On Supernatural

*some slight spoilers for people who haven’t seen past the first few seasons of Supernatural will follow* An article in The New York Times (which can be found here) asks the question of how the television show Supernatural has retained its popularity, now into a nine-year run. I came somewhat late to the Supernatural game, but have become a huge fan. The show does a lot of what I want in a show—there’s humor and interesting characters and monsters (that’s basically all I ask of any show, actually)—but it also has done some things that I think are of particular interest. The show has, first of all, explored urban legends and cryptozoology in a well-researched manner. Something I, of course, appreciate (urban legends being as much an intrinsic part of folklore as Little Red Riding Hood is) and something which excites me to see on television.

But, more important to what I’ll be considering here, within the past few seasons (and something the Times article brings up) has come the introduction of angels. Usually I don’t like when a show plays its hand and enters a firm stand on issues of the divine. However, Supernatural has done it in a way that I find brilliant and intriguing. For a show that deals with demons, angels seem a natural progression, of course. What Supernatural does beyond this, though, is tackle the question of faith. By saying concretely that there are angels and a heaven within the universe of the show, they take away the question of faith itself: faith is the belief in something that you can’t see. By not making faith the issue (something that plagued the later seasons of The X-Files and other shows), the show has the ability to explore more interesting questions of belief. Can there be belief in goodness, can there be hope, in a world where even angels have faults and corruption among their ranks? And how does a world function where this is the case?

So, yes, I am a Supernatural fan and maybe I’m reading too much into the plot arc of the show, but even if I am, I love that the show gives me the opportunity to think about questions of this nature. I’m currently researching a writing project that tackles spiritualism in the United States (particularly in relation to the magicians who chose to either incorporate communicating with the dead into their acts OR who—like Houdini—made it part of their work to expose fraudulent mediums and psychics). And while I work on this, I’m glad to know that Supernatural will be entering into its tenth season and that I’ll be continuing to enjoy a show that, even after so many years, continues to not only entertain but also explores new ground.


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