I'm rather embarrassed today to be a Supernatural fan. After the CW upfront presentation this morning, I went to various boards for some fair minded reaction to the new schedule. Sure, I usually limit my viewing of the network to Thursdays and have no interest in checking out their girl power teen shows, so any criticism I see of the CW is usually fair. It's the bimbo network three days a week. Still, all I saw today were Supernatural fans unfairly bitching and spewing things about the show and the network that aren't necessarily true. So here I go, unable to control my overwhelming urges to set the record straight. 
 
The following addresses the three most common comments I read on the boards today. 
 
Misconception #1 - Season Five is Supernatural's last season.
 
This is NOT Supernatural's last season. Stop saying that! There has been no formal announcement from The CW, Warner Brothers, or the show itself that this is the final season. Get over it. Just because the show was originally on a five year plan (which I hear is no longer the case) and fans want the show to go out with a bang doesn't mean it's gonna happen. 
 
Network TV doesn't work like that. You think Smallville fans ever imagined season nine? Millar and Gough too were going to end that show at season five. They didn't. You think Dick Wolf visualized 20 seasons of Law and Order? Often times things happen that are quite different from original intentions. The only way Supernatural will end at the end of season five is if The CW goes under. The EW article proclaiming the show MIGHT end after season five (keyword MIGHT) skewed some facts and used a misleading slant.  If it's anyone's last season, it’s Eric Kripke's. Jared and Jensen are contracted through six, and so is Misha. A producer doesn’t end a show. The network does. 
 
As a matter of fact, looking at the network's long term strategy (yes, they have one), don't be surprised if Supernatural is on for THREE more seasons. You heard me. Season seven. But I'm really jumping the gun there.
 
Misconception #2 - Supernatural will die without a strong lead in.
 
Huh? This one puzzles me. Supernatural does not need a lead in to keep viewers. The show has one of the most fiercely loyal fanbases in television history. Fans will watch not matter when its on and what's paired with it.
 
If anything, live ratings will go down and DVR usage will increase. For one, that's been the trend of all network shows in the last few years. Second, Fringe joins the mix on Thursdays at 9 pm. More crowded means more DVR. People will watch, just maybe not right at 9 pm. 
 
Remember in season three, when "Jus In Bello" was paired with a rerun of "Nightshifter?" "Jus In Bello" ended up being the highest rated episode of the season. "Nightshifter" drew more viewers than many of first run episodes of other shows. If that doesn't prove that Supernatural fans will watch when the show is on (and without Smallville), I don't know what will.
 
Misconception #3 - Dawn Ostroff, President of The CW, is out to get Supernatural.
 
This one gets me the most, for saying such things makes fans seem paranoid and sometimes stupid. I'm easily one of Dawn Ostroff's harshest critics, and have spewed several explicatives at the mention of her name, but even I know she doesn't have a personal vendetta against Supernatural. She certainly hasn't been its biggest supporter either, but she's never marked it for death.
 
Ms. Ostroff has about the crappiest job in the world. She has to keep afloat a hapless network that was thrown together by two corporate parents as an after thought. They are not committed to making The CW a contender, and she often has to appease two warring conglomerates who rarely see eye to eye.
 
The strategy devised by Ms. Ostroff seems pretty lame for a network. They only want to build shows for 18-35 year old women. So far that strategy has hardly proved to be a cash cow and cuts off chances at long term growth. The network still continues to bleed red ink. Still given the limitations her superiors have given her, that's the only strategy they've got to survive. Even though its not a great one, Ms. Ostroff runs with it and has remained committed to that focus threw thick and thin. 
 
The fact remains though that from a business sense, Supernatural (and Smallville)
work well for the network and by airing appeases Warner Brothers who makes money on both shows. Ms. Ostroff is not about to mess with something financially that isn't broken and brings eyeballs to the network. She also doesn't have to put money toward promoting aging veterans either because they come with built in fan bases. She let Friday Night Smackdown go because the WWE charged too much for a licensing fee and attracted viewers that wouldn't watch her network's other shows. It didn't make good business sense. 
 
