A Few Problems with TV’s “Supernatural”

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Spoilers Ahead

I’m not exactly a fan of Supernatural, the long-running (and recently concluded) series featuring the monster-hunting Winchester brothers (Sam and Dean) and associates. I am, however, a fan of several of the characters, which is why I’ve stuck with the show. I’m currently re-watching older seasons in anticipation of catching up on the last couple I haven’t seen yet, including the series finale.

The thing is, no matter how much I try (and I have tried), I just can’t pretend this show doesn’t bother me on numerous levels. I’m not trying to ruin anything for the fans out there (who I’m sure far outnumber detractors like me), but someone needs to say it. Supernatural has problems. Here’s four of them.

  1. “Librarians”

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In season 8 Supernatural introduced the “Men of Letters,” a secret society that, among other things, made a point of amassing and preserving vast stores of occult and magical knowledge. Sounds pretty cool, right? You’d think so, but apparently the show’s writers disagree, as multiple characters repeatedly refer to the Men of Letters as “librarians.” And it’s never a compliment.

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First of all, fiction is full of librarians who could hold their own in the Supernatural universe. Secondly, the show itself establishes that the Men of Letters were also men of action– they just put a little more thought into their actions than the Winchesters and their fellow “hunters” tend to. More importantly, though, is that real-life librarians deserve better than this kind of casual derision. Yes, they spend an inordinate amount of time with books (not sure why that’s a bad thing), but they also help people and improve lives on a daily basis (here’s a story from last year as just one example). Librarian as an insult? You’re only showing your own ignorance.

2. Mary Shelley Didn’t Create Frankenstein

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Season 10 brought us the ill-conceived Styne family, an ancient clan into all kinds of evil, including murder, Nazism, and really poorly stitched body modification (seriously, this is your thing– learn how to sew). But– big reveal– it turns out the family’s name was originally… Frankenstein (groan), and that their family friend Mary Shelley, after spending a few days at their estate and seeing what they were up to, wrote her book to try to warn the world. In other words, Frankenstein isn’t a work of Shelley’s vibrant imagination (and one of, if not the, first works of science fiction), but rather non-fiction based on something she witnessed.

Seeing as how women writers throughout history have been consistently ignored, suppressed, forgotten, and denied credit, for Supernatural to come along and discount the achievement of one of the few who did receive her due… let’s just say that Supernatural owes Mary Shelley a huge apology.

3. The Writers vs. Castiel

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Introducing angels to the show is generally acknowledged as being one of Supernatural’s smarter moves. Castiel especially turned out to be a great character, with some decent development over the seasons. Unfortunately, the writers backed themselves into a corner with angels. Debuted as incredibly powerful beings who can destroy a human just by existing in their natural state, the writers subsequently were forced to find ways to make angels far weaker than they started out. As the Winchesters’ protector/friend Castiel gets the brunt of this– the writers spend the rest of the series finding excuses to take away his power. Poor Cas loses his mind, gets stuck in purgatory, is put under the control of another angel, and even becomes human, among other things. Even when he is at full strength, the writers ignore the extent of his abilities, inexplicably render them useless (“I can usually heal anything, but not this…”), or simply pretend he doesn’t exist. He can be summoned by phone or by prayer, yet he often “isn’t answering,” or more often, the Winchesters don’t bother calling. There are so many times when Cas could easily have dispatched demonic enemies or fixed an unfortunate situation (like, say, bringing Charlie back to life), but it’s inconvenient to the story, so he’s nowhere to be seen. What all this amounts to is a lot of poor and/or lazy writing that ultimately lowers the quality of the show. F for effort, guys.

4. Sucky Vampires

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Vampires aren’t the focus of Supernatural, and it’s a good thing because the ones on this show are awful. From the hideous rows of fangs to their bland personalities, I have to wonder why the show bothered including vampires at all. Mercedes McNab, who brilliantly played student-turned-vampire Harmony on Buffy and Angel, shows up as a vampire in one season 3 episode of Supernatural. Her character mostly spouts exposition and whines about being hungry before Dean finally beheads her. Other vampires throughout the series are similarly unremarkable (although there was one storyline that had potential, about vampires taking advantage of the Twilight craze, but it ultimately missed the mark). Even Benny, who befriends Dean in season 8 and actually gets a story arc, serves mostly as a source of tension between Sam and Dean. Not every vampire is going to be a Dracula or a Spike, but it takes some skill to make all of yours forgettable.

