Whenever I reblog a photo or gif from Supernatural season 1–5 on Tumblr, I tag it with “back when the show was good.” And, okay, so it maybe it’s a little passive-agrressive, but it’s also an honest expression of an opinion a lot of SPN fans hold but try to be polite about. Unfortunately, I think I left “polite” behind a while ago when it comes to Supernatural, and I have a lot of unpopular fandom opinions (so many that I have a tag for those too), so I figure why not own this one? Sure, it’s gotten me in some hot water with other fans on Tumblr—I’ve been told that tag is wank and I’ve been grumbled about as a malcontent (which . . . yes, that’s precisely what I am. duh?). But sometimes, very occasionally, there’s someone bubbles up out of the deep blue Tumblr depths and says, “Oh, I see that. I feel that too.” One particular anon’s heartbreak inspired me to spend a little time articulating what it means to say “back when the show was good” in hopes of easing—of maybe sharing—the burden of what it is to be an SPN fangirl who’s falling out of love with her show. What follows has been reposted from Tumblr.
Oh anon. ♥
I’m actually sorry to hear that. I’m sorry because it sounds like you share, to some degree, my disappointment and frustration. I’m sorry because it’s harder than we often feel allowed to admit when a show lets us down, when its magic begins to wear off. And that seems particularly true for a show like Supernatural.
There are folks who see no or little difference between now and then, and who openly love everything the show offers in its current form, and good for them! Sometimes I wish I could be one of them. And there are other folks who feel bitter, who stopped watching out of anger or a broken heart, or who can now only hate-watch and, okay, sometimes I am one of them. But then there are the folks mostly in between—like me, and maybe like you—who are, when you get right down to it, just sad.
“Back when the show was good” to me means back when the story and its direction were tightly controlled and the pacing kept us holding our breaths or breathless. Back when the villains were thrilling and the monsters were scary. When characterization wasn’t sacrificed for a joke, and when drama didn’t come at the expense of character development but grew out of it. “Back when the show was good” is my way of saying I’m sad the show only came into the popular spotlight only after the main story arc was over. I’m sad the writers floundered for so long in finding a new direction and sad they preyed on fandom to maintain their ratings rather just writing us a good show deserving of critical attention and worthy of our love. I’m sad that the hard truths and major themes of the original arc have been undercut and overshadowed by rehashed plot lines and character assassinations (both literal and figurative). I’m sad that I have to look for individual writers’ names to determine whether there’s a chance an upcoming episode “might not be so bad.” I’m sad that most days I just want the show to end.
I’m really, profoundly sad that what I want more than anything is for the show to find a (peaceful?) resolution and for the writers and producers to be brave enough to end it, really end it—money and the network and ratings be damned. To put us all out of our misery, whether it’s the misery of eternal shipper angst and the struggle with TPTB or the misery of pretending, of trying very hard, to love something you’re afraid to admit you’ve grown to resent.
It may not be the best version of itself, anon. It may not be what it was when we first fell in love or loved it best. But I still know I’m in it to the end. All my angry railing and ranting and wishing it were otherwise? It may not seem like it, but that’s hope. Hope that the show will do better (because I know it can—I’ve seen it) and hope it’ll get to a place where I can finally let go feeling good about how both the show and my relationship to it ended, rather than forever sad or forever bitter.
Maybe that’s naive. But maybe I’m okay with that.