Happy 40th Birthday Jared Padalecki!

It has been a wonderful week of celebrating Jared Padalecki’s birthday for his fans – every day was a different hashtag so we could highlight something else, from photos and videos of Jared with other celebrities, or exercising, or smiling, or with pets, to his best performances and fans’ favorite photos. The hashtag #JaredPadaleckiWeek trended all week long, and my timeline was full of good feelings and positive posts and it felt like all the best things about fandom.

Then the week got even better – Jared popped onto twitter, shocking the fandom as he enjoys doing, to shine some light on a teacher trying to get ready for the next school year and without funding for things her students needed. So many teachers have a list of needed supplies that they often have to spend their own money to get, so #ClearTheList was a call to action for anyone who wanted to help. And help the fans did! People retweeted, donated, sent messages of support. Jared hopped on and thanked fans for the help, and then later in the week highlighted another person in need of help for a very sick cat, once again shining a light that allowed others to help if they could. The collective endorphins that we get from being able to help others just added to the good feelings already there, and made this a really special week.

When I started putting this post together, it was because I’d been reminded of some of my favorite Jared performances over the years. He has brought so much joy to so many of us, first as Sam Winchester and now as Cordell Walker, so I do want to post a few of those moments. But this week also reminded me that I value so many things about Jared that aren’t about what he does for a living. He’s a good soul who genuinely wants to help others – we saw that again this past week. More about that in a minute – but first let’s look back at a few of those performances that really demonstrate Jared’s powerful acting.

The first one that came to mind was one of the two episodes that made me fall in love with Supernatural, ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’.

I’d been watching, but I wasn’t head over heels, and then there were a few episodes in a row in Season 2 that just blew me out of the water. Jared’s performance as Sam possessed by Meg was one of those things that made me realize just how special Supernatural is. He was somehow so NOT Jared, not sweet smart caring Sam Winchester – he had an edge to him, evil, sadistic, insecure. Those scenes with Alona Tal as Jo and then with Jensen Ackles as Dean tries to exorcise his brother were breathtaking. Literally.

The second Supernatural episode I thought about was another opportunity for Jared to play a different version of Sam, this time as Lucifer’s vessel in ‘The End’. It’s a short scene, but it’s one of the most memorable in the entire series, Jared making Lucifer absolutely terrifying without ever raising his voice or appearing angry at all. His soft spoken manner nevertheless radiates horrible power, his almost affectionate oh-you-poor-thing reaction to Dean’s tearful resistance enough to turn my stomach. Jensen has talked about how blown away HE was by Jared’s performance, and it came through powerfully on screen too.

There are lots of other great acting moments in the fifteen years of Supernatural, but a few from the later seasons stand out too. One is from ‘Red Meat’, one of my favorite episodes of the entire series – largely because of Jared’s incredible acting. From the moment that Sam gets shot, he makes you believe how much agony Sam is in, and at the same time, makes his almost superhuman persistence believable too. His every facial expression, his every bodily movement, radiates the pain he’s feeling and the struggle it is just to keep going, and that makes the episode one of the most compelling of the series. It literally hurts to watch – and yet I love it.

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Supernatural Cast Jared, Jensen and Misha in Three New Series on The CW!

It has been a BIG day for the SPNFamily! After weeks of speculation as to whether zero, one, two or all three of the Supernatural cast’s new pilot projects would be picked up by the CW, the news came in the afternoon that the network had cancelled multiple shows. Some of those  were fan favorites, and my heart goes out to those fandoms – it’s especially heartbreaking when a show is cancelled and doesn’t have a chance to do a proper wrap, leaving its characters and its fans in limbo. I’m so sorry for all those fans, and all those talented actors and crew now out of work.

The chances for the SPN pilots were clearly improved by that news, so it wasn’t shocking when all three pilots with Supernatural cast connections were picked up – ‘The Winchesters’ prequel with Jensen and Danneel Ackles and Supernatural writer alum Robbie Thompson executive producing and Jensen doing the Dean Winchester narrating, the Walker prequel ‘Walker: Independence’ aka Windy, with Jared Padalecki executive producing and Walker alum Matt Barr one of the stars; and Gotham Knights, with Misha Collins as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.

Fans joked that they’re changing the name of the network from The CW to The J2M network. But no joke, it’s a testament to the lasting popularity and power of Supernatural and the Supernatural fandom that they’ve made room for all three SPN cast pilots. The fandom may be fractured and contentious and right now arguing over which of the three everyone will be supporting (or not), but we are also passionate as hell, and currently trending all ‘our’ pilot pickups and faves.