A golden rule with any network on television large or small (even cable) is that older shows should be used to build up newer shows' audiences. The success of the newer shows is crucial for the survival of the network and when paired with older shows will attract people to watch. The Mentalist for CBS got a following because the NCIS viewers stuck around to watch it. The CW picked up pilots this year that would specifically be good fits with existing shows. So while I think a Melrose Place reboot is a very bad idea, when paired with the 90210 reboot, its not as dumb an idea as it looks. I still won't watch, but I'm not in the target demographic anyway.
 
With the exception of Fridays (a repeat after Smallville being a total waste), The CW is sending a signal with their new schedule that they're here to stay. 90210, America's Next Top Model, and yes, Supernatural have been tasked with the job of building the network's future by being paired with new shows. 
 
That doesn't sound like the act of someone that wants to destroy Supernatural. If anything, Dawn Ostroff is putting faith in it. It's about time.
 
As hard as I've been on Ms. Ostroff, I congratulate her today. This is the best fall schedule The CW has had in terms of flow. Granted, given the torrid history of the network that's not saying much, but it's still a good attempt. It shows she actually cares about the network. That's way more than I can say about Ben Silverman at NBC. 
 
Wow, maybe I'm getting my own reality check. Dawn Ostroff isn't the worst network executive in TV after all. Will wonders ever cease.
 

Comments  

anene
# anene 2009-05-21 18:56
Thank you Alice for a well thought out article or whatever. Although, i can't believe this is the first time that you've felt embarrassed to be part of the Supernatural online fandom. I'm proud to be a Supernatural fan, just not the online one. I've been embarrassed by them loads of times. I can't believe people who love a show will be wishing for it's death. That doesn't sound like fans to me. I want Supernatural to go for as long as Kripke wants it. if it's 5 season, then so be it. if it's more, then i'll be happy to have my Winchesters on the screen. I don't know why people think Smallville helps Supernatural. I don't watch Smallville and never cared for it. I only tune in to the CW at 9pm on thursdays not 8pm so Smallville isn't leading me in to Supernatural. Supernatural in my opinion is a far superior show to Smallville anyways with better and well-rounded, humanly heartfelt characters. Since Smallville wasn't helping Supernatural with ratings, i'm glad to see it being put somewhere else.
I don't know why Supernatural fans are bitching about Smallville? Nothing happened to Supernatural.
If anything, i think Dawn pairing it up with a new show that has more in common with it on the Supernatural creature level, not the twilight, romance, high school level means she has faith in the show. Maybe she thinks having vampire diaries leading in will not only get more viewers for Supernatural, but more viewers for the new show. Either way, it looks like she wants it to stay. I'm not her greatest fan but I'm kind of pleased she removed Smallville. It didn't do anything to help Supernatural.
As for Smallville, i think the fact that she moved it to Fridays means she has complete faith in it keeping and moving with its audience. If they are anything like the true loyal Supernatural fans, they would make time to watch it.
Sometimes i think Supernatural fans take themselves too seriously.
elle2
# elle2 2009-05-21 21:17
Hi, Alice,

Definitely why I come to this place and much, much, much less frequently anywhere else, this article and the sentiment behind it as well as the other comments on this site.

I'm no fan of the bimbo, shallow, sex is nothing but necessary for anyone over the age of 12 (and even then I'm sure eyeballs are raised at the 'chastity'); I have no appreciation for shows that promote themselves by showing skimpily clad girls (who are look more like bone with skin stretched over them as my brother says) have little to no talent -- or, if they have talent, no need to waste it on these shows, and I could (and in my mind do) go on and on.

I only watch Supernatural on CW-- all right, check that, I 'actually' do watch ANTM -- but only 'cause I work late on Wednesdays and need to check my brain at the couch and this is on!

