Adventures in Fangirling
I don’t like scary movies. I don’t like roller coasters. I am hardwired to not like too much adrenaline. I don’t like haunted houses at Halloween or intense and jumpy scenes in television and books.
And yet, I’m a Supernatural fangirl.*
I didn’t intend to be a fangirl. I came really late to the party, only about a year ago, which is eight years into the series. It’s both embarrassing and shameless.
It started while I was on vacation, late one night when I couldn’t sleep. Since I was couch surfing at Melissa and Matt’s, I strolled through Netflix and decided to watch an episode and see what the fuss on Pinterest’s “Geek” feed was all about. It was jumpy. It was scary. It had two brothers who were really, really attractive. It had a GREAT soundtrack. I watched the second episode the next night. And the third the next night, and so on.
The show, for those who don’t know, is the story of two brothers, Dean and Sam, who hunt supernatural beings, just like their father had, as a result of the horrifying death of their mother when Sam (the younger of the two) was an infant. The two brothers are dichotomous, with Dean’s reckless hedonism and street-smart charm contrasting nicely with Sam’s lawful-good, straight-laced intellectualism. Like a lot of real-life siblings, they know each other completely, and yet are continually baffled by each other. They argue over stupid things and sometimes fight dirty. They play pranks on and protect each other. Of course, they do this against the backdrop of Bloody Mary killings, creepy porcelain dolls, and changelings.
I had rules for myself when I started watching it:
1. No more than three episodes at a time – too much was too scary!
2. No watching in the dark!
3. No watching right before bed – otherwise, every creak and twitch I heard was transformed into some kind of monster that meant I couldn’t sleep.
In August of 2013, the chaos at work had finally hit its pinnacle, and I had the bad luck of getting sick with bronchitis and pneumonia for two months, heading right into the mega-busy season of Christmas prep and Christmas outreach/assistance/ministry. As if it wasn’t enough to have hit the end of my proverbial rope with the drama, now I was physically wiped out. My days consisted of going to work, then coming home and totally crashing on the couch for the rest of the night, barely able to move while I marathoned episodes of Supernatural like a junkie.
Having been somewhat desensitized to the scary parts of the show, I fell for the characters. I identify with a good deal of Sam’s characteristics (which is probably why he is so frustrating!), have a tv-crush on Dean, love the challenge that Castiel (a fallen angel) presents when he comes into the scene, see Bobby as a hero, wish I was friends with Jo and Ellen, and the arc of Kevin just makes me feel all the feels. It’s funny and romantic and clever.
The show swims in gray areas, continually challenging the accepted understanding of good versus evil – and even asks whether there really is “good” or “evil” and to what extent they are opposite each other. Suddenly, you’re sympathizing with vampires, rooting for the King of Hell, heartbroken after the death of a demon, and wishing you could punch an angel in the face.
Not exactly the typical sentiments of a preacher, but over and over, I find more truth in this adventure in sci-fi than in almost anything else on TV. Real life isn’t black and white, it’s full of gray areas. We are pulled in different directions all the time, we know people – ARE people – capable of both good and evil, and it’s all about which we choose. There are people who turn out to be something other than what we expect – “good” people do bad things, and “evil” people do good things. Evil things happen without warning, and battles to overcome them can be long and arduous. Finding the good in a situation or person (even ourselves) can be a challenge, but it’s what gets us through the bad. Sometimes it feels like God is absent, sometimes we question our resolve to keep going, sometimes people fail us, sometimes we fail others, sometimes we fail ourselves.
Big questions, seldom answered, sewn between special effects, inside jokes, and characters I love. It helps me be OK with having questions. It reminds me that monsters can be defeated. It reminds me that we’re not in this alone. It makes me laugh – just going through my Pinterest board looking for images for the post, I was cracking up all over again at the jokes. I love that I’ve gotten more people into it, too – there’s a kind of friendship that comes with being in a fandom that is just awesome. I love that I get to be a big, stupid geek about it and that there is a whole internet of fellow geeks who feed the fangirling side of me.
*(pronounced “fan-girl,” as it’s just the two words pushed together, not “fang-irl,” which would just be silly.)