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Supernatural Thoughts

November 18th, 2009 (03:33 pm)
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I'm not sure what spurred this, but I've been having some thoughts about the show and my feelings on the show as of late. For whatever reason, I wrote them down and it came out kind of meta-ish.



For the last four years, I have had one main hobby: Supernatural. I randomly flipped to it back in S1 and wrote my first fic after “Asylum” first aired, and I haven’t really stopped since. I’ve produced well over 50 fics, countless icons, and participated in fic exchanges, message boards, and the like. And yet, pushing halfway through S5, something is beginning to change.

To the point: I’m losing interest.

Those who know me well (and some who don’t), know that I’ve been disenchanted with the show for awhile, namely the treatment of Sam’s character. But it’s still elicited my passion in extreme ways, even throughout the hard points of S4 and S5. So now that the boys are back together, I keep asking myself what my big issue is?

There are many things I could point to, but, after some thought, I realized it boiled down to something pretty simple. If I looked back and found the reason I fell in love with the show, I realized that, for me, I never really cared that this was about urban legends or supernatural creatures. No, I liked it because it was about family--it was about brotherly bonds and commitment and love.

Looking at where we are in S5, I can’t see this like I used to. After all, consider the three following major themes that drove the show in early seasons. As I thought about these themes, I realized how much they’d changed and are almost not even applicable to the show’s current context.

1. Saving people, hunting things. The family business.

There are many who may argue that this is still an underriding premise of the show. After all, the boys are still hunting things and they are still saving people. While this much is essentially true, the fact of the matter is that it is no longer about the family business.

This shift is entirely necessary of course, given the framework set up by the heavily developed mytharc. The idea that the boys would pursue random hunts during the apocalypse is hard to sell for more than a week or two. Otherwise, it just seems like the boys are either really stupid or irresponsible and the apocalypse then seems a whole lot less scary. Since none of these options are clearly good from a storytelling perspective, the old format--the monster of the week idea, where the boys pick up some research and drive into town and do some work before cleaning up the mess and moving on--has become almost always motivated by something related to the grander mytharc, be it angels or demons or something marginally related.

The problem is not so much that the hunts have to be more focused and therefore less diverse, but it’s an issue of motivation. Why are Sam and Dean pursuing these hunts? It’s less and less a choice for them and more and more of a chore. And not even the revenge bent of earlier seasons, but a pure and simple survival tactic. Simply put, the boys hunt because if they don’t go after it, it will come after them. Neither of them derives any semblance of pleasure or positive experience from this hunt. It is merely a necessary task.

On some level, that is somewhat heroic. They do what has to be done so no one else has to do it. However, the intensity of saving people seems muted now. While the boys are trying to avert the apocalypse and thereby save the world, the week to week angst is so based on saving their own skins that it very much seems that saving people is only a side effect. It used to mean something, and the boys used to connect if only briefly with the people they met on any given week. There was a notion of helping the world by helping individuals. The people mattered.

Now, it’s not about people, but the world. This is decidedly impersonal and the impact is far less powerful for the boys and the audience. By extension, this forces the boys to become less everyday heroes and more epic heroes, which on the surface sounds really nifty, but in actuality, just makes them far more generic.

The loss of the family business on the show also impacts the overall focus of the show. Whereas S1 and S2 were most definitely about family, the later seasons have shifted away from the family unit and focused more on the global concern. Again, this moves from ordinary to epic, which by default creates a far less intimate feel on the show. The idea of Winchester doesn’t hold weight anymore, not when the boys are cosmic pawns in a war that is bigger than them and, ultimately, far more important than they are.

2. You’re my brother, and I’d die for you.

Honestly, this one hurts the most. This sentiment was the defining aspect of the relationship between Sam and Dean. It was what made them who they were and what set them apart from most duos on TV today. And yes, it was a bit unrealistic and totally unhealthy and completely fascinating and appealing.

This was the dynamic that created tension. The brothers were very different people with real pain and real issues and the show didn’t shy away from that. They fought and they disagreed and they hurt each other and yet, in the end, always, always came back to each other. It allowed even the most ridiculous episodes to seem worthwhile because this was, as SPN writer Sera Gamble put it, the epic love story of Sam and Dean.

And then, it was gone. S4 was a cold season from both brothers. They were so screwed up and self invested that the idea of brotherly concern was barely visible. It popped up from time to time, but mostly, the boys angsted about their own things and didn’t seem to care too much about the other. Leading to the ultimate betrayals in the end: each brother hit below the belt and severed ties. I’m not interested at this juncture in the blame game because, quite simply, if this is the love story between Sam and Dean, then it was both of them and always will be. All relationships require two people and the deconstruction of a relationship is never one sided.

