As CW’s Supernatural enters its fifteenth and final season, it’s only natural to look back. It’s time to reflect on the journey, for both the characters and the fans.
After fourteen long years, the CW has finally decided that Supernatural will be going into its final season. This is no small decision. Supernatural is the longest-running live-action fantasy series on American television, and has been for quite a few years. It also has one of the largest and most dedicated fan-bases. Everyone has been struggling to say goodbye since the CW’s announcement last March—myself included.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with Supernatural over the years. I binged several seasons, watched one or two live, then fell off the bandwagon for a multitude of reasons. With the final season growing on the horizon, I decided to attempt a massive feat: rewatching fourteen years’ worth of television in a month and a half. As an adult with a full-time job, my marathon game isn’t what it once was. But rewatching the show has definitely helped me reflect on the turbulent, passionate relationship I have with it.
Joining the Fandom
I started watching Supernatural on May 27, 2012. It was by no means a new show, just one that I’d heard about online and never gotten around to watching myself. A couple episodes turned into a couple seasons, and before I knew it I was neck-deep in Supernatural paraphernalia and waiting an eternity until Season 8 started. It felt like an eternity, anyway. In reality, it was the handful of months between my high school experience and my first year of college.
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of starting a new show. Especially one that’s been running so long before you’ve discovered it. It’s like jumping into the deep end of the pool, with the assurance that no matter how hard you fall, you’re never going to hit the bottom. There’s no way to consume everything that’s out there, no shortage of fan art or fanfiction or fan theories. It’s a whole new world to explore. And exploring quickly became my entire life while I waited to be shipped off to college.
Looking back, the enthusiasm I poured into the series would probably be labelled as “cringe.” I proudly paraded in public with a canister of salt hunting ghosts. I filled notebooks with notes and sketches of self-insert characters. If you peel back the wallpaper in my bathroom, you’ll find a full scale Devil’s Trap I decided to sketch onto the wall. And if you look deep into YouTube, you might even find the live watch video I posted for Season 8 Episode 17 “Goodbye, Stranger.” Otherwise known as me cursing loudly at the television while my poor roommates looked on in confusion and horror.
On the one hand, yes, looking back at the antics of my late teenage years is a little embarrassing. But at the same time, I miss it with every fiber of my being. Maybe it’s because life just seemed simpler then. Maybe it’s because I had more time on my hands, and still had the energy to pour into “trivial” things like television shows. But mostly, I miss being so overcome with enthusiasm that I didn’t care what other people thought of me.
Growing up takes a toll on everyone. I’d like to think I’m still as unapologetically enthusiastic about my passions now as I was then. But on days where life seems really dull, it’s nice to be able to look back and remember what I’m capable of. Loving something so much you vault yourself off the couch and onto the floor to squeal isn’t something everyone gets to experience in life. So if it’s a television show that brings you that joy, so be it.
Losing My Attention
With the amount of energy I poured into Supernatural, I was surprised to realize that I only actively watched it for about two years. Things got busy in college, classes got crazier, and my schedule became full. Before I knew it, one missed episode had turned into five and I didn’t have time to catch up. I jumped back in when I could, but I rapidly realized that something else was wrong. I just didn’t care as much as I once had.
There were a lot of factors to blame for this. My change in environment was one. Being in college instead of sitting at home on my couch meant there were way too many distractions. I was juggling four clubs, four classes, a campus job. I just didn’t have the same time to dedicate to analyzing and overanalyzing every shot and every moment of each episode.
My attention was also drifting to other shows and fandoms. Anyone who struggles with hyperfixations knows the terrible sense that your attention’s started to wane. An exact calendar year after I started watching Supernatural, a friend and I began binging Teen Wolf. As that show began monopolizing my time and attention, Supernatural fell by the wayside. I was able to step back and take a clearer look at the content I was consuming. Unfortunately, I didn’t love everything I found.
Over the years its aired on the CW, Supernatural has garnered a fair amount of criticism. A lot of fans feel like the longer the show has gone on, the loftier and more disconnected the plot has become. It’s tough to outdo yourself when you write the Apocalypse thirty percent through the show’s run. Beloved side characters are routinely killed off for shock value while the main trio dodges bullets left and right. The issue of poor communication between the brothers has come up over and over again without any resolution or development. And for all the badass women the show has given us, their mortality rate is distressingly high.
