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So I promised this post earlier in the week and I’m finally getting around to it! While I certainly want to share my thoughts with everyone, this is also dedicated in particular to phiremangston in hopes to convince her that we shared preconceptions about the show that don’t really pan out - and she should watch the whole series and not just jump in to see Misha Collins. ;) Encouragements to her are welcomed, but if you beat on her, I will cut you. *tries to look menacing*

ANYWAY! First off I should share why I didn’t start watching for a long time and how I ended up watching it just a couple weeks ago. After all, I’ve known about the show for years and yet didn’t even take a peek.

Note: I have seen through 4x05 “Monster Movie” at this point.
Spoiler Warnings: I don’t get into anything specific, but to be on the safe-side I’ll just say all seasons in general. Specific spoilers for “Ghostfacers,” though, since I get into that episode’s plot.



Introduction

Why not interested? I’ve always been intrigued by the occult, I enjoy a good mystery, and I watched shows like So Weird, Buffy, The X-Files, and various sci-fi things. So why not get drawn into this? Well, for many years, I didn’t really know much of anything about it and there are plenty of shows out there to watch, so I was entertained by other things. When SPN started coming on my radar, though, there arrived more of an issue that settled in my brain and has been there for a couple years now.

I’d heard, and seen a vid from YT someone linked me, that SPN has a habit of treating women poorly. They are always the victims, meet horrible deaths, there lacked strong female characters, etc.. Really that shouldn’t have put me off, I mean, let’s look at the long list of shows I watch, there’s certainly some among them that fit that description. Hell, I enjoy the boys-club A-Team and Man from UNCLE series! But anyway, this thought settled in my brain and kept me at a distance.

What changed? Well, in roughly the past year or so I noticed in friends’ LJs that people were commenting on the latest SPN episodes, writing fanfic, or otherwise participating in fandom. I tried to wrap my brain around my preconceptions with what I knew of these awesome people. I shared similar tastes with these friends and most of you have a feminist slant, so things weren’t really matching up in my head.

I can’t remember exactly what it was... Oh, wait. Maybe it was more and more posts about SPN showing up on my Tumblr dashboard. Anyway, something appeared on my radar to make me think about SPN in more of a focus a couple weeks ago. Also, phiremangston was talking about being torn between adoring Misha Collins but dislike/unknown-element of SPN. So these thoughts were buzzing around, and I think I mentioned something to J when I was over at her place hanging out. I then had an itch to marathon horror movies or something, so when J and I got together that Fateful Sunday, we ordered pizza, started watching SPN, and I announced that when I got home I was immediately going to download the rest of the series.

Impressions

I knew I was hooked by the end of the first episode, and ever moreso as we continued watching. All the while I kept an eye out and ear open to figure out what the “truth” might be in terms of gender (and sexuality) in the show. What I’ve seen has been a bit surprising when compared to the largely negative ideas I started with.

Lack of female characters: Hell, there’s a lack of repeat characters (at least appearance-wise) in general! This is not an ensemble show, like most things I watch. Look on IMDB and you’ll see that while Dean and Sam are in every episode (something like 140 I think?) the next highest appearance you see is 43 and 40 episodes for Bobby and Castiel. That is a huge difference, I can’t think of another show I watch (oh, wait MfU) that has such a small number of people who are regulars. So yeah, there’s no female character I’d really call a regular (Ruby is perhaps the closest, as I’ve seen so far), but in terms of general casting, it roughly evens out between males and females.

Portrayals of female characters: I take such joy in every appearance of strong, kickass women, and they show up a lot, in my opinion. Women are not always the (only) victims on the supernatural events, women are not always evil, and they’re not all shown in the same light. Like the men who appear in the show, you have the villains, the heroes, the ones who live, those who die, parents and siblings and daughters; you have the cowards and those in need of rescuing, but you also have those who gulp back their fear and charge in, armed and ready. My favorite early episode example of this is “Asylum” with the girlfriend who calmly takes the shotgun Dean hands her while her boyfriend is freaking out.