And maybe this would work. It was angsty and it was hard to watch and all of that. The problem, however, is in the resolution of this breakdown in S5. Instead of a shift back to you’re my brother and I’d die for you, we’ve moved into the boys having a working relationship with virtually no other vested interest. Sam and Dean don’t actually like each other. They might die for one another in a very simple sense, but the drive and passion that kept them together is gone.

In fact, they can and would work apart. It just isn’t in their personal interest to do that. Neither of them wants to do it alone so they have turned to each other in order to guarantee the best personal success. It’s not about each other, it’s about themselves. It’s much more of a duty and much more of a chore.

Worse than that, the show is making an active point of showing the boys letting each other go. Dean is becoming the ultimate leader, which in theory is really a good thing, but in execution, means putting his brother last, even when it’s not a necessary choice. These boys won’t do anything to save each other, and that is a huge problem in terms of what makes this show different and appealing.

No, I don’t want to see the endless cycle of deals. I hate the entire concept of deals to begin with. But you better believe that I want to see my boys doing anything and everything to save each other--not holding back because it’s the “right” thing to do.

Now, please understand. This isn’t Dean bashing or anti-Dean rhetoric or whatever. And yeah, I get all the reasons why Dean is having a hard time accepting and all that. The thing is--and this is the heart of my problem with the show right now--as realistic and mature as all of it may be in real life, it’s just not the show. It’s not how it started. And after the seasons of you’re my brother and I’d die for you and as long as I’m around nothing bad will ever happen to you--this? Seems incredibly hollow.

Sure, maybe TPTB are going to fix it. I honestly don’t know. The most recent ep gave me a tiny amount of hope--but it might be too little, too late. I just know that after a season and a half of this lack of connection, I’m realizing that I don’t like the brothers anymore. Either of them. The trait I loved best about both of them was the love and devotion they had for the other. Both of them have betrayed that, stomped on it, and kicked it neatly to the curb in order to become “mature” people.

And never has watching two partners on TV been more painful. The boys aren’t special in ways that count anymore. They’re just two people, stuck in a crappy situation, working with what they have to try to get out of it. There’s no heart anymore. And that’s why for the first time in five years, I’m not just upset. I’m actually losing interest.

3. Two brothers, one destiny.

So technically, this is still true. The brothers are both on a scripted path toward a single destiny in stopping the apocalypse. Dean is to be Michael’s vessel and Sam is to be Lucifer’s and they’re both equally awesome and special in amazingly perfect parallel ways.

Problem is, that this scenario means that the catch phrase about two brothers, one destiny is much more about Michael and Lucifer than Sam and Dean.

Sam and Dean are just avatars now, sort of limited parallels to some greater cosmic family struggle. This parallel does make them “special” but also makes them utterly devoid of individual importance. Now, Dean’s duty as a big brother becomes nothing more than a mimic of Michael. Sam’s rebellion that took him to college is nothing more than Lucifer’s butt being thrown out of heaven. And the ultimate resolution of this may involve both boys saying yes, but seems to be heading toward the ridiculous reality that the endgame will involve the boys’ bodies more than themselves.

This is no longer about Sam and Dean as people. It’s about Sam and Dean as hosts. And while we all are supposed to angst about how and if and when they say, it’s ultimately a moot point. The boys essentially have no way to be proactive at this point. Their entire struggle is a yes/no question now.

Now, this may still have worked as an endgame for the season were it not for the absences in point one and point two. But the fact is, the unique sense of Winchester is glaringly absent from the show, and without it, this is nothing more than a show about two guys who are stuck in the apocalypse. Will they win? Will they say yes?

I don’t know. But the question I’m asking myself more than anything is that when they finally get there, will I even have enough of an investment in the show I used to love to care.

Comments

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Posted by: tracys_dream (tracys_dream)
Posted at: November 18th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)

I do know where you're coming from, Supernatural has changed a lot last season onwards and I must admit that I was hoping for more brotherly moments this season after their growing seperation of season 4.
But I do not think all has been lost and I am hoping that we soon see more of the family love and values that Supernatural has always been about.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
broken together

I do hope you're right. I've just sort of lost my ability to be optimistic about this show right now. I think the estrangement between the brothers has just lasted so long and has never really be resolved in a way that really feels genuine--it's wearing me out at this point and I've started looking other places to get my fix of brotherly love.

Posted by: tracys_dream (tracys_dream)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
little bro 2

It has SO lost its spark, IMO. I feel like I should be enjoying this season because in the abstract, all the pieces are there. But there's something so quintessential missing that it's just not grabbing me the way it used to. The show tore apart the boys' relationship so thoroughly and completely and it just hasn't been put back together in an authentic or pleasing way for me as a viewer.

