Breaking Down the Schtick: Jensen Ackles, Physical Comedy, Objectification, Consent, and Other Supernatural Topics Inspired By Three Seconds of Footage

Supernatural re-caps here.

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I wanted to talk about Jensen Ackles (aka Dean Wichester in Supernatural) and his gift for comedic schtick. Schtick being: acting that is obvious and BIG, a body that is able to express in BIG terms the underlying comedy, and an instinctive understanding on the part of the actor of the concept known as “ba-dum-CHING” (without which no comedy is possible). Understanding like that cannot be faked. An actor can learn to cry, can learn to be more comfortable with anger or sexuality, or any of the other qualities that are challenging to portray. But an actor cannot learn to be naturally funny.

Jensen Ackles, with his soft beautiful good-looks, is naturally funny. The opportunities when he gets to goof off on Supernatural show it loud and clear, and it ranges from the broad almost vaudevillian double-take variety, including a couple of spit-takes, to the subtle change of expression in his eyes when faced with some mysterious absurdity. Prettiness and true comedic talent is a rare mix, and one I treasure. Phone call for Carole Lombard and Cary Grant!

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Watching Cary Grant’s reactions in His Girl Friday (or any of his other comedies, but that one in particular) is an object lesson in listening. He is listening, having a silent conversation with himself, all while he barks funny lines out of the corner of his mouth and does all of this complicated physical business. But without the listening, the performance wouldn’t be as funny as it is. (I go into that in-depth here.) Good listening happens on a subterranean level (and that is Grant’s greatest gift): you are listening to what people don’t say, you are searching for subtext (as we all do in real life), and you are also listening to your own running internal commentary on what is happening. It’s that last kind, the listening to oneself, that is MADE for cinema because the camera catches thought like no other instrument.

Dean Winchester, too, is always communing with himself, even when he is surrounded by other people. He is always listening to his own running internal commentary. And if you are already funny, like Ackles is, then the things you will be saying to yourself are often funnier than any actual lines you have. To watch Dean Winchester process thought and listen to himself is the basis of a lot of Supernatural‘s comedic moments, a moment which I’ll break down in exhaustive detail below.

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The two leads of Supernatural, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, are outrageously good-looking men. Much of the series is done in extreme closeup which tips right over into objectification. That’s part of the subversive quality of what is going on in the show, and part of the reason why the fan base can be so extreme. The makers of the show know what they are doing, and know that the inherent appeal of these two guys is enormous (by themselves, and together), and so they play up that factor consciously. They present these two guys to us in an almost mythic fashion, lingering on and loving their faces. They are objectified in a way usually reserved for female stars.

In the fourth episode of Season 1, there’s a scene where Sam comes into a motel room and Dean is sleeping on the bed. The scene begins with the camera on Jensen Ackles’ bare legs, sprawled out, and then the camera moves up his body, over the curve of his ass, his back, to fall onto his face in the pillow, arm flung up against his head. Was this lovingly-detailing-of-his-body camera move an accident? Of course not.

In cinema, from its earliest days, a female character makes her entrance and the camera moves from her feet, up over her body, to her head. Objectification in its purest form: “Let us stop everything that we are doing to look at her.” Think of Lana Turner’s famous entrance in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

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But it’s everywhere, a trope that is actually boring because it’s done so often. Amy Adams couldn’t enter a room in American Hustle without the camera starting at her feet and moving up to her face.

Men, traditionally, are not treated this way by the camera. Maybe because a lot of filmmakers are straight men, and so they don’t see men in that objectifying way. I’m not anti-objectification, actually. But, as a straight woman with aesthetic needs myself, I do like a more egalitarian approach. My orientation is also irrelevant because I too revel in Lana Turner’s curves, and those SHORTS, my GOD, those SHORTS. But there is eye candy out there of the male variety (hello, John Garfield, in the same film), so let’s revel in that, too, let’s stop what we’re doing, EVERYTHING, to take a minute and appreciate the beauty of the male form.

And when the male collaborates in that, when he actively understands that he is pleasing in that way, and gives it up consciously and overtly … like a woman does … (and this is rare, I’m not talking about a guy who has a hot body disrobing for the camera; that’s easy, I am talking about an internal understanding of what it means to be an Object) truly destabilizing (and hot) effects can be the result.

Often films (and television) protect their male characters while giving up their female characters on a platter. But there are those weird ones, males who operate on their audiences like burlesque stars, erotic muses, archetypes usually reserved for women, and Jensen Ackles is of that variety. (If you want to hear more of my thoughts on this regard, I honestly leave no stone unturned in this essay about how Elvis Presley used himself in one particular number in the film Tickle Me). Of course there are sexy men in cinema. But what Elvis was doing in that clip goes beyond sex. What was going on there was Elvis offering himself up to us in a way that you rarely see from men. It’s practically pagan in execution and he was totally in charge of that and aware of what he was doing.

Jensen Ackles is obviously also aware of it and is comfortable with it. Many men would balk at being treated like women are treated. This is where so much homophobia comes from. Being treated like an object is seen as women’s job. Cinema reminds us of that again and again and again and Supernatural constantly turns that on its ear.

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It is worth remembering that the true “Freaks” of our race are not in sideshows or fetish porn but are stars in Hollywood. Beauty like that brings an intense reaction from an audience: We yearn towards it, we resent it, we lust after it, we have all of these complicated feelings about it. It is the engine on which Hollywood is run.

Sam and Dean Winchester live in a pretty sparse male universe. The women who show up as semi-regulars – Ellen, Bela, Jo, Lisa, Charlie- are treated in a complex manner, not just valued for their sexiness. But they are still a rarity. The Winchester boys are basically like Navy SEALs or firemen or any man who spends most of his time surrounded by Tough Guys. It affects your world view. When Dean Winchester is crossed by a woman (particularly a demon), he is knee-jerk with his use of the word “bitch”. The show is complex in that way: we love Dean, and we can see his limitations. Ackles lets us see those limitations. He is not afraid, as an actor. He does not protect himself.

There is an existential conflict of at the heart of Supernatural, in the hearts of the two brothers. Wanting that conflict to be resolved, forevermore, is one of the desires of certain factions of the fan base who (for example) want Dean to be different, softer, “better”, more enlightened, more politically correct, whatever. These people can’t know many firemen.

Besides, it’s a moot point because story does not run on resolution, story runs on CONFLICT.

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The conflict inside of Dean Winchester is what keeps Supernatural going. The codependence between the brothers, an understandable reaction to the chaos of their childhood (both are suffering from an extended case of PTSD as far as I can tell), means that what Dean suffers, Sam does too. Neither man, however, is good at talking about his feelings, although Sam is slightly better at it. Sam’s forays into “let’s be deep and thoughtful with one another” do not go over well. Dean is a stoic warrior-type, who likes to let off steam fucking waitresses and working on his guns. The tough-guy thing is not just a front, he really is brave and Alpha, but his development as a human being stopped when he was 4 years old with experiencing the murder of his mother. He will never move past that point. He continues to live that moment in a loop, and he cannot see his fully adult brother as anything other than the creature he was told to protect. Classic PTSD, stuck in a loop of trauma. It is the show’s trump card with the Dean Winchester character and why he is so compelling week after week. It can get repetitive sometimes, and it can feel like the character isn’t progressing. I would like to see more break-throughs (or, better yet, break-downs) and maybe those are coming.

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Even in the silly one-off episodes which have nothing to do with the various larger arcs (and the silly episodes are my favorite), we get these psychological moments of impasse, of breakthrough, of fear, of self-loathing. Dean feels like a worthless piece of shit. This is very very important. This is one of the deep elements of the character that also seems to be missed, on occasion, by the fans who want to see some other kind of Growth occurring so they can get their rocks off. (No judgment. I get it. Jensen Ackles is 100% appealing.) But without the self-loathing, Dean Winchester as a character doesn’t make any sense. Ackles is subtle with this, and so is the show.

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Let’s picture Dean’s life.

At all times, since he was 4 years old, all of his possessions could be held in one duffel bag. He has one jacket, one pair of jeans, a couple T-shirts. He probably stinks a lot of the time, because how often are you gonna wash your one pair of jeans while you’re barreling across the country in a ’67 Impala? You’re staying in rat-trap motels, eating fast food, and watching porn on your brother’s laptop, in the middle of nowhere. He cringes from himself, not just from other people. When he has to put on a suit, he feels out of place. Not just because he never wears suits, but because maybe he feels he doesn’t deserve to wear suits. People will see right through it to the dirtbag underneath. (That will be clear in the clip below. I’ll talk more on this in a bit.) Dean Winchester has been trained since childhood to not want any more from life. He doesn’t question things (and when he does question he becomes highly unstable). Hooking up with random women is part of the self-loathing, although it’s also just an honest desire to let off steam and have fun. He’s a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of guy (but it’s key that his “thank you”s in those scenarios are always sincere and usually kind: he’s all about consent, he’s not a dick or a User) and you can see his comfort/acceptance of his sex drive and what it demands of him in his seduction techniques which never gain more subtlety than “Hey, what time do you get off?”

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There’s more to say about Dean Winchester’s sexuality, and I’ll touch on it just a little bit here. When a woman gets under his skin (and they do, on occasion), he finds it extremely uncomfortable. He can lash out. He can turn cold in a heartbeat. At the first sign of the woman being angry or upset with him, he slams the door in her face. It happened in a moment with Jo, it happened with Cassie, it happens all the time. The man is susceptible to women. He needs them, he needs their softness, he fears abandonment. He may have a couple of dreams where he gets to have picnics with a woman he loves, be a family man.

But those are just dumb dreams. He is far too dirty – let’s use that word deliberately – to ever fit into a normal life. He sullies everything he touches. People who get close to him die. So while his macho-ness is sincere, and he really is a guy you would want around in a crisis, what is also sincere is his sense of worthlessness and his sense that I am too dirty to ever get clean. When faced with death, often his reaction is, “I don’t give a shit. As long as Sam lives, the world will be okay. I don’t matter, except in the fact that I can sacrifice my worthless ass to save someone else.”

It may be a somewhat noble sentiment, but it is also deeply fucked up. Through such men, wars are won.

Supernatural is interested in the cost of such an attitude. One thinks of Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker, staring at the aisles of cereal boxes and feeling completely inadequate.

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What he has seen and done cannot be unseen or undone. Best to just go back to war, because at least there his fucked-up-ness makes sense and can be of use to the greater good. Dean Winchester is the same way, and in many ways that’s the tragedy of his character. While it is somewhat easy to imagine Sam leaving that life and finding a nice woman to settle down with, maybe get a job as a professor of history or mythology in a university, it is impossible to imagine Dean in any other life than the one he lives. That’s a true Warrior. But again: Supernatural has a complex attitude towards that warrior status. It questions it, examines it, up-ends it. In this way, it elevates it over something more simplistic like, “Yeah, let’s watch this hot guy be all bad-ass!” Supernatural wants you to be worried about Dean.

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Being worried about a character is usually reserved for damsels in distress, and in Supernatural, Dean Winchester is often in the Damsel in Distress position. This is not par for the course with Heroic Figures. When John Wayne is allowed doubt in some of his films, when the foundation on which he stands is allowed to tremble, it’s like the whole world is ending. See Wayne’s performance in John Ford’s deeply destabilizing The Searchers, particularly the last scene and his lonely awkward pose.

He wants to walk through that door and be welcomed into a cozy domestic life. But he knows that world is closed to him forever. He will forever be on the outside.

“Kicking ass” is often what is necessary in a world such as ours, and I am glad we have warriors who take on that role. But how do men feel about the pressure put on them to serve and protect? How do men feel about not being allowed to have doubt/insecurity/feelings? We’re talking archetypes now, we’re talking Story. That’s why someone like Hamlet is such a timeless character, so endlessly interesting. Doubt is at the forefront for Hamlet: he questions his own agency, he wonders at the price he will have to pay. He hedges his bets, he procrastinates. I am not saying that Dean Winchester is on the level of Hamlet, although, who knows, I might be onto something …

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… but Dean is definitely a more complex Heroic figure than is usually the case in such material.

Sometimes what is on the table for Dean Winchester is his actual Soul. He finds it so worthless that he is willing to give it away (literally), and he is also enough of a trained warrior to not question that impulse.

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Sometimes what is on the table for Dean is his body, which is brutalized week after week after week.

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In one of the episodes when he returns from his stint in Hell, he is amazed that except for the handprint burned onto his shoulder, all of his wounds, accumulated through years of a rough and violent life, have vanished. His body is “smooth as a baby’s bottom” again, no more improperly-healed broken knuckles, or scarred-over bullet holes, or knife scars. (Of course Dean being Dean makes the leap that this means he must be a virgin again, and that situation needs to be corrected pronto! Only, and this is typical of Supernatural‘s treatment of Dean: when he brings up the virgin thing to Sam, he says that he believes he has been “re-hymen-ated.” Dean: girls have hymens. Boys don’t. What are you talking about. Of course it’s a joke, but there’s that subversive gender-bending edge to it. He’s equating himself to a girl with a girl’s anatomy.)

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More on this later, as I said, but Dean Winchester’s sexuality is more stereotypically feminine than masculine, even with the cock-swaggering promiscuity. The way he gets a woman into bed may be manly and take-charge, but once he’s in bed, he’s gentle and practically sweet, and, gotta say it, more often than not he’s on the bottom. (Not that woman-on-top means the man is less masculine, come on now, I’m talking about the stereotypes and images which make up Story. Lazy writers/actors rely on cliches: i.e. the macho character being macho in bed, but the reality is often more subtle. Recently, following the release of The American, a wonderful film starring George Clooney, there were a couple of snarky comments from various critics regarding Clooney being shown going down on a woman in the film. It struck me as so strange. We have no problem showing a man pumping away on top, but going down on a woman is somehow radical? An act that is so common as to be commonplace? Or, to quote Chris Rock’s bit about women who don’t/won’t go down: “You’re like an 8-track. They still make you?” But still, films/television often rely on cliches, because people are freaked out about sex and we are used to seeing it portrayed in a certain way with the man being in charge and it makes us all feel comfortable.)

Compare Dean in bed to what we see of Sam Winchester in the sack, or – not even in the sack – in an office, in a public restroom, boy doesn’t seem to care – and we see that public behavior often has nothing to do with who we are privately (and this should not be a surprise or confusing). Sam is sensitive and empathetic as a person, and wears his heart on his sleeve in a more stereotypically feminine way than his brother does, but sexually? Sam will push you against the wall and hold you down and flip you over and etc. (and you will LOVE it), and it is difficult to imagine Dean behaving in the same way with his lady friends. If he DID, you can bet we would see it. What we see of Dean in sexual moments is tenderness, passion, and receptivity. Even in the wild sex scene with the Amazon (in season 7), it is she who takes the lead with all the pushing/pulling stuff, not him. (And, naturally, he ends up on the bottom.) He’s certainly happy to be pushed around, but it just wouldn’t be like Dean to initiate a rough mood like that. But it IS like Sam, and we see this over and over again.

It shouldn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyway: I don’t judge any of this (snarky comments about going down notwithstanding). There is such a thing as personal preference and nobody should judge how another person’s sexuality operates. If I could go even further, I would say that such judgment should be forbidden in a free society. As long as there is consent, have at it, adults! No business of mine.

Supernatural deals a lot with consent issues, sometimes explicitly when it comes to “possession”: The “vessel” needs to give consent to the angel who wants to “possess” them. The angel cannot “get in” otherwise. In a show where nothing is what it seems, and you’re talking to someone you think you know and suddenly you realize that something else is inside of them, literally, consent and setting-boundaries (You don’t get to be inside of me unless I let you in there) is always going to be on every characters’ mind. The situation is rampant with opportunities for treachery, betrayal, and pain.