Variety headline

After two failed Supernatural spinoffs, The Winchesters is the first to actually become a series. Fans have been a mix of enthusiastic and skeptical about the show portraying the beginning of the love story of John and Mary Winchester. The “mothership’s” canon had John not knowing about the supernatural at all at the time it’s set and their relationship being manipulated by celestial forces, so the prequel will have to come up with an explanation for them working together and their love story being an epic one. I’m a big fan of Robbie Thompson’s writing though, and I know how much Jensen cares about Dean, so I’m going into this hopeful – and beyond excited to hear Ackles bring Dean Winchester to life once again. I miss him. (I miss both Winchester brothers, and Supernatural itself, like a constant ache that just won’t go away). I’m hopeful that Exec Producer Danneel Ackles will bring a vintage aesthetic to the show that I can fall in love with too. Bell bottoms, paisley, the music…. Shot in New Orleans, so far, the show looks hauntingly beautiful and the cast seem wonderful.

Director Glen Winter with Thompson and Ackles

I’ve been enjoying Jared Padalecki on ‘Walker’ so I’m excited about that prequel too. Windy is set even farther back in time, in late 1800s Texas, centered on Abby Walker and her husband’s murder and her quest for revenge, and Hoyt Rawlins, the oft described “lovable rogue” type.  I really enjoyed Matt Barr’s portrayal of the present day Hoyt on Walker, so I’m looking forward to the prequel. Much like The Winchesters, the show looks gorgeous, and the cast and crew are clearly beyond excited about it. Director Larry Teng took the fandom along on much of the journey, tweeting lots of photos and enthusiasm. I’m so happy for the cast, who seem lovely.

Director Larry Teng’s wrap post

Padalecki took to twitter to let the Walker family know that the enthusiasm and congrats weren’t lost on him – and that he is as excited as we are!

Misha Collins is playing the role of Harvey Dent (and later Two-Face) on the third SPN cast-related pilot to be picked up, Gotham Knights. Part of DC’s Batman universe, the show takes place after Bruce Wayne has been murdered and his adopted son allies with the children of Batman’s enemies when they’re framed for killing him. Misha has said that the first season sees him playing Dent, but later he’ll get the chance to play a villain as Two Face. Also he seems to have a black trenchcoat, much to the amusement of his Supernatural fans.

To make the day even more exciting, some news that I’ve been waiting for was also released – Jensen Ackles will guest star as Sheriff Beau Arlen on the season finale of Big Sky airing next Thursday. (I was sitting there watching Big Sky, trying to get a little caught up in anticipation, when that news came out).  His character is described as “a confident and charming good ol’ boy from Texas who steps in as temporary Sheriff.” Charming indeed. That Deadline article came with a little ABC promo video, and let’s just say that Mr. Ackles is looking fine fine fine indeed with that long hair and a cowboy hat. Now we’ve got both Jared and Jensen as gun-toting cowboy lawmen on our screens this month. Phew.

Looking forward to next Thursday!

It’s been a great feeling to watch my timeline explode all day long with fans and other Supernatural cast reacting to all the good news. Misha Collins tweeted his excitement to his former co-stars, who will perhaps all be at the Upfronts next week (if Ackles isn’t committed to The Boys publicity and Padalecki isn’t finishing up Walker).

Looks like Jared is up for it – as long as he can play the cowbell! Seriously though, I love how this cast will always support each other and genuinely look forward to enjoying each other’s company.

Eric Kripke seemed almost as emotional as me about the incredible legacy the little show he created has left – and all the wonderful new things its cast has gone on to create. What a wonderful legacy for Mr. Kripke as well, as he prepares for the launch of Season 3 of The Boys (also starring Ackles, who luckily likes to keep busy).

Nothing is ever going to replace the OG Supernatural for me, but I feel incredibly lucky to have all these other shows to look forward to – and so proud of the actors who made Supernatural the phenomenon that it is, and everything that they’re out there creating now.  Whether you’re planning to watch one show or two or all three, there’s alot to look forward to coming up!

— Lynn

You can read Jared, Jensen and Misha’s

thoughts on fandom and the SPN Family,

and how they were changed by the show

and the fandom, in Family Don’t End With

Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You

Are Done – links on the home page or at:

 

 

Happy Birthday Sam Winchester!