Frankly, I'm glad -- yes, GLAD, Supernatural is on the CW. If it were on CBS (the only other network I bother to spend any time on) then it would have made Ruby a permanent character who rides in the backseat of the Impala, alternately 'hooking' up with Sam and then Dean (or perhaps playing them off each other). You think I'm kidding? Let's take a quickie look:

NCIS, the fans (and perhaps the writers, although the season ender leaves it open for much debate -- good!) all season the fans have been pushing for Tony and Ziva to 'get it on' ugh. Then there's Without a Trace, never a more convulted mess than this one. It was so good S1 and 2 but jumped the shark (which it did in S1 and in S2) but went too far in S3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (I can quickly come up with about a dozen JTS moments in this series -- which I know was cancelled yesterday, officially). Jack and Sam, Sam and Martin, then Sam back to Jack, Sam having a one-night stand gets pregnant, then has Jack and then her baby's daddy in the mix...then the whole idiocy of Elena and Danny -- good riddance. Next, let's look at CSI, (pick one) there's been Warick with Catherine...tha t died quick but the whole Grissom and Sara thingy, never got it, never cared, totally forced but they went with it anyway...dumb, CSI Miami has the other mess of their two lead investigators.. .who cares. How about Numbers, Charlie with his teaching assistant, at least she became a professor which made it more palatable and they've continued that one, but what up with Don hooking up with a subordinate (same writers as Without a Trace I bet) and then some number of DA's and others...Cold Case...could go on and on...thank goodness SPN isn't on that mess of a network.

Come fall I'll be watching SPN, not likely anything else on the network though, and I may or may not still watch Criminal Minds, the only character I like there is Hotchner and he may be killed off so, if Hotch's dead, I'm gone. I will check out NCIS' new spinoff mostly 'cause I like Chris O'Donnell. The two-part NCIS episode that introduced the new team was interesting enough and the new team has good chemistry, especially O'Donnell and LL Cool J (and I never thought I'd watch anything he did) but their cool technogadgrety was a bit over the top and it's quite hard for it to be believable when it appears this team has cameras all over the Los Angeles city, and I mean EVERYWHERE...so we'll see.

Dawn O may be way too in love with her flops (90210 and Gossip Girl and I predict Melrose Place will be no better simply 'cause insipid seems to breed insipid) but at least SPN has got its fifth season. Will I stick around for the 6th and beyond without Eric Kripke? It depends. If the writing remains strong and a strong and believable storyline continues (yeah, I giggled too, believable, let's see, demons, main characters dying multiple times, hell, lucifer, angels inhabiting human 'vessels' --) well, if it remains strong and not lame, lame, lame like other shows out there, I'll stick around.
elle
# elle 2009-05-21 22:54
Great article, Alice. As always, you've put your finger on the pulse of this fandom. I don't watch SPN on the CW, but the network I watch it on does (did) have Smallville as a lead in and while I would watch Smallville occasionally, normally because I was there and it was there and I wouldn't have to worry about missing the start of SPN; it was/is in no way appointment TV. When I can stop watching a show and come back FIVE YEARS later and it's still the same drama happening, I can still figure out the plot in one hour of television with no recaps - that's a show that has reached it's peak.

Personally, I'll watch Supernatural as long as it's on TV and I just can't see it becoming unbelievable, campy or any of the other things that many fear it will become, even if Kripke walks. The reason? The other writers on this show obviously have the same relationship with the Winchesters and their story that we do - love. And regardless of the hapless article in EW, J2 and the other series regulars aren't actors who won't give it their all just because they're "tired" (though, that article was so skewed, I don't even trust the punctuation).