I get that some of the fans find it trigger-y, but a lot of great art is trigger-y. Wanting Supernatural to avoid the triggers, instead of going right after them seems, again, to misunderstand how Story actually operates. If you have a show that is, on some level, about consent, then of course you are going to play with it in all sorts of disturbing ways: who’s the top in each scenario, who’s the bottom, did that person choose to be the bottom or were they victimized into it, what does consent mean, how do you deal with the fact that you were not able to consent, and – even more complicated, for guys such as the Winchesters who live in a mainly male universe – how do you even talk about this stuff without descending into sentimentality and the dreaded “chick flick moments” that they both basically try to avoid? Playing with all of this, juggling it, referencing it, tiptoeing around it and sometimes going right into it is all part of the structure of the show.

All of this sounds really serious. It is. But, for me, the real ace in the hole of Supernatural, and why it works ultimately, is its humor, particularly the comedic gifts of the two lead actors. I often laugh out loud watching it. It’s full of slam-dunk “ba-dum-chings”. And also ridiculous parodying of themselves like this.

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Because let’s be honest, all of this angels and demons stuff, and all of this Tough Blue-Collar Guy stuff, would be deadly if it wasn’t treated with irony and comedy. If you got the sense that the actors weren’t in on the joke, the show flat out would not have survived. If you had two protected “cool” actors, actors who were in it for the Tough Guy stuff and balked at the Goofball stuff (or the gender-bendy stuff), or didn’t have the talent to DO the Goofball stuff, you’d be dead in the water. The reason it works, and I would even put out the theory that it is the only reason, is because both Ackles and Padalecki are funny. Everyone is funny. Misha Collins’ performance as the angel Castiel often reaches a divine level of deadpan Camp that has to be seen to be believed (and the gag reels are so entertaining because they show how often NOBODY onscreen is able to keep a straight face for longer than 1.5 seconds). But of course Ackles and Padalecki are the leads, and everything rides on their chemistry and their ability to pull all of this off week after week.

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Clearly the two were cast for their looks, and also cast because the chemistry between them was right. Supernatural is not an ensemble show. There are only two lead characters. You can count on one hand the shows that have that model. X-Files and Quantum Leap are obvious influences, Route 66 is another. Supernatural is not like Grey’s Anatomy, with a big sprawling cast and multiple characters. Success hinges on the watchability factor of the relationship between the brothers.

It seems to me that very early on it became apparent that both actors were not only willing to swing for the fences (comedically) but could also actually pull it off. And so humor could be incorporated, expanded upon, the show could get so so silly and these guys could do it.

The first three episodes are extremely dark, you can barely see a lot of the action, and there’s a lot of anger and angst. It’s setting up who these guys are and where they have come from. They are uncomfortable with one another and also there’s a lot of unsaid backstory seething around beneath the surface. But the fourth episode, Phantom Traveler, reveals that Dean, tough warrior Dean, is terrified to fly in an airplane. Ackles sits on the plane, eyes closed, humming Metallica’s “Some Kind of Monster” nervously to himself to calm himself down, barking retorts at Sam who tries to talk him off the ledge, shouting out randomly “THAT CAN’T BE NORMAL” when the plane hits some turbulence.

Both actors are unafraid of being broad with their comedic moments, fully doing vaudevillian schtick like double-takes, spit-takes, and pratfalls, the whole playbook. Ackles says in the commentary for Phantom Traveler that when he got the script and saw that Dean was afraid of flying, he got excited, he knew he could have fun with that. That’s a game actor, creative, unafraid to look stupid, weak, dumb – none of that matters if it’s FUNNY.

In the clip below, from “Red Sky at Morning”, an episode from season 3, we get a moment of schtick from Jensen Ackles that almost (almost) reaches Cary Grant levels. As a matter of fact, I watch the twists and turns he goes through, with himself, and think: It takes balls to attempt this, let alone to pull it off successfully. It’s mostly non-verbal. It makes him look like a jackass, not to mention mentally slow. He is thrown off. Wildly. And while he “wins” in the final moment, there is no doubt who is the conqueror in this particular war overall, and that is Bela, his scene partner, the awesome Lauren Cohan (I still miss Bela’s presence on the show).

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All of the elements I’ve been going on about are present in this three seconds of vaudeville burlesque from Jensen Ackles. First of all, he and Bela are going to an upscale party to see if they can get some intel and also do a little breaking and entering while they’re there. So they have to dress the part. Bela has obviously forced Dean to put on a tuxedo. She waits downstairs, impatiently, and calls upstairs, “What are you – a woman? Come down here.” Being perceived as weak (i.e.: womanly) is horrible for Dean Winchester and it makes him grumpy. Slowly, he comes down the stairs, all to the accompaniment of swoony music that would be appropriate in a bump-and-grind act. The camera reveals him slowly, starting with his feet coming down the stairs, then we cut back to Bela, who gasps at his beauty. We then see him in his full tuxedoed glory. Let us return to Lana Turner’s first entrance in Postman.

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Dean coming down the stairs all dressed up, and Bela’s awestruck reaction, is like any Ugly Duckling Becoming Gorgeous moment, like Ally Sheedy walking into the library in The Breakfast Club with her hair fixed and makeup on her face. The camera lingers on her transformation, giving us time to take it in and appreciate it. These are tropes reserved for women, and Supernatural repeatedly puts Dean in that position. Bela gazes at him, and she literally can’t breathe for a second. Dean is clueless, embarrassed, and he also hates Bela’s treacherous guts, so he responds in a self-deprecating pissed-off way about how “ridiculous” he looks. She cuts to the chase and says, “You know, when this is all over, we really should have some angry sex.”

And then comes the following, a burlesque of mostly silent reaction shots from Jensen Ackles, as he struggles to gain a foothold, finally failing. But it’s all done non-verbally. Watch.

All of the themes I’ve been talking about are there.

There is a danger in breaking schtick down too finely so that all of the pleasure is drained out of it, and I don’t want to do that. But if I had to actually break down each one of Jensen Ackles’ specific reaction moments to her “angry sex” comment, it would go as follows:

1. Blank incomprehension. A “Duh?” expression.

2. A quickchange, thought rushing back into his brain, a sincere question on his face. Come again?

Cut back to her looking at him knowingly.

3. Leans in a bit: Sex? Did she just say sex? … with the word ‘angry’ somehow attached to it?

4. Quickly realizes it may have been an insult, although he’s not sure how. Draws himself up in offended dignity, mixed with residual confusion.

5. Goes inward, thinking about what she said, realizes he is losing control of the situation and bluffs for more time by going to fiddle with his shirt cuffs but then drops the gesture, instead …

6. Crosses his arms, to look cool and tough, but really just for self-protection.

7. Uncrosses his arms (which makes him look super-awkward and adolescent) and looks back up at her, refreshed, ready to go in for some kind of killer rejoinder.

8. Has no idea what that rejoinder will be, though, so he laughs to himself for a millisecond, hoping he looks contemptuous and cool. (He doesn’t.)

9. Can’t hold onto the laugh, though, and decides then to be angry and offended again. But for no real reason, just that he feels stupid.

10. And his rejoinder, when it comes, happens to be the most stereotypically-feminine possible thing he can say, “Don’t objectify me.” And his tone, instead of being macho and forbidding, is slightly petulant. He sounds like an offended Beauty Queen, tired of being ogled by the pageant judges. (He’ll wince when he remembers this exchange later.)

11. The moment after the words come out of his mouth, a glimpse of trying to pump himself up even further flashes across his face. He hopes that with his ridiculous comment he has “won” here. But he’s still not sure he has.

Those three seconds are RIDICULOUS. They are SYMPHONIC.

Cut back to her basically laughing in his face at the inadvertently revealing pantomime he just did for her. Cut back to him, who snaps back to his grumpy self.

12. He barks, “Let’s go” and on his way past her, his true response to her original comment (which now feels like it happened 15 minutes ago because of the symphony of emotion it unleashed in him, and which he would never have chosen to show to her) comes out. He smiles to himself: Sex, sex, angry sex, she just said this sexy thing to me, I hate her, I want her, her comment was hot and awesome, she fucking wants me, and I win!

If you think somehow incorporating 11 separate reactions in a single 3-second take (with no lines) is easy, you’re wrong. Jensen Ackles makes it look easy because he’s talented and brave and he understands the character intimately. He understands the event of the moment on such a deep level that all he needs to do is find his balance on the giant wave rearing up over him and ride it on in. The schtick only lasts a couple of seconds but it feels much longer because you ache for him to get out of it, to say something, to get himself TOGETHER, GOD. But Ackles lets himself flail.

What is also so great about this moment is that it actually acknowledges how much the show objectifies Dean Winchester, and allows him to maybe have some (albeit inarticulate) feelings about it. Dean may treat women like objects, and he does (as long as they’re into it too), but it feels a little bit different when the shoe is on the other foot, and he does NOT like it, no SIR. I did not give you permission to ogle at me like that, and I am sick of it, and so just stop it, you.

Sure, Supernatural has angels, demons, apocalypse, monsters, cool cars, heavy metal, roadhouses, diners, one-night-stands, and devil traps. All good stuff and interesting and watchable. But me? I’m in it for the schtick.

And that is some high-level schtick right there.

I would almost call it world-class.

Schtick like that is reminiscent of the ultimate and beautiful rarity – so rare it is nearly impossible – in baseball: a triple play.

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156 Responses to Breaking Down the Schtick: Jensen Ackles, Physical Comedy, Objectification, Consent, and Other Supernatural Topics Inspired By Three Seconds of Footage

  1. Sofia says:

    I’ve thought long and hard about Supernatural over the years, particularly about Dean’s character since it is my favourite, but you do make some good points that I’ve never considered (namely about his sexuality and comparisons to other “warriors”). I can see what you’re saying and it does make sense, but what I really liked were your thoughts on his acting and comedy skills, because I too think that he a GREAT actor, and that quality is often forgotten.

    I too watch Supernatural mainly for the comedy (and of course Dean’s conflicts and his relationship with Sam, which have an extraordinary level of drama — I could watch him cry all day, if you know what I mean), and since I’m a huge Cary Grant fan I couldn’t be happier about the connections you’ve made between them, because again, they do make sense and I completely agree.
    So, really good article, it was an awesome read !

    • sheila says:

      Thanks, Sofia! Been working on this one for a while! I know it’s long – I thank you for reading!

      Guy is so so funny, and I TREASURE that about him!

  2. Rinaldo says:

    Thanks for this piece, Sheila. As I’m not a Supernatural viewer (not by planning; one person can only watch so much, that’s all), much of what it says will mean more when I’ve seen some episodes, as I now plan to do. There’s a lot to chew on there.

    But what spoke to me immediately was what you said about objectification in film, how rare it is when a male actor is offered up to the camera for our pleasure like that. Because there’s an example in a film from the 1970s that I’ve mentioned to friends in this connection as feeling almost unique, and I’ve never been able to get across what I mean, so they don’t get it or offer counterexamples that really aren’t, and we’re talking past each other.

    The movie I mean is The Thief Who Came To Dinner. Somehow the way Ryan O’Neal is presented in that seemed like something new (even with the sumptuousness of Jacqueline Bisset alongside him there, he‘s the one the camera and editing are in love with). He’s often partly exposed, his clothes are flowing whites and pastels, and on a subtextual level he seems to be seducing the other men in the cast. Especially a scene in which Warren Oates, the cop who’s sure O’Neal is the thief he’s looking for but can’t yet prove it, shows up to question him, and O’Neal steps out of the shower and asks Oates to hand him a towel, glowing and twinkling with all his movie-star wattage… it’s quite a moment. Do you know this movie? What are your thoughts?

    • sheila says:

      Rinaldo – thanks so much for reading even though you haven’t seen Supernatural – very impressive!!

      It has been years since I saw that movie – I love it and I love Warren Oates – and now you make me want to go back and see it. Ryan O’Neal, yes, he was treated that way by the good directors in the 70s – Peter Bogdanovich did it with him in What’s Up Doc, too – where he “takes off his glasses” (just like a sexy librarian, usually a woman in movies) and is suddenly dressed like a Chippendale, with the bare chest and the plaid bow tie. Bogdanovich, a straight male, setting up his straight male star as the Eye Candy that he was. Kind of fun.

      Richard Gere in American Gigolo is a perfect example, too, of what I am talking about. I wrote a whole post about it – I’ll see if I can find it.

      As I said; just pointing the camera at a beautiful man is not enough – anyone can do that. It’s HOW you point the camera – and I love it best when the man is AWARE of the effect he is having. Someone like Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe – you just assume that they understood implicitly that part of their role was to be pleasing to the eye and sexy and desirable – but we just don’t make those same assumptions about men.

      Supernatural really pushes that envelope – and the best part is that both of the guys are in on the joke, as I said, and also they lighten all of that objectification with some of the more Goofy bits I have seen on television in a long long time. So much fun!

      • sheila says:

        Here’s the Richard Gere piece. Hard to imagine that scene played by anyone else at that time. He totally knew what he was doing. http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=28259

        • Rinaldo says:

          The whole Thief Who Came To DInner movie is up on YouTube (horizontally squashed, unfortunately). Check out the scenes starting at 41:00 and at 1:10:00 (I misremembered; in the latter bit O’Neal is “seducing” Charles Cioffi, the investigator).

          • sheila says:

            Awesome – thank you! I love it when things are on Youtube.

          • sheila says:

            Just watched. Excellent example!! Ryan O’Neal is basically flirting with Warren Oates … something that certain types of really good-looking men can’t help but do: the charm is there to be turned on people, it’s automatic. He presents himself fearlessly to Oates – shirt open, not embarrassed …

            In a world where homosexuality is not acknowledged, where it’s all subtext, there are deep currents going on there.

            I’m fascinated by men who use themselves that way – not necessarily in a manipulative User way – but in a GENEROUS way. Like the great pin-up girls did, like the great movie goddesses did. “Here I am, made for your pleasure.” When a man does it, it’s still startling.

            That Elvis clip I posted being a perfect example, the Grand Pooh-Bah of examples.

          • Rinaldo says:

            Thanks so much for looking! (And belated apology for the abrupt wording of my previous comment — I was typing in an airline departure line and they suddenly told us we were boarding.) The Thief Who… movie came out about when I did, and it affected greatly at the time — I’d not seen such plain man-to-man flirting in movies before. And I’ve been surprised that in all the books about coded behavior, and homoerotic subtext, and all that, in the movies, that nobody seems to ever mention this one.

          • sheila says:

            Yeah, it’s pretty obvious!

            I’ve been thinking more about all of this, and why it is.

            The whole “women aren’t visual” idea (in terms of being attracted to the opposite sex) has always seemed like a deliberate lie foisted upon us by insecure men who don’t want us to judge them on their appearances in the same way they judge us. Bull SHIT women aren’t visual. Ugh, it drives me insane. And it still persists, it’s everywhere. “Well, men like to look at pretty women … and women don’t respond visually to beauty …”

            What the HELL are you talking about.

            Huge pet peeve – and I wonder if some of this that we have been discussing has to do with that unexamined assumption. Now, I am of the mind that you do not have to be gay to appreciate a member of your same sex. But “objectifying” men is still sort of “not done” -at least certainly not to the level it is with women. I mean, you look at advertisements for, say, a country. You know: Visit South Africa! Visit India! They use beautiful women to advertise an entire nation. Imagine if they put a picture of a buff hot smoldering guy under the promo line: “VISIT SPAIN”. You would automatically assume that it was a gay cruise or something – as opposed to assuming that women like to look at pretty men, therefore pretty men should be used in advertising.

