It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m missing Supernatural.
We all count on the things we’re passionate about to get us through the rough times in our lives. Our favorite shows and characters and books and bands inspire us to keep going, to never give up, even when things look bleak around us. Immersing ourselves in the things we love provides a much-needed temporary escape from the stressors of our lives, so we can let down our constantly-on-the-alert defenses and just spend time with some beloved characters or people. Spending time with our favorites – whether watching a favorite television show or enjoying the familiar songs of a favorite band – gives us the same chemical reaction in our brains as sitting down to dinner with our closest friends and family. That’s one of the many things that makes fandom healthy and beneficial.
I find myself wishing I could immerse myself in Supernatural right now, because these are tough times. For fifteen years, the show has been my go-to when I’m anxious or sad or dealing with a lot of stress, and right now we have a lot of that. I’ve grown used to hopping online at those moments, and being swept away by episode discussions and speculation and news and new photos of cast or episode promos or PR content in articles and videos. I’m spoiled by that, and have been for a very long time. When there was a hiatus (hellatus) it was temporary and we knew when it would end, and fandom stepped up and increased their fan-generated content to compensate. While that still happens, and I’m still in awe of and grateful for fannish creativity, it’s not as much as it was in the past, when there was so much being created it was impossible to keep up with it all.
The show stopped production due to the Coronavirus after one day of filming on its penultimate episode back in March, right after the last (and only, I think) convention of 2020 in Las Vegas. It hasn’t been safe to resume filming since then, which I think the entire fandom is 100% on board with, but it means that both cast and fans are in limbo, not knowing how or when the show will return – or how it will be able to wrap up. There was an announcement that the last seven episodes were slated to be aired in the fall – a sort of last ‘mini season’ continuing and finishing up Season 15. But no one really knows when it will be safe to resume filming or how – and where – that might happen. So Supernatural is not on the air, and that’s difficult. (Of course, if it had ended when it was intended back in May, it wouldn’t be on the air either, so at least we have something to look forward to). The pandemic has also changed the landscape for Supernatural fans and actors, who are accustomed to conventions at least once a month and sometimes more. Whether it was your one and only con that you were so looking forward to, or you’re a vendor who’s used to being ‘on the road’ and constantly at conventions, or you enjoy the photos, tweets and videos that fans post at every con, it seems very quiet in the SPNFamily without them. Fans miss seeing the cast at cons, and also miss seeing each other. The actors miss each other too.
I am looking forward to virtual Comic Con in a few weeks, but not as much as I was looking forward to my annual pilgrimage to San Diego, with all the insanity it entails and all the adventures with friends. Even if Comic Con wasn’t virtual, this would have been the first year that Supernatural didn’t have a panel and a press roundtable where we could all hear for the first time the scoop on the new season. I miss that! I am, on the other hand, so grateful to all the actors and fans who have put themselves out there in some way virtually during the pandemic, from Stage Its to virtual cocktails, from inspiring zoom video townhalls that have taught me so much to hilarious podcasts, and even a few fan-organized and Wizard World online cons. I did a virtual panel for Comic Con At Home with some of the Supernatural actors that’s coming up on the 26th, and I’ve had fun talking about the show in podcasts and video interviews for the new book ‘There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural’. When we busted our butts to get the book out for May, we thought it was because the show was ending then. Turns out we just really needed an inspiring book to get through this unprecedented time we’re living in!
Still, I miss my Show, and it’s hard not knowing how and when it will be back to wrap up. CW president Mark Pedowitz said in TV Insider back in May that “Everybody — the studio, the executive producers, Jared, Jensen, and Misha — all want to end 15 years the right way. So it is important that these two episodes that they will be shooting be done the way they hoped to do them and we will just wait it out. We are very much attached to this.” They’ll rearrange the schedule if they need to, Pedowicz said, adding that they planned to resume airing in fall 2020.
I take alot of solace in what Mr. Pedowicz said. Nobody knows whether that is more up in the air now that the spread and impact of the virus has gotten worse in many areas and there are travel restrictions in place. The uncertainty, for fans, is not just when will they finish it – but how. Will it be the same if they can’t film in Vancouver in the studios they have been in all this time? Will their long-time crew, who are like family to the actors, still be able to be with them? Will there be restrictions about what they can film, or how close they can be to each other? Will we lose out on some of the hugs we’ve been counting on – and needing badly? (Yes, these are the things that keep me up at night…)
Nobody knows. I’m pretty sure the fandom whole-heartedly puts the safety of the cast and crew before any consideration of what the series finale will be like. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid worry – for both actors and fans. We are all invested in this show, and after 15 years, we are all invested in having an ending that’s gratifying and meaningful and feels like what the fictional characters we love deserve. I know how much the actors care – they wrote about it in ‘There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done’ and have talked about it many times. I know how much fans care too. We want the show to be able to have the ending its creators intended, and for the cast and crew who have given so much of themselves for so long to feel like their characters got the ending they deserved.
A few days ago, an interview with long-time Supernatural director and producer John Showalter ran in the Quad City Times. “It’s really heartbreaking that the show is ending this way,” Showalter said. “We’re not going to get to do a big finale because of COVID-19.” It’s not clear what he meant and not a reason to panic – it could have been a reference to pandemic filming restrictions, timing changes, even the inability to have that epic wrap party that I’m sure they were all so looking forward to (and we were looking forward to the photos!) But there’s a lot of worry going around right now, for everyone involved with the show.
Like so many things in the time of this pandemic, it’s a complicated decision of when to resume filming and how. There are new projects and employment waiting for many people involved that bring a pressure to get back to work and there’s also the desire to film the last episodes the way they were intended; pressures that may be at odds. Of course we’re all anxious about that and we’re all understandably eager to have the show back on our screens. I miss it! However, I think we’ve learned a few things from this Show we’ve loved so long and so hard. Back in Season 1, when John Winchester said that ‘killing this demon comes before everything’, a very young but already wise Sam Winchester stood up to his father and disagreed.
“No sir. Not before everything.”
As often happens, the SPNFamily pulls their inspiration from the show itself. It’s lives that are most important. And on that, I think we all agree with Sam.
So stay safe out there, SPNFamily. Fingers crossed that, when the time is right, Supernatural can (safely) pull off one more miracle.
You can read the actors’ and fans’ personal thoughts
on the legacy of Supernatural in There’ll Be
Peace When You Are Done, links on home page!