And I don't even know what to say about the development of the mytharc. It's so "big" now that it's taking over everything and we're getting new angels shoved down our throats at every turn. Every time they spend time pursuing the angel plot, all I can think is how much better the screen time could be spent exploring the pain and hurt Sam and Dean have been through.

And Supernatural IS from Dean's POV. To me, there's not really much of a debate there. There are a few episodes that are exceptions, of course, but since S3 (and somewhat S2, IMO), the show has heavily been from Dean's POV. After all, when Sam died, we stayed with Dean. When Dean died, we skipped four months and started up with Dean again. Sam's story exists as an extension of Dean, which is why the writers can put his story off screen for the sake of drama and tension.

I hope the show shifts back to what made it great. I just--miss it so much that it is almost exhausting to watch it at this point. I do it, but my joy is just gone.

Posted by: shang_yiet (shang_yiet)
Posted at: November 20th, 2009 11:22 am (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)

Posted by: dangomango (dangomango)
Posted at: November 18th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)

I'm not watching S5 right now because S4 left me feeling a little miffed as someone who likes Dean and Sam (I thought Sam got the rough end of the deal) but I'm sure I'll be reading this once I start watching S5 :) I think you do a great job exploring Dean's personality flaws in addition to Sam's, whereas I think the show tends to focus too much on the latter, making the former look better than he truly is.

Or something. Idk, I was left feeling that S4 was trying to show us how horrible BOTH the brothers were when left to their own devices (IE without the humanizing effects of the other brother's presence) but all the general comments about S5 were implying that Sam was WRONG WRONG WRONG and Dean was perfect, and yeah, so far, no S5 for me.

BUT I'll be reading this at some point. Probably all my blather above isn't even related to your meta, and honestly, I hope it's not, because I like to think that the show this season has done a good job demonstrating that BOTH Sam and Dean were right in their own ways.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
skin limp lights

Though I've always been a Sam girl, I really did always like both boys (though rumors may suggest otherwise...). But honestly, neither one of them is particularly likable anymore.

I wish I could tell you that S5 is worth it, but I'm really not the best person to ask right now. My thoughts are not so much about who is wrong and right, but much more about why this show just isn't what it used to be.

Thank you for your blather nonetheless :)

Posted by: pizzapixie (pizzapixie)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)

Yes. I agree so much. I watch the show, but I don't WATCH THE SHOW. It's formulaic,going through the motions but no heart. Can it be redeemed? I don't know. I'll see it through but the love is missing. From every angle.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
oops

Totally. It's almost masochistic now. I sit down every Thursday night and just cringe but I've spent too much time on it to abandon it completely. I just so miss my show.

Thanks :)

Posted by: carocali (carocali)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)

Yeah, I am definitely losing interest. I remember the days when I'd get so excited to come home on Thursday and watch the boys to see what adventures would befall them. Now? If I get home, cool, I watch. I'll chat a bit with some friends. I don't go to forums or blogs to post my thoughts of the episode anymore.

Both beautiful boys were 10 miles from me this weekend and I had no inclination to go. I do wish both Jensen and Jared well when the series is over - which I actually really hope ends this year - so i can understand as much as they hate going to the conventions, needing to placate their individual fan bases.

Maybe Kripke will pull a rabbit out of his hat, but sadly, I think you're right that we won't see that loving relationship again. They've damaged the characters - especially Sam - beyond recognition, ripping the soulful hearts of our boys to shreds.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
spooned

I do miss the early days--sometimes I positively PINE for them. It's gotten so bad that I actually have stopped reading fic for this fandom. Something which I honestly thought wasn't possible. But it's just not THERE anymore.

And they have damaged the characters--though I actually think they've been more damaging to Sam than Dean. The Dean on screen now--makes it hard for me to look back and like the Dean I thought I knew. Sam is just a walking tragedy and honestly, I'm half hoping he dies in the end so he can finally be put out of his misery.

LOL, I'm just a tad pessimistic :) BTW, I hope that I can email you soon with some pics of my little guy. You'll be amazed how big he's getting!

Posted by: zippy02 (zippy02)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)

This was a great meta Faye. It really helped explain and put into words why I too am not as invested in the show anymore. I wish somehow the writers could read it because I don't think the feelings are limited to Sam girls but are being experienced by many across the fandom. It isn't about who is on screen more, who has the mytharc, or even the angels. It is the fact that the show has lost a lot of its heart. ~Shelby

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)

The fandom does seem to be changing. I've noticed a lot of people have just sort of disappeared and more and more of the newer activity seems to be centered around Castiel and Dean/Castiel. But, then again, I've mostly stopped venturing into fandom so I could be totally wrong.