            Do people honestly believe women don’t want to ogle and drool over men? They didn’t take the clue from, oh, Rudolph Valentino … and Elvis … and all the other men women have lost their damn minds over … that we like a little objectification too?

          • Rinaldo says:

            Absolutely, all of that.

            If I had infinite time and no writing obligations of my own, I’d try to track down that first “scientific study” of differences in men’s and women’s response to erotic visual stimuli. (I remember when it was published in the 1960s — was it part of Masters & Johnson?) I bet the original statement was hedged around with qualifications and contexts and percentages (or if it wasn’t, should have been), and then the popular press, and popular imagination, turned that into the idiotic simplified popular notion that “women don’t respond visually.” Because that’s easier to deal with commercially and socially, and keeps everyone in their place.

          • sheila says:

            Rinaldo – wow, yes that would be fascinating.

            From my standpoint, it feels like a conspiracy. It’s such a LIE.

  3. mutecypher says:

    Please consent to a Sheila-fan response. I don’t know of anyone who writes with more love and understanding and insight into acting than you do. This is up there with your Elvis writing and your Dean Stockwell writing – just wonderful and enlightening.

    I’ve been looking forward to your big article on Dean, and enjoying your exchanges with the other fans – especially the one with Jessie on “Seriously…” That was just a treat to read.

    I hope you have a great Christmas.

    • sheila says:

      // Please consent to a Sheila-fan response. // hahahahaha

      Of course!

      Thank you for reading and I am so glad you liked! There’s so much to examine with good acting, and so much here in Supernatural because these guys are so good. Underdogs.

      Merry Christmas to you too!

  4. Sean Giere says:

    I hope you had more sex this year. I remember that was one of your resolutions last year. Your writing is inspiring! Thank you.

  5. Jessie says:

    Ha! I never would have guessed this would be the moment you chose to analyse. What a treat. I love the way you talk about them going BIG and VAUDEVILLIAN with many of the comedy moments because it’s such an unusual mode of comedy to see in dramatic television. So many of those big da-DOY? reactions are about Ackles just putting Dean out there for us.

    Let me link to this clip from my absolute favourite episode of the last few years, Everybody Hates Hitler, in which we get to see more amazing face, voice, and body work from Ackles when he’s the object of someone’s desire.

    I love the way you brought consent into the discussion — it’s especially pertinent lately. My heart has really broken for Sam this season. I think this question of What Is Inside Sam? (ie: What Is Sam?), which was mostly put aside for S7/8, returning brings us back to the driving force of the first six seasons, which is, Sam’s existence and Dean’s reaction to that existence. It’s a terrible and traumatic and awful way for two people to exist — let alone organising a show around them!

    And yet the strength of that connection (and the general shittiness of their lives) makes us complicit in that co-dependence. Time and time again the show has said: this is inescapable; this is how it is. What is left for us to want for them? What can happiness look like in this world?

    In re: Dean’s masculine femininity or feminine masculinity, there is so much to unpack! I think the whole Men of Letters vs Hunters part of the mythology introduced last year has opened up some really exciting avenues to think about masculine/feminine Mary/John identifications and reflections in Sam and Dean. And a thousand times yes to the way the camera looks at Dean like he is an object. As attractive as Padalecki is, when we are given him to look at it is as part of his masculine spectacle, a body created with hard labour. From those first few seconds of Phantom Traveller, though — phew!

    Sometimes the fans read too much into things
    Hey! I resemble that remark! :-) I appreciate what you’re getting at, but I don’t know if there’s such a thing as reading too much, especially in a show that’s all about emotional excess, and the unspeakability of it — and the unspeakability of a lot of things that have happened to them — and the gaps that creates. But my fandom history comes via fanfiction, so…

    • sheila says:

      Jessie – so many great things to respond to but I want to say you’re right – “reading too much into things” was extremely poor wording on my part. In a way, the strength of any show is about its subtext and the fact that it engenders passionate fanfic because the stories are so compelling and evocative. The gaps in the backstory are ELOQUENT here – and open up worlds of possibility – and the fans are doing just the right thing by imagining what is in those gaps. That’s the power of it.

      I feel bad – will change that wording – and then will come back to the discussion.

      • sheila says:

        Okay, I edited it – I’m happier with it now. Sorry!

        The clip you link to was so funny. “Why you followin’ me, ginger bread?” Hysterical.

        Dean was proud that he had a “gay thing” and was strangely disappointed when it turns out the guy was playing him. Perfect example of Dean being objectified – and kind of expecting it – ever since he first hit puberty he’s probably been objectified – by everyone – male or female. He’s not OFFENDED that it’s a guy – he’s flustered (“citizen”??? hahaha) and shy about it and then… hilariously … almost hurt.

        More later.

        This is fun!

        • Jessie says:

          That little wall he builds himself with his hand? And backing into the table, unable to finish his sentence? And that sarcastic smile at the end? Compendium of genius!

          Oh, I didn’t find it particularly mean! But I appreciate your concern. And yes, this is super fun!

          • sheila says:

            It really is just this super awkward build. I love it when Dean gets awkward. It’s like Cary Grant falling on the sidewalk in Bringing Up Baby or Elvis doing that insanely long pratfall in the first link in this post. It’s so cathartic to see someone so desirable and handsome freakin’ fall apart physically and lose their cool. Not all actors can do physical comedy. JA has a gift with it.

          • Jessie says:

            Yes! Grant and JA are about the same height too, and use it so well. Grant — I know him almost entirely through his comedies, so I can’t help but see a lot of acrobat in him, a lot of controlled gangle, a lot of almost innocent physicality. I expect it. But Dean is so macho in his presentation that the awkwardness is a surprise, and brings such a perfect layer of characterisation along with it. Because Guys’ Bodies Don’t Do That.

          • sheila says:

            Right, and JA revels in the flailing – and it just keeps going … and going … and you want to tell him to get himself together, GOD, just STOP.

            The macho persona is perfectly counteracted by the moments when Dean is taken aback, thrown off, insulted, confused – sometimes it’s just a flicker in his eyes (I love it when he gets hurt – about something stupid – music or food or whatever) – but then sometimes it’s this orchestra of movement that is so awkward you want to hide under a chair until it’s over.

          • Jessie says:

            Orchestra of awkward only reminds me of The French Mistake! If only the music didn’t tread so heavily. But JP’s bad hand acting and JA’s “grimness” absolutely SLAY me. Not to mention the way Collins dismisses the hair stylist!

          • sheila says:

            crying with laughter.

            Dean: “We need all three of that crap.”

            dying.

            I like how Jared randomly looks around in the first “take”. Like – he’s totally pulling focus from Cas, and is just staring around him randomly. Hysterical.

          • Jessie says:

            ha ha, thanks for fixing my html!

            I loved that episode so much — making itself the target of the joke was such a great move and really rewarded fan engagement. And it was SO FUNNY. I imagine there’s a whole other layer in there too for someone like yourself who knows so well the profession and the industry.

          • sheila says:

            and Misha Tweeting about everything?

            So funny.

            And Jensen with the fish tank in his trailer. Just soooo self-deprecating and hilarious.

            And doesn’t Jared have a line like, “Apparently not many people watch the show …”

            Said totally deadpan.

            LOVE it.

          • sheila says:

            and it is funny to imagine the director (that’s Brian Doyle Murray right?) suddenly having to deal with two lead actors who have totally forgotten how to act.

            I like the shot of the brothers playing around with the fake knives and Dean stabbing the fake knife into Sam’s chest. “Dude, check this out –” stab – stab – “They’re all FAKE.”

          • Jessie says:

            Oh, Misha — you possibly know but Misha is a notorious provocateur and engages with fans in the most delightful ways; he tweeted “his” tweets at the correct moments during the broadcast. Cool guy.

            That moment with the director is especially fun because he’s like, at least they’re talking to each other. Which is funny because yadda yadda, the two asshole actors who pretend to love each other on screen, but also at the time was cute because they were just starting to heal from the first half of the season.

            More than them stabbing each other (as part of talking to each other again), I think this is my favourite single image of the episode! Perfection.

          • Jessie says:

            And just to reiterate: “Jared”, the cowboy, the platinum cards, the hot wife; “Jensen”, the soft-focus DOOL earnest heartthrob who just wants to love (me).

          • Jessie says:

            Also without hijacking your other conversation, I think it’s absolutely about how women’s bodies packaged as available to be looked at, as visually consumable, and inherently (for a particular value of woman) desired (not desirable but always alreadydesired). Men are active lookers, subjects; women are passive objects. It is crazy how much everyday sexualisation goes on with images of women’s bodies and how different our visual experience would be if those images were proportionate along gender lines (not to mention other categories).

            Supernatural is not immune to this — how could it be, in this industrial context? — and I think feminist critiques are relevant and useful (I hope they are, I’ve made my fair share of them!). But one thing Supernatural does have going for it is how thoroughly it complicates those crappy old binaries with Dean’s (and Sam’s, in a different way, that is more about penetration and corruption) bodies.

  6. sheila says:

    Jessie – hijack away. The show brings up so many interesting issues – even, as with Rinaldo, in people who haven’t seen it! I love that!

    Having known many a Tough Guy myself, I certainly don’t want to see that type shamed out of existence. I love the celebration in Supernatural of guys who are brave, self-sacrificing, and tough mo-fos. I know guys like this, and have dated some of them, and I feel safe with them. Not to go too down this path, but I’ve got PTSD issues myself and guys like that sort of swoop around me to protect me – which can be very annoying sometimes – but if that ISN’T going on with a man I’m into, then I have a very difficult time. We all have our struggles in life and that is one of mine. Thankfully, Tough Guys seem to like me, so at least I’m on the right track.

    For example, Dean’s advice to Cas before his date: “Open the door for her. Ask her lots of questions, they love that. And if she says she doesn’t mind going Dutch? She’s lying.”

    Dean may have many problems but those are Basic Important Things and those are Things that matter to me, too – I don’t care if it makes me old-fashioned or a cliche. I’m fine with that.

    Come to think of it – that may be one of the reasons why the show is hitting me on such a primal level.

    One of the interesting things about the show is how both Dean and Sam tease one another about being “girly” – something I find so annoying in real life (the whole “throw like a girl” thing – people need to stop saying shit like that – it’s bad for girls and it’s bad for boys too – it’s bad all around) – and I find it annoying in Dean and Sam, too – although totally in character. I don’t think they need to stop saying stuff like that – as long as the show continues to be interested in exploring their vulnerability and softness (which it is). To be “like a girl” is the worst thing to these guys – even though they love women too and love to have sex with them and need the softness of women in their lives. They NEED it like oxygen.

    I remember seeing a documentary about 9/11 and there was an interview with a fireman who had lost his entire firehouse that day and had an extremely traumatic experience himself – he couldn’t talk about it without choking up. He was a big burly hunk of a man. And at one point he said, “That night – ” (say, 9/12 or 9/13) “I went home and got into the hot tub with my wife.” A sort of dirty funny smile crossed his face and said, “But I won’t talk about that.”

    It was so unbelievably human, so beautiful. This guy runs INTO burning buildings when 99% of the population runs OUT – and in that moment he admitted the human-ness in his relationship with his wife and the perspective/comfort that that brought for him. And what do you want to bet that he cried in that hot tub, with his wife? But his macho-ness and toughness, a very real part of him, had to throw it out there that it was SexyTimes too. I don’t know, it was very deep.

    Dean and Sam are like that. The “you are so gay” stuff is typical brothers bull shit – but when push comes to shove, they do talk about the big stuff and they do try to open up to one another, even when every cell in their bodies screams, “Ew. I do not want to ‘go there’.”

    I could do without the “bitch” comments, myself. JA really relishes saying that word. Not that Dean wouldn’t. But still.

    Again, these things are eloquent character details – and if there wasn’t that counterpoint of irony/comedy and characters like Charley or any of the women, actually – the show would drive me up the fucking wall with the Macho Shit.

    • sheila says:

      and yes: the show is explicit about the fears of penetration which I just think is so awesome, especially seen in context of two tough guys (especially one like Dean, who – I’m guessing – as we discussed, probably has some experience with same sex sex – that whole hustling for cash, trading stuff for cash, I just sense there’s a past there.)

      I mean, Lucifer (who is that actor – he is FANTASTIC) calling Sam his “bunk buddy”, sexually harassing him, it’s awful.

    • Jessie says:

      That documentary sounds fascinating. Is it the one where the documentarians happened to be embedded with a particular fire house, just before 9/11, by coincidence? My partner tells me that one’s good.

      Have you seen Michael Cutlitz’s work as a cop on (the sadly finished) Southland? I highly recommend the show and I think you’ll like him in particular.

      I have quite a different reaction to that line of advice; I can’t relate at all. In fact I bristle now thinking about it, as I bristled then. But I am not a contrarian (yes I am) and you are not old-fashioned or a cliche — we are people! We are all formed in cultural spaces by meanings that pre-exist us, and become part of us without our permission.

      And who was Dean’s example of the meaning of masculinity? The ex-marine turned avenger turned staff sergeant — who may or may not have been present, and/or drunk, and/or kind, at any period of Dean’s life (oh, those fruitful gaps!). It behooves us to remember where Dean learned what he learned — the places where he deviates from his father’s masculinity are then so telling! And would come back, I argue, to the best part of his early life being mother/primary caregiver/nurturer.

      The Macho Stuff would get very tiring without any balance. Which is why those times when that self-presentation Dean him are so revealing/hilarious/sad. Sam never has any issues like that. Sam couldn’t give a shit about his masculinity. He’s got different questions about himself. There is a very interesting conversation to be had I think about Sam’s otherness, his blood corruption, his susceptibility to (demonic and angelic) penetration.

      They need to have women (who are not enemies) in their lives so badly! I was devastated when Jo and Ellen died. What a tremendous loss of those two amazing women — and what a loss for Sam and Dean. We have talked about how great Dean is with Charlie, but also how great is Sam with Sheriff Jodie? What a team!

      The Lucifer actor is fabulous! Mark Pellegrino. Very cool performance.

  7. sheila says:

    And that screen grab from French Mistake of Sam with the cowboy photo. Dying.

    • sheila says:

      In my experience, real-life Tough Guys are in awe of women, in a good way, in awe of their bodies and how cool it is that everything works the way it does. The weak guys have contempt for women’s different-ness. But actual tough guys (like that firemen, like some of my ex-es) are in awe of the softness of the whole thing – and women, in general – their tough-ness is so rock-solid that different-ness doesn’t threaten them at all. That’s what I sense in Dean in some of those sex scenes – especially the one with Anna in the back seat of his car. JA is doing some superb and vulnerable work there. The way he helps her off with her jeans, but he keeps his eyes on her face the whole time … I don’t know, there’s more than Sex going on there. It’s that need for comfort – great character detail.

      • Jessie says:

        Definitely. There’s a similar thing going on when he sees his mother in the false reality episode (a favourite!) and the first flashback episode with young Mary (another favourite!). Obviously he would yearn for connection with his mother, but it’s also about the symbol being embodied — nurture and love (and pie!) in the soft — yet kickass — body of a woman. And, (and you have said this a few times so well about how friendly he is as a sexual partner), with all of that going on, he still allows these women to be their own person.

        This is why the virginity episode hookup bugged me so much. The show did not allow her to be her own person. I did not understand her decision to sleep with him at all (besides the obvious). I felt like the show had just fucked ME.

        • sheila says:

          Jessie – yes, its the documentary by the two young French filmmakers who were embedded in the firehouse a couple blocks away from the WTC. It’s amazing.

          Now let me go back and look at your other comments.

