Friday afternoon I learned that Season 15 will be the last of Supernatural. Many in the fandom seem to already be mourning the loss of the show even though we have yet to finish Season 14. Friday night and part of Saturday I felt a little lost myself – the show and fam-dom helped restore my sense of self after a rough 2016 – but then my thoughts turned to the question of what will end up replacing it on the CW? The other shows holding similar timeslots the rest of the week on the network have failed to hold my attention, and as a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, I fear that once Supernatural is gone, there will be no new fandom to take its place during my weekly TV perusal.
During my teenage years, I watched Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and the spinoff series, Angel. By the time I graduated high school, both shows were cancelled and replaced with something new. Another vampire show took the timeslot of one of the shows and flopped. Supernatural started in the autumn of 2005 and has lasted. I believe a significant part of that lasting success can be attributed to the writing. While many of the other shows on the CW gear towards teenagers and young adults, Supernatural has a following that spans a wide age-range and has touched on topics relevant to adults as well as teens. (Similarly, I enjoy rewatching Buffy and Angel for their own multi-age relevance, and they are two of only a handful of series that I have bought on DVD.)
One thing that has left me bored with other sci-fi and fantasy shows airing today is how they seem to treat teenagers like idiots. The writing and plotlines often feel more appropriate to pre-teen children with the dumbed-down motivations behind characters’ actions and how often those characters miss obvious solutions to the difficulties they face. I’ll admit that Buffy, Angel, and Supernatural have not always been perfect in addressing such flaws in all their characters, but the primary characters have been explored in depth and faced multiple, complicated situations. The main characters of these three shows have also given their actors the opportunities to explore more than a two dimensional range of emotions that trade back and forth between angry/hurt and attitude. Good writing and storytelling should give actors/actresses the ability to explore as many facets of their characters as needed to make them feel like a person rather than a caricature, trope, or stereotype. Too many sci-fi shows today worry too much about diversity, political correctness, and creating a “perfect” role model (complete with flaws but no negative personality traits) and turn into ensemble casts delivering cheesy one-liner snarks and predictable decision-making.
So although I am sad that Supernatural will be ending with the conclusion of next season, I know the “famdom” will never let the series die completely. For now I find myself more concerned over the potential mangled insult to storytelling that may try to replace it. Whether the fans will accept a new show into their hearts will depend on whether the network, writers, and producers understand why Supernatural managed to keep its hold on its fans through 15 seasons of storytelling.