Are These Twenty Things Wrong with Sam and Dean?

 

There’s an article over on ScreenRant  provocatively titled “20 Things Wrong with Sam and Dean Everyone Chooses to Ignore” which has a lot of people talking today. I rarely weigh in on other people’s articles because everyone has a right to their own opinion when it comes to this fictional show and these fictional characters – your interpretation, my interpretation, YMMV. And considering its provocative title, the controversy is probably exactly what the author was going for. A number of people have weighed in in the comments and made some very good points, so I also don’t want to belabor those points, but I will admit that when I got to the No. 1 thing I started shaking my head so fast I nearly gave myself whiplash. Then a few people asked me to weigh in with my psychologist hat on, so I thought, why not. However, my fangirl hat is definitely on as well, so I look sort of funny right now balancing two hats at once.

Anyway, let’s touch on these one at a time. I don’t disagree with everything in the article, but I do have a different viewpoint on some of the assertions.

20. They always come back to life. More a criticism of the writers than Sam and Dean, who even if they were real and had any agency, most likely wouldn’t be the ones to blame for this. Yes, it dilutes the emotional power of death scenes somewhat, but it also keeps a show on the air for 14 seasons. (Also I still sobbed like a baby when Sam died in the tunnels last season and Dean couldn’t save him, both while I watched it be filmed and when I saw it onscreen. I as a viewer may know that Sam will be back, but Dean the character does not know any such thing, and it was in empathy for him that I sobbed. Like a lot.)

19. Dean’s history with women. Is it problematic? Sure. Not in all the ways asserted here, I don’t think. But what I quibble with here most is the assertion that “it’s an aspect of Dean that fans try to ignore.” Not in my fannish circles, that’s for sure! I have a new book coming out all about the evolution of female characters on Supernatural, so my perspective may be a bit skewed, but we’ve all been talking about this since Season 1, way back on Live Journal meta commentary communities.

18. Sam always gets knocked out. Okay, I kinda agree with this one. My reviews often contain rants about Sam or Dean not being the smart and capable hunters we know they are. It’s a contrivance that keeps the story going, but it can create some head scratching.

17. Dean idolizes their abusive father. I think that was true at one time, but not any more. That’s been part of Dean’s evolution as a character, coming to terms with his idolization of both John and Mary. The thing is, it’s not unrealistic. I’ve worked with many children whose parents were a lot more overtly abusive than John, but the children still love the parents. We’re wired that way; we’ll do whatever mental gymnastics we have to do in order to maintain our view of our parents as people who love us and will take care of us. The alternative is just too terrifying. The way Dean was raised, he had to step up early on and push things like anger and disappointment and longing for love out of the way in order to survive, and to ensure that Sam survived. A defensive blanket acceptance of everything John Winchester told him was the perfect way to do that. However, Dean hasn’t been frozen there; he sees both his parents now more as flawed humans whose motives and behavior can be questioned instead of blindly accepted.

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Happy Birthday Jason Manns!

 

One of the best things about being a fan is that it broadens your world in ways you never expected. I fell I love with a television show and ended up with so much beautiful music in my life. I’m sure that doesn’t happen with every TV show, but Supernatural just happens to star a lot of very musically talented people, and those people know some wonderful professional musicians. Jason Manns is one of them.

Jason has been an integral part of the Supernatural conventions since early on. At the first Supernatural cons, the musical guest was usually Jason Manns or Steve Carlson, which means these conventions have had good music since almost day one. Both Jensen and Jared are huge music lovers, which means many of their friends are musicians – that explains Manns and Carlson at cons, as well as Brian Buckley Band and that incredible duet by Ackles and Corey Taylor. It also explains JJ from Kaleo at Jared’s house yesterday.

One of the very first videos I ever saw of Mr. Ackles after I embraced being a fangirl was one with Jason Manns – the old Youtube classic of Jensen singing “Crazy Love” at some lucky person’s wedding. I immediately ran out and tried to find out everything I could about Jason (and may have watched that Youtube video approximately 6 million times).  Then Jason gifted us again by performing Crazy Love at one of the first Supernatural conventions, Asylum in the UK – and pulling Jensen up for a duet. Once again, video watched 6 million times. Here’s a little trip down memory lane…

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Happy Birthday Rob Benedict!

 

Today is a special day because it’s the birthday of a special person – actor, singer, writer and just plain awesome guy Rob Benedict!