          I haven’t seen Southland – I’ve heard great things.

          In re: “bristling” at Dean’s advice to Cas – hahaha. I know, I read a lot of very bristled comments in reaction to that! I get it. But I like a man who is solid in the basics – those things he mentions to me are just good manners. And stuff like that, for my own reasons, makes me feel safe. Such as we all are made.

          I did like how he looked over Cas with an appraising eye – checking out his hair – making him take off his vest. It was cute.

          In re: masculinity and where Dean learned it: it’s interesting. I’m going back again to watch it from the beginning. Getting ready to do some re-caps. And I watched SCARECROW last night. (“Dude, you fugly.” The look on his face. Hilarious.) But what I had forgotten about that episode is it is REALLY about their Dad and how they were raised. Sam questions Dad, he feels free to do that. Dean doesn’t. And kudos to JA for how his whole body language changes when he’s on the phone with his Dad. He stops relaxing, he sort of gets into position, like a military man during inspection. It’s like he’s in a cult of having to Obey.

          So more than anything else: what I saw in that episode was that Sam, by rebelling, has his SELF intact. Dean doesn’t. Even though the Dad taught them fighting and about guns and all this macho stuff – what he did was emasculate Dean, and make Dean feel like he couldn’t make his own decisions. You can see that so clearly in the episode – even though JA is so masculine himself, and buff, and hot, and all that – you really feel for the guy in this episode – you see that he’s not whole. The father did not allow his sons to become men on their own terms. Dean is trapped.

          There’s a lot more there to be explored and I would love it if the show would remember that – it’s the masculinity tropes that are really interesting, the deep subtext, the motivations for why they do the things they do. and you’re right: Sam doesn’t question at all. His issues are, in many ways, more awful – Dean would never be open to the temptations that Sam is.

          Also in Scarecrow: when he comes across Meg on the road. It is suspicious, in the way it is filmed – she wasn’t there and then she was there. Also she speaks right to Sam’s feelings about family and wanting to break free – isn’t that just a little bit too perfect? Dean, as helpless as he is in the sight of a pretty girl, probably wouldn’t have fallen for it. He would have had that spidey-sense that something is not right with this girl. But Sam walks right into it.

          It’s all just so fascinating.

          • sheila says:

            Both men, in their own different ways, are perfect victims.

            I’ve done a lot of research on cults and brainwashing and growing up in that family with that Dad was akin to growing up in a cult. It makes you question your own agency, it makes you not know which end is up in very specific situations – which we can see with both of these guys. We are all formed by our circumstances.

            Those flashbacks to childhood – all the episodes where they “go back” – the false reality one, just great – the way Dean looks at his mother – it’s just heartbreaking. She’s this magical being, she could have saved them, she loved them – in an uncomplicated way. Dean actually has a memory of experiencing that – so in his way he is MORE intact than Sam. Sam has no memory of a mother’s love.

            AND this dovetails with a detail I absolutely ADORED when they finally moved into the bunker: Dean getting his own room. Dean cooking. Dean psyched there’s a kitchen.

            What a wonderful detail for the writers to put in – it shows their understanding of this character. Sam doesn’t give a shit about home, because he has no memory of having one. Dean does. When Sam throws the wrapper and misses the garbage can – Dean’s look of hurt was great. It was so annoying – if my brother had done that to me in my brand new room – I would have been furious!

            Dean “nesting” – whoda thunk it – it was one of those moments where I realized: “Yes, this is perfect, this is of course just what Dean wants, and what he wants to do, and I hadn’t realized it until now.”

            He’s like a little kid – he has his own room and he’s set it all up and he’s so happy.

            Great detail from the writers.

  8. rae says:

    I love that this was the moment you chose — I’ve gone back to it so many times because his reaction (well, reactions, really) is (are) so great!

    I had almost forgotten about the flying phobia antics — which, now that you mention them, remind me of the Yellow Fever episode, and the almost-dying-of-fright (and screaming, and Eye of the Tiger, etc). I love how willing JA is to do pretty much anything for the role.

  9. sheila says:

    Jessie – Oh and one last observation about SCARECROW which kind of dovetails with what Rinaldo and I were discussing earlier in the comments thread in re: Ryan O’Neal flirting with Warren Oates in that 1970s film:

    When Dean first enters that creepy Shirley Jackson-ish town, he comes up to the guy who owns the cafe and tries to question him, getting only blunt one-word answers. Dean knows something is up. Why is the guy being so weird? The guy lets Dean know that the conversation is OVER and after an awkward pause Dean says, “You know, Scotty, you’ve got a smile that just lights up a room.”

    Obviously sarcastic, but also totally flirtatious – throwing all of his charm (that he knows he has) at this guy to disorient him and “punish” him for being so noncompliant. It’s a fascinating reaction and is the first time we’ve seen that side of Dean – which shows up with women, of course – but also with men – time and time again throughout the series. (Don’t even get me started on the Sirens episode and how the show lets you assume that all Sirens are women, but … whaddya know … Dean’s Siren turns out to be a man. LOVE that.)

    I’m not one of those people who thinks Dean is in the closet. I don’t think the show supports that. But I do think his situation is … fluid … shall we say … and he flirts with pretty much everyone. He can’t help it.

    I can’t find the quote but I love it – it’s from a novel I love – about a Southern girl trying to make her way in New York City – the book is called The Fiery Pantheon. And the writer (Nancy Lemann) says that she flirts with everyone, she can’t help it – and the line is something like, “She would flirt with the Statue of Liberty. She would flirt with the Grand Canyon.” It’s her nature to flirt.

    It’s Dean’s nature to flirt.

    It’s part of his comfort with his sexuality – he operates in a sexual way, more often than not – it’s always close to the surface with him.

    • Jessie says:

      I cherish Cudlitz on Southland for the way he creates a Tough Guy who’s absolutely, determinedly opaque to everyone around him, but at the same time lets us see and know and feel every single thought and feeling he has. Listen I could write odes unnumbered to this guy and his co-stars including the amazing and empathic Regina King but I’ll just link to this all-time great “kinda” and let you discover it in your own time.

      Ooooooh, recaps!!!! Man, the old days. I will have to go back and check those out to follow along. Barring one or two episodes I think the stretch from 9-22 is greatly underrated.

      “Dude, you fugly” is great — “I hope your apple pie is freaking WORTH IT!” is my favourite. That scarecrow is one of the scariest things I think they ever did.

      How messed up is it that Dean had to experience one of those tragedies of parenting in shitty situations (caveat: I’m not a parent!) which is raising someone well enough that they eventually need — for their own sake, because you have created a full person — to leave you.

      Poor Dean and Sam. There’s an amazing moment at the end of season 8 where Sam reveals that he had always, since he was a child, felt different & wrong. The slippage there between his possible knowledge of what happened to him when he was 6 months old (and how he felt after) and the perfectly normal reaction of feeling like a freak, in that family, living that life. How neatly he paves his path to Hell in season 4, with all of that behind him.

      I love Dean’s room! His multitudes of tomatoes! Oh Sam, so inconsiderate. He just didn’t get it. His house is either a car, or a dorm/house with a woman.

      I love the quote from that book. Dean turning his charm, consciously and unconsciously, on guys — it’s killer. There’s this throwaway bit in an episode, I can’t even remember which, it is utterly a throwaway moment — he’s tipsy or drugged or something, and he leans in and tells this babyfaced sheriff kid “you’re awesome,” totally focussed, totally sincere, and this kid practically dies on the spot he’s so happy.

      The siren episode — HA!!!! I don’t know if I can convey with words my amusement and delight that Dean’s perfect partner was this brother-lover dude who essentially ejaculated into Dean’s mouth (remember when I was saying about how they can’t do anything too queer to Dean, like get bitten or get kissed by a male monster, so to get around that they do something even queerer?).

      I don’t think Dean is in the closet as gay or bi. But I can totally imagine him having same-sex sex for fun (not just profit!) if the circumstances were right. Remember his crush on Dr Sexy? (Luckily there are plenty of people out there willing to imagine it for me).

      • sheila says:

        The crush on Dr. Sexy was absolutely majestic. JA played the hell out of it. The women on the Grey’s Anatomy show were irrelevant to him – but Dr. Sexy made his toes curl. Brilliant and brave acting from JA!

        // so to get around that they do something even queerer? //

        hahahahahaha Great point.

        • sheila says:

          and yes, he’s like this bustling housewife, amazed that there are so many different kinds of tomatoes.

          Awesome detail.

        • sheila says:

          and the relationship with Bennie? Please. That’s the most intimate Dean has ever been with ANYone – including Sam, Cas, and Lisa.

          • sheila says:

            Maybe the key here for Dean is not sex. Sex is a physical function, like sneezing and breathing. He goes for it, he enjoys it, he doesn’t angst about it or over-think it.

            The key, really, is intimacy.

          • Jessie says:

            Yeah, I think sex vs intimacy vs comfort is an important distinction to make for Dean. I don’t know if I wholly agree with you about Benny over his lifetime with Sam — but I do agree that that was the best-working relationship he’d had in years, and intimate in that sense. I liked Benny a lot. And I thought it was cute, structurally, that Sam and Dean each got new girlfriends over the season break. I liked the contrasts and how the triangular/quadrangular relationships played out.

            The situation with Lisa is so interesting. At first I was like, what about Cassie! Dean loved her! Over this random hook-up? Of course, getting the actress back, etc. But Lisa trumps Cassie because she comes with a kid. There’s a family there, there’s a role to fill.

            I also really liked how that season 6 opener showed us Dean using like five or six different people to have the kind of interactions he would normally have with Sam. It is not normal for someone to fill that many roles in your life. But that’s why the relationship is so compelling.

        • sheila says:

          Yeah – the intimacy with Sam is a hothouse with too much pressure on it. One person cannot/should not fill so many roles.

          Also, Dean’s ability to be intimate with his brother is compromised by his desire to protect, and his willingness to basically betray Sam for Sam’s own good. So he hides stuff, he puts up a brave front, he’s certain, he takes on his Dad’s role, etc.

          But with Benny – there was this accessibility in Dean’s face when he talked to him, a warmth and openness that I have never seen – with the women he’s loved he still has that protection thing going on, he’s afraid of being hurt by women, he can’t tolerate it. (and I was with you with the Lisa vs. Cassie thing – loved his relationship with Cassie!!)

          But the old-war-buddies thing with Bennie – for almost the first time Dean is on the same level with someone. None of that “who’s the top/bottom” thing which messes up every other relationship – they were on equal ground and Dean was vulnerable with and to Benny in a way I hadn’t seen before.

          Like guys who came out of a POW camp together. Guys who have fought in a war together, veterans. There’s an intimacy there that is unlike any other kind of intimacy, sexual, emotional.

          I really liked that aspect of their relationship – and that actor was phenomenal too.

          • Jessie says:

            Well said, and you’re absolutely right — Dean has to do some major rethinking and conceive of himself and his brother as separate people of equal worth before he and Sam can be truly intimate (hello!).

            I really enjoyed him and Benny, and it was sad — as sad as the actor’s sad blue eyes — to see inevitability play out.

          • sheila says:

            The bit with the granddaughter at the gumbo shack … just tragic. (and the funny joke of Dean hitting on her and then realizing what he has done.)

  10. nimisha says:

    Hi,
    This was an interesting read. I agree on some points here like objectification of boys which seems right when you think this show is mostly aimed at women and they have limited number of female characters on the show. What is your opinion on Dean having a mytharc, a story for himself ? I believe the show has always focused on Sam as the hero/Dean as the sidekick. That’s why we get all the comedy, POV from Dean cause otherwise he does not have anything to do on this show. Would like to see your take on that. Anyhow I was amazed to see how we all see the same things and interpret differently.

    • sheila says:

      Hi Nimisha – thank you so much for your comment. I agree, that part of the strength of the show – and why it has lasted for 9 seasons – is because it is so evocative and still mysterious: and leaves a lot of room for the fans to fill in the gaps and see things differently and argue things out, etc. It’s a lot of fun! I love the affection that the fans have for this show!

      Hearing the producers/creator’s commentary track for the pilot was interesting – in that they conceived of Sam as the Luke Skywalker and Dean as the Han Solo – in other words, the wisecracking sidekick. I think that is definitely borne out in the show. But, for me, Dean is the linchpin – the heartbeat – especially with such arcs as Sam losing his soul – where we go through almost 5 or 6 episodes not knowing what is going on and seeing everything solely through Dean’s eyes.

      A lot of this has to do with the End Game – for the show and for them – where are they going, ultimately? How will they “wrap things up”? Will Sam get out? Will Dean? There are the smaller arcs, of each episode, and then the larger arcs of each season – but above all of that are the arcs that I think you are talking about – the arcs of CHARACTER.

      I will be very very interested to see how it all plays out – for both Sam and for Dean.

      • sheila says:

        and I do want to reiterate my point about how the camera objectifies these men – especially Dean. While it is true that they are going for a female audience – objectification like the kind we see in Supernatural is rare for males – especially for LEAD males.

        Even in something like Twilight, which is clearly geared for the female market – Robert Pattinson isn’t treated like this by the camera.

        It’s part of the provocative gender-bendy vibe going on in Supernatural – the undercurrent of sex and “what it means to be a man” – that I think is so crucial for the show’s success. Both JA and JP are comfortable with it, and play with it, have fun with it – it’s great, I love them both as performers.

    • Willow says:

      I actually do not agree with the assessment of Dean as the sidekick. Dean is the tragic hero/righteous man who is far more important than it may seem on the surface. Even when he does something horrible (like letting Sam get possessed by an angel or selling his soul), you absolutely believe that he is doing this to serve a greater good.

      In some ways, he reminds me of the portrayal of Judas from “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Judas was chosen as the betrayer because he was a stronger man than Jesus. (Just talking in the context of those particular stories. Not Biblically). Dying–making that sacrifice–did not require the same courage as the man who was going to have to actively cause that death to happen.

      Saying “yes” to Lucifer and taking a swan dive into the Pit is easy compared to the role Dean had to play. He had to bring his brother far enough to the forefront to allow Sam to make that jump. To return to one of my other all-time faves, at the end of Season 5 of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Buffy prepares to sacrifice herself to save her sister (and the world). She makes a comment about dying being easy and the hard part being to live in this world.

      While the attention naturally focuses on Sam or Buffy, the actual hard work is not theirs. The real gut-wrenching actions belong to Dean and Giles. On the surface, they look like sidekicks, but they go far beyond that.

      • sheila says:

        Willow – Sure. But in the pilot he is most definitely the sidekick, with Sam being the lead – the more recognizable one to us, the one from “our world” – we more easily enter the monster-hunting world because we understand Sam’s world (college, girlfriend, Halloween parties) – it is the contrast being set up. We meet Sam first, see him in operation in our world, a world we recognize, without Dean. And then Dean enters. It’s how we meet sidekicks, in Stories – we understand who they are only by comparing them to the Big Ol’ Lead. We see Dean’s strangeness, we feel that something changes once he enters, and we are reacting to him through Sam’s eyes, at first.

        It’s totally from Sam’s POV, that pilot. There’s a reason they cut out the one scene with Dean driving alone, and deciding to turn around. We are with Sam. Not Dean.

        Obviously the show has moved a long way from that original conception – and it moved very quickly in an equal two-hander – it happened pretty quickly. By “Dead in the Water”, we are in Dean’s POV totally – that is HIS episode. It fluctuates – I love that. But it doesn’t take away how deliberately it was set up in the pilot.