Each one of these issues could easily merit a standalone essay. They’ve been discussed and explained and debated for as long as the show’s been running. But at the time, I was just beginning to notice them for the first time. As an English and writing major, the flaws in the story began to stand out to me more than the fantasy plot I used to immerse myself in. I grew frustrated with where the story was going, and after a few months of spotty viewership, stopped watching altogether.
Still, Supernatural kept a special place in my heart. Despite writing concerns, I was still deeply invested in the characters and wanted to know they were alright. So I followed the story from the sidelines, and caught snippets on Twitter or Tumblr. I followed the news of new seasons and upcoming episodes with passing interest. It was a safe way to maintain my love for the show without risking getting invested and disappointed again.
The funny thing about obsessions and hyperfixations is that they never really leave us. They just fall dormant. Then, with one tiny word or suggestion, your love of a show rears its head again and you wonder why you ever stopped watching in the first place. For me, it was listening to too much classic rock at work. Three years without watching Supernatural, and suddenly I was doing a rewatch of my favorite episodes and writing fanfiction again.
At the time, I did do a rewatch, but it wasn’t complete. Something in me was still nervous about getting pulled into the show and being let down. I didn’t want to catch up to the point where I’d gotten disappointed, so I just watched the early seasons. All I really needed was to relive the glory days.
Not long after that, the cast of Supernatural announced that Season 15 would be the final season. The internet was split—half of it screaming, “No, don’t go,” while the rest sighed, “Oh, thank God!” After fourteen long years, Supernatural’s longevity has become a meme in and of itself. Even fans like me, who were still deeply invested but afraid to get close, had to feel a bit relieved.
But one way or another, I knew that the time had come. I wasn’t about to watch the end of this massive show from the sidelines. It was time to refresh my memory, catch up on what I’d missed, and prepare for an epic end to Supernatural.
The first question you might have is obvious. If I planned on watching fourteen seasons of Supernatural, why didn’t I just…start sooner? My boring answer is that I’m an adult now. Things got busy at work, my time and energy was depleted, and I just kept putting it off. After all, binging fourteen years’ worth of television is a daunting task. It was all too easy to procrastinate.
By the time I got my responsibilities in check, it was mid-August. The final season of Supernatural airs on October 10, which left me 54 days to catch up. With three hundred and seven episodes in total, that meant I’d have to watch 5.6 episodes a day to be caught up in time. At one point, that would seem a pretty reasonable number. Now that I work between forty-five to fifty hours a week, it’s a little problematic.
Many of my friends suggested I rescale the marathon. I’d watched up until Season 9, after all. I could very well just watch the five seasons I’d missed. Even though that might have been a smart thing to do, I outright refused.
It’s not just about finding out what I’d missed. If I was just looking for information, I could sit on the Wikia page and read the description of each episode instead. I wanted to experience the full-scale show—relive the funny moments, get teary-eyed and furious over character deaths, put faces to brand new names. And if I was going to rewatch Supernatural, I wanted to do it right. Why would I do a marathon and knowingly skip all my favorite parts?
So far, it’s been the right call. I love the early days with the simple Monster of the Week. I’ve loved seeing baby-faced Sam and Dean, and all Sam’s various hairstyles. One of best parts is reliving the introductions of my favorite characters, like Bobby, Castiel and Jo. I know the first five seasons so well I can still rattle off episode titles in order. Still, I holler and laugh and clap along with every line I remember.
I’m actually enjoying it a little too much. That is, all the episodes I thought I would let play in the background while I worked on other projects are episodes I’m still watching with rapt attention. I’ve been sucked right back into the void of Supernatural, and it’s still difficult to focus on anything else. My responsibilities pile up, and I end up going days without watching anything. Then I have to binge fifteen or twenty episodes in a day to catch up again!
For the most part, I’ve managed to stay on schedule. I’m finishing up Season 6, which gives me 30 days for just under 200 episodes. The downside to finishing Season 5 is leaving all my favorite character arcs behind and wading into the murky water that lost me before. It’s dangerous territory, but I’m excited to get to new material. Hopefully I’ll find some diamonds in the rough that I can treasure as much as the old ones.
If you’re new to Supernatural, or looking to catch up, you’re on a tight schedule. There’s only 30 days until the Season 15 premiere. For fourteen seasons of catch up, you’d need to watch ten episodes a day! If that seems like too much for your plate, you can keep an eye on our site instead. For the next month, I’ll be covering Supernatural as a whole—the best episodes, the forgotten plot points, and all the characters who left us too soon. So stay tuned, because we’ve got work to do!