Thank you, 2011, for Supernatural. Especially for Dean.

2011 has given me all kinds of cool things. Here’s one of them.

Supernatural
A TV show that transformed 2011 for me. Ok, that sounds a bit melodramatic. But: it’s true. It’s given me a fictional world to think about (obsess over) in the midst of PhD work, a primary narrative and growing metatext to write about as both a slasher and an academic, and it’s reminded me how fucking awesome it is to turn the music up loud and sing in the car, passers by be damned.

Here’s the premise: two brothers in a hot car who kill monsters. Or: Buffy with boys.

So why do I love this show? Good question. I think that depends on the day. It’s become aggressively meta. It has no idea how to deal with women in any sort of realistic way. It’s fucking hilarious and really gross, often in the same beat. Sam and Dean Winchester, the two protagonists, have a truckload of Daddy issues–and rightly so–and are generally fucked up in the head. The arc of the first five seasons is awesome. There’s Castiel, an angel in a trenchcoat who’s in love with Dean. There’s Bobby, the boys’ surrogate (and far superior) father figure. Angels, demons, monsters, vamps, weird monsters.

Doesn’t hurt that Sam and Dean are beautiful, either, each in their own way.

Oh, and it’s slashy as all get out. It’s even spawned its own distinct genre of slash fic: the Wincest narrative.

But I love it (and write slash fic about it) because of Dean.

Despite all of the terrible crap that he’s witnessed (that he’s done), in spite of the head job his dad put on him for 20+ years–which can be summarized as “keep Sammy safe at all costs”–he has a heart. He plays the butch role to the hilt–or he used to–but he loves Sam, cares about him than anything else. Which gets them both in trouble constantly, but hey. He’s loyal. Not the quickest of wits sometimes, but smart when he needs to be. He’s a master of repression and he drinks to deal with any sort of emotional issue.

He’s a liar and a con man and not terribly good with people. Used to have a lot of sex with random women, but not anymore. He loves his car–his daddy’s car. He’s a dick. He has his own weird sort of logic that he uses to navigate the world. He’s a luddite. A crack shot. He’s a hunter, an identity that once was as easy as breathing and now is something that he resists. He loves classic rock and has a soft spot for ridiculous power ballads.

He’s a skilled torturer. Cas and the angels may have pulled his body out of Hell, but who he was got left behind. He’s died over 1000 times. Been to Heaven several times, but can only remember the once. He’s hilarious, sometimes even intentionally. He’s Sam’s soulmate.  He’s messy and complicated and so beyond fucked up that he can’t see straight.

But.

He’s the heart of the show–better way to put it: the show works because of him. He’s the emotional center, even though he never wants to talk about his feelings, would probably punch you in the face if you implied that he has any.

I come back to the show even after it pisses me off and I break up with it for a week because I want Dean to get some kind of resolution, some kind of reward for all of the complete shit he’s had to do, to see, to put up with, that Sam puts him through. I want him to be happy, and I have no idea what “happy” would like like for him now. I seriously doubt the writers do either, but I have hope against hope that he’ll find it, even though at this point he’s stopped looking.

Maybe I see a bit of myself in Dean, or I see in him some of the person that I’d like to be. Yeah, I’d say that’s it. Even though I mock him in my slash fic a bit (or, ok, I mock myself for writing him this way) as the “girl”–for me, he’s a romantic, and that’s how he behaves (occasionally of his own accord) in my S/D.  My spouse would be the first to tell you that I am the Practical One and he is the Romantic One. True true. But. Maybe I see a little bit of hope for the destruction of my practicality in Dean. Hell, this term I’ve already chilled out to the point where one of my colleagues read me (in a positive way) as a pothead (which was awesome). Hmm. I may have to come back to this.

But, interestingly, *Sam* is the reason that I’m writing for academic audiences about this show. He’s the pivot around which all kinds of weird notions of desire and the body and imagination and denial spin, and that’s what I want to poke at [Freudian much?] in a wonky sort of way. And he’s beautiful. Really, like, sigh-worthy swoonbait. It’s the hair. And the sideburns. And the being incredibly tall. And I’m pretty damn picky.

So, for all of these reasons (and more), thank you, 2011, for leading me to Supernatural. It is awesome, and seriously? Academic-type people want me to come to their conferences and read papers about S/D. How fucking amazing is that?!

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