The Supernatural Spin-Off Needs a Female Lead and Here’s Why

1483962_10151805467167742_460361094_oThe Winchesters themselves could not to convince me that Supernatural treats female characters well. Don’t get me wrong, Supernatural is great but I don’t think that even the powers that be would disagree that it doesn’t have a fantastic track record when it comes to female characters. Unfortunately, the format of the show – which focuses on the male leads to the detriment of all others – hasn’t given Supernatural much opportunity to change it’s tune in regards to the representation of women… until now.

In the summer of 2013, The CW announced that there would be a backdoor pilot for a possible spin-off during Season 9 of Supernatural. The pilot, scheduled to be Episode 20 of Season 9, is set in Chicago and Jeremy Carver told Entertainment Weekly it will “have main characters who are both human and monsters”. Robert Singer stated that the spin-off would be much more of an ensemble than Supernatural, which wouldn’t really be hard.

Whatever you think about the potential spin-off, there is one thing that is clear – it desperately needs a female protagonist.

Supernatural’s success can be attributed almost entirely to the screen presence and chemistry of its stars; Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Sure it has a lot of other things going for it, but it’s Jared and Jensen that make it stand out from the crowd. The thing about that is – it’s impossible to replicate so why bother trying? The most logical way to combat this is to throw the model out the window and go for something completely different, like a kick ass lady hunter (bonus points if she’s queer or a WOC).

The spin-off is already touted to be an ensemble show, so there is plenty of room for attractive white men in the supporting roles if necessary. [Not to say that a show needs white men to succeed, just that Hollywood seems to think so.] But a dynamic female lead could really help it stand out from its predecessor.

Considering the way the Supernatural fandom reacts to female characters, I can understand why TPTB might be skeptical. This reaction comes from the fact that female characters pose a threat to the Winchester’s dynamic. With a whole new cast of characters, the spin-off offers the chance to set up a dynamic that welcomes femininity rather than fearing it. Not only does this present the opportunity for less misogynistic narrative, it also opens up the door for a whole world of stories that would be impossible on Supernatural.

1483816_10151805417847742_1408826980_oLook at it this way, female characters that are not presented as a romantic threat are embraced by fandom – like Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) and Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes). So it’s pretty clear that female viewers are prepared to love female characters, we just want to love them on our terms. And like I said above, adding a couple of pretty white boys in the background should satisfy the slash fans. Besides, the male-hero driven narrative is getting old. It’s time to move on.

Let’s face it, Supernatural has told every possible story about two traditionally masculine white male hunters. It’s been done, that dead horse cannot be flogged anymore. By making the hero a girl, suddenly it’s something new. There are new stories to be told, and new relationships to be discovered. (And I’m not just talking about romance although I’m not opposed to it. As long as it’s not a human-girl/monster-boy romance or a boy/girl/boy love triangle – The Vampire Diaries has that covered).

If that’s not convincing enough, think about this – the Supernatural fanbase is predominantly female and while a number of women enjoy looking at attractive men (although it should be noted that a large number of queer women watch Supernatural) we also like seeing ourselves on the screen. It’s been over 10 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, it’s time for a new hero driven narrative with a woman a the helm.

1502826_10151805417882742_1318645730_oThere are even a number of established female characters from Supernatural that could very easily make the transition to Chicago for the spin-off. Charlie and Dorothy Baum (Tiio Horn) might be off fighting a civil war in Oz, but once that’s done they could move to Chicago to fight the things that go bump in the night. Remember Cassie Robinson (Megalyn Echikunwoke) from way back in Season 1? (Yes I’m aware “Route 666” was a terrible episode.) I’ve always wondered what she did after Dean and Sam left – maybe she got dragged into the supernatural underworld. What about Tracy Bell (Olivia Ryan Stern) from 902 “Devil May Care”? She wears plaid and she’s got a tragic backstory; she’s basically already a Winchester.

See it’s easy, because the amazing thing about female characters is that they are a lot like male characters; they are all people. Anyway, we REALLY don’t need another manpain suffering misogynist hero with daddy issues. And without Jared and Jensen’s charm there would be no forgiving the blatant sexism. If this show doesn’t have a female lead, it probably won’t be worthy of anyone’s time.

As a final note, I would like to add that all heroes need an adorable sidekick, and in this case it would have to be a girl. That way the show will automatically pass the Bechdel test and we get a cute female comic relief to boot! The more I think about this the more disappointed I will be if it doesn’t become a reality.

Ultimately, only time will tell what becomes of the Supernatural spin-off (these things occasionally just drift off into the ether). But until we find out otherwise, I will keep my fingers cross for a much needed female protagonist.

