I watched all 15 seasons of 'Supernatural' so you don't have to—here are my thoughts
"Why is Carey from 'The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody' here?"
If you’re not familiar with the blasphemy-ridden fantasy-horror extravaganza that is Supernatural, here’s a quick summary to kick us off: Two brothers called Sam (played by Jared Padalecki) and Dean (played by Jensen Ackles) hunt monsters, demons, ghosts, and more.
It’s a simple concept for a show with the potential for endless possibilities—there is so much supernatural lore to explore, and there’s definitely a market for it. Throw two unfathomably attractive leads into the mix and you’ve got yourself a winner, which is evident from the fact that it has been running for 15 seasons straight. In fact, Supernatural only just wrapped last Thursday, with the series finale leaving fans feeling bittersweet (more on that later).
The show began in 2005 and has garnered a considerable and loyal fan base since then (myself included). Personally, I’ve been aware of the show for a mighty long time—in fact, I’ve started the show many times over the course of its run, but I’ve never managed to get any further than season two… until now.
Five months ago, while looking for a new show to ruin my life with, I decided to finish what I’d started all those years ago. It was settled—I was going to commit to the long run. Did I come to regret that decision? Well.
Obviously, I knew what to expect going into this—after all, I’d seen the first two seasons (though it had been a few years) and I’d heard my fair share of spoilers from exasperated friends and Tumblr and Reddit users alike.
I was also familiar with Jared Padalecki from his roles as
white boy of the month Trey Lipton in the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie New York Minute (2005), and Dean Forester in Gilmore Girls (2000). That said, nothing could have prepared me for this show in its entirety. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and I swooned. Today, I’m going to explore whether or not it was all worth it.
PS: Some spoilers ahead. If you’ve already seen the show, disregard this message. If you haven’t, disregard it anyway because with the rate that characters on this show die and come back to life, nothing is really a spoiler. Plus, there are 15 seasons to get through—trust me when I say you’ll forget anyway.
The pilot episode starts with a flashback: Mary Winchester, mother to Sam and Dean, dies in a suspicious fire. Looking to avenge his wife’s death, John Winchester (father to Sam and Dean) dedicates his life to hunting monsters. He raises the two brothers to become proficient hunters: Dean (the eldest) falls in line with ease because he’s a massive daddy’s boy, while baby Sam grows to resent his borderline-abusive father because he wants a normal life.
Sam abandons the ‘family business’ as soon as he’s independent and eventually pursues law at Stanford University. Twenty-two years on, he’s living with his beautiful girlfriend, aceing school, and barely speaking to his brother, which brings us to the start of the series.
Daddy dearest goes missing while out hunting. Worried, Dean pays Sam a visit at his dorm and convinces him to help search for their father. Sam is initially reluctant to follow Dean, but soon relents and the pair head off on their first hunt. A bro-bonding sesh, a Pontianak and a few witty quips later, Sam returns to his dorm to find that his girlfriend Jessica has been murdered in the exact supernatural manner as his mother (bummer). This full-circle moment then leads him to return to the hunting life. Cue: The rest of the show.
It’s a strong pilot, and a strong first five seasons (fun fact: The show's creator Eric Kripke initially intended for the series to wrap up at the end of season five, which checks out). The stakes are high, the episodes are paced well, the leads are great in their roles, and it’s honestly a worthwhile watch. Plus, the plots tie in really well to the overarching theme of avenging their mother and Jessica, which kept me hooked.
The only cons at this point are the often cheesy CGI (just a product of its time), the sometimes glaringly dated direction, and the unnecessarily long, gratuitous sex scenes (seriously—why was this show so sexually charged?). Other than that, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, excluding that one episode about a racist monster truck (don’t even). 10/10.
Where it all goes wrong (or very, very right?)
Season four onwards is where it gets goofy. With this season came the introduction of angels and Heaven, which ended up governing the remainder of the series. While this wasn’t necessarily a bad concept to explore (they’d already introduced demons; angels were a logical next step), the way they explored it was—for lack of a better word—bizarre.
