Aisha Tyler made the very incisive and intuitive comment that Supernatural is about the inner lives of men which is very rarely, if ever, truly explored in such depth as it is here. Jensen and Jared have, time and again, been called to truly dive into their own emotional interiors to show utter loss, desperation, joy, pain and hate over and over again in the 9 years the show has been on. I have a hard time thinking of any other male leads that have been written in the same intense manner, except maybe MASH which dealt with the Korean War. There is no sugar coating or hiding from harsh truths or realities in Supernatural. As mentioned in the previous post the show starts with Sam losing his girlfriend in a demon attack, by the end of Season 2 the brothers have also lost their father, then to save Sam, Dean sets himself up for death and eternal torment by the end of Season 3.
Eric Kripke does not step back from exploring the true depths of the concept of family, of the bond between warriors, of loss and how men actually react in these situations. He uses the opposing personalities of Sam and Dean to show both the "strong, silent type," Dean and the "emotional, intuitive type," Sam and how their methods of handling pain and loss affect their lives and decisions over the course of time. Yet they are not stuck in those roles, there are times when Dean loses his walls and admits how much he is suffering and there are times when Sam refuses to speak. Through all of it the brothers find a way to support each other. I will delve more into the brothers and Jared and Jensen's acting in a moment.
Kripke and his team have no shortage of complex female characters which they explore as well. The female Demons of Meg and Ruby evolve over the seasons they are in and the writers use the fact that demons can switch bodies to bring a different form of character development in as well. Meg appears in three or four different bodies and each actress brings her own style and ideas of the character with her. As a result it is very compelling to watch as Meg goes from cold hearted demon to Castiel's caretaker. Katie Cassidy - Ruby version 1 and Genevieve Cortese - Ruby version 2 showcase two different aspects of Ruby. Katie's was much more of a fighter as she ingratiated herself with the Winchesters before her ultimate betrayal. Gen's was the siren and Sam's Savior after Dean was taken to hell. She knew that to get Sam to commit the ultimate destructive act she would have to manipulate him at his weakest moment, Gen played the role perfectly. Both women were amazing and unforgettable. The Angel Naomi, played by Amanda Tapping , is commanding, brutal and driven, certainly no one to be trifled with. The female hunters Ellen and Jo, Sheriff Jodi Mills, Charlie Bradbury and all the other women in the show are never portrayed in a stereotypical, token fashion. They are all fighters in one fashion or another and brave enough to take on the creatures that haunt nightmares while challenging the Winchesters when required. I have written a whole other blog post on the females both in Supernatural and Arrow so I won't delve into it here, I'll just state that any woman looking for some kick ass women to watch, I promise you won't be disappointed with these ladies.
Back to the boys, I mentioned earlier that I loved season 6-9 as much as seasons 1-5 and one reason was all the versions of Sam that Jared was challenged with. I was getting worried that Jensen wouldn't get to explore alternative Deans and then we found out what was in store for him in Season 10. All I can say is that I am absolutely itching to watch Jensen add yet another layer to Dean!
Season 6 was the season of Soulless Sam and from the moment the camera landed on Jared in this new form I was stunned. It was immediately obvious just by body language and facial expressions alone that something was off about him and I am not referring to the scene with the hooker. I am talking about the scene at the end of season 5 where he is lurking outside of Dean and Lisa's house. It was just a glimpse but it was all that was needed. Just how he was holding his shoulders and the expressionless face told you everything. In the prior season when he was possessed by Lucifer, Jared pulled off some amazing acting as well but to me Soulless Sam was in many ways where Jared showed the full extent of what he could do as an actor. Soulless Sam was Sam, but not, which is why he was so entrancing to watch. The little things Jared did differently, the slightly less attentive, sympathetic listening, the pauses where you could see that Soulless Sam was trying to figure out how to play as real Sam to keep Dean in the dark. It was sheer perfection.
Jensen has spoken of how hard it is for him to play Dean when Sam is not truly Sam and I think perhaps that was epitomized in Season 9 when we meet EzekiSam...aka Sam possessed by the angel Ezekial/Gadreel. Not only was Jared required to completely change his personality mid sentence but Jensen had to react to that and not miss a beat. Season 9 is truly the season of Dean overstepping his bounds as a brother and trying to hold the family together, watching the spiral of Dean's emotions in that season just wrenches at your heart which had just got done being torn apart by the trials in Season 8.
Every challenge, every twist and turn that the writers have thrown at Jared and Jensen they have fully embraced and delved into with their entire beings and it comes through the screen at the viewer. You cannot look away when Jensen breaks down and talks about hell or when he is pleading with Sam to stop the Trials, you want to pull Jared to you and take the pain of those Trials away as he tells Dean/Jensen that his one confession was that he has always failed his older brother. It's that magic combination of delicate, on point, perfect writing and consummate acting that has kept both old and new fans riveted and the reason that in it's 9th season Supernatural had more viewers than it's prior seasons. The fan base is growing the longer the show goes on. That is a rarity that is helped my social media and Netflix etc but none of that would matter if the images on the screen didn't glue us to our seats week after week.
I would love to spend a whole blog post on Misha Collins's Castiel and Mark Sheppard's Crowley as well as they are both superb as the quiet, questioning, quirky and ultimately defiant angel and the suave, complicated King of Hell. The way the writers have shaped those characters, crossed their paths, created alliances and perhaps some grudging respect between each other and them and the brothers is a joy to watch. Castiel's relationship with the brothers and how he goes from, in my opinion, almost a surrogate father for Dean to a student of how to live as a human when he loses his grace is something that I never expected. Neither of their characters are two dimensional representations of good and evil either. Castiel, is his desire to save heaven destroys it and Crowley saves the brothers more often than hurts them, although ultimately to serve his own goals but by season 9 you can tell that he has come to respect them, even if he never outright says it. Ultimately though, this show lies on Jared and Jensen's shoulders and they are more than aware of it.
if you are an actor you should dissect every single scene of this show, the micro expressions, the body language, the eyes, the slight looks, the shifts in body weight, the way they speak, the reaction shots, all of it. Then go and practice in the mirror, I'd be willing to bet your skills improve immensely by just doing that.
If you've read this far, thank you. Jared and Jensen - both of you have said at Cons that it's not because you are amazing that the show is still on. While that's very humble and sweet of you, it's not exactly accurate. True you are supported by a wonderful cast, writers and crew but you are on the screen the whole time, if you weren't doing something right we wouldn't be watching.
Part 3 will be why I think Network execs should watch this.