The world has survived the apocalypse, but so have Sam and Dean Winchester. Over the years, CW’s oldest scripted television series, Supernatural, has occupied the 9 p.m. time slot on every weekday but Monday. Despite this and other hardships, it has served its network well for the past eight years, and it’s going to serve it well for a ninth, probably a tenth.
It’s obvious to fans and critics after the departure of creator Eric Kripke Supernatural was not the same. The show’s logical fifth season conclusion left audiences wondering, what do you do after the end and how do you top the apocalypse? The answer has become obvious after December 2012. You go on.
This is precisely what the show and its characters continue to do. The show digs into its roots and pushes forward one episode at a time. There are basic aspects that make a show like Supernatural last, and it seems today most network shows forget those.
The first is a likable protagonist(s) the audience can connect with. The reason audiences continue to tune into Supernatural week after week has less to do with what the premise is for the episode, but how the characters react to it. Sam and Dean represent humanity and its fight to survive. They give their viewers hope.
Unfortunately, the best characters, played by the best actors, can only do so much if the concept isn’t used to it’s potential. Simple concepts make the best shows. Simplicity gives more room to grow and experiment. Two hunks in a muscle car drive cross-country, saving people from evil. Supernatural continues to exist because despite all the growth and experimentation, the two main characters continue to follow the show’s basic premise.
Consistency is key. Sam and Dean drive the same car, listen to the same classic rock, stay in the same seedy motels, and spout the same kind of smart-ass quips every week. Motifs were a huge part of Hitchcock’s success, and even in television they have their place. It makes a show familiar to an audience, like an old friend who always stays the same.
Yet, variety and fearlessness is what made Shakespeare so legendary. Romance, comedy, drama, suspense, thrill. Without the balance of constantly changing emotions, audiences get board. The best show keeps viewers asking the question, what are they going to do next? The fearlessness of the cast and crew to go above and beyond the norm is what has helped develop Supernatural into a cult classic, spawning not only comics and novels, but it’s own Japanese anime.
With so many other networks in television only copying shows from other countries or rebooting old series, it is refreshing to see that at least one show continues to strive for new heights. Supernatural jumped the shark four seasons ago (They literally named the episode "Jump the Shark".) and still keeps jumping.
Watch Supernatural Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CW.