It’s Not Always About Love, but Sometimes It Should Be
Why Supernatural Should Take it a Step Further
I’ve recently joined a new fandom (yes another one, what can I say). I was reluctant at first. It didn’t seem like it was going to be my thing. I’m more of a robots and time travel type girl and this is more vampire and holy water stuff. For the record I hate vampires. All vampires in every iteration without exception. Big ass mosquitos.
Anyway, this fandom has been around for something like 8-9 years and it’s constantly on my Tumblr and I see references to it everywhere. So three weeks ago I broke down and started watching it. It was like crossing the event horizon of a black hole. At first there is just a gentle pull but the gravity increases with each episode until you are being ripped limb from limb and hurled into an alternate dimension full of gunpowder, salt and tears.
It was here that I found an amazing example of a close intimate relationship that reminded me of the dynamic between Kirk and Spock or Sherlock and Jon (BBCs Sherlock). Those types of relationships cannot be written into a script. Well they can, but it takes something special between the actors to really make it click. It’s often referred to as chemistry. You’ve seen when it works and you’ve seen when it doesn’t work. Gigli comes to mind.
“Research has shown that attunement between two people can accurately and reliably be recognized by others. This awareness often results in spontaneous, descriptive expressions such as “chemistry,” “on the same wavelength,” “soul-mates,” “in the flow,” and “in the moment together”.” –Measuring and Contextualizing “Chemistry” in Movies Tracy Sutton and Gregory Fouts, Ph.D. (http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/sfischo/film_chemistry.html)
Something amazing seems to happen when fans recognise the chemistry between two characters. They become invested in the relationship. This is where much (if not all) fan fiction is born. Fans pick up on even the subtext between characters. Sometimes even when the writers don’t.
The recent blog post by tiptoe39 Fans & Fantasy: Shipping as… Activism(?) made this point:
And part of being organic is showing the natural diversity that occurs in the world, to pick up on existing chemistry between characters and to explore the very real possibility that it could lead to romantic or sexual relationships. And if, for example, the only women a male character knows are brought in as love interests, as opposed to characters with their own stories, why shouldn’t we believe he’s more likely to fall in love with a character he knows well and has been through hell with, even though that character may also be male? You don’t fall in love with a sex, you fall in love with a person, and usually, by the time you’re in love with them, you already know them well.
This is where my new fandom has excelled. Right from the first moment the two meet each other there is an intense dynamic, not just between the characters, but between the actors. There were literally sparks. The fans noticed within moments of the scene airing if the message boards and forums are anything to go by. So what made this duo different? If you have not watched Supernatural through season 3 the video below is a spoiler. Proceed with caution, though I still recommend watching it.
Right from the start there is tension and an unspoken connection between the two. The writers for the show initially only planned on the character of Castiel being in 6 episodes. Then the fan mail hit their inboxes. The new character had brought in a completely different dynamic beyond the brothers-in-arms that the show previously featured. Their relationship has only grown from there.
Now in their fourth season together they’ve faced horrible odds, fought with each other, saved each other, admitted their reliance on and need for each other. Their level of intimacy is pretty much as close as you can get without having a sexual relationship.
- They have repeatedly taken care of each other when they were sick or injured.
- Dean has adjusted Cas’ clothes for him
- Cas has finished Deans food
- They have shared secrets only with each other
- They have provided each other moral support during major events/crises
- Dean has cried in front of Cas
- Repeated sustained eye contact
- They have comforted each other
- Cas often watches Dean sleep or sits/stands closer than is customary
- They have put each other to bed on several occasions
- Cas has woke Dean from his nightmares
- They have been on long trips together
- Dean allowed Cas to take his necklace
- They often share the same hotel room
- They have saved each other’s lives multiple times
- They have each risked their lives for the other on numerous occasions
- They have made medical decisions for each other
- They have watched each other die
This video also illustrates other points in their relationship. Again major spoilers.
This is how you develop an intimate non-familial relationship. It’s happened slowly, organically with all the missteps and confusion of a real-life relationship. Both have made mistakes and taken the other for granted yet they cannot seem to help but come back together. It’s no wonder the fans (myself included) would like to see their relationship develop further.
It would be very refreshing to see to non-stereotypical gay men in a romantic relationship. Too often shows make one of them (or both) too effeminate to be realistic. They are not a man and a man pretending to be a woman, (though I understand and appreciate that works very well for some couples, more power to them) they are two men who love each other and would do anything for each other.
However, I do not think the network as the balls to allow the show to take what to many of us is a very obvious direction. If they surprise me and do then they will be setting a benchmark, a new paradigm for not just television but societal perception of relationships. Much like James Roberts has brought a new level of awareness to the Transformers fandom with the More Than Meets the Eye series, it would be nice to see Supernatural shake off the chains of outmoded societal dictates.