Staying In: What’s Wrong With Supernatural’s Female Characters?

Staying In - Supernatural
Posted on: July 11th, 2013

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It’s already finished in the US, but Supernatural series eight has only just made it to UK soils. Better late than never, eh?

This time, Jeremy Carver has won the game of Musical Showrunners, and has taken over from Sera Gamble, who took over from Erik Kripke. Gamble’s run wasn’t met with the best reception from fans, and Carver’s interpretation looks to be steering the show away from impossibly powerful foes and convoluted multi-strand stories, and back towards the simple days of two brothers fighting demons. Which is no bad thing. Neither is Mark Sheppard’s Crowley finally getting to sit in the Big Bad seat – it’s been a long time coming.

But what I want to know is: Will Carver succeed where none of the other showrunners have, and finally hit upon a female character that sticks?

Now, saying that Supernatural kills off all their female characters is a bit redundant – they kill off all their characters, regardless of gender. My problem with Supernatural’s ladies is how rigidly they stick to the ‘Angel’ or ‘Whore’ stereotypes (or, in this case, Angel and Demon, I suppose).

While the male supporting characters are allowed to skip all over the hero-to-villain scale and all have their own little personality quirks, the women are all either paragons of (often self-sacrificial) virtue, or down-and-dirty bad girls. The Angel and Whore trope is well-known, and one Supernatural often takes hilarious literally, even down to having the Winchester’s dear departed mother and Jess making most of their appearances clad in long white nightgowns. Because they’re so good and pure, y’see.

We’re told that Dean’s love interest Lisa was a wild girl in the past, but all we see of her is a Good Mom hanging around in kitchens. Perhaps she’d have been more interesting and less underwritten if she was allowed to still be a tiny bit wild. Even Bobby’s dead wife just drifts around baking cakes and forgiving him for killing her – twice.

 

Bad = Sexy

Bad = Sexy

And as for the bad girls (the stereotypical ‘whores’), Bella, Ruby, Meg et al all seem to be held together entirely by snark and skin tight jeans.

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Author Info

I'm a script writer and film maker who also writes for @starburst_mag and @badhaven. Occassionally I sleep, too.

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Comments
  • Observer

    The real issue should be with how it keeps devolving into torture porn (a horror trope that’s become a crutch) – and how they started sticking cop-show-type-music into the episodes not so long ago. It undercuts the genre.

  • Observer

    This paranoia is ridiculous. Who haven’t they killed at this point? If it weren’t for the numerous resurrections, there’d be about no one left at all!

    (excepting those they used to save back when the show was more about: hunting monsters… saving people) (and the Ghostfacers, because killing the comic relief is a no-no)

    Kevin Tran is just praying he doesn’t wind up dying off-screen like the last prophet.

    I get the notion that this is an overreaction to them hiring so many actresses that have “model” features. But that’s hypocritical when I bet many women tuned in for the tall dark ‘n handsomes they cast as leads. Heck I was lucky I didn’t pass this show over, because at first I myself judged a book by its cover and assumed those guys were just hired for their looks. But I gave it a chance because folks with taste like it – and discovered they have amazing acting chops. As do most of the men and women they cast.

    “When the show introduces an interesting, layered female character, they get killed off annoyingly prematurely.” Considering they constantly do that to male characters too – that’s pretty equal treatment they’re giving then, IMO.

  • Juan

    “Spoilers” for those who haven’t seen all of season 8

    Mama Tran Is already Dead, and the reason why is seems that they kill more minorities and female characters is there are less of them so when they’re killed off its a big deal, and when a straight white guy gets killed off people are like meh… another dead guy big whoop!.

  • Lucia Malpense

    I really hate articles like this. News flash- EVERYONE dies. Even the main characters die. They’re not being racist, or sexist, or homophobic when a certain minority always dies, because EVERYONE always dies.

    • Falconfly

      There’s a difference between a realistic depiction of death, and systematic, consistent killing off main characters. In Supernatural, female, black and gay characters do happen to die more frequently than straight white men, and the focus is (generally) on straight white men.

      It also boils down to how the deaths are arranged. When Sam or Dean dies, or any major POV character dies, they generally either come back, or have their deaths in a manner that indices heartwrench in the audience. There’s no slut shaming or anything of the like in Supernatural, but most female and black characters are either killed off like you cut nails, or made so unsympathetic that you want them dead.

  • Guest

    I didn’t read this article, because I couldn’t get past the link title: “Why Does Supernatural Keep Killing It’s Female Cast?”. Do you people not have editors? Can you please learn the difference between it’s and its? You’re supposed to be writers, after all…

    • Tarquin

      I can indeed confirm what Dave said that the title of this article is “Staying In: What’s Wrong With Supernatural’s Female Characters?” If you are going to criticise someone make sure you’re not making a massive mistake yourself first of all!!!!!