There are other problems with Supernatural (like Sam and Dean’s casual willingness to murder innocent people just because they’re possessed– remember when they used to at least try an exorcism first?), but I’ll leave it here. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Share in the comments…

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Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

5 Awesome Fictional Librarians

row of books in shelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Librarians are awesome. They’re not only keepers of the world’s knowledge, but they’re also highly trained information scientists and invaluable resources, both in the library and in the community. They can help you find a rare book, an obscure fact, your distant ancestors, or even a job–and if you’d rather just google it, well, they can help you with that too (find out more about what librarians do). They work hard helping people of all ages and backgrounds, while not-very-bright politicians try to save a few bucks in the budget by claiming libraries are obsolete (hint: no, they’re not). Luckily, there are many people who still appreciate libraries and librarians–some have even immortalized them in books and TV shows. Here’s a sample of some of the characters who pay homage to those most unsung of heroes, librarians…

(Fair warning: spoilers ahead)

 

librarians are heroes every day
Design by Gene Ha for the “Librarians Are Heroes Every Day!” poster to promote literacy.

Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl/Oracle

Among all the related comic books, TV shows, movies, and reboots, one of Batgirl’s incarnations is as head librarian at the Gotham City Public Library. Batman may have a cave, but Batgirl has the whole damn library (bonus: no pesky stalagmites to trip over). After The Killing Joke, where the Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara (among other things sensitive readers will want to avoid), she goes from librarian-as-secret-identity to full on librarian-as-superhero, adopting a new persona, Oracle, and becoming a crime-fighting information broker. Batgirl might not currently be a librarian (although her past as Oracle is alluded to in the DC Rebirth), but anything can happen, and I hope they’ll bring that part of her story back.

 

rupert
Rupert Giles, Watcher and Sunnydale High librarian

 

Rupert Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Destined to watch over a vampire Slayer, and denied his preferred professions of fighter pilot or grocer, Giles follows youthful dabbling in dark magic with a job as a museum curator (as one does) before eventually becoming a high school librarian in anticipation of The Chosen One’s arrival. Multi-talented, Giles can explain (in several languages) why books are better than computers; research (or summon) demons; oversee multiple Slayers, Potentials, and Scoobies; and help students find copies of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. When an ascending demon threatens the entire town, Giles takes time out of preparing for war and possible annihilation to get the books to safety. As one does.

 

mr ambrose
Mr. Ambrose, Bob’s Burgers

Mr. Ambrose, Bob’s Burgers

If you watch Bob’s Burgers, you’ll know Mr. Ambrose as the librarian (and cheerleading coach) at Wagstaff School. Although he doesn’t appear often, when he does it’s usually to start some drama or offer a revelation, like when he announced he’s a witch (supplying us with much-needed representation both for male witches and witch librarians). He’s also an aspiring scriptwriter working on a prequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. With not much screen time, Mr. Ambrose is still one of the more memorable, and interesting, characters on the show.

 

LIBRARIANS, THE
The Librarians

The Librarians

The Librarians TV series is based on The Librarian, another series of TV movies. The original Librarian, Flynn Carson, also makes appearances on The Librarians, which features four new Librarians and is set in the Metropolitan Public Library (or the Library), a library that exists outside of time and space but is also lost. Got it? Well, all you really need to know is that these Librarians kick ass, solving mysteries and fighting supernatural threats with their giant librarian brains. Finally, superheroes we can all aspire to be.

 

dewey denouement
Dewey Denouement, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Dewey Denouement, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket’s works are rife with libraries and librarians, but for now we’re focusing on Dewey Denouement, who made an appearance in The Penultimate Peril (Book 12 of A Series of Unfortunate Events), as well as the TV show A Series of Unfortunate Events. Dewey is technically a “sub- sub-librarian,” who also manages the family business, the Hotel Denouement. His secret library is located under the hotel’s pond and he made it his life’s work to catalogue evidence against every villain. The hotel itself is organized along the Dewey Decimal system, and in the show Mr. Denouement insists the entire building is a library. As with many of the sympathetic characters in A Series of Unfortunate Events, our time getting to know Dewey is cut short, but as with all librarians everywhere, he is a force for good.

Who’s your favourite fictional librarian? Let me know in the comments…

-Aspasía S. Bissas