I have a confession to make. Until June of 2016, I had never seen an episode of Supernatural. From tv overload, timing, and desire issues, it was far too late to just jump in and hope to catch on, so I ignored the show. I lived without the adventures of Dean and Sam Winchester, battling ghosts, demons, and all sorts of bump in the night fiends. I am not sure what held me back from watching first runs, but it was time to jump into the deep end.
Then I discovered the program on Netflix. I began to watch and was admittedly hooked from the first episode. College boy Sam is enticed back to the family business of hunting monsters by his hard shelled brother Dean with the hook being to locate their dad. Sounds catchy enough. Not all pilots end, however, with one of the main protagonist’s girlfriend getting roasted by a demon on the ceiling.
Thus my first binge session of a serialized show began. To clarify, I have binged previously, on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and even long gone shows like Lost. This would be the first time I would binge on a show currently on the air, from the beginning. And the feat was daunting. I had just finished episode one of 240 plus. That is a lot of television to catch up on, but the first episode had intrigued me enough to give it a go.
The show developed a familiar pattern of a few shows that outlay the larger plot of trying to find dad, coupled with a few episodes of the brothers on cases, hunting all sorts of bad guys from vamps to werewolves. They would introduce central baddies and allies along the way, but for the most part the formula held. I would watch on the tv, steal away an episode during lunch at work, or while working out. Before I knew it, season one lead to season two, and then three. The good and bad guys changed, but the plot pattern stayed true. I was introduced to Cas, and Crowley, an angel and demon that could easily fill in for Abbott & Costello. Satan made his rounds, as did power tripping angels, old gods and goddesses, Death, and even God himself.
This formula is pretty classic in television for the most part and works well when you are watching the show once a week with a few seasonal hiatus mixed in. What gets tough with binging is that it is all at once, there is no break from the neurosis of the brothers Winchester. Dean trusts Sam, gets betrayed, betrays Sam, rinse, repeat. The angst is heavy and when it pops up every few episodes, it is no big deal because you, the viewer, haven’t had to deal with all of the feels in a month. When you are watching it back to back however, it is always in your face. Also, the general monster of the week shows get monotonous as well because you want the big plot to develop faster.
At the end of the day, the binge experiment made me love Supernatural. I watched 10 seasons in a little more than 6 weeks. I had to wait a lifetime to complete season 11 as Netflix is lamentably slow on bringing the last season to streaming, but that season was consumed in a matter of a week. The main benefit that I will say that I gained from this experience is that everything about the show is fresh in my memory. When the duo reference an obscure subplot from season 6, normally one would have to scourge the interwebs to recall what the hell they are talking about. Not this guy, I simply chuckle and say “Oh yeah!”. In addition, it is like living with your kids, you don’t even notice them aging until you go look at baby pictures. Ackles and Padilicki are ageless at this point for me.
If you too are thinking of escaping in a long standing, episodic series, I encourage you to take the plunge. It is fulfilling to catch up on a show, especially if it clicks with you. I do have one suggestion however; wait until the winter hiatus season to begin. Too much tv can make your head explode. And one last thing, pie makes a great snack while binging! Enjoy!