The Winchester Family Business is finally closing its doors after 15 seasons. While the Winchesters spent all this time putting the world in mortal danger over their poor and rather delusional idea of brotherly love, only to save it by the skin of their teeth, they’ve still managed to be lovable along the way.
In a plethora of ways, the guys have grown since season one. In the obvious ways of manliness for sure (those jawlines could cut glass) and in maturity of their actions as characters. Separating the characters from their painfully overacting actors, I can openly say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Sam and Dean unlearn their ways of white male mediocrity and become the saviors the world needs.
Before we dive into the fictional world that flourished in Supernatural over the last fourteen years, I should start by saying yours truly called for the ending of Supernatural a little before now in another piece here. Saying, “While I enjoy watching the Winchesters make poor choices; putting the world in danger and eloquently dragging the hell out of religion, there is such a thing as too much of something good. The boys have been at the game of clumsily causing and barely handling supernatural shit-storms since 2005.(edit; 2004) …there are only so many plot-less seasons and angel chasing a girl can sit through.” I meant every word, but knowing we’re ending for real is a little more painful than I care to admit.
Entering the world of Supernatural was a hesitant move full of unrealistic expectations and fears on my part. Having a rabid fan-base with Stan-like qualities and an overwhelming “whiteness”, I was ready to be stopped at the gates and barred from entering a world I was so deeply excited about only two episodes in. It reminded me of a love for magic, ghosts and demons I hadn’t felt since Charmed. The Winchester brothers ignited the same flame in me previously stoked by the Halliwell sisters and more. (Fun Fact: The two shows share more than one opening/ending song.) I was also late to the party, with the show already boasting twelve seasons by the time I got around to watching.
While the rest of the fandom was enjoying the scruff men the Winchester’s grew up to be (season 12 was brand new to Netflix at the time), I was biting my nails at their baby-faced uselessness and alpha-male tendency to act before they think. Thankfully, the fandom was open armed and not only found amusement in my lateness but could care less that I didn’t look like them. There was an air of “you sweet innocent child you have no idea” as I was running out of yikes to give in the first three seasons. While acting first and asking questions later never really changed, other elements about the Winchesters and their world did and beautifully at that. In the end though my new family of fans was right, I had ZERO idea.
Looking at the show critically, the very things that made it exciting and endearing are the exact reasons it shouldn’t have run as long as it did. Multiple realizations that there will always be another monster, the boys choosing each other over the fate of the universe, deaths that didn’t stick (and some of the ones that did), “but dad”, “where’s my brother?” and the ever fun “where is Cass?”. Watching along may have stoked different feelings, but arriving late to so many seasons left me disappointed in how copy and paste each of them were. But watching beards grow and voices deepen kept me mostly satiated. *wink wink*
But this isn’t about what the show did wrong and could have done better, it’s about the things it did right. Even if it had to be worked at. As the show comes to a close, these are the things I can appreciate.
Christianity, Pagan Gods and the Rest of the Religious World
No other show I’ve watched by way of magic and demons, has ever attempted to truly tackle the undeniable link between a belief in the supernatural and Christianity; let alone where every other religion fits on the spectrum. Not only does Supernatural manage to nail this feat, they step away from the heavy handed “one true religion” mindset and allow for clear explanation of how and why the world’s religious views exist as they do, one “pagan” god gone rogue at a time. The show also handles touchier subjects for Christians like proof of God’s existence, why prayers seem to go unanswered, what angels really think about humans, and how God feels about atheists and worshipers of other gods and religions. Each answer was more eloquent than the last and manages to show viewers why faith in something, no matter what religion or idea it aligns with, is what matters most. In the end; Chuck, a cleverly written character who more or less is God, looks at humanity with both a blanket love and touch of disinterest, as he puts it, “I did include free-will in the kit.”
Life’s too short for bigotry. Literally.
The life of a hunter isn’t long by any means. It’s the mindset of hunt and be hunted; hunter’s expect to die doing what they do and don’t give life too much thought beyond that. When you’re aware of the dangers beyond normal human understanding, there’s no energy left for classism, age-ism, racism, ableism, sexism or homophobia. While the show still lacked more than the occasional token, it still managed to give us some memorable characters that weren’t just cis white males. A fan favorite character being Charlie, a do-good lesbian nerd with a lust for adventure. Although her somewhat off-screen death was unnecessarily brutal and largely unneeded, her character left a real imprint on the show. There were never any lesbian jokes at her expense and upon learning that she “liked girls” the Winchesters rolled on without missing a beat. In fact, every character presented outside of the spectrum of white and/or cis gendered was written as honestly as possible. Basically to say what made them different wasn’t what ruled their character or their interactions to the brothers. (none of that forced token crap) Supernatural gave us the likes of Roofus (a hilarious black male Jew), Eileen (a badass deaf hunter) and Jesse and Cesar (an interracial gay hunter couple).
“Friends are the family you choose.”
Very early into the show, Sam and Dean are taught by their father that they can only ever rely on each other. The “Family Business” was to solely consist of the brothers and any outside help they received was just that; help in the thinnest definition of the word, a one time assist. In fact, many times over the boys were hesitant to take help from anyone or flat out refused it. Whether it was planned for them to grow out of this mindset or not, the fact that they did is my favorite part of the show. Sam and Dean opened their family up to their worst enemy, an angel and so many of the characters that will be loved and missed as much as them.
Season after season (mainly after about season 5) the boys have overcome the pain of loss of and betrayal by those they learned to love. At every pivotal moment of the show there was a side or background character who through some great sacrifice turned Sam and Dean down the right track. I could even go as far as to say that some of the more painful deaths of the show were designed to push the brothers forward just as such losses do in real life. Other characters were there to put a mirror up to the boys as they became men. In a world where life is far from average, lessons have to be learned differently and Supernatural made sure to teach them as often as possible.
As a serial re-watcher, Supernatural will never truly end for me. I will thoroughly enjoy returning to the beginning and experiencing every moment as if I was seeing it for the first time. While I still firmly believe Supernatural ran for about five seasons too long, I can recognize where its length lent a hand to its growth. Without the time to tell and expand on the story, there would have been none of things I just relayed to you. Sam and Dean would have ridden off into the sunset as careless boys with little knowledge of the world and the people in it. Luckily, I still have some catching up to do, which will delay the ending just long enough for me to come to terms with it. But even with where I sit in their story, I will bid the Winchesters a very fond and tearful farewell.