Why Is No One Watching Supernatural?

By Alexander B. Huls, Mondo Magazine

Why you should be watching Supernatural, and thoughts on why you might not be.

If you’re reading this and wondering: “What the heck is Supernatural?”, then you”ve come to the right place and also broken my heart.

Supernatural revolves around two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester, who are nomadic demon hunters that ride from town to town in order to investigate and vanquish supernatural evil. And who doesn’t love nomadic demon hunters? In each episode the brothers grapple with a monster-of-the-week (much like early The X-Files), often inspired by urban legends and folk tales. Not content to settle for a tired formula, Supernatural introduces a greater dramatic mythology dealing with a Winchester-hating über-demon with a very nefarious plan for both the brothers and the world. And who doesn’t love nefarious plans?

While Supernatural is a spiritual successor to The X-Files, unlike that show, it succeeds in fusing its horror-movie-a-week concept with its compelling and well-developed mythology and larger dramatic arcs. The writers of The X-Files had no idea where they were going, but Supernatural not only seems to have a clear narrative direction, it finds the proper balance between teasing you enough that you’re still intrigued, but also telling you enough so that you don’t get frustrated. Unlike Lost.

The chemistry between the Winchester boys is one of the highlights of the show, as it draws rich dramatic conflict from Sam and Dean’s different personalities and perspectives. In fact, the show is overall very accomplished dramatically, finding ways to intersect its various elements (horror, family drama, etc.) so that they work well together. For example, sometimes the monsters with which the Winchester boys deal with one week are really a backdrop in which a greater personal conflict is explored. Finally, the show has a distinct and dark sense of humor that is able to both mock itself and the conventions it adheres to, while providing the appropriate sardonic wit and comic relief to prevent the show from becoming too serious, and keep it fun.

By all accounts, Supernatural should be a success, since it features elements that should appeal to multiple demographics. It’s got two young hunky stars that would appeal to teeny-boppers and middle-aged women. It’s got fraternal male bonding, manly action, a sweet ride and wicked classic rock tones that would please any guy’s guy.

With the incredible resurgence of horror films, you would think the show’s horror premise would draw the interest of those who flock to see The Ring VII. The show also features fantastic guest appearances by actors from other popular and cult shows: Julie Benz (Buffy/Angel/Dexter), Amy Acker (Angel), Amber Benson (Buffy), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Katharine Isabella (Ginger Snaps), and Nicki Aycox (Veronica Mars), just to name a few. Which brings me to my next point: these are all hot women, clearly appealing to any man with a pulse.

So why is no one watching Supernatural? It’s on the CW, which has to be a big hurdle. This is a network whose nightly average ranges from anywhere between 1.5 million to 4 million, depending on the night. The CW also unfortunately chooses to air Supernatural on Thursdays opposite rating juggernauts CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Grey’s Anatomy, which each average about 20 million viewers. Supernatural’s draw? Only 3 million.

Another problem is that dark supernatural shows generally don’t do well. Apparently audiences are only willing to accept soft takes on the supernatural, like Ghost Whisperer and Medium. The last darkly themed supernatural show that did well was, yup, you guessed it: The X-Files. Shows that are too witty, too dark, or too challenging (or all of the above) generally fall by the wayside. Think: Joan of Arcadia, Point Pleasant, Wonderfalls, Millennium, Harsh Realms, The Twilight Zone. Even critical and fan favorites like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel never really lit up the Nielsen Charts. Somehow peoples’ interest in the supernatural (or science-fiction, for that matter) does not seem to transfer from film to the television screen. Maybe TV really is only the land of crime procedurals and medical dramas, with no room for anything else. People have become accustomed to expecting only these genres from television, and as a result, are only interested in those genres.

As you might have realized by now, I don’t have any definite answers to my own question. All I have is a pressing desire, and hope, that more will watch Supernatural, because they are missing one of the best and most fun TV shows on the air. If I get even just one million more people watching this show because of this article, I will be pleased as punch. So start making me some punch. Supernatural punch.

By Alexander B. Huls, Mondo Magazine

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  • cassi

    I LOVE SUPERNATURAL! I’ve been a fan of other shows before but I was never that addicted to a TV-series. The only show where I anxiously wait for new episodes!
    Supernatural rocks!!!
    PS: I didn’t like the X-files but I’m a fan of horror movies. Supernatural definitely has some scary moments but even I who love horror, watch the show because of the humor, the music and because of the relationship between the brothers.

  • Raven

    Seriously. People who dismiss this as a B-rated horror movie that leans on pretty boys to get ratings are so COMPLETELY MISTAKEN.

