(Note from Alice – I’m very pleased to share this guest submission that I received inspired by our recent season six discussions, particularly Elle2’s disappointment the season. Enjoy this first ever post from Lori!)
I have been a lurker on this site for a very long time, and have thoroughly enjoyed all the contributors’ efforts and their enthusiasm for the show. Elle2 is one of my favorites, as I am also a Dean-girl primarily, though to be clear I am very aware my enjoyment of the character of Dean hinges directly on his relationship to and interaction with Sam – but I love a smartass, always have, so Dean-girl I am.
I’ve never commented on any fan site for any show, and never intended to, but Elle2’s obvious discouragement spurred me to speak my mind in hopes it soothes hers, and any others in her boat. Like Elle2 I’ve had increasing misgivings about the direction of my beloved show. I thought season six started off great, but things began to fall apart for me sometime after “You Can’t Handle the Truth” and once doubt and dismay set in, they took root fast. Until I remembered a suppressed truth myself, a truth long forgotten in the midst of what is now an undying fascination and love for the show. That truth is – I didn’t like season one when it originally aired. At all.
I remember being excited by the promos before the premiere, but frankly I was disappointed in the early episodes and the only reason I watched it past the first two or three is we didn’t (and don’t) have cable or satellite, and there was just nothing else on. So I kept it on for the classic rock soundtrack as background noise while I performed other tasks – well, and to catch a glimpse of the car once in awhile – love that car. And it occurred to me as I read Elle2’s article that those fans who came to the show late, after it had already found firm footing and a steadfast direction, do not have the same benefit of perspective as one like me who viewed the show from the beginning but was not a fan until much later into its run.
What turned me into a fan? Out of the blue, “Devil’s Trap” happened. And I loved every second of it. Let me reiterate that – I thought this show that I now practically live and breathe was largely crap all the way until the final episode of the first season. And then WHAM – hooked — crazy, madly, totally in love with a TV show (judge me if you want, most of you are there or have been or you wouldn’t be reading this).
So naturally I bought the season one DVD’s to catch up on episodes I’d dismissed or paid only passing attention to (renting them would not suffice). And have since replaced the season one DVD’s because I wore â€˜em slap out. Over what I scoffed at as mediocre on original viewing. I can quote most of them now, and recently told a friend with absolute certainty not only the title of the episode where Dean got shot in the chest with rock salt but which DVD disk it was on, no need to look it up.
During the hellatus following season four, I encouraged an acquaintance who’d never heard of the show to Netflix it. She got about halfway through season one and mentioned to me she’d be bailing because she just could not get into it – she darn near hated it. I convinced her to hang in until season two and see if she felt differently – and boy did she. She got just as hooked as I am, and we now spend Friday nights from 9-10 Instant Messaging (commercials only – we have a strict no communication rule with each other or husbands during the show itself) and then continue fairly nonstop with an aftershow IM session from 10 to close to midnight usually. She’s now one of the best friends I’ve ever had, but she very easily might not have been – she laughingly admitted that until she got to season two she seriously wondered what was wrong with me that I liked that show, and only hesitantly stuck with it on my recommendation because I seemed so normal otherwise! So to emphasize the point – she disliked season one so intensely she considered actively avoiding future contact with me because my strong recommendation made her question my judgment, until the story twisted and turned her opinion completely around making the characters and story as important to her as they now are to me. And also like me, she now views season one in an entirely different light. Perhaps, jus t perhaps, season six will look just as good from the other side as season one ultimately did. I choose to wait and see, holding clearly in my mind the lesson learned from season one not to dismiss this particular show easily due to a seeming rough patch.
Yes, I’m somewhat disappointed in season six. Admittedly I’m not a big fan of noir, so that may be part of it. A huge draw to me has always been the careful attention to continuity, which doesn’t seem to be as carefully tended as it once was, and I like things to mean something or lead to something instead of purposefully dead end, which the nature of red herrings means lots of intentional dead ends. And though I don’t currently favor season six to season one, I have to remember – I do like season six better as it is airing than I liked season one on first viewing. And with the memory of how much I originally disliked the show and the knowledge of how much of life outside the show I’d have missed had I not stuck with it, I’m encouraged in my fanship and will forge ahead with the show, trusting them to take the story somewhere acceptable in the end despite what I fear are fairly severe missteps – including major disservices to the characters of both brothers. Season one had lots of missteps too, after all, until the characters and writers together found their way and somehow made all of it, the good and the bad, awesome retroactively. Besides, it has never been the individual episodes or even individual story arcs that keep me involved, but the long journey, the overall story of the brothers whether divided or united (though I do prefer united).
As many of you on the site have noted before, the show is just a show, yes, but it impacts dedicated fans in so many ways beyond the TV screen itself in a way so few shows could. Like a lot of you, I have several friendships based primarily on shared interest in the show, and the friend I mentioned above is such a deeply ingrained part of everyday aspects of my life now I cannot imagine if we hadn’t connected through the show. Heck, she spent an entire day this week helping me with an emergency drywalling project in my cold garage because she’s my friend and I needed the help – after all, it’s what Sam and Dean would do. And though we didn’t talk about the show much while we worked because our friendship has grown well beyond that, the show remains a key touchstone for us when we go several days without talking because the show is always where we meet regardless of how busy we get. All because I half-watched a show I saw as mediocre until I recognized brilliance under the surface and began to pay close attention, and convinced a dubious person to do the same.
There is still hope. This is still the little show that could in so many ways . It has always been the ultimate underdog, and it is not yet too late for it to surprise us all once again. I look forward to the day I look back across season six and tell someone catching up on DVD and considering bailing in the middle of season six “just hang in until season seven – you will be amazed at where the story takes you.”