But yeah. This is way past who has the mytharc and screen time. This is just about the show missing what made it special. The love used to exude from the screen. Now, it's lost under convoluted plot lines, angsty speeches, and the like.

*sigh* I miss it :(

Thanks for commenting even if it's not a very happy topic.

Posted by: Entendre? Make mine a double. (deirdre_c)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
SN brothers beauty both

Here via musesfool. You capture a whole bundle of my own sentiments about the show's progression. So... yes. I miss The Family Business too.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
the things I'd do

While I don't wish anyone to be as disenchanted as I am, it's good to know I'm not totally alone in this thought process. Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
never alone

Me neither. I spent nearly two seasons waiting for my show to come back and I'm just now starting to accept that it may never actually happen. Thanks for the thoughts :)

Posted by: sothereyougo (sothereyougo)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
CuteDean Downward Glance

(Oh noes. I got wordy on you, so there are two parts to this.)

I suspect you had to know I'd be stopping by to chime in. It feels so strange to see you and other people here too using so close to the same language and even analogies and metaphors that I have been also to couch our concern and disappointment with the way the show was changed over the last season plus this one. I'm not saying there haven't still been enjoyable and good-to-great eps and that some parts of others haven't stood up to past standards, but overall what I'd say I feel most of all is a lack of discipline in the writing and choices that have been made over that stretch of time, and the result is a cumulative sense of loss of some of the best things about the show overall.

I really don't presume to suggest that in and of themselves overall plot / myth arc choices have been wrong per se. I'm a Whedonite, so I'm used to having my expectations rattled, but then maybe I'm also spoiled in that when that happened with a Whedonverse show, they almost always brought me around to their way of seeing things through the sheer brilliance of the execution. YMMV on my choice of comparison, but the point is that I'm not married to having a show necessarily go in the direction I had thought it would. What I do want though is for major detours and new directions to come organically from prior characterization, especially when SPN has such rich, deep, powerfully-performed material to work from.

I constantly question myself as to whether my being a Sam-girl overly influences my assessments, but I've finally decided that when you have a two-main-character show and then muddle up the presentation and development of one of them (Sam) so bewilderingly and then write the other inconsistently at times as well, then the overall effect is negative no matter which brother I feel the stronger affinity towards. Meanwhile, I may be a Sam-girl but never at the expense of Dean as a character. Quite simply, I've always loved Dean too, just not quite as much as I love Sam.

I have written about these issues of characterization quite a lot in comments and PM's, so here is a snippet from a PM that I think says pretty well how I feel about that subject:

We are worried and concerned at signs of slippage BECAUSE we care so much, not because we just like to hear the sound of our own voices or hold our status as critics as some kind of tool or power to be wielded for the sake of our own ego gratification. As fan-critics, as non-professionals, our only desire is for our beloved show to develop in a way that is true to its starting point, not in specific content and story direction even so much as in continuing to just make sense, to earn the character changes and developments they far too often present as fait accompli that just don't meet the sniff test of fitting in with the wonderful character histories and back-story that THEY THEMSELVES created.

While I would never be exactly happy for Sam to be the one to carry so much of the burden of guilt for the way things are currently going, I could have been persuaded to love it in all its angstiness if only they'd taken the trouble to write it to a believable standard. For one thing, if they had expected us to believe Sam capable of some of the things they've shown him doing, and much, much more problematically, if they expected us to believe the REASONS they've given us for why he did them, they needed to establish it far better. The problem is as we've both said over and over so many times is that they mostly didn't bother to give us his reasons, or they presented them in such a muddled, mish-mash of innuendo, implication, hint, and outright contradictions, that we just weren't given any dry land to stand on with Sam. And they haven't been doing Dean many favors in that regard either by writing him inconsistently as well, although I do think it isn't nearly as bad in his case as it is for Sam.


I also agree completely with what you wrote about how the myth arc itself is overshadowing and taking up entirely too much space and air in the overall show, and in this excerpt I commented on my concerns with overdoing the fandom meta as well:



Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)

It is always an interesting argument to consider--a sort of whose story is it anyway kind of thing. Ultimately, though, I think the show has shifted as a narrative away from its core premises. I think that's a fundamental issue when it comes to writing a television show--it's being view in progress, which is both a boon and an obstacle for writers. While it does allow for immediate feedback to impact the direction, it also lends itself to inconsistency and overall poor execution. So in some ways, I can sympathize with a show-runner losing control of his own creation based on many variables. However, none of that changes the fact that I still feel like it's lost something essential in its pursuit to become something more.

