I’m a “Supernatural” fan. But in the past few days, I’ve become hesitant, perhaps even a little scared, to say that.
The article that preceded this generated quite a lot of controversy. It garnered 20 times the page traffic that I expected, garnered four death threats, and at least a half-dozen deleted comments for excessively vulgar content.
But all that aside, “Supernatural” is one of my favorite shows currently airing. I’m constantly pestering people I know to pick it up—after all, they can borrow my copies of the DVD’s.
I’ve honestly never been to a “Supernatural” fanpage or forum. I’ve had to fight the urge after the last article, but at press time, that’s still true.
You might say I’m not a true fan for not visiting fansites (something I don’t visit for any of the shows I watch, from Lost and the Sopranos to Nurse Jackie and Friends). That’s fine. When I watch a television show, I show my devotion by watching the show, and making my judgments through that interaction.
Why? Infighting. I don’t think it’s productive. People aren’t going to change their opinions, which are generally strong. So the attacks get really personal and unnecessary. Take the website Techcrunch, which I read daily. There’s so much Android vs. iPhone fighting that it makes me not like either side very much, and I have to resist the urge to read the comments.
I watch a lot of television. A great, unhealthy amount of television. One commenter asked if I didn’t enjoy Padalecki because it hasn’t won awards. Nope, there are tons of shows that didn’t win awards they deserved that I loved (Gilmore Girls, Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Fringe, etc).
One commenter said they “hope I read every comment to see how much of an asshole” I am. I did; I read each and every comment. I had to resist the urge to write a respones to all of them.
Instead, you get this. So here are the most pressing thoughts I’ve taken away from my foray into Supernatural Commentary, part 1, in no particular order—though some of them do flow more naturally than others.
This was not a personal attack. I probably used some incorrect words, and made some mistakes in how I phrased my argument (and opinion), but this wasn’t personal. It was a critical assessment of Padalecki’s performance. You don’t have to agree, and judging by the responses, several thousand of you don’t. That’s fine.
I don’t know anything about Padalecki’s life outside the show. I don’t really care one way or another if he is a lovely person, as so many of you have commented, because my enjoyment of the show is entirely self-contained. The previous article had no intentions of commenting on Padalecki as a person. And all this leads to my next point…
There were no comments about Padalecki’s wife. I’ve seen a lot of comments about Jared’s wife, who is apparently the actress who played Ruby during the fourth season of the show. Cool. I might have known that, I’m not sure. But frankly, I don’t care one way or another, have no opinion about her, whether she’s right for Jared, or whatever it is that riles people up about that situation. The only opinion I have about Genevieve Cortese is that I preferred Katie Cassidy as Ruby, though unlike some diehard haters of the second portrayal, there was a lot of nuance brought by Cortese that I thought expanded the character.
Allusions to substance abuse were greatly exaggerated: I speak in a comical tone, so naturally I try to write in one. I may have erred in my comment of “whatever he was taking….” I wasn’t suggesting he took anything illegal, because frankly I have no knowledge, and (you’ll hear this phrase a lot) care one way or another. The reference was there for humor…but wasn’t interpreted as such.
In fact, the entire aside about his body mass may feel out of place. Perhaps. Watching the character throughout the show, it’s very difficult to not be shocked as he progressively grows in size.
This isn’t a bad thing. When the show started, Padalecki, and consequently, Sam, were tall and lanky. I didn’t really buy this. This guy fights super strong demons and such but is a pip squeak?
If anything, Sam’s role is more believable now that he’s considerably bulkier. The only thing I was highlighting—though they are ultimately unrelated—is that he began bulking up around the time I stopped enjoying his performance.
I’m not endorsing Jensen Ackles as a better actor: Here we get to the crux of the controversy, as oh so many of you have pegged me with an EDG (am I saying that right? Exclusive Dean Girl right?). I’m not saying Ackles is a better actor, I’m not saying Dean is the better character, nor am I bashing the oh-so-critical role that Sam plays in the show. Would Ackles have been a better choice for Sam? I have no clue, didn’t endorse or suggest that.
All I can say is I think Ackles has nailed the role of Dean. He’s shown great range (though many of you have reduced his role to grunting) as Dean, and as I said, I feel he’s grown as an actor in the role—or at least gotten better at playing Dean. When the show began, I thought Ackles wasn’t very convincing.
I’ve seen Ackles in three roles now, and this is the only one I’ve liked him in. I was very indifferent towards his character on “Dawson’s Creek.” And his character on “Smallville” absolutely ruined Lana for me. Seriously, she was dead to me after she dated Jason.
So this wasn’t a “praise Dean/Ackles” by bashing Sam/Padalecki. It was a commentary meant to raise questions and provoke intelligent debate. Had I written a more thorough and intelligible piece, this might have happened.
Or maybe not. Because it seems like there’s a lot of animosity in the “SPN Community.” And you guys are crazy.