I’ve written many times about how Rob is the heart and soul of the Supernatural conventions, and it’s just more true every year. Once Rob and Louden Swain became the house band, and Rob and Rich became the con hosts, the Creation Supernatural conventions turned into something that no other con has been able to duplicate. So much of the energy and the positive vibe and the pure FUN of a con is due to Rob and Rich and their boundless enthusiasm. Didn’t get more than an hour of sleep the night before thanks to too much partying with fellow fans? Don’t worry, Rob and the band will wake you up and get you in the mood for celebrating in no time.

Louden Swain has become our favorite band for many Supernatural fans. Sometimes I think about how sad it would be if Rob had never been on Supernatural or ended up coming to conventions or brought the band with him, because then I never would have discovered Louden Swain’s incredible music. Tragic! The Saturday Night Special is often my favorite part of the con, because it’s the time when we all come together and feel most like a family – the passion in that ballroom on a Saturday night is infectious, lifting your spirits and setting your soul singing. So much of that is due to Rob.

He’s more than the front man for an awesome band – he’s the linchpin that pulls us all together. When Rob had a stroke at the Toronto convention several years ago and had to give up conventions while he worked on recovering, we all felt his loss like a palpable thing. Not just fans, but his fellow cast members, missed Rob and his energy and kindness and sincerity – he’s never shied away from expressing his emotions, both in song and in words, and that has made the SNS the powerful emotional experience that it is. When Rob was gone, the SNS became all about keeping that emotional energy alive while we crossed our fingers and waited for Rob to come back and take his place at the mic. When he did? That concert was a ten-tissue-pack experience for everyone, on both sides.

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A Typical (Atypical) Fairytale – A Chat With Supernatural’s Brendan Taylor and Sabrina’s Annette Reilly

 

 

One of the wonderful things about fandom is how it expands your world. When I fell in love with Supernatural, I fell in love with a whole universe – not just the fictional one that I adore, but everything encompassed in the hashtag SPNFamily. That means I discovered beautiful music, met some of my best friends, participated in charity projects that have changed the world for the better, and discovered all sorts of creative projects that actors who have been on Supernatural have gone on to make. I mean, I never would have laughed my ass off over Kings of Con if I hadn’t kept following Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict – unimaginable!

My most recent discovery, from following the threads of Supernatural as they expand ever outward, came courtesy of Supernatural alum Brendan Taylor, who memorably played New Doug opposite Briana Buckmaster’s Donna on the show. I chatted with Brendan about his guest spot on the show last season and got to know him a bit, so when he tweeted about a new project, I decided to check it out. Am I ever glad I did!

A Typical Fairytale is a Storyhive winner, so it’s currently up on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. I watched it because Brendan was in it, but within a few minutes I was thoroughly and completely engrossed. It’s a magical little film, with wonderful acting and visually gorgeous, and told all in verse – it almost has the allure of a Dr. Seuss book, which to me is a very good thing indeed (or if you want a more recent example, Megan Padalecki’s beautiful books Big Mo and Little Moon). But that’s not what made me immediately contact Brendan to see if he wanted to do an interview about A Typical Fairytale – it’s because the film is important.

I’m a psychologist, so it’s my job to help people deal with whatever challenges they’re facing in life. I’ve worked with clients facing all sorts of difficulties, many of them coming from the culture within which we all have to survive. I’m also a professor teaching human development, and a researcher who looks at the impact of media on things like identity development, so I know how important it is to see your own experience reflected on a screen or in the pages of a book. A Typical Fairytale is the story of a king and queen and their child, the princess – who it turns out is actually a prince. The journey of the prince in figuring out who he is, and the journey of the prince’s parents in struggling to accept that their daughter is actually a son, are portrayed as a poetic fairytale – and yet their journey taps into emotions and reactions that are utterly realistic. It’s the sort of media that can make a difference, for children and adolescents in the midst of their own journey or for parents and other adults who need to be there for them.

The first time I watched it, I had to reach for the tissues. And then reach out to Brendan to find out more about the film. Turns out that A Typical Fairytale is a passion project for everyone involved, including Brendan and Annette Reilly, who both stars in the film and acts as director and producer too! Brendan and Annette were in Canada (Annette on her way home with someone else driving) and I was on the East Coast of the US, but we made it work with a late night conference call!

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Happy Ten Years on Supernatural, Misha Collins!

 

It was ten years ago that the character of Castiel was introduced on Supernatural, in one of the most dramatic and powerful entrances of any fictional character ever. We were writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls at the time, and sat down with brand new guest actor Misha Collins shortly after Lazarus Rising aired, so I thought I’d share a few excerpts form that chat in honor of the 10th anniversary.

