Monday, October 30, 2006


I recently caught a glimpse of an essay that complained about Supernatural being the anti-Buffy, and basically a regression from strong female roles. It discussed that the only strong woman on season one was evil, and the two "good girls" were murdered early on and never replaced.

This kind of resonated with me, because lately the TV shows I've liked (since Alias was canceled, anyway), I've liked because of the men and not the women, and I've felt guilty about it. I worship Joss Whedon, who is all about the strong female characters and does them damned well. So liking Supernatural, after I skimmed this essay, made me feel disloyal to both my gender and a writer I respect and adore and aspire to be like (though I'll never come close to his wit).

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I've decided it's okay to like Supernatural the way it is. And not just because it's my favorite show and I hate feeling guilty.

First, they have added a strong female role, small though the part may be. There is evidence that another female character may be getting similar treatment (her debut was perfect), though I don't like her and don't want her to have a much bigger role in the show.

Also, I don't think EVERYTHING in life has to address every issue. Supernatural isn't about women and their roles in demon-hunting society. It's about two brothers and the journey they are on. The relationship between Sam and Dean is most important, and the biggest influence on them (besides their father) has been the absence of a strong woman in their lives. There's nothing wrong with their dynamic. It hasn't caused them to subjugate women, or dismiss them, or treat them poorly.

Okay, that last line is open to interpretation. Early in season one, Dean seemed to be a player. While Sam mourned his girlfriend's death, Dean encouraged him to get laid. He flirts with a certain type of woman--the type that seems open to short, meaningless encounters. He doesn't think a woman has a place in his life.

But things aren't that simple. When Sam has an interest in Sarah, Dean encourages him to develop it; and not just to have sex with her. Then we see that Dean had a girlfriend, loved her, confessed all to her--and was badly burned when she freaked out. He still has feelings for her, but it's clear that even though she believes him now, she can't live his kind of life.

See? Complexity.

I am thrilled when a show contains a heroine like Sydney Bristow or Zoe Washburn, a tough, powerful, confident, emotional woman. But not every show needs one.


Trish Milburn said...

I agree. I love Supernatural, not just because of the paranormal aspect but also because of the evolving relationship betweent the brothers and their search for the truth about the demon that killed their mom. I'm all for powerful women's roles, but I think some people go overboard with good ideas and take them too far. Not every show or movie has to be about strong women or women kicking butt.

Natalie Damschroder said...

Thanks for agreeing, Trish! Makes me feel MUCH better. :)