports team have the same physiological and psychological reactions as the actual players who won the game. No wonder it’s important!
When the thing we love does not succeed, or is taken away from us, the emotions are just as strong. It feels devastating, a denial of all the good we found in this precious thing. It feels like an overwhelming loss – because it is one. There’s nothing silly or frivolous about the way fans love, or anything unimportant about what we get from that love. When it’s lost, we react with grief, and it’s just like any other grief. There’s denial and anger and sadness.
In the past 24 hours, quite a few beloved television shows have been either cancelled or not picked up for series by the networks that continue to have all the power. Lucifer, Brooklyn99, the list was a long one. Fans all over the world, of all sorts of things, are confused and furious and despairing over never being able to have more of that thing they love. Anyone who is a fan knows that sort of pain.
I want to send out a collective hug to all the fans who got bad news today, and all the people whose livelihoods depend on making that thing that people love. As a Supernatural fan, the CW deciding against a pick up of the spinoff Wayward Sisters has been a personal experience. Wayward (I’ll call it that because now we’re allowed to go back to calling it what it originally was, Wayward Daughters, and that makes me happy) was special to many in the fandom, because it was different. A show about women, starring women, and committed to being told through the perspective of women – diverse women. It’s a credit to Supernatural that the show created characters in Jody and Donna that resonated so much with viewers that we knew they could carry a show of their own. When that became a possibility, it felt like a remarkable evolution, and a hopeful one. The importance of representation is indisputable, and Wayward was going to be a big leap forward – in fact, we don’t even know just how far the show was going to take us, or how life changing that would be for so many people waiting to see themselves reflected onscreen.
Wayward was also different because it was an idea that began, not in a writer’s room or a network meeting, but in fandom itself. Supernatural fans wanted more of the female characters we had come to know and love. We wanted a whole show devoted to those women and exploring their stories. At the time, it almost seemed like an impossible idea, but that little idea caught fire and gained the attention and support of Supernatural’s writers and showrunners and the actresses themselves. For more than a year, fans and writers and actors joined forces to get the idea off the ground. Robert Berens wrote a pilot, Andrew Dabb and Bob Singer got it made. Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Kathryn Newtown, Clark Backo, Katherine Ramdeen and Yadira Guevara-Prip kicked ass. Fans rejoiced, and relished the hope that success brought.
I was truly shocked when the network passed. It seemed like the time was so right, and with a built-in fan base, it seemed like Wayward should have been a no-brainer. Then again, I’ve thought that many times only to have TPTB make another decision. I suppose I shouldn’t be as shocked as I am this time.
Maybe the outcry will change their minds; stranger things have happened. Wayward Sisters was trending a little while ago, while none of the shows that did get picked up or renewed were. That probably says something right there.
And if it doesn’t? They still can’t change what Wayward has come to mean to the fandom. That word was reclaimed as something that was okay, as something that was not a source of shame – as something to be proud of! Embracing being WaywardAF on tee shirts and hoodies and caps and anything else you wanted to put it on was powerful for so many fans. It was a way of saying no, I won’t let you shame me for being different, or tell me that I can’t be myself. Led by Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster’s willingness to be real, onstage at a convention or online in tweets or in the chapters they wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, the Wayward message inspired many others to be real too. And that is the healthiest thing any of us can do! That’s the true power of Wayward, and nobody can take that away.
I don’t know what the future will bring for Wayward Daughters. I know the fandom that I call my SPNFamily is hurting right now, as are the talented and committed actors and writers who worked so hard to make this happen. I do know that it’s not over. Whatever form Wayward will take going forward, the movement is very much alive – and the evolution that Wayward is a part of is not stopping. So put on your tee shirt and take a page from Briana and Kim because we’ve still got work to do – and don’t let this discourage you from the message. Stay Wayward.
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5 thoughts on “When Being A Fan Hurts – Staying Wayward!”
Thanks, Lynn, for articulating my feels.
