TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural

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9781770410206: TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural
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As a natural heir to the long-running television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural has risen to prominence with a strong cult following, and this collection of essays from contributors around the globe investigates the genre-bending series’ cultural footprint both in North America and abroad. The book explores topics such as folklore, religion, gender and sexuality, comedy, music, and much more, and offers a brief guide to all the episodes as well. Supernatural follows brothers Dean and Sam Winchester as they encounter and battle evil beings such as vampires, shapeshifters, ghouls, and ghosts from a multitude of genres including folklore, urban legends, and religious history. Contributors to the collection come from the U.S., the UK, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, and Austria.

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About the Author:

Stacey Abbott is the editor of "Falling in Love Again," "Investigating Alias," "Reading Angel," and the Investigating Cult TV series. David Lavery is a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University. He is the author of 17 books, including "The Essential Cult TV Reader "and "Joss," as well as the author of numerous essays and reviews. He lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Normal people, they see a monster and they run,
not us. No, no, no we search out things that want to
kill us, yeah, huh, or eat us. You know who does that?
Crazy people. We are insane.
Dean (“Yellow Fever”)

Hunting ghosts, demons, and monsters and staving off the Apocalypse may make Sam and Dean Winchester crazy, according to Dean, but it is that very premise that enabled Supernatural to build up a loyal fandom eager to come back for more. The show began its broadcast on the WB (before the network merged with UPN to become the CW) on September 13, 2005, and was conceived as a hybrid of the horror and road movie genres. The show mixes American urban legends with a Route 66 (CBS, 1960–1964)1 formula that focuses on two brothers traveling across the U.S. in a 1968 Impala, looking for their demon–hunting father while fighting ghosts and monsters. While the pilot episode sets up the back story about their mother’s mysterious death and their father’s mission to hunt all manner of supernatural beings, the second episode, “Wendigo,” establishes the show’s formula when Dean explains to Sam that he thinks their father left them his journal — his guide to “everything he knows about every evil thing” — in order to pick up where he left off: “you know, saving people, hunting things. Family business.” The episode ends with Sam and Dean taking to the road, in Route 66 fashion, to find their next hunting job. Along the way, however, the show becomes so much more.

Looking back at Supernatural’s first five years, the series not only draws upon the iconography and conventions of the road movie genre on an episodic level, but its entire narrative arc is constructed as a journey. This journey begins when Sam and Dean accept their father’s mission and ends when Dean drives the Impala into Stull Cemetery — not to stop the confrontation between Lucifer and Archangel Michael, now inhabiting the bodies of Sam and their half–brother Adam, but to be with Sam at the end regardless of the consequences (“Swan Song,” 5.22). This epic narrative trajectory is called to mind in “Two Minutes to Midnight” (5.21) as Sam and Dean, surrounded by fellow hunter Bobby, fallen Angel Castiel, and demon–ally Crowley, prepare for their next mission:

Dean: Good luck stopping the whole zombie apocalypse.
Sam: Yeah. Good luck killing Death.
Dean: Yeah.
Sam: Remember when we used to just hunt wendigos? How simple things were?
Dean: Not really.

Throughout the first five seasons, Sam and Dean hunted ghosts, vampires, shapeshifters, witches, werewolves, demons, ghost ships, haunted trucks, and pagan gods. They lost their father, traveled back in time to meet their mother, found and lost a brother, drank loads of beer, died and came back to life, and died and came back to life again. They went to Hell and Heaven. They met angels, Lucifer, Death, and God. They appeared in reality ghost–hunting show Ghostfacers! and, scariest of all, went to a Supernatural fan convention. It has been a hell of a journey and a journey to Hell.

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