The show was relatively simple in its conception--there were elements of plot and mystery of course, but I always thought the characters grounded the series. However, as the mytharc exploded (seeming in response to the outcry of fans), the show lost its focus. It became about plot and less about character, which is why Sam's character suffered. He became "background" for the sheer sake of the plot. It wasn't about SAM it was about the mystery OF Sam, thereby shifting the story from being Sam's to being about Sam, a huge distinction in terms of how the audience connects or does not connect with him.

I'm still a bit gobsmacked about why they decided to do this, though I have my share of sordid Sam-girl conspiracy theories, let me assure you :) The thing is, I'm almost positive now that I'm not just frustrated because I'm a Sam girl or because I can't handle change--but because the show isn't fundamentally what I thought it was. How it came to this point is a long series of choices and efforts on behalf of the writing team, but it's glaringly obvious that S5 is only loosely related to the show I was obsessed with in S1 and S2.

I will ramble more in my next reply :)

Posted by: sothereyougo (sothereyougo)
Posted at: November 19th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
CuteDean Downward Glance

(Part 2)

. . . when the writing seems to be overly-reactionary to outside forces, it leads all the more to these kinds of excesses. For example, the fact that the response to the angel story line was big and included attention from mainstream press, seems to be leading to letting it overwhelm the myth arc itself too, as you have pointed out, to even going back to prior seasons and retconning things that worked just fine the way they were. Separately, the fandom-related eps have gotten a big reaction, both positive and negative, in fandom, but that doesn't justify over-indulging in the trope to the detriment of the self-contained world the show has created. Yes, we all know it is only a TV show, but, on the other hand, too many eps self-consciously focusing on it (or the stand-in of Chuck's books) detracts from the fact that they're doin' the freakin' APOCALYPSE here, an undertaking that requires the audience to suspend disbelief and buy into that world-view. And it's just harder for me to do when they make me picture Becky and the whole freakin' fandom riding along in the back-seat of the Impala with Sam and Dean.

I've also mentioned my sadness at losing the old excitement I used to feel on show-day:

I hate it so much though!! I used to wake up on show-days just giddy with excitement and looking so forward to seeing what would happen on the show and getting to learn something new about Sam and Dean. I'm now at the point that the show does seem, in some eps at least, to be more like that abusive boyfriend (as I've used that metaphor before)to the degree that it's starting to make me feel bad about myself for tolerating the abuse. I know that may be way over-reacting, but it's just the contrast between the old giddy excited anticipation I used to have and the anxious dread I have now.

In the example above, the "abusive boyfriend" analogy I mentioned refers to the idea of the show being a sort of parallel to many descriptions you see in the media of domestic abuse (please note that I am only using the idea as an analogy and in no way disparaging or downplaying the effect of real-world abuse. In other words, I do love me some hyperbole.) where a person has a difficult time leaving the abuser for good because they do still offer some good things and because of memories of good times in the past. Eventually though, the sheer fact of tolerating the abuse contributes to an overall loss of self-respect. What I'm basically saying is that I miss those old good times, and I'm holding on to the show because of them (and because I do still love Sam and Dean despite myself.)

Finally, this last analogy has to do with my anxieties for the future and for the culmination of the series as a whole, and all I can add is that I hope Kripke and company prove me so wrong that I'm humbled and ashamed for doubting them. I do want that more than anything, but I'm too busy worrying to feel the hope:

. . . it's not like I don't understand that to have drama they have to inflict, at the very least, emotional pain and suffering on the main characters of the show. I do get that, but I'm back to that whole trust thing again. Now, my anxiety is that I don't quite trust them to put the Winchesters and the audience by extension through this horrible wringer but to do so organically and with consideration for everything that's gone before and then pull it all together with a payoff that does everything the justice it deserves. Here's another metaphor: it's like watching somebody hand a small child (who you know and love and have no reason to think would ever DELIBERATELY do you harm) a beautiful, fragile piece of art that is your prized possession, and then you are forced to sit there and watch the child play with it in a more and more frenzied manner to the point that you're in agonies waiting for the kid to destroy it utterly and beyond all recognition. (Clearly, the one thing that the analogy doesn't take into account is that this child is actually the one to have made the glorious work of art to begin with.)


On a more selfish note, all this anxiety is slowly poisoning my fic writing muse, and I hate that because fic is what pulled me into fandom to begin with, the reading and the writing of it.