Misha had just finished filming and changed into faded vintage jeans and a tee shirt, catching us off guard because he didn’t look much like the trench-coated angel we’d seen onscreen! He was so new to the show and the whole idea of fandom that he didn’t really know what fan reaction to his character was, so asked us.

Lynn and Kathy: Fans don’t always take well to new characters on the show, but they did to your character.

Misha: Oh I see. You hated the character.

Lynn: Did I say that??

Clearly Misha’s personality shone through even in the first ten minutes of chatting with him. Luckily.

Misha: (laughing) I think part of it is that it was such an interesting scene. The character is a super cool character and it was a super cool introduction to the character.

Lynn: Talk about dramatic!

Misha: Just the way it was built up, I think that made people receptive to Castiel.

Lynn: I always wonder if you can feel in the moment when some of your scenes are going to be very good and some of your interactions very powerful.

Misha: No, never. I’m not very good at telling. I think the things that are horrible actually turn out to be the best.

Lynn: Luckily you’re not editing the show.

Misha: You’re right.

Kathy: The first online community dedicated to Castiel was set up 42 minutes after the episode aired.

Misha: Why do you think it took so long? Maybe the servers were down or something…

I’m not sure we ever laughed so much in an interview as we did that first chat with Misha. We talked about his previous roles on Nip/Tuck and 24 and Charmed, about his childhood and how that led him to acting, about his own lack of experience with being a fan. And he asked us as many questions as we asked him – about conventions (he was about to do his first one), about fandom, about shipping, you name it! This was an entirely new experience for Misha, and he was in the very beginning stages of processing it and figuring out what it all meant.

Misha: I had no idea what I was walking into when I went in to audition for this show.

Lynn: What did make you audition?

Misha: The desire for a job. I think I didn’t even realize until after the audition that it was for a regular, I thought it was a guest star.   My manager told me I wasn’t paying attention.  It was a demon that I was auditioning  for – Kripke didn’t want that to get out to fandom.

Lynn: I love Eric, he’s always messing with the names.

Misha: He gave me a little direction, after I did the demon version once, he gave me a little direction to change it to be an angel, and he told me they hadn’t been down on earth for two thousand years  so there would be a quality of just looking at humans as though they were strange alien beings.

Lynn: You do that so well. I’m a psychologist, I tend to read people’s non verbals. And there’s this subtle sort of little twist you do, like regarding someone a little too long and sort of speaking a little more slowly, because you’re not sure of your footing. It’s subtle, but it’s very there.

Misha: Cool. It’s fun to play with that.

The origin story of the famous Cas head tilt!  And the rest is history.

A lot of our first chat with Misha is the last chapter in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls – he was pleased when we told him he has “the last word” in the book. A few years later, when we were putting together our next book, this one of contributed essays on Supernatural in Fan Phenomena Supernatural, we asked Misha if he wanted to write a chapter. He did – and it’s still one of my favorite essays ever. It’s surprisingly sincere and personal, but it’s also funny as hell. Maybe none of that is surprising, actually.

From Fan Phenomena Supernatural, here’s what Misha had to say about being cast on Supernatural, including his experience watching his very first episode, Lazarus Rising, air ten years ago:

Fandom and its many fascinating aspects have, for the most part, blindsided me. Not only did I not see it coming, but previously, I was only peripherally aware of its existence. For me, discovering this fandom was pretty much like getting kidnapped by a dragon. I didn’t expect being inducted into this world to be anywhere near as strange, wonderful or overwhelming as it has been. I didn’t expect any of it. I remember watching the season premiere of Supernatural Season 4 – the episode in which my character was introduced – with the producers and writers at a little screening party at producer McG’s offices in West Hollywood. Sera Gamble, a writer and producer on the show, was standing next to me as we watched. When my character came on-screen, she leaned over and whispered to me, ‘Your life is about to change.’ I thought, ‘That is a truly arrogant thing for a producer of a CW television show to say. I’ve been on plenty of television shows. My life is going to stay exactly the same, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Well, Sera,  I think I owe you an apology for that thought.

I’m sure Sera understood – but she was totally right!

Misha also wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, from his perspective almost a decade later. A portion of the proceeds from every sale benefits Random Acts, the charity he founded shortly after this amazing journey began – and one of the ways in which Misha has been changing the world ever since he realized he had a platform that allowed him to do so, thanks to playing Castiel on this little but long-lasting television show.

Happy 10 years on Supernatural, Misha!

–Lynn

You can check out Misha’s chapters and all

our books on Supernatural at the links on

the home page!