1/2 (While i do NOT ask this to be negative at all, i realize it could be a controversial topic so feel free not to answer!) I have a friend who stopped watching SPN a few years ago after, according to her, they jumped the shark to the point she just couldn't take the show seriously anymore. Now, i'm so deep in fandom it's hard to step back and be objective, but that's not the first time i've heard that complaint, and it got me thinking; obviously i love the show.
2/2 But it did make me casually wonder what keeps me coming back to it specifically, because ibr if any other show had made some of the same writing, plot, etc. choices as SPN has, i’d diagnose it with a serious case of the trope “seasonal rot” and move on. But i haven’t. And i think it’s because SPN is SO character driven. Like, these characters make the show and the genuine heart and love shows through in the writing. I think that’s what balances out the at times questionable quality for me.
Hi there. I just reblogged this post over here that mostly expresses my feelings about this:
I think it’s really not accurate (nor fair) to describe the character growth and narrative progression as “seasonal rot.” I think that’s sincerely missing the point.
From a podcast interview with Davy Perez shortly after 12.04 aired (Not About The Weather, episode 8):
(Sorry, y’all, I started transcribing this two hour long interview, spent two days transcribing the first hour last November, got to 7.5k, and haven’t had a chance to finish… )
N: It’s really interesting, because what you mentioned as well with Dean when he was living his sort of normal life with Lisa and Ben, it’s interesting as well because we’re six years on from that. So how do you look at that kind of thing and then go okay. How do you stop it being regressive, if you know what I mean? How do you go like, oh, he’s actually grown from that, or if he hasn’t or if he has. How do those decisions get made?
DP: For me I think it’s funny because I might have read it in a book somewhere, or maybe it was advice I got, in regards to writing television versus writing film. When you’re writing a film, you’re writing what is hopefully a complete journey, where a character gets called to action, where they go on their journey of discovery or their journey of tribulation, and then they arrive to an end point and you find, “Oh, I’ve learned this lesson,” or “I’ve grown so much.” And that was a satisfying, closed-ended story. Television doesn’t work that way. Television is about a character that you become invested in, and that you fall in love with. That character grows in incremental ways. Not only do they grow in tiny little increments, and sometimes don’t even grow, they go backwards. You don’t close the loop. You keep the loop open, so that hopefully when you know that okay, this is our final season, this is our final run of episodes, that’s when you can find those landing points, and that’s when you can sort of say this is the end of this journey.
As far as having to imagine what Dean might be eight years ago, well all I can say is that’s who Dean is. There’s a well of knowledge to watch, and you can see that that’s who he is. Maybe they’ve grown in some small way. Maybe Sam can talk about the psychic stuff where maybe before he didn’t even want to talk about it, but he’s not a completely different Sam in that he’s learned from his mistakes and will never make the mistakes again. You want to make sure that you’re staying true to who they are, and allowing the characters to just live in those moments, and to of course grow and have that journey, but to really take time. In an essence you really enjoy those incremental growths and they mean so much more.
This is exactly what I’ve described as the “spiral narrative” where the same things come up over and over again, putting the characters in similar situations. But this has become a character-driven narrative. The mytharc is entirely secondary to what the characters are going through.
Playing “spot the difference” each time you see a “wait, that’s really familiar” moment is where you really SEE those incremental growths. This is not “seasonal rot.” I find myself irrationally offended on behalf of the writers here… like, got up and stormed around the house ranting out loud to myself.
So when meta writers talk about how the writers are doing all of this intentionally, we literally really truly do mean the writers are DOING THIS ALL INTENTIONALLY. They have even TOLD US THIS IS THE CASE IN ACTUAL WORDS.
I wrote a thing recently that sort of touches on this a bit, that started out as a reply about character driven vs plot driven narratives, but I think it also goes a little way toward explaining some of the reasons why people are having difficulty understanding what the show is doing now:
If folks are still looking at the show as if it was actually a plot-driven narrative, there’s bound to be some sincere disappointment. But if you see it as a character-driven narrative, everything begins falling into place. I don’t mean to say that someone might be “watching wrong,” but if your impression is that the narrative is inconsistent and has made questionable plot choices, then I feel at least slightly obligated to politely suggest maybe watching it from THIS perspective and see if the entire picture doesn’t become perfectly clear.
Like this sculpture illustrates, look at it from the wrong angle and it all seems random. It’s supposed to inspire you to walk around looking at it all from DIFFERENT angles until the entire picture clicks into place.
This is the amazing beauty of the story Supernatural is telling us right now. I just want as many people as possible to realize this, because I think a lot of people right now are just seeing the random scattershot dots and feeling like they aren’t telling us a full story… I’m just trying to drag as many people around to the other side, to see what it looks like from where I’m sitting. Because it looks like art to me.