Edited at 2009-11-19 11:37 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
pretty sam

The recent shift toward fandom pandering is pretty indicative of the writing team's mindset, IMO. The writers, in some ways, seem to be believing their own hype. They know they have a cult hit on their hands and as they receive more mainstream attention, they seem to be wallowing in the noted elements to the detriment of what really made the show work.

And it's especially weird because I don't feel like much going on in S5 actually reflects the boys. For example, though Changing Channels had some amusing moments, it didn't seem particularly in character nor do I believe that it was written with Sam and Dean in mind, but rather as a springboard for the writers to voice their own little digs and inside jokes. The characterization alternates between shallow and disingenuous to me. I almost feel like the writers feel like their characters are established so they no longer have to actively create them, leading both boys to seem like lesser versions of themselves.

The abusive boyfriend parallel is quite apt, in my mind. It's very much my relationship with the show. I derive almost zero positive benefits from it as of now, yet I'm still sticking with it because of what it once was.

And your child destroying art theory is painfully accurate! The fact that the child made it himself is even more painful--because yeah, technically it's his "right" to do whatever he may with it, but that doesn't mean that it's the smartest or most compelling choice.

It seems to be killing muses left and right--mine seems to be rather MIA at the moment as I slowly get distracted by other shows that actually make me happy.

Thank you for your thoughts--compelling as always :)

BTW, I don't remember if you were waiting, but I thought you were--I finished my GG fic :)

Posted by: I breathe therefore I write (sandymg)
Posted at: November 20th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)

Very eloquent post. I'm a new viewer to the Show. Just discovered it this past summer and raced through 4 seasons on DVD to catch up live. I'm going to give the writers credit that what they tore down so spectacularly they will build up again organically. The relationship is bandaged now and empty feeling exactly as you say. And the brother's relationship is the Show to me -- everything are the props.

But as slow as season 5 has seemed if it went too fast would it satisfy. What took 22 episodes to ground to dust should perhaps need the same to forge anew. I hope above all that something -- a flashback ep, a weechester ep, an AU that reminds them of what was not just in images but in their hearts, will be the catalyst for what you say. Turning what Dean fanboy said into reality -- "A brother who'd die for you" not matter of factly, but emotional reality.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
never desert you

It's always interesting to hear from a newbie's POV. I hang out with people who have mostly been fans since the beginning or early S2, so it's a decidedly different perspective.

I think the problem for me is that I've had to put my faith in the writers for too long--with no payoff. I've had a number of issues throughout the years that I've deferred to the writers out of trust, and without fail, each time, I've been disappointed.

That said, I hope beyond all else that you are correct. But the show has broken my heart many times in the past, so I'm having trouble believing :) As it stands, I'm not convinced the show WANTS to return things to as they were in early seasons, but is actively preferring this emptier, "mature" look at the boys. Time will tell. Until then, I'm still watching and wishing that I wasn't.

On a side note, I do think it's a different POV being able to watch a show on DVD--probably for the better. I've watched several series that way and have thoroughly loved them, though I suspect they would have driven me nuts in a week to week format.

Posted by: The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors (halfshellvenus)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 08:24 am (UTC)
Sam & Dean Gen

Wonderful meta here-- you've voiced all of my frustrations with the show after S2, and said them very well.

This was the dynamic that created tension. The brothers were very different people with real pain and real issues and the show didn’t shy away from that. They fought and they disagreed and they hurt each other and yet, in the end, always, always came back to each other. It allowed even the most ridiculous episodes to seem worthwhile because this was, as SPN writer Sera Gamble put it, the epic love story of Sam and Dean.

That's what really pulled me into this show. The monsters and the setting were just an unusually-flavored backdrop for the dysfunctional family drama that I really enjoyed. I was hooked on the show precisely because of what it DID say about family-- that even when it's imperfect and impossible, so long as there's love you will always come back to it, because the love matters more than whether things are ideal or easy.

And god, how the show has lost that feeling. The boys are strangers in Season 5, and the whole heart and soul of the show is dead and buried. It was hard enough watching it slowly die, in S3, but harder still trying to love the show now that it's dead. My trust in its resurrection is gone, because I no longer believe that Kripke believes in that epic love story of Sam and Dean. I think he believes in the epic story of staggering mytharcs at this point, and that frankly doesn't do much for me.

I just know that after a season and a half of this lack of connection, I’m realizing that I don’t like the brothers anymore. Either of them. The trait I loved best about both of them was the love and devotion they had for the other.
This disconnection has effectively killed the characters for me. Not "matured" them, but killed them. They're shells of their former selves, and not terribly interesting ones at that. It was never about the mission for me, it was about testing the bond between them as it helped them get through the mission.