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.


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About the author

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.

Comments

  1. Fantastic article. I think it’s unfortunate to hear that to fulfill the roles of the masculine heroes the characters also act in ways seen as misogynistic. But at least they have some redeeming qualities, like you said.

    I’d love to see another strong female lead like Buffy or Xena. I loved how both shows, Buffy and Xena, both had very strong female AND male side characters, and just as many throwaway or silly males and females to boot. They were both rounded out very well.

  2. “She wears plaid and she’s got a tragic backstory; she’s basically already a Winchester.” That line made me laugh really hard.

    Fabulous article. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. A woman lead, cute girl side kick, a couple of hot guys, supernatural themes? You just described Lost Girl. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but I personally don’t like it very much. I’m all for a woman lead but to me the best ensemble casts don’t feel like there’s just one main character. The best example I can give you is Firefly. You should check it out if you haven’t already seen it. I hope the Supernatural spinoff can pull of an amazing ensemble like that.

    1. If I thought for a moment this show could even remotely compare to Firefly I would weep with joy! But alas, I don’t think they’re that good. And yeah I’ve seen Lost Girl, it’s not my fave but I enjoy it (badass bisexual succubus – yes please). I’m 100% down with an ensemble cast – as long as it’s at least 65% female. And usually with an ensemble show there is a character that is the audience guide, so I would like them to be female. Just more girls really. It’s that simple. 🙂

      1. Fair enough =) Usually I don’t even think about how many men and women are in a program unless there’s a really huge discrepancy but Supernatural, despite having several amazing female characters, doesn’t have any women regulars. So I agree the spin off could be a good opportunity to bring in some more ladies. And yeah, hoping for anything near Firefly standard is probably unrealistic =(

  4. Love it. I’d be happy to see Tracy head up the spinoff! I don’t want to lose most of the other established female characters from the main show. I liked Tracy, though.

    Other options from the roster:

    Maybe the girl from “Faith” in season 1? Make Carmen from Dean’s dream life a real character? (Even though she’s currently on “Hawaii 5-0″….) Naomi the hunter from season 3? Bring back Anna, Bela and/or Ruby (either one) and use them? (I have no interest in seeing them with our main boys after how they acted right before they were taken out, but I’d like to see them redeemed elsewhere.) How about Kali? Melanie the mentalist from season 7? (Not that I have a vested interest… :-P) Kate the werewolf?

  5. Actually I don’t care if there would be a male or female lead. If someone is sympatico and fits with the role I would watch, but another wormed up 2.0 Cagney & Lacey forced social engineered gender crap, no thanks.

  6. “Xena: Warrior Princess” was a spin off from a male centric show (“Hercules”) and was told from the perspective of two females, so it can definitely be done (though “Buffy” had a female lead protagonist, it was more of an ensemble show than “Xena”, so that model would be better suited for the possible Supernatural spinoff).

    I read the show might take place in one location – Chicago – so that will definitely be different than “Supernatural” right off the bat. However, I fear (regardless of the sex of the main character) it will fall along the lines of TVD or its spinoff “The Originals.”

    I was really rooting for a Charlie/Dorothy show – c’mon, that would be awesome!

  7. I found your article on Supernatural to be biased against the male leads; males in general are being presented by you as cliche, old, tired, overdone and so the answer is to make a remake of Buffy in a Supernatural world.

    BS.

    The reason Supernatural has lasted as long as it has (and there are a LOT of men watching for the plots and female guest-stars) is the men have carried this show, without the need for a woman “hero” figure. Why do women want to be the heroes here? Is there something wrong with the leads being male, whites? You mentioned that several times as if “white males” are something passe; something to embarrassed about.

    Then you short-change the show suggesting they have told “every possible story.” Good writers can always create new and interesting stories as long as the premise of the show holds. Look, I have nothing against having women characters in the show. It isn’t that the show is biased against women, as your piece infers, but that it isn’t necessary. A woman in relationship with one of the brothers does throw the balance out of whack, which is why Cindy Sampson did not work. They don’t have the time or the luxury of girlfriends. They’d only get them killed. I think you missed the reason there are no girlfriends totally!

    Buffy was great in its day. It was NEVER scary, like Supernatural has been. It was fun, cheesy and more dramatic than expected. It was the dialogue that drove that show. Supernatural is a different kind of show. More plot based and less reliance on dialogue-centric humor.

    Supernatural ain’t broke, so please, don’t try to fix it by adding a random character into the mix that is only going to appear obvious to the fans. A spinoff? Without Sam or Dean? I can’t see it. Sorry.

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