I couldn’t let May 2nd go by without wishing one of my favorite fictional characters of all time a happy birthday. Yes, I’m aware that Supernatural wrapped at the end of 2020. Yes, I’m aware that it’s mid 2022. But in my heart, Sam and Dean are still very much alive (probably driving Baby down the most scenic roads in Heaven). They’re also alive in my brain, which continues to devote significant amounts of time to thinking about the Winchesters and friends and just how much Supernatural will always mean to me.

The things I love most about Sam Winchester are the things that, for me, make him so memorable. So I thought I’d share five of those here.

Before I do that, though, I’d have to be utterly oblivious not to include the fact that Sam is ridiculously good looking. Blame Jared Padalecki.  Whoever made this graphic of Sam’s Hair Evolution understood that too – yes, I love Sam’s hair, guilty as charged!

And Sam without a soul may have lost his empathy, but he certainly didn’t lose his ability to be incendiary.

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You’re welcome for the eye candy. But now, five things I love about Sam Winchester.

Number 1. His personality. His optimism, his determination. His wide eyed enthusiasm for life, that floppy haired boy who left the family business and struck out to make a different life for himself. Who dared to go to college when it was seen as a betrayal, even when it was clearly also painful for him to leave his family.

And the grown up Sam, forged in trauma, tested so often and so cruelly, still capable of hope and moving forward despite the odds. Sam often was the one encouraging Dean when it felt hopeless; the brothers did that for each other throughout the series, each taking their turn to keep them both going. And through it all, Sam never lost his capacity to feel.

Number 2. His great big brain. Sam’s a researcher. He’s inquisitive, curious, needs to know how things work and why things happen. I can so relate, since so much of being a psychologist is also needing to know how things work – those things being people in my case. I love the continuity in Sam’s love of research, that he’s not afraid to be the “geek boy” throughout the entire series – and how that helped save the world a time or two!

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Number 3. His empathy and compassion. Sam, who for so much of his life felt like a freak who didn’t belong, was never afraid to reach out to others who might have felt the same way. He instinctively put himself in others’ shoes, and often knew just how to relate to someone else who was struggling and needed reassurance.  His candid conversation with Rowena about their shared Lucifer trauma. His gentleness when he reassured Magda.

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Number 4. The flip side of Sam Winchester’s empathy – his fierceness. He personified the word ‘badass’, so much so that I still exclaim “Sam Fucking Winchester” when I rewatch lots of episodes. His rage-fueled taking out of Gordon when Dean’s life was threatened. His cold and confident announcement that there would be no new King of Hell, bearded and still grieving his missing brother. Don’t threaten a Winchester if you don’t want the other one coming at you just like this, just saying.

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Sam showed every kind of bravery throughout the series – striking out on his own to go to school, fighting through the psychological struggles of feeling like a freak to embracing his destiny of saving people, hunting things. Sacrificing himself to save the world, and standing up to Lucifer himself!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Jensen Ackles!

I can’t let March 1 go by without wishing a happy birthday to Jensen Ackles, who has made a significant impact on so many people’s lives, including mine.

I love so much about Supernatural, but I don’t think I would have been as captivated by Dean Winchester as I was 16 years ago if someone other than Jensen had played him. The way he cared about that character, making him nuanced and complicated, imperfect and heroic, and achingly real, made all the difference. Add to that, the way he and Jared Padalecki became brothers on set and off brought the Winchesters to life and created a relationship and a story so unique and powerful that I will literally never get over it.

It’s been a rough few years, and a really rough last month – I recently lost my OG partner in crime Kathy, who fell into Supernatural with me way back in 2006, so I’ve been thinking a lot about those early days that we wrote about in ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’. We were both ‘Dean girls’ which means that Kathy and I spent a lot of time appreciating one Jensen Ackles.  We spent whole weekends binge watching Jensen’s earlier shows and movies, rewinding (yes, it was that long ago) favorite scenes from Dark Angel and Dawson’s Creek and Blonde and even Devour (yes, you know the one), sipping cold drinks and occasionally swearing or slapping each other on the knee because DAYUM.

We loved all of his performances, but he drew us in with his brilliant portrayal of Dean Winchester, and that ended up changing both of our lives. Half of our story in ‘Fangasm’ was the two of us propelled by some permutation of “how can we meet Jensen Ackles” into roadtrips and flights and online communities and all kinds of unlikely adventures. How do you thank someone for inspiring something like that??