I als very much liked your point about how increasing the scale of the show's focus, where the characters have become "epic heroes" of all humanity, has made them more generic and the show less interesting.

This no longer feels like the story of Sam and Dean, let alone the epic love story of Sam and Dean. This is some Apocalyptic showdown with guns and fire and a pair of pawns we once thought we knew.

God, how I mourn the difference. :(

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
spooned

that even when it's imperfect and impossible, so long as there's love you will always come back to it, because the love matters more than whether things are ideal or easy.

That is exactly it. It's sort of perplexing to hear the writers talk about creating more mature versions of the characters and having them grow up--it seems that to some people, "maturity" means putting conditions on love and breaking ties with people out of fear of getting hurt. There was something unhealthy about the boys in early seasons and how life didn't exist outside of family, but in other ways, it was the most heroic quality of all. Family mattered in and of itself. To love someone enough that you would die for them not because they deserve it necessarily but because they're family.

And I agree with you in this:

I no longer believe that Kripke believes in that epic love story of Sam and Dean. I think he believes in the epic story of staggering mytharcs at this point, and that frankly doesn't do much for me.

Some people like to suggest that we trust Kripke, that it's his story and so on. While it is his story, he doesn't seem to understand what made it so great. The fact that he always seems to go for the surprise and shock factor at the expense of the characters is quite telling.

You are not alone in mourning it. I think I've gone through the varied stages of grief many times in regard to this show. I'm here until the end, but the joy is irrevocably gone.

Posted by: nerthus (nerthus)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
pic#95018934

Your meta and all the stunningly insightful comments here concerning the show have left me more depressed than ever as to the final direction Kripke seems to be heading with the series. I agree with all that's been said here and I find myself not only sad but ANGRY that the writers and Kripke have done this to the show and, more specifically, to Sam and Dean. I fell HARD for those two boys and their relationship, it was like nothing I've ever seen on any tv show or in any movie, and I was enthralled by their bond and by the gritty, tragic back story of their lives and by John and his idea of parenting in the wake of all that happened to their family. I have rewatched seasons 1 and 2 over and over, to the point that I had to buy a new box set for season 1 because my first one was about worn out, ha; but in season 3 I think I only rewatched less than half of the episodes for that season, and in season 4 probably the same. And as things are shaping up in season 5 right now, at this point I doubt I will buy season 5 at all, which stuns me with sadness that I wouldn't even WANT to rewatch what was once the epic center of my tv passion, sigh. I am a Sam girl through and through and spent most of season 4 feeling so pissed off at all the Sam bashing and hatred coming his way and all because the writers totally messed up in presenting a holistic view of what was really going on with Sam in his heart, soul, and mind. He was vilified unmercifully and his character sacrificed on the altar of glorifying Dean, which had the effect, for me at least, of damaging and near-destroying Dean's character every bit as much as Sam's was ruined. Why? Because, even after all they've been through, at their hearts those boys should and would STILL die for each other and come back to each other, and the Dean who treated Sam the way he did through most of season 4 just isn't DEAN anymore. Then you have the writers throwing in these bizarre and mostly pointless 'comedy' relief eps that apparently tons of fans just ADORE but which have me sighing "Oh, God, not AGAIN; this is not a fricking sitcom!" and their inclusion just shoves the whole SPN vehicle even further over the cliff's edge to dangle helplessly over the abyss of no return. I could tolerate "Changing Channels" because at least it did have something to do with the whole Apocalypse and with the back story of the Trickster; but then they had to ruin it (IMO)by retconning the Trickster into a freaking archangel; what the hell, people, what the hell? Which has now pretty much ruined for me those older eps with the Trickster, who was an intriguing character/legend in his own right AS a trickster but now that is gone and twisted, too. He's just a metaphor for the direction of the whole show, and I am so depressed now that it shames me to let myself be so affected and feel so so betrayed by a show I loved with such utter and complete fannish passion its first two seasons.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)

I can't even bring myself to watch S1 and S2 because the later seasons have so tainted my view of the characters. I'm just not sure that they are who I thought they were. I agree that they have been equally ruined, though in very different ways.

I only purchased the S3 DVD when it was on sale for 20 dollars. I would only purchase S4 at a similar price, and even then, I'm not sure. So the idea of buying S5 looks highly unlikely. There just aren't any eps I want to rewatch. I can think of maybe one complete S4 ep that I can say I actually liked completely--beyond that, there were moments, but overall, I wish to mostly forget the season happened. Which is better than S5, which so far has no episodes I want to rewatch in their entirety.

And I agree with you on the Trickster--so indicative of the show's direction and its constant sacrifice to its ever-growing mytharc.