I really like Sam: Completely inconsequential to any of this, and perhaps conflicting to many of you given that I’ve heavily called out the actor playing Sam, but I like the character.
The character of Sam is in a lot of ways why I watch Supernatural. He’s been such a layered character. He never knew his mother and grew up feeling detached from his family as he longed for a normal life. Of course, he couldn’t have that because of his destiny—something he wanted no part of. He’s experienced phenomenal growth and expansion as a character throughout the series. Some of the themes Sam faces are universal and one of the principally engaging aspects of the series.
So how do I like Sam so much if I don’t like Jared Padelecki? Well…
Calling Jared Padalecki “terrible” was a strong, sensational choice of wording: For the first two seasons of “Supernatural,” I had no qualms with Padalecki’s performance. I liked him in “Gilmore Girls” (though I wasn’t fond when Dean married that other girl, which somewhat tarnished the character for me). The two movies I’ve seen Padalecki in, “House of Wax” and “Cry Wolf” produce no notable memories of disliking his performance. And since I thoroughly enjoyed both (which were critically panned), obviously Padalecki, who had large roles in each, succeeded in his performances.
So when I started watching “Supernatural,” I had more warm feelings toward Padalecki than Ackles. And for the first two seasons, I think Padalecki outdid Ackles. But then…that’s where it changes.
I believe the show has grown by leaps and bounds each year, and has improved each season (though my final evaluation of season six won’t come until it ends). To me, this began with season three.
Though it was an uneven season (the writer’s strike contributed to this), season three was when the show began upping the stakes. The first main arc (yellow-eye) was complete, and the show really began to move forward in every scope.
Which is when I began to have problems with Padalecki. Sam lost his brother, and was lost. He faced an addiction to demon blood, while grappling with the weight of an impending apocalypse and the uncertainty of his role in it. Then, he learned he was the vessel of Lucifer—the devil himself. He was faced with prophecy that he would have to fight his brother. That he would one day say yes to the Devil. And the weight of the apocalypse continued to mount.
I personally (as in my opinion, which I don’t parade as fact, and may be in opposition to your own) don’t believe Padalecki has the range to pull this off. If he does, I don’t believe he proved it. To be fair, the depth and range that were required would have taxed many actors. I don’t know who could have pulled it off.
I’ll use two examples. A vague reference to several instances, I never really bought Sam’s actions on “demon blood.” I wasn’t fond of Padalecki’s movements or his facial gestures. They seemed hokey to me.
Second, one that has been mentioned in the comments many times. I really didn’t like Padalecki’s performance as Lucifer. He played Lucifer in two episodes, and each are things I’d like to forget.
When Lucifer made his first appearance, he was played by a female, “Bellamy Young.” Even in the few minutes she portrayed Lucifer, I was blown away. I had goose bumps. Lucifer, as envisioned and written on the show, was fantastic.
When Mark Pellegrino took over the role, I had the same adoration for the performance and character. Pellegrino was just one in a long list of outstanding guest stars on a little-watched fantasy show on the CW.
But I do not look at Padalecki’s performance in the same way. Which is why I was disappointed with “Swan Song.”
Concluding a million little thoughts:
-Many comments touched on the importance of Sam vs Dean, or a preference for one character or another. Some commented they didn’t like one or the other’s storyline, or one character was the star, or had the better plot…
I don’t see it like this. Both Sam and Dean are both intrinsically necessary the Supernatural. I don’t see their storyline as starring or better or worse—the show revolves around each of them equally. Each of their actions has reverberations for both of them.
-Was Sam miscast? That was a sensational title. I’ll never see Sam as anyone other than Padalecki. And the work he did in the early seasons of the show built the character from the ground up. Could the role have been done better in the later seasons? I think so.
-For those whose comments were in the range of “shame on you,” “how could you write such a mean thing,” accused the article of slander, or made other useless comments that only wasted my time and inbox space, at the end of the day, this is a television show. And I write commentary on entertainment, as do thousands of other writers in America. Not everyone agrees with critics. Write something tactfully voicing that. No need to lose reason and sanity over differing opinions. If you disagree, I’m happy, because you likely found greater satisfaction than I, which makes you the winner, no?
-I rank the sesason’s from best to last as 4, 5, 2, 1, 3. Where Season 6 falls is TBD. And if you don’t agree, that’s OK.
-I originally intended to conclude with a list of “favorite” comments to the original article; I may update to include those at some point. But the most important thing to me in writing a follow up was addressing inaccuracies, concerns and questions raised from the first article. As I see things I forgot—I may address them.
-Comments on the previous post got out of hand. This isn’t a forum devoted to Supernatural, so keep the personal attacks out of here and baggage from those sites away.
-If you didn’t read this entire article, and make comments that demonstrate that, insert references that weren’t made on this page, or are otherwise inflammatory without good measure, well that speaks to your intelligence, not mine.
But until then, I’ve given you all some more gasoline. Get out your matches, and let’s go.