The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, November 19, 2020 1:00 am

Commentary

Family business: Long-running 'Supernatural' connects fans

Long-running 'Supernatural' connects fans

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

When “Supernatural” started airing in 2005 it was just a fun, creepy weekly ritual. It featured a favorite actor of mine and a sterling soundtrack of classic rock.

And have I mentioned the car that Dean and Sam Winchester tool around the countryside in – a 1967 black Impala? The brothers fight evil – from ghosts and vampires to Hitler and the devil.

With the series finale airing tonight, the reason it has lasted 15 seasons – aside from the chemistry of the two leads and a knack for innovative episodes – is the characters are just normal guys trying to make the world better. That is something all of us can relate to. The Winchesters don't have superpowers – they are just smart, courageous and loyal.

“Saving people, hunting things” is one of the phrases that defines the show.

But there is also a personal reason why I watch the show – my big brother, Mitch Kelly.

I lost track of “Supernatural” somewhere in Season 7. Honestly, I don't remember why. Maybe they changed the nights the show aired or I just got busy with life. But Mitch and his wife recorded it every week and they would order in food and have a Friday date night to watch.

Eventually my brother became ill and spent a lot of time in the hospital during the final years of his life. As you can imagine, there aren't a lot of channels to pick from in a hospital, and by that time the network TNT was airing three or four older “Supernatural” episodes back-to-back every weekday. Mitch and I would watch together, and he would fill me in on some of the characters and storylines I had missed. We would quote our favorite lines and dissect the ghost story.

He died in 2016 and the next month I found myself floundering. Flipping through Netflix one day I noticed they had “Supernatural” available, and I decided to watch it from the start. It took me almost a year to watch 12 seasons. But it made me feel closer to Mitch and gave me a little escape.

I also found another family of sorts in the show's legendary fandom. There is a reason the show has had such longevity, and to say its fans are committed is an understatement. My sister-in-law Julie and I took a trip for the one-year anniversary of Mitch's death and we watched the Season 13 premiere from our Washington, D.C., Airbnb. Each night after walking the city and taking in the historical sites, we would pick a favorite episode to watch and bond over.

At some point we realized “Supernatural” has conventions where all the stars show up and we decided it would be a fun experience. We chose Chicago, and made a vacation of it.

Sandwiched between sightseeing, we went to the convention – where the cast do panels and answer questions and some fans cosplay.

We met so many wonderful people that the next year I decided to do the Chicago convention again with a friend I met there – Janelle Biddenstadt. There was something about being in a group of people who all share a common interest that made me feel at ease.

The actors also are open and honest, sharing their lives and stories from set. They do hundreds of photo ops but they don't stand woodenly next to you. They get into it with funny faces, props and poses. They look every fan in the eyes, say thank you and make you feel special.

Like any “family” there are differing opinions but the last few months have been amazing as the final seven episodes aired and the media buzz grew.

For a while there, we didn't know if we would get a real finale. The 15th season was set as its last and they had filmed all but the final two episodes when COVID-19 hit and the cast and crew were sent home from Vancouver where it films.

The end was in doubt.

But alas, we are here. I will watch a retrospective tonight, and the series finale will open with “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas, the adopted anthem of the show. A few friends will be there – eating a “Supernatural” cake. And I hope Mitch is watching from above.

As Dean Winchester would say, “What's done is done. All that matters now, all that's ever mattered, is that we're together. So shut up, and drink your beer.”

nkelly@jg.net 


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