No one wants to admit it, but “Wayward Sisters” was just not that good of an episode, let alone one to launch a series from. Putting Claire as the focus was completely the wrong move, he less said about her “saving” Sam and Dean the better. And that was another issue, they made Sam and Dean impotent, to try and elevate a terrible character.
Ideal version of the episode focused on Jody and Donna (no Claire at all), 25% with Sam and Dean in the Bad Place and 75% on Jody, Donna, Alex et all trying to find them. They get to the rift, Jody goes in while the other girls hold off the monsters, she meets up with them and leads them to the exit.
Middle aged women don’t sell on the CW apparently. And we got what we got.
Lynn, you put it so beautifully, there’s nothing I can add. Between that and the end of Exodus, my SPN heart is broken this week.
MANY reasons, mostly financial, that a network does not green light a series. Is it lack of faith in a female audience to support empowered women? Is no commercial sponsor willing to back a mostly female project? Is it because the series would compete with Supernatural? Is it that a certain chemistry is not working for the PTB in a way they think will work long term? Who knows? My hope is that the Wayward DAUGHTERS can make one off episodes during the regular SPN schedule and somehow keep the concept alive and give SPN regulars a break from a grueling work schedule without watering down the original. Since the terms of contracts for season 14 SPN are not public and the network is expanding its programing to another night, one might think the network executives have more knowledge on the particulars on the production costs. I would hope it is a financial decision, rather than faith in women to carry a show that is popular without being made. And yes, Exodus did hit the feels- leaving the question after the finale, how many episodes for season 14 are green light by the CW. They should have taken a chance of WD or WS, whichever name you like,but chose differently. It is all bottom line items I hope.
So really sad that Wayward Sisters has not been picked up, especially after all the love & efforts SPNFamily showed to support the spinoff 🙁 Unbelievable how TPTB don’t see not only the potential of a serie but also the strenghts of the fan base and the commitment which comes with it. SPNFamily will not forget about WaiwardAF and continue to love&support in any possible way, that’s for sure!
I “discovered” Supernatural TV show some years ago by chance, when I broke my hankle’s tendons and had to stay home for 2 months. I stumbled across some “early years episodes” airing on an Italian TV channel (I’m from Switzerland…) and just fell in love with the story. I bought all the DVDs from season 1 on and watched the episodes one by one in a sort of marathon style, all sort of emotions inspired by the characters, the plot, etc., like a book you cannot stop reading from page 1 till the end, no matter if you’ll be awake all night to finish it and the next day you need to wake up early to go to work…
I also wanted to go the extra mile and I attended a SPNCon in the USA, where I met incredibly passionate people, fantastic ones, I can call friends and we are meeting up again at other SPNCons in the USA once/twice a year. I’ve volunteered at SPNCons as well, participated to various campaigns launched by the actors, events like the SPNfan movie and crowdfunded KoF. All this to say what huge power a TV show has and how a fan base can inspire, motivate, influence in a positive way and help out. And I’m not near the most active fan on social media… and from another country as well. How narrowminded those TPTB are!
I’m also sorry to hear that Lucifer has not been renewed. As you wrote, it’s devastating for the fan base. And as usual, all the twitts about SavingLucifer floading the web have been disregarded by Fox. I feel sympathetic with the sadness of the Lucifer fans, what if our beloved serie was not renewed? I cannot even think about it… So, what if we SPNFamily show some comradissness (sorry if I made a mistake in writing the correct word… I’m not an English native speaker…) and back up Lucifer fans in asking to save their beloved serie? A “gemellaggio”, sorry I do not know the name in English for joining in with another fan base, to support their cause showing FOX and TPTB that fans have voices which should be heard and also that other fan bases will back up and join in in actions to “overpower” blind decisions. What do you think about it? Should we twitt and ask SPNFamily to show support?
Thanks a lot for your articles and your books I so much loved reading. Looking forwards to meeting you at a SPNCon to have your last one “Family don’t end with blood” signed 🙂 unfortunately I never had the chance to see you at a Con so far.