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Friday, 12 April 2013

GBLT Characters on Supernatural

Supernatural is one of the longest running shows we follow; the Winchester brothers have been fighting against demons, vampires, werewolves, angry spirits, angels and anything else you can imagine for an incredible 9 years, 8 seasons (and a 9th season has already been planned) and a massive 168 episodes and counting.


That’s a long time and in that time we’ve had an amazing number of people hang around with the Winchesters. We’ve had monsters galore, victims in spades, people to protect and shelter, the occasional love interest, allies occasionally and, pretty rarely, the odd friend who has joined them in their struggle.


But such a lengthy presence on our screens makes it easy to see patterns of representation - and erasure. Any show that lasts this long and, because of that, has a great many characters is going to be more heavily criticised for it’s erasure than a shorter lived on. After all, a single season show with a small cast of 3 characters and less than a dozen extras is going to have less scope for inclusion or developing numerous minority characters - not that it makes the erasure tolerable by any stretch - but when you have 168 episodes and a gazillion people with which to present some decent diversity and you still fail? That’s almost willful.


Supernatural is not diverse on any real front - throughout its run the majority of the regularly recurring characters have, by far, been cis, straight, white men: Sam, Dean, Bobby, Castiel, Crowley - even Garth. We have a few women, but most of them are dead. Kevin has tried to shift some POC into the line-up by reading feverishly in a boat and Bobby was, briefly, disabled before he was magically cured when it became too awkward, but you can hardly say the show has made more than a token attempt at inclusion.

When it comes to GBLT characters, the pickings have been slim; we have a very very few gay characters and no trans characters. The very first was a lesbian who appeared in Season 2, Episode 21
All Hell Breaks Loose, she was one of the demon children, along with Sam and she accidentally used her power to kill her girlfriend (behold, the dangers of gay sexuality!) After that, she is brutally murdered; the first to die to get her out of the way (no, that doesn’t count as a spoiler. It’s Supernatural and, frankly, a gay person dying is hardly a spoiler in fiction anyway).