Over the past 16 years, my appreciation for Jensen has evolved –not that I’m not still a Dean girl, because that is FOREVER, but I also have a lot more genuine appreciation for how hard Jensen works and how much he cares about what he does. Because I care so much about Dean too, I am incredibly grateful for that. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the set and watch him work, and to talk with him about the show and the character many times over the years (and to play an ongoing game of guess-what-was-an-adlib which even he will admit I got frighteningly good at). Dean fascinates me as a psychologist, and I have loved discussing what makes him tick with Jensen – who invariably gets him better than I or anyone else ever could.

I’ve seen how much he puts into a performance, and witnessed firsthand how emotional he is when he’s just gone through something traumatic as Dean. It’s striking, and for me as a non-actor, frightening in how much it clearly takes out of an actor who embodies a character like that. I’ve seen how much he cares, and how much he puts into trying to make a scene ‘right’ – for Dean. I’ll appreciate that always.

I’ll be over here mourning Supernatural forever, which will surprise exactly no one reading this, but as I write this in 2022 I’m also so excited for all the amazing new things Jensen’s doing – if anyone thought all the Supernatural actors wouldn’t be a success after the show ended, they were certainly wrong! I can’t wait to see him bring a new character to life on The Boys, reunited with Eric Kripke on a show I’ve been watching since the start and loving (and enjoying dissecting of course).

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In Memory of Kathy Larsen, With Love

This is not an article that I ever wanted to write – or that I ever, in a million years, imagined myself writing. But I want to say something about the friend that I lost this week, and remember just how special Kathy Larsen was.

I met Kathy through fandom. In fact, she was one of the first people I met through fandom, shortly after I discovered that online fandom was even a thing that exists. We were part of a small listserv, passionate about some of the same rather obscure things – a movie, a band, an actor that not many people had even heard of – and fangirled each other’s writing immediately. Kathy was a brilliant writer, whether it was fiction or nonfiction. She could make you laugh, pull you into a mystery, or absolutely gut you with a tragic ending. She could explain concepts that were difficult to grasp in a way that never felt like talking down to anyone, which I’m sure her students appreciated too.

Once we found out we lived only a few hours from each other, we started driving that two hours often, especially when we fell down the rabbit hole of loving a new thing – a relatively unknown little TV show on the WB called ‘Supernatural’.

Along with two friends, we fell in love with Supernatural together, and became fascinated by the close-knit community we found in that show’s fandom. At the same time, we questioned whether it was really okay for us to be quite so far down the rabbit hole. We were professors, professionals, partners, parents. Was it really okay for us to spend so much time and energy loving a TV show? Maybe because we were both professors and accustomed to research, or maybe because we just needed to prove to ourselves that it WAS okay, Kathy and I set out to find the answer. We would write a book, we decided, that set the record straight about fans and fandom, and especially fangirls. We’d examine it from our somewhat diverse perspectives, me as a psychologist and her as an English professor. But to do that, we reasoned, we needed to dive into Supernatural fandom head first and not look back – and that’s exactly what we did.

We flew across the country on almost no notice to see Jensen Ackles on stage in Fort Worth for A Few Good Men, leaving partners and kids a bit stunned. Especially when we decided one performance was not enough. The personality differences between me and Kathy made our fangirl adventures quite a contrast, and occasionally hilarious. We met Jared Padalecki (who had flown in to see his friend in the production) in the lobby candy line. I marched right up to say hello; Kathy opted not to budge from her spot in the corner and watched from a safe distance.

We needed some margaritas after with our friend Amy.

We flew across the country again all the way to LA for the premiere of the Ackles-laden indie film Ten Inch Hero (starring both Jensen and Danneel).  I managed to tell Danneel how much I loved the film while Kathy once again watched supportively from across the room.

But in other things, Kathy was fearless. We rented a PT Cruiser, figured out how to drive it (mostly) and drove down to San Diego to experience Comic Con and the Supernatural panel for the very first time.

Kathy drove.

Driver picked the music.

Shotgun shut her cakehole (and enthusiastically sang along to the classic rock and a little Steve Carlson).

With our friend Sabrina

Comic Con was eventful. We finally met Jensen Ackles.

I cried.

Kathy watched supportively from ten yards away and then hugged me and patted me until I calmed down.

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