While there are a plethora of really great episodes and plots in the later seasons, along with the introduction of some of my favourite characters, the general quality of the show drops from here onwards. Or, rather, it’s when I stopped taking it seriously. I could just chalk it up to bad writing and call it a day, but it’s not as simple as that. The show actually does remarkably well on an episode-to-episode basis, but the overarching themes start lacking once they resolve the Mary/Jessica vengeance plotline.
I think the fault of the show comes down to the fact that the writers just don’t know how to
write escalate their stakes, as aptly put by Tumblr user prokopetz. Instead of switching things up once in a while using the plentiful material they already have, the threats always have to get considerably bigger and badder than the last. Then, just as the heroes lose all hope, the writers throw in a shiny new deus ex machina into the mix.
Every season is like this. They’ll introduce an impossible antagonist (Azazel, Lucifer, Dick Roman, The Grim Reaper—to name a few). Then, they'll have the boys overcome the odds with the help of Castiel, Jack, Rowena, Crowley, or some other divine intervention. Finally, they'll immediately undermine all of that progress with an even more impossible antagonist so they can set up the next season with the boys as the underdogs… again.
In the end, nothing changes; the boys are still in the doghouse, everything they’ve suffered through becomes more and more meaningless, and the events of the season—and heck, the series as a whole—are rendered unimportant.
Not to mention, by the end of series, the boys are literally trying to kill Chuck (AKA God), which both makes sense for the series finale and is completely stupid. Obviously, a lot happens in between to keep you invested, such as the friendships they have (though most of their friends are now dead), and the father-son relationship that Dean, Sam and Castiel share with the spawn of Satan (AKA Jack). Before you say it, yes it’s still entertaining, but it is also disappointing that the show starts off genuinely great, only to devolve into little more than fan-service and running gags.
With that said, it should be clear that I don’t watch Supernatural for the plot. I watch it for the laughs. It must be difficult to keep a show going for 15 seasons, and losing the plot is inevitable. That’s why, if you’re going to keep watching past season four, you have to stop taking it seriously.
The show clearly doesn’t even take itself seriously—I mean, one of the main antagonists of season seven is straight-up named Dick. The writers and the actors know how ridiculous the show is, and it’s clear that they are just taking the mick and having a good time
at our expense. The second you accept it, the show becomes good again. That’s why every season has loads of really fun, standalone episodes.
“This show is giving me whiplash.”
— Me, watching the 200th episode where the boys direct a musical about their lives
For example, there’s the Scooby-Doo crossover (S13E16) which remains one of my favourite episodes to date. There’s also the Wild West episode (S06E18), which was just an excuse to put Jensen Ackles in a stetson and spurs (not that I’m complaining). And, of course, there’s the meta episode in which the boys enter an alternate universe where they are actors in a show called Supernatural (S06E15).
The show roasts itself regularly, and it’s really fun if you lean into the idiocy. That said, when it’s bad, it's downright insufferable—which takes us to the series finale.
I just watched the final episode of the series. Now, while it is supposedly a neat and happy way to wrap up the story, it left me angry and underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy that the Winchester brothers finally catch a friggin’ break after a solid 15 seasons of suffering (kind of), but I hated that last episode.
Despite stellar performances from both Padalecki and Ackles, the dialogue was painful, nothing actually happened, and they ended the episode with possibly the worst cover of ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ in existence. I mean, I definitely wept while I watched it, but I also felt really stupid about it. It was so bad, I pretty much erased it from my memory immediately after, along with the rest of the final season. In fact—if I was going to subject myself to a rewatch, I just... wouldn't.
Overall, I love the show in its entirety, good and bad moments included. It’s outrageously dumb and wildly entertaining, but was it worth five months of my life? Absolutely not. This brings us to the final question:
Should you watch it?
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