In terms of the repeat female characters I’ve seen so far, here are some of my thoughts:

Mary Winchester: Let me simply say that “The Beginning” made me excited and confirmed a suspicion I already had. :3

Ellen: My favorite repeat character next to Bobby. I love her strength, her no-nonsense attitude, her wit and intelligence, her role as a mother... Everything about her, really. She’s very human, very real to me and I wish she had more screen time.

Jo: I like her a lot, too. I grinned at her first appearance and loved that she just about broke Dean’s nose. :p Again she’s recognisably realistic with strengths and flaws. I want characters to like despite their faults, you know? She still has a certain childishness in terms of the need to rebel, but in a lot of ways she mirrors Dean in the first couple seasons (sans the serious codependency issues).

Ruby: So far I’m unimpressed by Ruby 2.0, and I’m not sure if that’s just because I think the actor’s doing a lousy job of continuing the character or what... Anyway, Ruby intrigued me from the get go. I know what she does, and how bad she is for the boys, but I think she’s a good character. As I was watching the end of S3 I also had to reluctantly admit that she made sense. Her arguments have a real weight to consider, which makes sense given that Sam isn’t a dunderhead yet still falls into her grasp. I don’t have to truly like Ruby or agree with her actions, but I do like how she has a decent fleshing out of her character.

Lilith: Scary. Bitch. /end impression from all of two episodes I’ve seen her.

Sexuality: I wanted to bring this up because of two particular episodes, the first being 2x21 “All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 1)” and the second, 3x13 “Ghostfacers.” While there’s snark and teasing throughout the show about one or the other of the boys “not swinging that way” or not being together (oh god, yes, I understand why there are so many Wincest ‘shippers), the teasing remains in character and isn’t at a level that I see as gay-bashing. Look, we joke about sexuality, it’s not always a big deal or have some ulterior meaning. Ahem. Anyway! Onto the episodes.

I was rather impressed that in 2x21 Lily has a fairly casual line about having a girlfriend. The line is said, the line is done, and the story continues. There’s nothing done about it or elaborated - but does it need to be? We hear offhand from other characters about their relationships and that’s not always followed up on. Honestly? I want more lines like this. I want sexuality to be part of typical, everyday conversations where things flow naturally.

Dealt with more directly in Ghostfacers, and in sort of an interesting, mixed way, we have Corbett. Corbett displays some of the characteristics of a stereotypical gay man, sure. He also seems to have joined the team pretty much just to keep close to Ed, who he has a crush on. That plot could just as well apply to a heterosexual couple, in fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen that before. Anyway, there’s a certain degree of discomfort(?) towards Corbett from Ed’s best friend, though that’s not quite the word I’m looking for. It’s more like... a sort of confusion or unsure how to act. Now the episode ends up joking at the end about gay love saving the day, but it’s not said derisively and the actual event surrounding it plays off... very sweet and a bit sad.

Wrapping up this topic, we could of course argue that the gay (or otherwise non-hetero) characters die and what kind of message does that send? But let’s face it, most characters on SPN die. The main characters freaking die. This doesn’t come off to me as “you can never have a happy ending!” (Goodness knows Joss Whedon does that to every damn quality couple.) So, yeah. I think sexuality has been interesting.

Wrap-up

Well, I hope I got most of the important thoughts from my head. I’m sure I’ll think of more, only to promptly forget as soon as I sit down to type. I hope you’ve found it interesting reading! I suppose my last thing to say regarding gender in SPN, since I didn’t mention it earlier, should be about female character deaths. I saw recently someone explain that “vaginas die on SPN” and yeah, that’s pretty true. Men die as well, of course, but as a repeat female character, she’s likely to kick the bucket. Is that unfair? I don’t know. I don’t watch the show to keep a tally of the deaths, though.

The thing to keep in mind is that this is fictional, you watch it for fun, you play in fandom for fun. Sure I wish there were more female characters or that certain people had more face time (Ellen!!), but I also get that that isn’t what this show contains. I’ll need to bow out to one of my other fandoms to get my kickass females (Rizzoli & Isles, Leverage, Bones, The Mentalist, Resident Evil...) and that’s okay with me.