  11. Caroline McIntosh says:

    Sheila,
    I was absolutely fascinated by this gorgeously written article on Jensen/Supernatural/Schtick! Thank you very much for taking the time to put down your observations regarding what a brilliant actor Jensen is. I concur with every point you made. Pleasantly surprised in fact to read about your insight into what makes him and Supernatural “tick” from a different perspective than one normally reads about with all the fangirling going on! And the insightfullness of the commentators was also extremely interesting. I was wondering if you might be considering a similar piece on the actual dynamics between three main actors (three now that Misha has joined the club). I feel that Misha is just as brilliant an actor as is Jensen. The “listening” that goes on behind his eyes is compelling and the interaction of the subtext, especially between Jensen and Misha is quite incredible to watch.

    I know from reading various interviews and pieces, both Misha and Jensen attribute their on-screen chemistry to the fact both are very committed to their roles. You can see the respect they give each other from the very first interaction. Your piece illuminating Jensen and his “schitck” made me go back and review their very first (and second) screen time together and you almost “see” the moment when both realize they come from the same place in terms of intelligent acting. It is brilliant to behold. I am a huge admirer of both actors, they are both easy on the eyes, but it is so much more than that. I couldn’t get a true handle on it until I read your piece. Thank you again for posting and I look forward to some more truly enlightening articles. All the best!

    • sheila says:

      Caroline – Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I hope you return – I’ll be doing re-caps soon! I’m new to the show, having just binge-watched the whole damn thing in a two-month period so it’s been so much fun for me getting to know the show and these guys. What a TREAT – they are all so good, even down to the guest stars who show up only in the teasers.

      I agree that Misha Collins is doing some awesome work as well – what a fascinating character. I love how it sets him up as a character who doesn’t understand irony – because it sort of reminds us of how important Irony is in human interaction, something that I think is often lost in our very very Literal Age, where no one can take a joke, and everyone has to apologize all the time for offhand comments, etc. Supernatural, with the humorless angel Castiel, actually reminds us that Irony is necessary in our dealings with one another and that we are lost without it. That is all on Misha Collins’ shoulders and he portrays it brilliantly. His sincere confusion about the “pizza man” in the porn … dying laughing.

      And yes: the dynamic between Collins and Ackles is wonderful – I love the very first episode when Sam is out of commission so Castiel comes along as Dean’s partner. And holds his badge up upside down and makes these weird comments – that Jensen then has to deal with. SO FUNNY – a perfect example of the “sweet spot” that Schtick can hit. Schtick like that comes out of CHARACTER – something that all great comedians understood – Charlie Chaplin on the assembly line in Modern Times is so funny you want to die you’re laughing so hard – and the situation is funny but what is even more funny is that character in that situation. Or Chaplin doing the famous roll-dance in Gold Rush. (It’s on Youtube.) The roll dance itself is funny – all alone – but the added element of CHARACTER makes it almost transcendent.

      All the lead guys on Supernatural understand this. We have comfort with those characters, we know them, and so when you see that they are put into a situation ripe with comedic possibilities – I get a feeling of excitement which is rare (in my experience) – the excitement comes from trust. I trust the show to develop the comedic possibilities – I trust that they will find the funniest way to make that situation clear. Like in Changing Channels. Or in the “fairy” episode (another favorite – with my favorite closeup/behavior from Jensen Ackles in the entire series – when he’s on the phone with Sam whispering about the evil fairies. THAT is funny. What he is doing with his face – and it’s all based so strongly on character and relationship. It’s not “just” schtick – i.e.: funny faces/pratfalls – It’s hilarious to see Dean Winchester terrified of small glittering fairies.)

      Again, thank you so much for your comment.

      More to come!!

      • sheila says:

        and Dean Winchester could not survive without Irony. Imagine the character without it. It’s inconceivable.

        That’s all on JA. It could so easily have been a cliched wise-cracking tough guy. There is that element. But JA is a finely tuned instrument and gravitates towards comedy and ironic subtext – that seems to be just who he is. It’s natural to him.

        So to put that up against Castiel’s smileless literal-ness …

        means COMEDY.

        • Caroline says:

          I will reply more later today.. just wanted to let you know I sent the link of this directly to MC (so he can pass it on to JA)..I think you are brilliant! I spent ALOT of time in the last twenty four hours going through the Archives and adore your style, observations and ability to “see” beneath.. It takes time, patience, knowledge and commitment to be able to break things down like you do and it has been an absolute pleasure to read your posts. Thank you for replying back to me and most of all, thank you for the hard work you do, although I highly suspect this is also a labour of love. Take care and thank you once again. Talk again soon!!!

          • sheila says:

            Caroline – it has definitely been a labor of love here on my site! :) I write for pay elsewhere, about film and actors, etc., but here I can let my Freak Flag fly and write for 8 months straight about Elvis, or 3 months straight about Dean Stockwell, or whatever, the people I love – and it’s a lot of fun for me – to follow these obsessions into the nuts-and-bolts of acting technique, performance, and how these wonderful people do what they do.

            Thanks so much for hanging out here. What pieces did you look at? I’m curious!

            Thanks for passing this piece on to MC – that’s a lot of fun and I appreciate it! Like i said, I do want to do some re-caps, because I’m in the zone with the show now – and have so much more to discuss. It’s amazing to go back and watch Season 1 and think of how far these two characters will go!

        • Caroline says:

          Sheila,
          I just adore you and your posts and reviews. It is so refreshing to come across someone who has the ability to see into the subtext of what we tend to render as surface.

          You asked what pieces I had seen.. Well alot! I loved the piece on Julian from American Gigilo and the overall arc of examining the narcissistic nature of Richard Gere and why it works for him in certain roles he has played and why it does not in others.. fabulous. I enjoyed your innumerous articles on Elivs and his ..well.. everything. One piece you did about Ann Margret and him in that film where they are dancing to that sultry song.. How they seen=m to make the world disappear for each other and how it could make one feel as though we were intruding.. There is another fabulous modern actor by the name of Ben Bass from a very small (!) show filmed here in Toronto called Rookie Blue. I would highly recommend it for the wonderful character development and structural architechture regarding the lives of a group of Rookie Police Officers assigned to 15 Division in the city of Toronto.

          It is a sheer delight to see Toronto be the gorgeous backdrop to such a great character vehicle. And similar to Supernatural, the writers take their jobs to develop great characters in a week to week episodic series. The quality of the acting is phenomenal and their season 4 filming starts again in the New Year.

          Let me get back to why I mention Ben Bass and actually along with him I should mention Missy Peregrym. Missy plays Andy, one of the Rookies, with a father who is a retired police officer, and Ben plays Sam, her training officer for the first three Seasons. The sparks that fly from the very first “meeting” of these two on screen is incredible and only gets better and better as the Seasons go on. However, in Season 2 episode 11, we finally see Andy and Sam culminate the “dance” they have been engaged in from the very beginning. It is to watch HOW Sam looks at Andy is to understand what you were talking about with Elvis and Ann Margret. I watched that video piece you posted of Elvis and Ann Margret and immediately thought of the way the heat comes off the screen between Andy and Sam in Rookie Blue.

          Ironically, Ben Bass has the same sultry dark looks as Elvis (maybe not as handsome in the classical way that Elvis is, however, there is “something” burning under Sam’s skin that is comparable).. here are three quick scenes of Andy and Same starting with the first time they actually make love.. it is soo hot..
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7RE_tUPB7I&list=FL61jKxCzT7iij0FFeTftm5w

          Thanks again, Sheila for all that you write about and for giving others the opportunity to take in what you “see. Love all your articles, your writing style and can’t wait for more from you..

          Take care and Happy New Year!!
          Caroline

  12. SueB says:

    Sheila!
    I don’t know you at all but I think you may be my new best friend. I’ve spent over an hour on Christmas Day just cherishing every bit of your commentary and the comments you make. Thank you for this most wonderful article on Jensen and Supernatural in general. I haven’t explored your blog but I intend to. Such insight!

    Thankyou, SueB

    • SueB says:

      ETA: Exactly WHICH 3 seconds of that clip are you focused on. His little smile at the end or the awkward in the middle?

      • sheila says:

        SueB – Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!

        The schtick is the entire response to her comment – it unfolds over a three-second time frame – which I broke down in numbers. There are probably even more reactions included there but those 9, 10 reactions are the ones that are most clear. So it’s the whole thing.

        Amazing work. I think people sometimes don’t realize how difficult good acting is – how brave an actor has to be to “go for it” – like JA does there.

        Hats off.

        • SueB says:

          I think there were about 52 reactions in that 3 seconds. Thanks for pointing out the details. I always found the scene funny but you’ve made it brilliant.

          • sheila says:

            Ha! Yes, there are definitely a couple of subtle reactions I’ve missed – feel free to add more. It’s hilarious, and JA makes it look totally easy in such a goofball way.

  13. Caroline McIntosh says:

    Sheila,
    Me again, Just rereading yours and Nimisha’s take on Benny. I adored that relationship! The two of them were SO comfortable in their own skin when they were together. Benny was an equal to Dean and Dean recognized that in Benny. Their chemistry was unmistakable and I loved Benny from the moment he came on screen. What you both wrote about the “intamacy” with Benny and Dean was so right. The writers carried that even further when Dean took Benny’s soul into his arm and carried him into the real world. I loved the fact that there had obviously been a whole lot of discussion between the two regarding what needed to be done and the trust that was shown from both of them to each other was fantastic. What I mean is that Dean, without hesitation, cut himself and Benny without hesitation, placed himself vulnerably into the safe keeping of Dean. I found that to be one of the most powerful and telling moments in the whole Purgatory arc. I would have loved to be privy to the conversation that must have happened and how the two of them worked it out. It was devastating to watch Benny die.. I was hoping for more interaction between the two as this was a relationship with no demands on it other than trust and shared deep admiration.. and came with such a price. Brilliant writing and even more brilliant acting.

    • Caroline McIntosh says:

      Apologies! I meant “Jessie” regarding the Benny/Dean comments.

      • sheila says:

        Caroline – Yes, I adored the entire Benny relationship and I will really miss him. That actor is phenomenal – his accent, his cap, his face …

        And the way the two of them hugged when they got out of Purgatory – I remember thinking, “Jesus God, what is going on HERE????” That was a Dean I had never seen before. I loved it.

        I agree that I would love to see more of what the hell happened in Purgatory and how exactly that conversation took place. With Supernatural, of course, you never know … they leave these gaps in our understanding deliberately – it gives the writers freedom to go back and re-visit things that happened in the past because they are never too explicit about it.

        What freedom for Dean – to have a relationship with a male that is on equal footing.

        He’s more in awe of Castiel – every time Cas shows up, you can feel that Dean has to adjust his entire persona to deal with the fact that an angel is popping into his motel room. He’s always a tiny bit afraid. So that makes him vulnerable. But the vulnerability with Benny was a horse of a different color.

        Old war buddies. Nobody went through what those two went through, nobody else could understand.

        Loved the whole thing.

  14. rae says:

    saw this and immediately thought of your great post, so I had to share: http://www.tickld.com/cdn_image_content/481972.jpg

    happy hols, sheila!

  15. sheila says:

    A standalone comment/observation: The show is strong enough, solid enough, that Dean Winchester could actually say – “Ruh-roh” in the recent dog episode – which I loved – and be able to “take” it, handle it. Imagine a moment like that in another more serious show – like Breaking Bad or something (which I love as well). But the lead guy, in deep closeup, saying, “Ruh-roh”? That is strictly Supernatural territory. And they do it so well.

    as is probably obvious I am drawn to the one-off silly episodes the most. Big closeup of JA’s face, all worried and hurt – saying ” Ruh-roh”?? And the show doesn’t fall apart because of its own commitment to silliness?

    God, moments like that satisfy me. I love things that are DUMB. In that context, “dumb” is a huge compliment. Because we all can take ourselves just a little bit too seriously, can’t we. And the freedom to look dumb is often the greatest freedom on earth. And JA saying, “Ruh-roh” is one example.

    Absolutely in love with that aspect of the show.

    I get the sense (being new to it) that I may be in the minority – that others get frustrated with how DUMB the show allows itself to get. I may be wrong – I don’t frequent fan forums (not yet) – but the whole “hot guys crying and being neurotic” thing is also super appealing. I get it!!

    But I love it most when the show goes balls-to-the-wall DUMB.

    • Melissa says:

      Sheila,

      I’d stay away from fan forums. I wish I had. Just some friendly advice from another relative newbie. :) “Ruh-roh” is one of my favorite moments. Jensen was so much fun in that episode.

      • Caroline says:

        Sheila,
        I agree with Melissa.. fastest way to get overexposed to hormones that don’t make sense most of the time.. Raging is what I would call those places, LOL!!… From a relative SPN “oldie”.. :)

        • Melissa says:

          Twitter’s becoming almost just as bad, imho. I don’t think my block button function has ever worked so hard. I won’t touch Tumblr with a ten foot pole.

          • sheila says:

            hahahaha Thank you, ladies.

            I have an Elvis Tumblr – but I mainly use it as a photo dump so I can go “visit” my favorite pics of him in one place.

            I prefer analysis (as should be obvious – with this damn post!! Ha!)

            And I also prefer to keep it about the Work. I’m interested in the Work more than I am in the dramas behind the scenes or the real-life guys and who they are. What is most important is what is on the screen. Sometimes it’s hard to separate that out – especially hard with someone like Elvis or Cary Grant – two other guys I have written a lot about – they are SO famous that it’s hard to parse out the myth from the work, and all that. But that’s the challenge. There is still so much to discuss about their WORK – and with Elvis I definitely think the focus on his Life and his peanut butter sandwiches has TAKEN AWAY from the MIRACLE of who he was as a performer – and part of my goal here with all of my posts on Elvis was to guide us back into a discussion of what is most important – his work.

            I went into Supernatural knowing nothing about any of these guys – and now of course I know a little bit about them – but my interest will always focus on what is happening on the show.

            Also – the fan dramas were one of the reasons I got into the show. It somehow reached me, even though I didn’t watch the show, and it made me curious. I wanted to write something about it – maybe for one of the outlets I write for – and I still may do so. So I basically started watching it as research – “Okay, so why are these crazy people going apeshit and sending death threats to one another because so-and-so posted baby pictures without the actor’s permission” – or whatever. You know, obsessing on questions like, “Is Jensen Ackles a Republican????” seems completely stupid, a waste of time (not to mention politically immature). I don’t care if he’s a Satan worshipper. He could be the biggest dick in the world and I wouldn’t care. I mean, it’s nice that he’s NOT – in the same way that it is nice that Elvis was generally regarded as one of the nicest people anyone had ever met. But I’d love Elvis even if he wasn’t because of his WORK.

            The fan stuff interests me – but only as a phenomenon that speaks to the success of the show, if that makes sense. I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

            CLEARLY I get it now. :) I am SO GLAD I discovered Supernatural. Makes me so happy.

            But I’d like to really focus on the Work here – on the acting talent of these two guys (well, actually, everyone on the show – as I mentioned, even the folks who show up in the teasers at the beginning are awesome.)

            This should be a lot of fun and I am really glad you all are here – that Supernatural fans have found this post, however they did. I had hoped that would happen!

      • sheila says:

        I know – “run roh”????

        SO FUNNY.

        Can’t think of any other show (or any other actor) that would get away with that.

        • Caroline says:

          The mouth FULL of Caramels!!! WHO DOES THAT? Only Jensen.. Ranks up there with “Ruh-roh”.. He put himself so far out there in terms of absolute silliness .. just a wonder to behold.. More later..

          thanks, Sheila, I take it you saw my email :) It does help to understand a bit about the “real life” abilities.. You stated it in one of your responses on here about how JA is naturally funny and I thought about those convention moments between Misha and him showcased beautifully their natural abilities vis a vis Comedic Timing.. they are brilliant and it spills over into their Body of Work in Supernatural.

