Your Next Binge Watch: Supernatural

I watch a lot of TV. I mean, a lot. I used to find shame in finishing a season of an American television drama in under a week, but now… it’s just part of who I am. Stop ending episodes on cliffhangers if you want me to have a normal life (I’m looking at you True Blood). If only it were the 90s again and television wasn’t as great as it is now.

There are a lot of good TV shows out there. Let me help you sort out the madness. Let me tell you about the wonders of Supernatural.

Supernatural follows the lives of two “hunter” brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, as they eradicate the world of ghosts, poltergeists, demons, witches–anything supernatural is game in this show (and let me reinforce–ANYTHING). After the mysterious disappearance of their father (also a hunter–FAMILY BUSINESS), the boys team up after years of estrangement to find him.

Like any good character-driven show (ahem, Buffy), the first season of Supernatural is campy and can quickly turn you off. If you’ve ever tried to get a friend to watch the reboot of Doctor Who, you’ve most certainly uttered the phrase “just get through the first season, I PROMISE it gets better.” (No hate to Christopher Eccleston–I love the first series, but I could only appreciate it after having watched the whole show.) I will now say those words to you: just get through the first season of Supernatural. It really does get better.

Initially, I think the show expected to be something else. The premise sets up a like a TV version of a horror movie–dark, filtered, tight shots, creepy sound effects, tense music. It goes for scare tactics, attempting to push the plot forward with action, rather than character growth.

Thankfully, in casting Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, the writers opened themselves up to follow Sam and Dean rather than some Big Bad.

In season two they get smart–they let the boys run the show, or at least, they let their characters run the show. By season four, they’ve completely taken the plot into their own hands–decisions feel real, plot follows character movements, directly related to the growth of Sam and Dean. Their relationship is the one thing that keeps this show running. Even nine seasons later, they still feel like real people.

Supernatural also finds its groove in the tension. Unlike some long-running shows (Gossip Girl, HIMYM, even Lost), Supernatural maintains character and plot tension enough that I don’t feel like I’m being led into false emotional traps. They’ll let sexual tension, familial tension, even overall plot tensions cool for three or four episode arcs before they pick them up again. The writers know how to drive the plot forward, without dragging the characters along behind. They know how to hold your attention so acutely that you’re screaming at the television, and then the next episode they’ll pick up something else entirely to let you cool off.

Finally, perhaps the best part of Supernatural is the fandom. (A quick google image search for “Supernatural Fandom” will give you a good idea.) Good fandoms grow from good shows, and Supernatural fans owe a lot to the cast. Padalecki and Ackles (and now Misha Collins) have signed on through season 10–and Padalecki talks all the way to season 19. They love their characters as much as we do. The writers have broken the fourth wall enough that nobody takes themselves seriously anymore (season 6, episode 15 had me in stitches), and, at this point, Supernatural is smart enough to know when to be ridiculous and when to be serious. It shines when it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Like any TV show, there are pitfalls to Supernatural. But that’s why it’s a great binge watch. Season 6 and 7 are considered some of the worst in the show, but a lot of shining episodes keep you going. If you were watching it live (on a weekly basis), you may have bailed in the middle. If you hit one or two bad episodes in a binge, just keep plowing through–you’ll start laughing again soon.

Supernatural is smart and charming. Strong characters lead the show, and secondary characters flourish in frequent return cameos. By the end of your binge you may not exactly ship Destiel, but I promise, if you’re anything like me, you’ll refer to the Winchesters as “my babies” any time they’re in danger. The show makes you love it.

Just give it a chance.

Supernatural seasons 1-8 are available on Netflix instant streaming.

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