I’m really loving Supernatural, so let’s hope that maybe I can rope phiremangston into it too. ;)

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
enigmaticblues
May. 29th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
You know, I had a lot of the same preconceived notions about SPN before thomasina75 dragged me into the fandom. There are a lot of misconceptions about the female characters, but as you said, it's not an ensemble cast. There are two main characters, and they're brothers. The few recurring female characters we get are strong, kickass women. (With the possible exception of Ruby 2.0, whom I never really liked.)

But this show is appointment TV for me. It's just fun TV.
enmuse
May. 29th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
I'm thinking it might bet the Ruby 2.0 actress. She just hasn't seemed like Ruby from what I've seen. (I don't remember having any real problem recognizing Meg when she reappeared.) I know it's a tough gig to follow up on a character from someone else... but still... :p
qbiggerthanlove
May. 29th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
A LOT of people don't like Ruby 2.0, myself included. I think my favorite episode with her in it (where she seemed REALLY convincing to me) was in the season finale of season four. I think Geneveive Cortese is amazingly sweet and can probably play other characters really well, but I think I was so used to seeing Katie play Ruby as this kickass character and have this entirely different attitude in season three that something in the way she portrayed season four Ruby was off and I just didn't enjoy it!

PS: How did you enjoy Yellow Fever? I just watched it myself, and pretty much died laughing all over again
enmuse
May. 29th, 2011 04:30 am (UTC)
DEAN & EYE OF THE TIGER! :D And J's sister joined us tonight (We're on "Wishful Thinkng" now) and we all cracked up over Dean and the Yorkie, aww.

Halloween episode was interesting - poor Sam and meeting the angels! :'( And then Dean not going in to help Sam! He couldda run in to grab the demon-killing knife to save Sam from using demon!powers. :\

I know things are just gonna keep getting tougher for them and it's breaking my heart! :o

Still loving all this. ;)
qbiggerthanlove
May. 29th, 2011 05:36 am (UTC)
That entire SEASON broke my heart! And the Halloween episode was awesome, I did feel bad for Sam, especially when he goes to shake hands with Cas! He was like... so excited to finally see an angel (it would be the brother who doesn't believe in angels who gets the first meeting and the other who has always believed to get the less than stellar meeting!) only for it to be awkward xD

I think one of my favorite scenes from Yellow Fever was when Sam opens the locker and the cat is in it and Dean just LOSES it xD
enmuse
May. 29th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
"Wishful Thinking" - BIPOLAR TEDDY BEAR! We laughed so hard. And when the damn thing shot itself I felt bad for finding it amusing *facepalm* Then cracked up that the normal!teddy bear had a "bandage" at the end. XD

Ahem, yes, Yellow Fever and the cat! lol Have you watched the blooper reels? Ahaha, more of Dean screaming. Was watching con footage earlier and Jensen talked about how the director kept rolling so he just kept screaming and making a fool of himself. XD

I'm thinking again of fandom and wondering how to go about tracking down some specific fic types... Like amnesia is my trope of choice, of course, but I'm really craving some gen or almost anything (well, I'd love some Dean/Cas) that specifically features a focus on Sam and maybe his interactions with or connections with angels...? IDK Still sorting through.

Anyway, it's getting late and I'm tired so I'll be signing off. It's so much fun geeking out about SPN!
qbiggerthanlove
May. 29th, 2011 06:20 am (UTC)
I LOVED that part in Wishful Thinking, because you see the fluff go flying, a pause, and then he just starts YELLING. I have a morbid sense of humor!

The gag reels are to die for. They're the first thing I do when I buy the seasons when I first buy them! Apparently there were even better scenes of Jensen freaking out but Jared kept laughing so he'd ruin them xD

I know of one LJ community that may be able to help you with that searching, because I don't think I've stumbled across any that focus on Sam and the interaction of angels! You can probably also look through the different tags as well, see if anything else grabs your attention :)

spnstoryfinders
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )