In entertainment, there are some opinions that are universally accepted: Milo Ventimiglia is everything. Queen Sugar is wildly underappreciated. Fox was so colossally stupid to cancel its baseball drama, Pitch.
However, this critic and professional fangirl holds in a lot of opinions that go against the fandom grain. I have enough personal baggage, so I'm unburdening that of the fangirl variety. Unpopular Opinion: Supernatural is destroying Dean Winchester at the expense of Sam.
Before sending me angry tweets, let's unpack this.
The season 12 finale was riddled with loss for the Winchester clan: their beloved mother was snatched back into an alternate universe by the devil himself; their frenemy Crowley sacrificed himself for the greater good; and Castiel, an integral member of Team Free Will. Season 13 is off to a wildly uneven start, and it's mostly because of Dean Winchester played by the Emmy worthy Jensen Ackles.
I can and have watched Jensen Ackles tear into an emotion-packed monologue with that ferocious talent of his for more than a decade, and I never get sick of it. The problem is Jared Padalecki is a great actor too, and Sam deserves the same insight into his psyche that Dean has gotten again and again. It's utterly frustrating just how slanted the show is towards Dean's emotions and breakdowns. For every cut-wrenching loss they've endured, he's been allowed more and more space to break down and grieve, bogarting into Sam's.
This season, the taller Winchester has barely had time to express his own emotions over losing his friend and mother, who he had a very complicated relationship with. Instead he's been Dean's therapist, protector and punching bag, absorbing the wrath of his meltdowns and the bulk of his whining.
Where's the Dean Winchester that literally died to save his brother's life? Where's the big brother that has always tried (and sometimes spectacularly failed) to put his little brother first? Instead of bothering to even ask him how he's coping, in the last episode, "Advanced Thanatology," Dean literally kill himself in front of Sam to solve a trivial monster-of-the-week case.
When he meets the newly appointed Death (welcome back, Billie!), he then decides to stay dead--a choice he's robbed from Sam many times over (see Seasons 2,3, 8 and 9). The most egregious being in season 9 when Dean tricked Sam into being possessed by a rogue angel Gadreel, who later hijacked Sam's body to go on a murder spree.
Sam's only scrap of a storyline has been raising the nephilim Jack and honing his skills to rescue his mother from the alternate universe, a move which Dean has mostly derided. He petulantly insists that Lucifer killed Mary, despite Sam having spent a few centuries with and probably knows better. This, however, brings up another issue in terms of how how massive the double standard is between Sam and Dean.
In the season 7 finale, Dean was blasted into Purgatory after previously making a promise to Sam to let any future natural deaths stick. When Dean returned to earth and reunited with his brother in season 8, he berated and bullied Sam for years for doing exactly what they both agreed to. Now that the tables have turned, Dean believing that Mary is dead and leaving her in the clutches of the devil, is viewed through the prism of his intense grief--a luxury Sam didn't have in season 8. Meanwhile the mother he loves so much is stuck in a post-apocalyptic hellscape with the actual devil.
Even worse, Sam hasn't voiced any objections or outward emotions, not even when Dean died right in front of him mere weeks after losing most of their family, or about Dean insisting that Mary is dead, despite how he's treated him in the over the same exact situation.
I totally understand that dysfunctional relationships make for damn good television, and Sam and Dean have the one of the most deliciously jacked up relationships on TV. But if the characters don't learn from their mistakes and reference them, if they don't fight each other and take care of each other, then what's the point?
The writers seem to be obsessed with making Dean this uber-macho anti-hero who's never wrong and can diffuse any situation with "bullets, booze and bacon" and one that suddenly doesn't give a damn about his brother. And that flies in the face of everything we know about Dean Winchester. I'd honestly believe that the season 13 Dean is a result of some complicated trickery from Rowena or another big bad than Sam's actual big brother.
Supernatural is an aging series, but it's one of the few that I still have faith in, albeit the dwindling kind, and maybe it's time to salt and burn it for good. Clearly it has forgotten not only the show's own mythology, and that it's the tension between the brothers and the broments that have made it such a special show for over a decade. The extended scenes with the cute yet cloying Jack only takes time away from the drama between the Winchesters.
The last two episodes have offered a glimmer into Sam's emotional state, especially during one tense meeting with a grief therapist in "The Big Empty" though the they wasted her shape-shifting skills on Jack when they should've been used on Sam.
Here's hoping the feels scales will shift in Sam's favor soon. If not, this won't be the last unpopular opinion I'll be sharing.
Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.