          Thanks!
          have a great day!

        • sheila says:

          Hey! Sorry, no, I haven’t seen your email yet – the holidays have been very busy and I’ve been traveling. Sorry! Normally I am more prompt and I will respond.

          Yeah, I’m not into the real-life stuff so much. For me, the chemistry is all on the screen and there is so much to unpack there. Knowing a lot about the real life guys just isn’t (and hasn’t been) my thing – when it comes to actors and performers. It’s obvious the chemistry is enormous with the leads of SPN – AND it’s obvious that these guys are loyal to one another and to the show. I love that nobody’s left the show, that they’re hanging in with it – they know a good thing when they see it. None of this David-Caruso-leaving-NYPD-Blue horseshit. I love what a solid ensemble it is – and how everyone seems psyched to have this great gig with people they like so much. It really reads from the screen. And the trust they all have with one another is palpable.

          But all that biographical stuff doesn’t illuminate much for me. I get why it’s fascinating to others – I am not knocking it! – but when I go to talk about the work, I try to keep my eye on that and that alone. (This helps in my film critic gigs as well). Keeping my responses to the Work itself is the real challenge – That has been an enormous challenge with Elvis and obviously his life comes into it – when necessary – Like, what was going on that made him put out a gospel album? That choice didn’t come from nowhere – and the ballads of the 70s – obviously there was life stuff going on that made him go that route. But that’s not where the magic comes from. It is my main pet peeve with biographies of artists – as I’ve said in various other places. People want to explain the Work through the Biography. “Elvis was sad in the 70s, therefore he chose sad songs.” Ugh. How about his voice was actually developing and was better than ever and he loved to show it off to its fullest in these gigantic ballads? How about THAT? Yes, the ballads were very personal, because he hated his divorce and was filled with sadness about it – but his musical choices cannot be explained only by knowing what was going on in his life. That is a disservice to his talent.

          Obvi, these SPN guys are likable and obviously people are curious about them. But that’s not really my “way in” to them. It doesn’t interest me. But the work?? I could talk about that for-ev-er. Ha. And I do and I WILL!

          Re-caps!!

          :)

          But I will read your email when I have a second – sorry for the delay – I have more traveling tomorrow for a funeral of a friend’s mom. It’s been a whirlwind!!

          I hope you had a happy holiday!

          • sheila says:

            I wrote this huge piece about Cary Grant’s brilliant performance in NOTORIOUS – and his biography comes into it – but it’s an example of the way I like to go with this very powerful material presented by a powerful iconic (and yet also mysterious) star:

            http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=54702

            I see a lot of similarities between Cary Grant and JA.

            Knowing about the real life can help, but in my experience as a writer, it’s helpful only to a point! It’s also something to be wary of. (As a writer, I mean!)

            Regardless, it’s an interesting conversation!

          • Caroline says:

            Sheila,
            I was sorry to read about your friend’s mother. Never ever easy any time, but especially at this time of year. I have the same on Monday..

            Thank you for the link to Notorious.. Wonderful insight into the character of Devlin and what makes the film so devastating in his portrayal of a “fat headed guy in pain”. Couldn’t help but wonder, as I read this excellent piece, just how much of the “fat headed guy in pain” is also present (to a far more miniscule amount, of course.. we are talking a full length movie vehicle AND the glorious Alfred directing and the fully developed persona of Grant playing against “character”) in some of the choices Jensen makes in portraying Dean the way he does. I was struck by some of the similarities in the narratives of inability to love or the fact, as you mentioned earlier, Dean lost his mother at four and has been unable to move beyond this visceral fact since. You described Dean as being full of self loathing and it seemed to me, reading about Devlin, that there was a similar self loathing perspective going on here as well.

            It would be fascinating to find out if Jensen has been influenced in his choices as a result of examining Grant’s body of work. Birds of a feather??

            Wonderful piece on Grant, LOVE your work and am so looking forward, to be honest, in revisiting the Supernatural episodes (oh Boy! Hard task that shall be) with the threads of your insight woven into my perspective. What this has allowed me to do is to change the structure of my filters and have an opportunity to look at a terrific body of work and re-evaluate it based on those changed perspectives. Thank you for your gift!

            All the best with your friend..
            (looking forward to your reply regarding the email.. )

    • Jessie says:

      ha! The dog episode. I thought a lot of the build-up was great: the fetching, the barking at the postman, the ruh-roh. But perving on that poodle was a bridge too far for me — just too dumb (but damn if JA didn’t go for it!). A contributing factor is that organ music that starts up every time something “funny” happens. It’s worn me into the dust. It’s almost come full circle meta joke about how painful bad sitcom music is.

      • sheila says:

        Jessie – hahaha You knew they would have to “go there” with Dean lusting after a hottie dog!! I was surprised they didn’t deal with the “butt-sniffing” behavior or bathroom habits of dogs – I totally thought they would.

        and you’re right about the music. It’s pretty stock.

  16. Melissa says:

    It is so refreshing to see an article like this in a time where most fandom articles I read make me want to bang my head into a wall. I don’t watch a huge amount of TV shows but SUPERNATURAL is a rarity. I posted this open letter on my blog a few days ago. It’s also nice, like another commentator said, to see more than the usual fangirling comments. I’m all for fangirling but sometimes it can be really nice to not see just that.

    Here’s what I said on my blog.

    Dear SUPERNATURAL,

    You really are truly the best kept secret on TV. I didn’t know about you until the late spring/early summer of 2013 but I very quickly fell in love with everything about you. I love how each episode can bring out a wide range of emotions and how in a re-watch, you can notice things you never noticed before. It’s like watching a new show every time. I can’t remember the last show I could say that about. I don’t watch a huge amount of shows but even I know that’s a rarity. When I recommend SUPERNATURAL to someone, I tell them “It’s like watching a mini movie every week.”

    I sometimes think I appreciate the technical aspects almost as much as I do what plays out on screen every episode. I’ve been known to pause and just enjoy the look of a scene, whether it be the lighting, the location, etc. I’m not looking forward to the day new episodes cease to exist but it’s lessened by knowing I can pull up Netflix or pop in any season on DVD and there is going to be something I didn’t notice before.

    So thank you SUPERNATURAL, thank you for being you and having an amazing cast, crew and writers.

    http://newenglandgirl6.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-letter-to-supernatural.html

  17. rae says:

    I enjoy a lot of the different supporting characters — Bobby, Cas, Death, Bella, Crowley, even Garth — but I’ve really been taken by their relationship with Charlie. (I also enjoy that so many of her episodes are off-beat, and full of schtick. Going full Braveheart at the end of LARP and the Real Girl, for instance. “Isn’t that the speech from –” “It’s the only one he knows.”)

  18. sheila says:

    hahahahaha AND then his Braveheart speech gets interrupted!! It’s the perfect comedic button to that entire moment.

    Charlie is awesome. And I wept during the episode about her mother. That one really got me.

    • sheila says:

      and Garth is great. It’s great when characters who operate differently than Sam and Dean do come into their little world – otherwise the whole thing would get too rote. We need to see adjustment, growth – Garth is great for that!!

      And Crowley is BRILLIANT. How much FUN is Mark Sheppard having with that part. Wow. Great gig.

  19. rae says:

    I like your description of the Garth dynamic; I hope they haven’t given up on him, since we haven’t seen him in a while.

    Mark Sheppard really has done wonderful things with Crowley. I always get a little thrill when he shows up. You don’t know if he’s going to pretend to be good for a bit or immediately swindle them, but you know it’ll be engaging! He gets a lot of great sassy one-liners, too.

    I also really enjoyed Lucifer. And right after that arc, it felt like Mark Pellegrino was showing up everywhere. (Or maybe he was in a bunch of stuff before that, and I didn’t see it / notice it until after seeing him in Supernatural.)

  20. Helena says:

    Hi Sheila

    As always, your breakdowns of schtick are a joy to read, and I enjoyed revisiting the Elvis and Grant scenes (watched The Awful Truth with friends over Christmas and the said scene went down very well, as did the whole film, which is only right and proper). Somewhere in the universe there’s a DVD of great scenes of attractive actors falling acrobatically over tables with your commentary track on it, and I will be buying it.

    So, I, erm, bought season 1 of Supernatural thanks to your article and somehow a whole day disappeared as I watched the entire thing. I’ve never watched Buffy (the ur-text for this kind of thing?) but was able to enjoy Supernatural, or ‘Buff’ as I’m calling it in my head now, mainly for its central characters’ schtick, so well delineated by you, and which kind of earns them the kind of emotional investment that the bigger story arc might not do on its own.

    Anyway, some random thoughts on season 1.

    1) The height difference between the brothers is just genius – what a way to encapsulate so much of the dynamic in that relationship. Sam kind of looms over Dean – but Dean sometimes just doesn’t (or won’t) see what’s staring him in the face, ie Sam’s adulthood and maturity. And Sam can literally look down at his older brother ie he’s able to separate himself from the family unit and see outwards.

    2) The dad so reminds me of Javier Bardem. This is a good thing.

    3) Collecting funny moments? Phantom traveller. Sam teases Dean about his homemade EMF thingie. Sam cannot conceive of a universe where a homemade EMF thingie would be the object of fun. He is proud of that thingie. The teasing rolls right over his head, creating ripples of sheer incomprehension over his face at Sam’s line of questioning. The ripples are a delight to watch.

    A few more seasons are on their way. Thanks, Sheila!

    • sheila says:

      Helena – I am so psyched that you started watching based on my writing. Yay!

      Your observations are awesome. The height difference – yes! Even funnier when you consider that Jensen Ackles is 6 foot 1 – so Jared Padalecki is even more gigantic!! Makes Jensen, who is already quite tall, look “minz”, as my friend Caitlin would say. Hilarious. The “little” brother isn’t little at all, he’s a giant.

      Love your observation about the “ripples”. So much of the comedy in this show have to do with glances, double-takes, silent reactions – almost impossible to “capture” in a screen grab. Because it’s the CHANGE in expression that is funny – going from comfort to incredulity, or from being okay to being totally not okay, like: “wait … is he making fun of me?”

      Both actors are SO good at that kind of internal listening thing. Many of the things that make me roar with this show are these silent moments. I totally know what you are talking about with the EMF moment. ha!

      There’s a moment in one of the Season 1 episodes – where they’re at a bar – Dean is busy picking up two women at the same time, and Sam is busy studying Dad’s journal. Dean says he wants to take the night off. Sam keeps babbling about clues and demons. Dean makes a pretense of listening but then gets distracted by another girl going by. Sam is saying stuff like, “there are no fingerprints, no trace of a creature, nothing -” Then he notices Dean’s wandering eye, stops mid-sentence – or, no, he stops mid-word which is an even funnier choice – says his brother’s name sharply – to snap Dean back into reality. Dean turns back, and then Sam picks up right where he left off.

      It took me a whole paragraph to describe a moment that takes place in less than a second – but it’s so funny to me, and so siblings-ish. It’s so real. Also amazing when you consider that this is season 1. These guys as actors had obviously clicked, but they didn’t know each other THAT well yet, not like they do now. But they just totally latched onto those roles as if they were born to it.

      They’re so much fun to watch together.

      Thank you for joining in – I’m psyched!!

    • sheila says:

      // Somewhere in the universe there’s a DVD of great scenes of attractive actors falling acrobatically over tables with your commentary track on it, and I will be buying it. //

      I seriously need that DVD to exist.

  21. Helena says:

    No worries. I feel a bit late to the party, so thanks for the welcome. This is really fun, though, reminds me of the epic Dogfight discussion.

    Gosh. Six foot 1. He looks an utter TITCH compared to Jared Padelecki. There’s even a gag reel with Dean having his photo by the police, holding a sign in front of whatever those Usual Suspects height measuring things are called. Height as 6′ 1 – I didn’t believe it. (In one of surreptitiously filmed clips on youtube a fan asks Ackles what it’s like to be known as The Short One. He replies he doesn’t mind as he’s quite tall, really. I didn’t believe that, either.)

    Can I also say:

    1) The motel rooms. Are. Ace. They must have had so much fun putting all This Week’s Motel together. But the guys never bat an eye, no matter what kind of weird stuff is decorating the room.

    2) Libraries, Sheila! The series is a paean to local libraries and archives. Where would the guys BE without the Friendly Local Librarian/archivist with an interest in local crime. Plus, access to a digitised local newspaper collections. (PS. I want one of those mini-printer thingies like Dean has.)

    3) Happy New Year!!

    • sheila says:

      Oh my God, I know the motel rooms!! You are so right – the production design team must have a ball: “Okay, what weird place are we gonna put them this week?”

      and the whole Library aspect is so so pleasing to me – as a librarian’s daughter!! My dad was an archivist and part of his job as the university librarian was to digitize all of these journals and local papers so they would be easily archived and find-able. A gigantic project.

      And I love that yes, the brothers have laptops and can Google stuff – but there is nothing like a local library.

      My nerd book-self thrills to those library scenes.

      And in terms of character: I love that it’s sort of set up that Sam is the researcher – but it’s never ever suggested that Dean is dumb. Both guys are smart. It would have been so easy (and cliche) to make one brother the Brains and the other one Brawn. But they BOTH have BOTH. It makes for complexity. Like, the fist fight they have in the pilot in the scene where Dean breaks into Sam’s house – we’re just meeting both of them for the first time together and they are freakin’ NINJAS when they fight.

  22. Helena says:

    OK

    4) Last episode but one. The family are trying to prevent another Mom Burning on the Ceiling. Dean goes into a hospital for info. Eyeballed by a pretty receptionist. She asks, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ And he replies, fervently, after every possible which way in which he imagines the young lady could help him right now has already flashed across his face in a split second, ‘Oh god, yes.’ And continues, looking down, ‘But I’m working right now.’ There’s such a nakedly yearning look in his eyes, you finally see him for what he is, a very young, hard-pressed man nearing the end of his tether. It offers a new insight into 20 odd episodes worth of this character’s hilarious chat-up lines and flirtations.

    Again, a paragraph versus a split second.

    • sheila says:

      I know just the moment you mean. And that is all Ackles – nobody’s directing him to add all of those layers. He’s doing that naturally – he’s a very smart actor. TINY moment like that but he uses it to add layers and complexity. And humor!

    • Helena says:

      //My dad was an archivist and part of his job as the university librarian was to digitize all of these journals and local papers so they would be easily archived and find-able. //
      So Supernatural would be like a culmination of your father’s work, and a validation of archivists and librarians everywhere. That’s brilliant. I love that you get library thrills from the show.

      //It would have been so easy (and cliche) to make one brother the Brains and the other one Brawn. But they BOTH have BOTH. //

      And how interesting that is. There’s a moment where Sam says corporeal, and Dean goes, ‘whoah professor’ and you think it’s because Dean doesn’t know what the word means. But he does. He just wouldn’t use it himself, whereas it comes naturally to Sam. Very neat writing. And Sam is no wuss in the gun-wielding, ninja fighting stakes either. It’s cool the brothers have common areas of smartness and weaknesses which get revealed and unpicked throughout the series, and that conflicts come not from how different they are but how similar.

      A little disappointed that the grief-counselling priests did not get their own spin off series, though.

      • sheila says:

        How about Dean shoveling the mini hot dogs into his mouth at the freakin’ wake at the house, wearing his priest outfit?

        Sam: “Could you tone it down please? …. Father?”

        There should be a whole post about Dean eating. As well as sleeping. I have a whole thing about what Ackles does with Dean and sleep – and I should probably just nerd out and write the damn thing.

