Saturday, 4 February 2012

Self Analysis via TV or How Supernatural Made Me Me Again

Recently I watched Sons Of Anarchy and by watched I mean devoured. I literally consumed it. I only stopped long enough to go to work. The minute I got home, BAM, next episode. I stayed up later than usual, got up earlier than usual, all to watch a TV show. I watched 4 seasons in 6 days. That’s 53 episodes in just under a week. Thankfully, most people I know don’t think that’s weird! Simply put, Sons Of Anarchy hit a nerve and it was that nerve that made me obsessively compulsively watch episode after episode until I had bags under my eyes and dreams filled with motorcycles and highways and hot biker boys.
It dawned on me, that that nerve might be the very same nerve that my favourite TV show hits. That show, of course, is Supernatural. I’ve often pondered why I love Supernatural so much. What connects me to it? Why this show? What makes me want to watch it over and over, talk about it, write about it, apart from the obvious; story, writing, quality of the production and whatnot. Of course, most of it is Sam and Dean and their relationship, their love, their bond, their everything, but is it more than that? Supernatural has changed me on a cellular level. But why? Watching Sons Of Anarchy helped me clarify why. It was something I always knew I guess. It’s that damn nerve of mine. I’ve started to call it….my freedom nerve.

I was about 4 episodes into Sons Of Anarchy before I realised something, the show has very similar themes to Supernatural. It’s about family, loyalty, love and destiny versus freewill. There’s a ‘hero’ who always tries to do the right thing, even when it goes against the grain. That’d be the right thing for his family and that’d be the family he’s created around him, because in SAMCRO, family don’t end with blood either. He lives a certain lifestyle and at his core, he loves it, though he won’t admit it to himself or anyone else and so he fights it every step of the way. He pines for normality, a ‘normal’ home, getting out of the life and raising a kid, though he knows that will never be his reality, because the life that chose him, will always call him back. He wishes he could just chuck it all and run, but he won’t because he’s part bound by history, part bound by loyalty and a lot bound by love. He’s freer than most people, even though he often feels trapped. He lives a life outside of societal norms. He won’t be pushed around. He stands up for what he believes in and will fight to the death for those he cares for. Plus he’s smokin’, rides a hot motorcycle and does most everything to a classic rock sound track. Of course I’m talking about Jax Teller, but I could just as easily be talking about Dean Winchester….just swap the bike out for the Impala.

But, but, the Sons Of Anarchy are bad and the Winchesters are good, I hear you all screaming. True. But even though they fight different battles for different reasons, a lot of where that fight comes from, a lot of why they fight is the same. Jax and Sam and Dean are archetypal heroes and they don’t want a bar of it, because great heroes never do.
It hit me like a tonne of bricks. These themes, the ones that are at the guts of Supernatural and Sons Of Anarchy, run through pretty much everything I watch. Everything. As I sat on the couch, remote in hand, Jax paused on my TV, I suddenly realised I’d been watching the same show for years. The same story, in one form or another, over and over with the same characters facing the same challenges. Heroes, people walking to the beat of their own drum. Outsiders, trying to stay true to what they believe in. Speaking their minds and living passionate lives dedicated to loyalty, family and love and most importantly, searching for some kind of meaning, some kind of connectivity in the world they find themselves forced to survive in. Yep, tonne of bricks. I laughed out loud.

My first loves, Buffy, Angel, Fox Mulder, even I guess, Agent Dale Cooper, were all individuals, outsiders, trying to live their life in a way that makes sense to them, whether through destiny, circumstance or choice. Being generally misunderstood by the masses and various authority figures, yet finding truth in the people that they connect with, as they build their own family. Finding people who do understand them. Being true to themselves…

It suddenly made a lot of sense why Supernatural means so much to me, why it’s pierced my heart and buried itself deep into my soul. Yes, sure, it’s absolutely about Sam and Dean, who they are and their story, absolutely….but it’s so much more. 

I’ve probably never been what you’d call, umm, like everyone else I know? I was a pretty rubbish student, even though I’m bright enough. I simply struggled to do what I was told. I think the word I heard a lot was stubborn. The only thing I ever cared about or excelled in was art and English. I was always the chick busted for daydreaming and doodling up the back of the class. I was always the chick that wore her uniform just a little wrong, had the wild haircuts, and crazy eyeliner. It wasn’t that I was trying to be bad or trying to stand out, good Lord no, it’s just how I was and even at 16, I guess I was being true to myself, without even knowing it.