Like anything with followers, this fandom definately has its extreme spectrum -those loons who counts Sam vs. Dean word count in an episode to prove one is better than the other or who rage about one brother being neglected over another. On the other hand, I've never experienced a fandom with such intelligent, insightful and dedicated individuals as this one either. Supernatural is the best show on television right now, and undoubtedly among the top 10 television shows ever (in my books anyways). So yeah, we have some nutty members, but I think we also have the cream of the crop mixed in their too.
Bethany
# Bethany 2009-05-22 02:16
Am i the only person who always though SV was a bit on the camp side and was never that good but entertaining enough before after season 4 spilling into the realm of just bad. I think there's an article on televisionwitho utpity that talks about tv shows that went on longer then they should. It's an interesting article.
I know what you mean about fandom, sometimes i just cringe. Part of me just thinks why can't they just enjoy the show and not moan about it all the time. I try to stay away from the crazy but sometimes it's unavoidable.
In the UK the lead in is Britain's got talent and SPN still gets good numbers so i would argue that the lead in is less important that people often imagine. Although it is good to put similer shows together as people are more likely to sick around for both or give one or other of the shows a chance because they like one, it's not essential for a good numbers.
I've said it before, a little network indifference is good because it means less network interferance. Criminal minds, as mentioned before, is a good example as the network has just fired at least four of the writers and may have just killed off one of the main characters (damn those cliff hangers) which i'll be upset if they have - i love hotch. But that's an aside, my point being there isn't vast amounts of interferance - katie cassidy's removal aside - and we should be thankful for that. Personally i don't think we as a fandom, not just those here but the fandom in general focus on the good things enough - lets here it for an great cast/crew and an awesome show!

Oh i also heard that kripke, jared, jensen and mischa were all contracted for 6 seasons. I think that the quote from kripke during season 1 about having a 5 year plan was true but he also said later that he didn't think that they would get a third season let alone a forth or fifth. I think most of the SPN tema thought 4 would be the last season then suddenly the ratings went up and they were faced with the fact they had a few more seasons to play with. but i don't doubt the creativity and ingenuity of this team - they'll come up with something and it'll be awesome as always!
Suze
# Suze 2009-05-22 04:46
Lots of people have likened the Supernatural fandom to a family, so you're going to get the lovely supportive ones who remember your birthday and the weird tetchy ones who moan all the time and start fights at weddings ... That's just how families are.

I stuck with Buffy to the bitter end ... Dawn of the dead, Legions of hugely annoying Slayerettes and all ( Mmmm ... Caleb ... :D ) Cos even when it was crap it was still miles better than most of the dross on offer elsewhere. I'll do the same with Supernatural. They've got a massively talented bunch of writers with loads of ideas and long may they torment us!
Suze
# Suze 2009-05-22 04:49
PS. Did Reaper get cancelled? No! :cry::
elle
# elle 2009-05-22 12:39
Alice, I can't comment on other programming on the network. Actually, I had never heard of SunTV (the network I watch SPN on) until Supernatural was moved there for this season. The station features a lot of local programming (not local to my city, but to Toronto) as well as sports features. Supernatural and occassionally Smallville are the only things I watch on that channel. What I do like about that network, is these promo's that Jared and Jensen have filmed where they say something to the effect of "you're watching" or "tune in for" and promote the show. It's a nice little treat. They do run promo's through the week as well, teasing for both future and past episodes. All told, not a bad network I guess.

Suze, like you I stuck with Buffy to the end and [mostly] enjoyed the ride (except for Dawn - as far as I'm concerned, she should have been pushed into the hell portal and spared us her whiny drama). I like your analogy of the SPN fandom as a family - it's so true! Spot on analysis.
Alice
# Alice 2009-05-22 23:43
I'm not one to gloat, it's not my nature, but I did want to point out that articles came out today in both TV Guide and BuddyTv supporting my point that this is not necessarily Supernatural's last season. I'm thrilled word is getting around.
Alice
# Alice 2009-05-30 22:02
Ha!! Jared confirmed at Asylum that he thinks season six is gonna happen. Sorry, done gloating some more. :D
Melanie Desi
# Melanie Desi 2010-02-17 01:38
Hey Alice, I missed this when you originally posted it -- wish I had seen it -- today you're proven correct-- and the CW said nice things about SN in the press release! I'm a very happy camper right now!