        • Lauren says:

          You are a genius…this whole post is genius. It put into (beautifully expressed) words all of the thoughts I’ve had about Supernatural since I started watching at Christmas and mainlined the first four seasons in a little over a week.

          I couldn’t agree more with your analysis of the show’s main characters and the way they’re treated, and particularly with your assessment of Jensen Ackles. Outrageously attractive? Undoubtedly. But it’s his acting that keeps me hooked – the effortless gestures, the glances, the tiniest movements in everything from from his comedy schtick to the darkest moments. The complete commitment he shows is just magical and I could watch him all day (and literally am doing right now, thanks to Netflix!)

          Oh, and I actually found this post when googling something about JA acting while eating, which seems to happen ridiculously often, is always incredibly funny and, of course, is why I’m replying here.

          Thanks so much for sharing this with the world!

          L

          • sheila says:

            L – you are most welcome! This was my first piece about Supernatural, and it is one of those rare posts that travels really far – I’m not sure why – but so many people have found this site through that post, and I’m really happy I wrote it.

            I’ve written a lot more about Supernatural – if you click the Impala button over on the right. I don’t do current season re-caps because that doesn’t interest me at all – but I have been doing re-caps of the series back in Season 1 and Season 2. Feel free to check those out too.

            Thanks again!

  23. Helena says:

    Goodness, Sheila, that was quick!

    //I have a whole thing about what Ackles does with Dean and sleep – and I should probably just nerd out and write the damn thing.//

    Oh god, yes. Please do.

    On eating. I don’t know if you have seen many films with Tony Leung in, apart from In the Mood for Love, but the way that man eats on film is always a masterclass in character development. It’s like directors just have to get in him in a scene with a bowl of soup or noodles in his hands. He does angry eating, sad eating, happy eating, thoughtful eating, shy eating, and it always tells you something about what the character is feeling that you weren’t aware of, or suspected but which hadn’t been revealed until now. So I would look forward very much you writing on eating and sleeping. It’s a kind of schtick after all. So, please, do it.

    The Supernatural Cookery book. Rather a thin volume, I fear. I do worry for their digestions.

    by the way, when you first put the JA wallpaper up, I thought it was Alain Delon form Le Samourai. But there’s no way Delon would countenance that tie.

    • sheila says:

      I love Tony Leung but I can’t think off the top of my head of an eating scene. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled. He is such a good actor.

      And for obvious reasons directors often avoid eating scenes because they’re messy and who wants to see Julia Roberts with marinara sauce on her chin? But eating is this human thing and I love it when films/TV deal with it. Blue Is the Warmest Color has so many eating scenes in it – slurping down oysters, chowing on spaghetti, devouring a subway sandwich … You just don’t see that kind of reality in most films who still want to protect their actors from looking, well, undignified.

      There’s a whole plot in a later season of Supernatural that has to do with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – one being Famine. Each “horseman” is played by a different actor – amazing. And there is a whole Famine episode, having to do with hunger – and Dean is the only one not affected by the Famine – which is FASCINATING. It really delves deep into Dean’s hunger – and how Dean’s relationship to his own hunger (for anything biological: sex, sleep, food) is uncomplicated. He doesn’t make these needs neurotic. He eats like a freakin’ banshee – and from the beginning Ackles was totally brave and hilarious about digging his whole mouth around a cheeseburger – IN CLOSE UP. He does not give a shit. He also knows that this is a character thing. But while everyone else around him is falling victim to various kinds of hunger, he remains impervious. He almost feels left out, like something is wrong with him.

      It’s a great episode – and really pulls together all of the observations about Dean (sleeping, eating, having sex) that the series had been working up to for three or four season. Great arc.

      Dean’s life is very rough and he takes comfort in an uncomplicated way. It’s not that he feels he “deserves” it but he knows he’s better when he’s rested, well-fed, and … well-fucked, basically. So he goes out and does what he needs to do.

      But that then becomes an issue for him in the Famine episode – he feels like something may be “missing” in him – that he is so broken and dead inside that he is un-touched by Hunger – for anything, ever.

      Kind of amazing.

      • sheila says:

        In contrast: Sam has always had problems with sleeping. That is set up in the first season. And it’s a running theme. Sam is restless, has nightmares, and in one brutal season he doesn’t sleep for months. Whereas no matter what happens to Dean, he falls into bed and is asleep by the time his head hits the pillow. There are so many scenes of Dean LOST in sleep – as Sam lies in the next bed (in one of those god-awful motel rooms) – eyes open and worried.

        Dean does not worry about biological needs. He accepts them. He deals with monsters and vampires and danger and yet is never so worked up and freaked out that his entire body language doesn’t change when he sees a piece of pie. I love that.

  24. Helena says:

    Hey, thanks for these thoughts.

    //yet is never so worked up and freaked out that his entire body language doesn’t change when he sees a piece of pie.//

    Dean = a killing combination of Beowulf and Scooby Doo.

    It looks like I have a lot to look forward to in future series. Can’t wait! Though god knows how I’m going to get any work done.

  25. Helena says:

    BTW I think this is what I really respond to in your writing in this kind of territory. Lots of people can bring up moments or fetishise characters, but you really break ideas down and turn them into a conversation. I feel a bit limited as I’ve only seen Series 1, though. Though somehow everything you say about sleep/basic appetites/comfort is already there. And so many of the weekly ‘folkloric’ monsters in Series one arise from perversion of these basic appetites, particularly lust/love or physical hunger, or are triggered by them.

    • sheila says:

      Helena – thank you so much! I really enjoy doing it – and human behavior is just so interesting, the “tells” in people that shows you what the hell is really going on. Good actors are so good at doing that without being obvious – and it’s really fun to put it all under a microscope.

      and you’re right: hunger is key to the series, in that larger metaphoric way – ghosts hungering to make things right or wreak revenge – so the fact that Food factors so highly as an ongoing comedic gag with the brothers, and Dean’s voracious appetite in general – is a really interesting way to put that theme into action, without having to underline it.

      There’s one entire season where Dean is drunk – or at least buzzed – pretty much throughout the day. Sipping at a flask at 8 in the morning. Strong stuff, whiskey. Sam mentions it but Dean is forbidding in response – get off my back. And it’s not turned into a Very Special Episode of Supernatural – it’s barely dealt with. But he’s an alcoholic. You can see him almost CHOOSE to go down that path. It’s his way of dealing with grief and trauma, and it’s upsetting to see – but it totally makes sense. Hunger run amok in this man who is so good normally at keeping himself on a very short leash and dealing with his hunger for various things in up-front ways that don’t destroy him.

      Sam also has problems with hunger – and all of that is delved into in detail in other seasons – and the show explores why he is more prone to temptation, and why he is susceptible in ways that Dean is not.

  26. Helena says:

    Issues of physical hunger and appetite – sticking my head above the parapet, these are often regarded as ‘female’ ‘problems’ centering around … well, you name it. Interesting for it to be played out between two blokes.

    Like I said, can’t wait.

    And if you ever care to write about more The Warrior, Hurt Locker aside, I’d be very interested in your thoughts.

    • sheila says:

      I’ve always wanted to do a compare and contrast between Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker and John Wayne in The Searchers – so of course I had to weave it in here. The loneliness of the warrior – who protects society while remaining outside of it – and there’s a line that is crossed in them where they could not re-enter if they tried. You see that with veterans all the time, PTSD and the like. Jeremy Renner being baffled by how to choose a cereal for his wife … this is a guy who can take apart a bomb under life or death circumstances but he is frozen in his spot in that grocery store. I know a lot of veterans really really loved that scene. “Yes. That is what it feels like.”

      • sheila says:

        and, indeed! “Hunger” is usually a female thing – and it obviously has a sexual connotation as well. Mouths, euphemisms for mouths, whatevs. The fear men have on a subconscious level of being like that, being like a woman – it’s so foreign, so “other” – and yet of course they want “in” there as well. Supernatural, like I said, is so much ABOUT that fear – with its focus on consent, and penetration (on a soul level, really – having a spirit take you over, be inside of you) – and it’s all totes deep and a lot of fun.

  27. Helena says:

    //and it’s all totes deep and a lot of fun.//

    Amen to that.

  28. Helena says:

    Seasons 2-4 have arrived – am riveted.

  29. elina says:

    Awesome, awesome, AWESOME post! I’m a huge fan of SPN and Dean and I think I’ll be watching SPN with a whole new look from now on. The objectifying and Sam being more demanding than Dean in the bedroom are very, very interesting points. Off to rewatch the whole of the series!

  30. Cat says:

    Sheila,

    I stumbled upon your reviews when I was googling some information about Jensen Ackles. I am a newbie to Supernatural and mainlined it over the past few months.

    Your discussions of his acting fill me with joy. I am practically evangelical about his acting and I feel so sad that I am only now discovering how massively talented he really is. I was so impressed with his work as Dean that I needed to know if it was just one of those “born” for the role kind of things so I went back and watched his work in Dark Angel and Smallville and found him just as good there and he created whole characters that I could easily distinguish from Dean Winchester. His role as Alec in Dark Angel is sublime and he was all of 22 or 23 I think at the time.

    He embues every character with something unique and I never saw much of Alec in Dean or Dean in Alec. Occasionally, the comedic moments are similar or rather I can see the DNA of Dean in Alec in those moments but they are clearly separate characters.

    In short, I just want to say that you have given voice much more articulately than I could hope to about Ackles skills. I think he is on par with the Bryan Cranstons of the world. Yes, I do mean that 100%.

    So anyway, I look forward to reading more or your commentary and analysis.

    • sheila says:

      Cat – thank you so much! Yes, he is a superb actor – he has it all – he’s one of the best things going right now. It’s amazing that there isn’t more serious analysis out there about what he is actually DOING on this show and how GOOD he is.

      I’ve been doing re-caps of Season 1 – please join us there – we’ve been having some really fun discussions.

      You can click on this tag to find the rest of the posts about Supernatural.

      http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?tag=supernatural

      Thanks again for reading!

      • sheila says:

        and yes, nothing he has done up to this point ever “suggests” Dean – he’s done different kinds of characters but nothing like this one. This is the role of a lifetime and he knows it. Smart man. As i said in this post – it’s the comedy that he is allowed to set free here. What other show would give him the opportunity to be THIS funny?? He’s a CLOWN, almost – in the way Cary Grant was a clown. If he were on some HBO series, it might be great – but would he be allowed to set that Schtick free like he is here? A lesser actor would have left the show – looking for a network with a wider audience – bigger fame – and he would have been lost in the shuffle. Here, he SHINES. Like a supernova.

  31. Grant says:

    This was such a breath of fresh air. I have been a fan of the show for two years now and have hunted for anything this intuitive about a very overlooked and underrated show. I want to thank you for a serious discussion on Jensen’s acting and how much he has brought Dean to life. So easy to see this character as two dimensional in less deft hands. I’m no good at writing or analysis so nothing to add but my thanks.

    • sheila says:

      Grant –

      Thank you so much for reading and thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad you found it a breath of fresh air. That makes me feel good.

      This guy is one of the best things going now, acting-wise, and it’s fun to break down why.

      Thanks again!

  32. Willow says:

    Sheila–

    I somehow managed to stumble on a link to this article and I am *so* glad that I did! If it wasn’t 3 a.m., I’d be reading all of the above comments thoroughly before leaving my own. As it is, I’ll have to bookmark it for later. I thought that my husband and I were the only geeks to sit around discussing TV in this manner. You should hear some of the lengthy discussions we’ve had about the Whedonverse. But, Supernatural has reached a level of obsession that I’ve never seen from him! In fact, he fell asleep watching Season 4 on DVD again.

    Anyway, I love your analysis of Jensen Ackles as an actor as well as the character of Dean Winchester. Though, I disagree with you somewhat on your assessment of Jared Padalecki. He has definitely improved over the years, but I do not think he is as strong of an actor as Jensen. Of course, he may also have been hampered by playing what I believe is the weaker character of the two leads. I personally prefer the Dean-Castiel relationship. Though, it occurs to me just now that Dean seems to always be playing the part of the father to everyone–since he was 4 years old. That is part of the reason why I get that feeling of being punched in the gut whenever Dean has a chance to be happy and it gets ripped away again. I still cry when I watch his interactions with Jo as she died. And don’t even get me started with Lisa & Ben!

    Kudos to the writers for recognizing the talents of their actors and rising to the challenge.

    • sheila says:

      Willow – thank you so much for reading and your wonderful comment!! I love the image of your husband falling asleep to Season 4 – funny!

      Dean and his “schtick” (the funny stuff) is why I fell in love with the show – which is why it was the first thing I wrote about it. I thought, “Wow. This guy is GOOD.” Pretty much anyone can be compelling in a close-up if they relax – but not just anyone can do what he does comedically – he is GIFTED. He has a real feel for it.

      I love all the emotional stuff, too. I also love how this is clearly a “character” – it’s not even the actor’s real voice. This is a person he has created. Very very talented actor.

      I’m in the process of doing re-caps if you’d like to join in. I’m only in Season 1, so it’s YEARS behind schedule – but I just got into the show recently and it’s been fun to go back and watch the early episodes.

      http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?tag=supernatural

      Speaking of Whedon:

      Have you seen Whedon’s Much Ado about Nothing? It was one of my favorite films of last year. I reviewed it here: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/much-ado-about-nothing-2013

      Loved it!!

      Thanks again for commenting! I really appreciate it!

  33. Melz says:

    You totally nailed it.

    I’m no ‘fan-girl’, by any means; in fact, I just started binge watching the show last month because I had nothing else to keep me occupied while waiting impatiently for the next season of ‘Orange is the New Black’ to start.

    :P

    The funny thing is, when I blog or comment in forums, as I have for the past 5 years or so, I have often used animated gifs of Jensen Ackles to express my reactions to the commentary of others.

    Because even without being familiar with the show, or having a tendency to swoon over his impossible ‘Ken doll’ good looks, it’s undeniable that the actor is immensely talented; to use an old phrase, “he gives good face.”

    (I just wish whoever is in charge of costumes and makeup would stop putting so much damn bronzer on it, these days; it’s really distracting.)

    >_<

    Thanks for a well written analysis; it was a joy to read.

    • They keep covering his frackles!! I hate it. And Jensen does too lol. He says the way he washes Dean away at the end of the day is to take off all the makeup and hair product.

  34. sheila says:

    Thanks so much for reading and the kind words!

    Analysis like this is what I’m all about – when I can take the time to really drill down into something I admire. He does “give good face”. So expressive. Always alive, thinking, reacting, conversing to himself, double-taking … He’s a riveting actor.

    I’m glad you enjoyed.

  35. Melz says:

    You’re welcome.

    ‘Good face’, but really bad makeup.

    :)

  36. This entire article was amazing. I’m totally going in for your recaps of s1. For me there’s a certain magic to S1 that let’s me watch it over and over and over again.

    You hit on so many awesome points about why SPN,and JA in particular, is so riveting. I can’t wait to read all your other articles. I’m a huge Elvis girl too. Fangirling over your site will be my new timesuck. Lol.

  37. sheila says:

    Taryn – Hello! And welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed. This piece about JA is getting a lot of play – and I’m happy about it. He’s one of the best things going right now. Such a fine actor.

    Love to fangirl as well. And go, Elvis!! :)

    I’m a bit behind in the re-caps (well, besides the fact that I am re-capping Season 1 as we are going into Season 10 – ha) – but it’s been so much fun to do, and the conversations we all have been having have been fascinating!!

    Thanks for commenting!

  38. Yes, I tripped over your link in TUMBLR post and had to read. I love to delve into the innerworkings of a show, but you’re right….leaving the actor’s personal lives out of it is smart. So that makes this article even more amazing to me. Because let’s be honest…it’s easy to go all swoony over JA. He ain’t hard on the eyes. And when I obsess on a show or a band, it tends to flow on into the actor or musician’s personal life for me too. But it’s important to remember it’s a part they play. Dissolving that line of reality vs fantasy is an easy trip into crazy town. I see it in the fandom A LOT. With the savage loyalty they have to show tipping into hey…you are not entitled to know everything about the actor’s private lives. Back off a little there, tiger.

    And to be honest, I kinda like that JA is a bit stadoffish and private. Then the focus remains on his art. Because wow, Dean Winchester is truly an amazing character. And now that the season is over and we got a peek at the new direction of Dean and S10? Oy. I’m ready for the ride. GIMME. 140-howmanydays?

    oh…and as for Elvis? I was born just before he died. I was raised with Elvis movies and music thanks to my mom. We would watch those movie marathons they used to do on his birthday and anniv of his death.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, I think JA is playing it very smart. I actually don’t want to know that much about him. What is most interesting about him is his work. That is usually true. I’m sure he’s fascinating to his friends and his wife and whatever, but I don’t care about that. ALL of us are fascinating to our friends and loved ones and whatever. He’s no more interesting than anyone else – his WORK is what matters.

      I like it when he talks about acting and his process – and that doesn’t happen often. Most of the questions he gets are along the lines of “What did Dean feel at such and such a moment?” It’s part of being a star, I get it. But it bores me. I don’t want an actor to tell me how his character felt – if he’s a good actor I can SEE it on the screen. But when we get a glimpse of his process – I get so excited!!

      Part of the reason I started writing about all of this (and why I write about any of the things I write about) is I want to talk about things the way I want to talk about it. Ha. Bossypants Sheila. But it’s awesome because then people come out of the woodwork who want to talk about things in the same way and it’s a beautiful thing!!

      That was what happened with Elvis, too. Now, no one can say that Elvis is under-rated or under-appreciated – but I do think there is so much depth there to explore, beyond the obvious fascination with him and his sexiness and his stardom. Also, if I never hear another word about Elvis’ personal life, it will be too soon. So he liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches. So? So he slept with thousands of women. Big whup. hahaha It’s not that it’s not interesting, it’s just talked about so much that it DETRACTS from how awesome he is as a star. I like to look at the WORK and figure out WHY it is so good.

      That’s been the fun of Supernatural for me!

      So much to discuss!

      Glad you’re here!

  39. Frackles. ALWAYS. Stop freaking airbrushing them out dammit!
    The shower scene? SWEET BLEEDING MERCY. All those freckles and starred lashes over bloodshot, weary eyes?

    #RIPTaryn

  40. Poor Elvis. To live like that…like he’s always under a microscope. No wonder he was so neurotic and starved for sleep in the end. All he wanted to do was sing. That his music was his passion. Sure he enjoyed the acting thing….but that was tainted by management asshattery. It’s always been the music. Always was the music at the heart of him. Even in the midst of the end, he never lost that amazing voice. *sigh*

    As for SPN and our dear JA….I think his privacy helps keep us focused on Dean. And I’m good with that. If I ever got to a M&G it would be to ask about the acting and the MOC storyline–which has been seriously amazing toward the end of the season. I love that after all this time Dean can scare me. That the things I thought I knew may not be so true anymore.

    You can see the joy coming back into Jensen’s acting. He’s always the consummate professional, but the MOC storyline has shown another layer of JA’s breathtaking acting.

  41. Someone on twitter sent me a link to this, saying it was “right up my alley” and wow, were they ever right! I’ve been fascinated by Supernatural ever since falling head over heels for the show back in Season 2 — even then, it was clear that the show had multiple layers and much more complexity than was expected for something on the CW, and that they had cast two actors whose chemistry and acting ability was going to take the show farther than anyone had expected. The show intrigued the psychologist part of me as much as the fangirl part of me, and took my research in an entirely new direction. I would SO love to hear your thoughts on the books my co-author and I have published on Supernatural and its fans. Or perhaps you’d consider penning a chapter if I tackle another?

    If you’re curious, our academic book focused on Supernatural fandom is “Fandom At The Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships”, our wild crazy and occasionally (okay, often…) embarrassing memoir is “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls” and our new book on the Show itself is “Fan Phenomena: Supernatural”. The first two talk quite a bit about Supernatural’s objectification of its male stars and how that fits into the transgressive nature of the fan community that’s developed around the show. We interviewed most of the cast and crew for the books, and I remember chatting with (brilliant) cinematographer Serge Ladouceur about those lingering close-ups. He said that he could light Jared and Jensen the way he would usually light a woman — and we said, no surprise there! We were also fascinated by series creator Eric Kripke’s understanding of the tropes built into the show, about masculinity and gendered expectations and about how Sam and Dean’s history subverted those — and by writer and then showrunner Sera Gamble’s eagerly shared confession that yeah, hero with a bloody lip gets her going just like it does us. No wonder the show is so fascinating!

    In “Fangasm” we own up to our own version of fascination, which sometimes has as much to do with Ackles’ freckles (or those green eyes or hey, those biceps…) than with the current story line. It was challenging to stay in academic mode when faced with an interviewee who looks like that in a tight black tee shirt, let me tell you. And then there was the time Jared started undressing… But seriously, I share your appreciation for the subtle acting and the inspired storytelling that Supernatural continues to offer up even after nine seasons. For me, it’s been a wild ride – and I’m glad it’s not over yet.

    Will you be caught up and watching Season 10?

    • sheila says:

      Lynn – Hi! Yes, I’m all caught up now. I wrote this piece – which has launched a thousand ships (ha) – during my Season 8 watching. But now I’m ready for Season 10!

      Feel free to email me – your books sound very interesting: gibsongirl @ sheilaomalley . com

  42. Forgot to add, if you’d be interested in doing a book review, let us know! I haven’t devoured the rest of your site yet, so I’m not sure if you do them.

  43. Meggin says:

    I share your appreciation of Jensen’s natural talent for physical comedy. His timing is as perfect as his face. If (god forbid) we were to loose the technology to have sound accompany film or TV, and silent films came back, Jensen with his “supernatural’ emotion/facial muscle co-ordination would still be a directors wet dream because we the viewers could still follow along with the plot just by reading the magnificently executed facial expression that man can generate! (LOL)

    And I totally agree with your psych eval of Dean Winchester. Everything stopped for him at four years old. And yet look how far that character has come even with those emotional limitations.

    I was hooked from the first episode and I’m going to see this show through till the end. For me as a a straight woman, it not only is the refreshing perspective of objectifying a beautiful male for a change but that tangled up co-dependant relationship Dean has with Sam. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve felt but was not articulate enough to express- hehe.

  44. sheila says:

    Meggin – Thanks for your comment!

    I agree that what JA is doing is often reminiscent of the best of silent film comedians. If you can say “it” (whatever it is) with a look, or a gesture, or physical behavior – it’s much better than saying “it” with language. His symphonies of thought are why he is so riveting as an actor.

    // For me as a a straight woman, it not only is the refreshing perspective of objectifying a beautiful male for a change but that tangled up co-dependant relationship Dean has with Sam. //

    Yup. And the objectification happens in a subverted way that is NOT of the Bay Watch kind. We almost never see their skin, their bodies. When we do, more often than not, I get WORRIED for Dean (I’ve written about that in other re-caps). “Put your shirt on! You’re too vulnerable!” It’s a very strange thing and I can’t think of too many male performers I feel that way about in terms of their sexuality. But I do feel that way about Dean’s … and I think that is a conscious (albeit unspoken) choice on the part of JA and the SPN team … They know exactly what they’re doing. It starts to show up pretty early in the show, once they realize what they had in him as an actor.

    Thanks again for your comment!

  45. Kim says:

    So glad the comment thread is still going considering you wrote this way back in December! It’s wonderful when someone can put your feelings into words when you’re unable to express exactly what it is you love about a character or show, and you’ve done just that. I just wanted to share one of my favorite scenes in which Jensen adds depth to a scene in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reaction. Someone had mentioned his eating habits above and this ties in wonderfully to that observation – he’s scared and stressed and yet, he’s able to convey just how amazing the slice of pizza is with the internal dialogue and quick eyebrow raise. It always makes me laugh a little which, in that scene, is the last thing you expect and it’s transcendent. Great article!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhgHjswb1cw

    • sheila says:

      Kim –

      thanks!!

      That is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series.

      And hahaha yes, the little tiny eyebrow raise. I call that “shrugging with his face” and he does it from time to time and it always brings me SUCH joy.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment. This particular piece on Ackles has been getting a lot of traffic lately and I can’t really tell where it’s coming from, who’s linking to it – but whatever the case may be, I am glad people are finding it and leaving comments.

      Thank you!!

      • sheila says:

        Another pizza moment I love is the pantomime of behavior when he takes a bite of the pizza at Plucky Pennywhistle’s. He nods like, “Mm good,” then he goes inward for a second as he realizes it is not good, and then he opens his mouth, with a look of horror, and lets the chewed-up pieces fall out. It’s so funny I laugh every time I see it.

        • sheila says:

          also: the added factor that Dean is doing all of that expressly to make the kid laugh and chill out. There’s an objective behind it too.

  46. Kim says:

    I meant to include that it happens around the 1:00 mark. Oops!

  47. Kathy says:

    Finally posting a comment – found you and can’t leave! So happy to see your fascinating perspective on one of my favorite shows, am now moving through the re-caps with you. Such a wonderful review of the show from a film expertise that I don’t have. And I am now sharing your blog posts with all of the friends & family who think I’m crazy for being such a fan of a show on the CW – so hard to explain… not just the pretties, this show is really GOOD. I constantly remind folks this show started on the WB, like Buffy, hoping to make it better. Yes, JA is gorgeous but man can that guy act – everything he so carefully thought out and shows up on his face and body, no words necessary.

    • sheila says:

      Kathy – welcome!! Glad you found me and hope you join the discussion in the re-caps!

      I know it will be a challenge to be talking about Season 2 as Season 10 starts – but actually, that’s part of the fun of it for me. It’s fun to go back and watch early seasons at the same time the new seasons air. Hopefully we all can segue back and forth. It’s good, also, to really realize how consistently good/interesting the show has been all this time.

      Rather amazing.

      And yes: JA? Movie star. The real deal. Major chops.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  48. Lythea says:

    I’ve so been enjoying reading your essay, and now these conversations in the comments. I just discovered Supernatural this spring, and did the crazy binge watching thing in two months, and I’ve spent a perhaps slightly horrifying percentage of my free time since then reading and learning about the past nine years of the show.

    I had to comment because while I truly do respect your decision to focus on the work, I’ve learned such marvelous things by broadening my focus a bit. Such as in at least one scene Jensen had actually just fallen asleep for real, and what we see on camera is his reaction to being woken up by Jared. God help me, I don’t know why these things fascinate me so much, but they do.

    • Lythea says:

      And this ended up way at the bottom, so it’s not clear now that this was in response to:

      “There should be a whole post about Dean eating. As well as sleeping. I have a whole thing about what Ackles does with Dean and sleep – and I should probably just nerd out and write the damn thing.”

      • sheila says:

        Lythea – thanks for your comment!

        Yeah, the threading function doesn’t work on my site for some reason I have been unable to ascertain. Thanks for working with it.

        // I’ve spent a perhaps slightly horrifying percentage of my free time since then reading and learning about the past nine years of the show. //

        “slightly horrifying” Ha! The show does have a strange power to do that to people.

        It’s my own personal preference to not get bogged down in backstage stories. Many of them are very entertaining. But it’s good, critically, to forget about all that and focus on what’s on the screen. I’ve had emails from people who beg me to watch a 1-hour clip from this or that convention because they are convinced it reveals something interesting – but no, that’s just not my thing.

        A lot of the fan writing about the show is too focused on the real-life guys (for my taste, anyway. I am only speaking for myself.) The fact that the two actors are pranksters in real-life, for example, is funny and charming – and is also indicative of the chemistry that they bring to their roles. The fact that the two actors are so close has a lot to do with how great they are onscreen together.

        But I choose to maintain my critical distance from all that real-life stuff. That stuff just doesn’t inspire me as much as the actual work does (that’s true for me, anyway. Other fans can do what they like, obviously.)

        Thanks again for reading and commenting!! I really appreciate it!

  49. zkch says:

    Hi
    I am waaaaayyyy too late to be commenting on this (and you probably won’t read this comment) but someone tweeted a link to this just now and this is the first time I’ve read it. Interesting piece of writing and comments (which shows by the fact that I am so far down in the comments section :p ).
    I just wanted to raise a point about the Famine episode you are referring to here. I don’t think Dean wasn’t feeling any kind of hunger because he was well-fed etc. Could be, but it could also be that everyone was getting hungry for what they wanted/wished most for themselves food/money etc. When Dean was talking to Sam about his time in hell in the scene at the end of Heaven and Hell, he said “I wish I couldn’t feel anything Sammy, I wish I couldn’t feel a damn thing”. and things didn’t really improve between that episode and hunger one. In my opinion, Dean not feeling any thing in My bloody Valentine could just as easily be the fulfillment of that need/wish to not feel anything. Just saying.
    Peace out.

  50. Imke says:

    Sheila, I realize this is an old post but I found your website through this article about a year ago, and wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge in such a refreshing way. You have helped me fall asleep a few times (which is a compliment). I almost regret I’m not majoring in TV/film.

    I’ve always wanted to comment but everyone here is so thoughtful, my film knowledge doesn’t go that far. But I just started rewatching season 1 and showed this article to my mother. She loves it and it helps her in her current personal situation. Especially the part about the imbalance in the way men and women are treated (in cinema and in real life). So that’s my final push to overcome my shyness.

    I remember being blown away by Jensen Ackles when I started watching Supernatural. This article and a couple of season 1 recaps explained my gut feeling that he has something special going on. That vulnerable (I would almost call it ‘naked’) thing Dean has is endlessly intriguing. But above all I thought he was hilarious. He reminded me of Jack Sparrow. (Yeah. This is as far as my ‘movie knowledge’ goes.) Like the raised-eyebrows innocent “what?” moments, or when he is the last person in the room to ‘get’ something, or the flirty thing. Also, Dutch comedian Jeroen van Koningsbrugge came to mind. He’s great.

    Anyway, this quickly became one of my favorite websites as it combines my love for psychology/human behavior and old hobby of making silly short movies (don’t ever ask). So thank you.

    Might leave a comment on the SPN recaps here and there. Can’t wait to read your stuff during the daytime for a change.

  51. Lauren says:

    //I’ve written a lot more about Supernatural – if you click the Impala button over on the right. I don’t do current season re-caps because that doesn’t interest me at all – but I have been doing re-caps of the series back in Season 1 and Season 2. Feel free to check those out too. //

    Way ahead of you – moved straight on to your episode re-caps and ended up more excited to read your posts than I was to keep watching episodes (and man, that’s saying something!)

    All of the points you make seem so intuitive, and I find myself nodding and smiling to read about the same tiny details that absolutely fascinated me when I watched. Your writing is truly beautiful, thanks again!

  52. mia says:

    Hi I just found your post and I’m a huge spn fan and I hope you do recaps of the new eps. I agree that jensen is a great actor and spn is really a great show. I loved season 1 and 2 but now I’m on season 8.

    • sheila says:

      Hi, mia! Thanks for reading!

      I have no interest in doing current episode re-caps, sorry! But I am doing lengthy early season episode re-caps, almost up to Season 3 now. They’re a lot of fun so check them out.

      But current episodes you’re on your own. :)

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