    For one thing, Jensen and Jared are NOT just pretty boys; they’ve got talent. Jared’s acting has improved a hell lot since his Gilmore Girls days, and Jensen’s always been an awesome actor (he breaks my heart whenever he tears up).

    Furthermore, the characters are so complex, and the producers and writers did a great job – still doing a great job – of digging deeper into their psyche to flesh out REAL characters. I especially love Dean’s character, because he’s so damaged even though he pulls this mask over it all the time.

    To those guys who think Smallville is a better show, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. When I watch Smallville now, I just CRINGE at how contrived the dialogues are. All the cheesy phrases, the bad acting (except for Michael Rosenbaum’s) … It just baffles me why the ratings for Smallville is higher than Supernatural’s.

    It’s not that I’m hating on Smallville or CSI or Bones or The X-Files or whatever – it’s just that these shows all have ONE good element each. But Supernatural has a COMBINATION of all these elements. You want action and horror, you’ve got it. You want urban legends, there you have it. You want eye candy and three-dimensional characters, SCORE. Plus, the dialogue’s good and there aren’t any cheap special effects or gimmicks to scare the audience.

    Supernatural is, by far, the best TV show I have ever watched, even beating the likes of Gilmore Girls, CSI, Smallville, Charmed, Gossip Girl, Lost and Grey’s Anatomy.

    We should support it all the way. SUPERNATURAL ROCKS LIKE NO OTHER – especially not like Bon Jovi (who, according to Dean, only rocks on occasion). No offense to Bon Jovi, by the way.

  • J.

    I didn’t really start tuning in to watch “Supernatural” until it was in its fourth season, which just ended a few weeks ago in the States. And yes, it was because it was on the CW on a night when I usually watched shows on NBC or ABC or CBS. But I have read about “Supernatural” in magazines, like letters from viewers, and that made me curious about the show. As a “new” fan, I have started catching up on DVD, and the change in format from Season One to Season Four is different. It’s not so much about a Monster of the Week as it is about a deeper story arc that focuses on Sam and Dean. I did end up missing a few episodes of Season Four, but when I jumped back in, I was able to pick up the main storyline and follow it to the finale. I like the show for its humor, clever dialogue, family drama and emotion, as well as Dean’s cuteness. :)

  • Mal

    First of all let me say I <3 supernatural. As all have said before it usually has great story lines, talented actors and the perfect mix of horor and humor. But as also said b4 some episodes are better than others. So ppl that are judging from one episode don’t be so harsh! Also although I luv supernatural, I also luv smallville, they are diffirent programs, so its not fair to compare them. So stop the hating on smallville and give supernatural another chance!!!! :)

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  • spruce117

    I agree supernatural is a great show, I always look forward to new episodes. I think X-files was aired on Fox, so if perhaps if Supernatural was on fox it might have a bigger following. Who needs more crime procedurals and medical dramas.. give us more original awesome shows like 'Supernatural'

  • Aden

    Who isn't?! I freakin LOVE LOVE LOVE Supernatural… and every single person who doesn't is crazy and should be checked into a mental hospital… but not one that has a wraith… hahahaha sorry just a bit of supernatural humor there for ya! :) hahahah Im such a dork.

  • Coocoocachop

    yes! power to the people!!! you tell em giiiiiiiiirl!!! hahahaha

  • Heavensent

    I watch & love Supernatural.
    And i know a lot of people who are watching it.
    And im so glad a new season is coming in September. :)

  • http://twitter.com/optimike optimike

    I have seen more scifi television than any one human should ever see, to the point where I actively seek out old horrible short-run shows and watch them all, even when it's clear it's the worst thing ever made.

    I have never purposely seen an episode of Supernatural or Buffy, and don't really miss it. I've accidentally seen a couple episodes of different seasons and get the gist.

    The point is, it's not SciFi. It's fantasy. Shows about demons and hell are not science based fiction, they're fantasy, in line with Xena and Hercules. They're souped up drama that usually suffer from bad acting and writing. People who like SciFi can withstand bad acting/writing for the scifi fun of it. For most fantasy, it needs to be much better acting, or it's just a whole different group of people attracted to it, and a smaller group at that.

    Shows like Merlin and even Lost (which had Scifi elements, and it wasn't really clear until later if it was scifi/drama/fantasy) succeed because of the acting and writing, and in Merlin's case there's also the existing popular culture knowledge of the story.

    Sitting through seasons of villain of the week to get to a story arc that deals with some fantasy crap isn't really that appealing to me. Maybe if it had started out that way.

    But comparing it to other SciFi shows and asking why people don't “also” watch Supernatural is just not a fair comparison. You have to treat it solely as a drama and judge it on that, bc that's how I and probably a lot of SciFi-watchers are judging it.

    Or, be content with the fantasy-loving population that has been attracted to it.