Latest Binge Watching Guilty Pleasure

I have no idea how I ever missed this one.  The premise, plot and structure of the series fall right in line with every checklist item I have for a great show.  I do not recall ever hearing about this program until it showed up as a recommended series when I signed up for Netflix a few months ago.  I immediately added it to my watch list and had assumed, based the fact that couldn’t recall the show ever being on television regularly, that there would only be a couple of seasons.  Then one day a couple weeks ago with nothing else of interest to watch, I clicked on Netflix on the AppleTV and decided to take a chance – Supernatural, a CW Series had made it to the the top of my list.

After only a few minutes of watching, I was truly surprised I had not found it on TV previously.  I joined Lost during the season one summer rerun and was hooked.  I started watching Fringe right from the first season and never looked back.  I was even one of the apparent few to watch The Tomorrow People, which I enjoyed through to the end.  Now, I was venturing into Supernatural and to my enormous surprise there are an unprecedented 9 seasons available on Netflix and one currently showing on the CW.  What?  Could I really have missed this for the last 10 years?  It’s not like I avoid the CW, I did watch The Tomorrow people after all.  What the hell, I was willing to take a shot.  What’s 40 minutes on a weekend afternoon.  I can stop after one episode . . .

Really, I can . . .

Really, . . .

Forty minutes later, I was hooked.  Not just “I’ve got to find out what happens next” hooked, but the full on “I NEED to find out how this ENDS” hooked!  My mind calculated – a 500 page book probably takes me 10-15 hours to read.  Now I had over 200 episodes at 40 minute each.  Uh, oh, that’s over 130 hours (of course by watching on Netflix I’ve cut over 70 hours of commercials!)

The writing, story lines, character development, and suspenseful arcs from one episode to the next were the details that kept me wanting more.  I have to give much of the character credit to the actors since they are the ones who truly brought these characters to life.  The directing and production values are of the highest caliber for a sci-fi/fantasy/action show which is not typically a genre that brings in massive audiences, thus limiting the commercial success and budgets of such shows.

Some of you may be saying that the show sounds stupid or maybe you have stated this in a nicer way, as the show just isn’t for you.  I agree, the show is not for everyone and I would certainly never push a show on someone who simply is not interested, but if you are willing to take a chance and can stand the gore and violence, I do encourage you to give this one a try.  The subject and story lines require a huge leap of faith, but the combination of serious situations and natural comedy help get through this.  It is often gory – for those with weak stomachs, I wouldn’t recommend eating while watching, especially with the numerous maggot episodes.  Some viewers may think the one-liners are a bit cliche or corny, but they fit so well with Dean’s character and reveal how deep the writers and actors have thought out these characters.

What impresses me most are the universal themes that run through the series.  Some themes have been consistent since episode one while others are explored until some satisfying resolution.  Family struggles and finding one’s place in family dynamics; dealing with loss; balancing faith, religion and science; making hard choices and weighing the consequences are only a only a few of the themes that have made this show more captivating than other zombie/vampire/apocalypse programs.  These themes have been addressed on so many shows from sitcoms to dramas since television began, but the way the characters, both good and bad, struggle and deal with these thematic issues has completely drawn me in to each and every one of their personal stories.

The creators have accomplished an impressive feat, completely blurring the lines between good and evil in a subject matter so reliant on this eternal battle.  I find myself rooting for my favorite characters to make the choices I hope they make, being disappointed at the choices they sometimes make, and feeling their pain as they have to live with those choices.  Without being obvious, it’s easy to draw links between the struggles the average person is dealing with and the fantasy struggles on screen.  Sure, Dean’s pending contract with the devil approaching was even associated with cancer in one episode.  To me it does not matter if the writers intended this from the beginning or saw the association later and built on it.  It’s all about how the viewer responds, and for me it is with exciting anticipation.

As I said before, this show is not for everyone, and on that note even television in general is not for everyone.  But, I grow weary of those who refuse to include television programs as works of art.  The raw ideas and execution to its final form take as much creative force as any novel, painting or sculpture.  As an aspiring writing I seek inspiration from any source available, and right now the art of Supernatural has provided my current spark.  Watching each episode has broadened from sheer entertainment value to a study of character and thematic development that I expect to use to enhance my own stories.

I’m halfway through season 5 and my desire to finding out how it all ends is burning as brightly as it was from the start.