That gets harder the older you get don’t you think? You find yourself somehow being sucked into the expectations of family and society. You find yourself bending and conforming to become who you think you’re supposed to be. Who you think you’re supposed to be to get the job you think you’re supposed to have and live the life you think you’re supposed to live. At least I did. Some people call it maturing, but I don’t know…. It wasn’t a complete transformation, there’s always a rebel living free in my heart, but I was definitely no longer being true to myself, without even knowing it.

Then….I started watching this show about two brothers.

I said earlier that Supernatural changed me on a cellular level, and it did. It all started there. I’m sure of it. I just didn’t really know why. Even though I had unwittingly always been drawn to TV shows with similar themes it all started with their story. The Winchester’s story. I loved everything about it from the first moment I saw it. From the moment Dean said I can’t do this alone and Sam said yes you can and Dean said yeah, well I don’t want to…. Hook. Line. Sinker. It just grabbed me by the throat and left me gagging for more. But, not one single person I knew watched it. Not one. So I kept it to myself. I quietly watched season after season, getting more and more involved and slowly but surely getting more and more affected by the story unravelling week after week before my eyes. Something inside me started to shift. Those themes, the ones that I’d been unknowingly seeking out and which had captivated me for years, suddenly started to build some kind of connective tissue inside me.

Then towards the end of season four, something big occurred. I discovered other fans. Holy cow! Where had they all been hiding! When that happened, the cellular transformation went into overdrive. I suddenly found a group of people who loved the show that I loved, who I could talk to about it, in detail. My secret show was now out in the open. What a relief. Not only that, these people, strangers, seemed to open their arms and accept me. They tolerated my eccentricities. They understood me with out even meeting me. They supported me and encouraged me. They let me be me, without any expectations, not one. Something in that released that little something in me that was still trapped deep down and voilĂ , my freedom nerve started hopping again.

After that, everything sort of changed.

Now I get why Supernatural resonates with me the way it does. It’s all my themes, the ones I didn’t even know I was watching, amped up on steroids! It’s the being true to who you are and fighting for what you believe in. It’s the family don’t end with blood and the finding people who get you thing. It’s the living by your own set of rules, the choosing free will over destiny. It’s love, it’s loyalty, it’s speaking your mind and being brave enough to be yourself…all set to a classic rock soundtrack, no seriously, you should see my iPod. Let’s face it; it’s the ultimate escapism but even escapism holds truth.

It even sounds a little nutty to me that a TV show could affect me on this level, but it did. Somehow, Supernatural, this story of these two magnificent brothers, helped me get back to being me…..

Of course the flip side of this is that now there are some people in my life who no matter how much they love me, will never quite get me. I know they try, but I know they don’t. Maybe they never did, but now it seems way more pronounced! Their bewildered looks seem way more frequent! Not only that, it’s harder to conform to the requirements of my day-to-day world, which I absolutely have to do if I want to, you know, eat! It’s harder to settle into the life I have, which ain’t at all bad I hasten to add. It’s harder not to daydream my hours away. It’s harder to do all of these things because every cell seems to urgently shimmer and every drop of blood gurgles and rushes through me making my freedom nerve twitch. Now, instead of ‘me’ being difficult to find, ‘me’ is difficult to contain! And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way because by rediscovering that pesky freedom nerve of mine, I’ve found a connection. I’m me again. For better or worse. And I have Supernatural and all of you, to thank for that.

A good friend of mine, who I’ve know for about 8 years, recently said to me that though I always seemed happy, now I seem like I’m who I’m supposed to be. It made me laugh. I said yeah, I feel like that too, (ok yes, we were a little drunk). She asked what’d changed. I said, well you know what, as buckets of crazy as this might sound to you…I think it was Supernatural and everything that’s come along with it. The brothers, the story, the friends, the conventions, the Js, the fans, the acceptance. She just smiled. She got it. I guess maybe my friends do get me after all…..

Why do I watch Supernatural? Because it’s who I am…. and as Ash would say.... I’m cool with it.

1 comment:

  1. This is perfect. I can totally relate to what you're saying here, which makes me wonder if most or all big time Supernatural fans feel the same way.