Thanks for your thoughts :)

Posted by: trinaaron (trinaaron)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)

Oh boy, where to start.

I agree with what you have to say about saving people. Individuals aren't even on the radar anymore. Remember when killing a possessed person was a big deal? Now they will take out anyone who gets in their way. And they are inconsistant about it as well. In this latest episode Sam rather brutally killed two demon/people. But he later was shocked when Lucifer killed all the demons he needed for the spell.

And now I will contradict myself a little. I love brutal Sam. I think his character works best when he is angry, cold, and violent. In seasons 1 and 2 I thought he tended to come across as very young and "why me". In season 3 he started changing and that was when I fell for the character. As Jared matured both physically and as an actor Sam became the more mysterious and dangerous brother, and I loved it. IMO Jared did his absolutely best work in the second part of season 4. Meanwhile Dean started having more "chick flick" moments than I thought possible in one season. He talked about his feelings with anyone and everyone. It was tedious. And that brings my rather longwinded reply around to your point number 2.

Sam spent season 3 worrying about Dean. He even tried to get Dean to open up about Hell in the beginning of season 4. Sam spent season 4 falling apart and Dean seemed not to notice. Instead the writers had Dean focus on his own issues and guilt. It was during a conversation with Tessa where he emo'd about how the loss of his Dad and Sam affected him that I gave up on Dean a little bit. My thought was "Hey Dean, can you think of anyone else who has lost everyone they love and might be suffering?"

Like you said, all this would be fine if they can find a way to address this (as well as everything Sam did, cause God knows he is far from innocent) and bring back a version of the dynamic. They have 12 episodes to do it.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
scarred for life

Interesting take on Sam. On some level, I think I agree. As hard as S3 and beyond has been on Sam's inherent goodness, I do think his character is far more engaging than Dean at this point--and, despite the fact that so much of his characterization is in the background, I still feel like Sam's story is more human.

Dean's just sort of seems--well, like a bad fic. He's the quintessential Gary Stu who has become the epitome of selfishness. I'd take Sam's lies and his demon blood addiction any day over Dean's inconsistent and effusive self-pitying.

And okay, that makes me sound pretty anti-Dean, but the thing is, I HATE that I feel that way about Dean. I really, really do. I would give anything to have S1 Dean back--he was far more compelling.

My biggest thing is that I'm not convinced the writers 1. see the problem or 2. care about the problem. I half think that the writers are too set on appreciating their own genius to notice.

Not that I'm cynical or anything :)

Thanks for your thoughts.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 28th, 2009 08:59 am (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)

Posted by: dangomango (dangomango)
Posted at: September 11th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
lame comment is lame

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 22nd, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)

Hi Faye. I agree with every point you made. I'm a die hard Sam girl. I love him. But I don't much like him much now. Dean? Don't like him much nor respect him.

here's the thing for me. I find what he told Dean in Shadow to be dead on. He's not written as a person, never has been. He's always been a plot devise...something to be killed or saved..soemthing that might go evil. And we rarely ever get his thoughts and feelings about it. Kripke certainly never let Sam explore how it felt to know his father felt he might one day have to be put down like a rabid dog. And Dean was just waiting around to see if Sam would start foaming at the mouth.

And then Dean's death was a big deal. John's death was a big deal. Bobby's parilaztion was a big dead. There was exploration of feelings and we see the impact of these things on Dean and on Dean and Bobby. Joe and Ellen die...they get a big build up and go out noble heroes. Sam dies....he never has a thought or feeling about his own death..no questions. It just happens becasue its a plot devise to spur Dean's great sacrifice...whom no one would EVER want from a loved one.

I'd prefer it if Sam ate the Colt. it would be better then the writers turning Sam into a background set piece whose barely allowed to interact with anyone anymore.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
brothers malleus

For everything the writers have done to Sam, I am of the mind that they've ruined Dean far more. He is so much a caricature, overdone and over the top to the point where nothing about him seems genuine. He's become the Mary Sue of the show--and his unceasing "rightness" just makes me roll my eyes. I fell in love with a very different Dean and this incarnation of him makes it increasingly hard for me to like him.

And I WANT to like him. Despite my rabid Sam girl ways, I really, really want to like him. But by taking away the boys fundamental love for one another, the show took away the one thing that defined it more than anything else. Now it's all muted and empty and it's just not enough for me.

Sometimes I wonder why Sam doesn't eat the Colt. He has no purpose anymore--no one seems to care about him. He's a disaster waiting to happen. Since everyone thinks he's going to give in anyway, he might as well go out on his terms and not the devil's. I doubt anyone would miss him except Lucifer.

But I'm getting off topic :) Thank you for the thoughts!

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