How I Spent My Summer Vacation

That’s a joke, because this hasn’t been the most relaxing summer for me. Actually, between work and other work, it sometimes feels more like this. tumblr_m6bmcgbj2e1rziwwco1_500

So anyway, did you know that Netflix Instant has 195 episodes of “Supernatural”? Which doesn’t even include the to-be-added season 10? And that a season freaking 11 will air in the fall?

Of course you know that. Everyone knows that. But it took me a while, shall we say, to discover the feels-heavy, ever-entertaining, sometimes cheese-tastic greatness of “Supernatural.” For the longest time, I thought I was too good for this show, or that it would be too hard to catch up with. Or something.

I’m a huge “Buffy” and “Angel” fan. I was a crazed “X-Files” fangirl back in the day (you can really see the look of that show in early “Supernatural” episodes, especially the ones directed by the late Kim Manners). And I’m generally a fan of series starring attractive men and their vintage cars. (My dad used to drive a rat-brown early-’70s Impala. He was not a monster hunter.)

But, for whatever reason, I spent a while confusing “Supernatural” with “Criminal Minds,” which premiered the same fall. I gathered that both shows were bloody and violent, and I didn’t want to watch yet another procedural where girls got chained up in basements.

A year or so ago, I noticed the show was on Netflix and finally gave it a try. The pilot was fine, but the second episode lost me. It felt like just another “X-Files” rip-off. Besides, I couldn’t seem to keep straight which was Sam and which was Dean, despite their looking nothing alike except both being tall and ridiculously handsome.

(This problem would persist longer than I care to admit. I finally figured out that my subconscious brain still categorized Jared Padalecki as Dean from “Gilmore Girls.”)

So why did I give the show another shot? Fandom.

I wanted to write a novel about fanfic writers, and I was well aware that roughly 85 percent (nonverifiable figure) of the fanfiction currently available on the internet is all about “Supernatural.” True, “Teen Wolf” is the younger, up-and-coming TV fandom, but the first few episodes of that show didn’t appeal to me, either. So I tried “Supernatural” again — this time starting with season 4, where the plot is more serialized and less dependent on Monsters of the Week. Also, I wanted to meet Castiel the angel, since so much fanfic centered on him. That usually means the character and performance are memorable in addition to the actor being at least as attractive as everybody else on the CW.

I was not disappointed.

There’s no point in discussing the intermediate phases of my infatuation with “Supernatural.” Suffice it to say that somehow I went from watching the occasional episode (with frequent skips) to watching two to four per night and backing up to catch the seasons I’d missed (and dismissed).

I finally got to meet John Winchester and see the family dynamic. I went from mainly just liking that weirdo Castiel to having lots of feels about the brothers and frequently asking myself, “What would Dean do in this situation? Why can’t Dean be here to fix my car?”

I laughed, I cried. I tried to make my sister watch the show (she hated it). I read endless discussions of the show in the comment sections of three-year-old AV Club recaps. I wanted to bake poor Dean a pie. I wished I could hallucinate Mark Pellegrino’s witty Lucifer. I gritted my teeth whenever I mentioned the show to fanboy types and they gave me a footnoted lecture about how it should have ended with season 5. I will defend (parts of) season 6 to anyone who asks.

So, yeah. Eating my words, if a decade-long dismissal of “Supernatural” could be considered “words.”

I’d call it a “guilty pleasure,” but I don’t feel that guilty.

I’m currently up to episode 9.4 and episode 2.11, having seen all of seasons 5 through 8. Watching a show from two different starting points generates dramatic irony aplenty. When Dean gives his angsty season 2 speeches about how he just can’t go on, I get all misty with him, and then I laugh because things are going to get so, so, so much worse.

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It’s hard being a character on a long-running genre TV show. But kind of inspiring to the rest of us who don’t have to face a new Big Bad every spring, or do the full tour of heaven, hell and purgatory, or risk a major injury every time we go to work, or find out that God works in “mysterious, douchey ways” and destiny has screwed us royally.

Frankly, I’d still hesitate before recommending “Supernatural” to people I know, because anyone who’s likely to like it probably already does. Besides, not everyone enjoys a show where nearly every other episode features a gleeful shot of blood spattering against a wall/mirror/Dean’s face. It’s a horror fan thing.

The thing about “Supernatural”: It’s basically a decade-long acknowledgement that girls can be horror fans. Or, to be more precise, that people who crush on male actors can be horror fans. Yes, the show has problems with its female characters. Big ones.

But for someone my age, who grew up with “Charlie’s Angels” and slasher flicks, it’s amazing just to see a dark, violent genre show serving a primarily female fanbase. It’s a recognition that chick flicks and other pastel stuff aren’t the only “feels” women can enjoy. (Yes, “Dark Shadows” made the point first. But I’m not quite old enough to remember that.)

So, will I watch the show live when it comes back?

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I knew there was a reason I still pay Comcast for 22 whole channels.

Question is, by the time S11 rolls around, will I still be a “Supernatural” super-fan? Or will I get jaded and eye-roll-y like so many people who watched the show from the beginning? Updates to come.

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