On September 13, 2005 a little show called Supernatural aired on The WB. We met brothers Sam and Dean Winchester as they dared to “pick up where [their father] left off: saving people, hunting things, the family business.” Meanwhile young bright eyed actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, known for their roles on Gilmore Girls and Days Of Our Lives, respectively, dared to bring true fright, body jolting scares, and a little sex appeal to a network that had found itself loitering in melodramatic territory ever since the loss of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
While ratings were scarce, keeping the show “on the bubble” season after season, Supernatural became one of the most beloved shows produced by the network, garnering a fan following like no other. Combining the razor sharp knowledge of Trekkies, the unabashed level of obsession of Potterheads and the years long stamina of X-Files fanatics, the “SPN Family” is an army of dedicated devotees. This army is just one of 5 key reasons why pairing new CW drama Riverdale with the lone WB survivor was the smartest choice the network has made in years.
1. The SPN Family: encouraging strength, spreading love, and stabilizing Nielsen ratings
In ten different locations across the globe from Burbank, to Jacksonville, to Rome, Supernatural conventions have taken place each year since 2007. Leads Jared, Jensen and Misha appear at all ten of them along with nearly 20 other actors who have made appearances on the show. Let that sink in for a moment. Jared, Jensen and Misha take time out of their lives (amid their filming schedules) to meet and entertain their fans. Can you think of another fandom where the level of devotion is equal between fans and idols? I cannot. This mutual respect and adoration has translated into a brass-bound community that has done nothing but incredible things since their formation. Through charity campaigns, random acts of kindness, t-shirt sales and a helpline (coming soon), the SPN Family has proven to be an unstoppable force of good.
This is all to prove the level of commitment this audience has. Supernatural ratings may be low for network standards but that doesn’t mean they aren’t stable. Since its inception, a season’s average ratings have never dipped below 2 million (There was actually a 27% increase in 2013!). Other CW shows struggle to meet Supernatural’s core audience – Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have not come close to matching SPN’s numbers. Supernatural’s core and loyal audience hasn’t wavered in 12 years and will be a great foundation for Riverdale. If Twitter buzz is any indication (and it totally is) the SPN Family is ready to welcome Archie and Co. with open arms after the Supernatural credits roll.
J-Squared Can Show These Newbies The Ropes
Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are just phenomenal, guys. For 12 seasons, not to mention a few more when they were Dean Forester and Eric Brady, these two have been pillars of the Supernatural community. They’re hilarious, supportive, interactive, and did I mention hilarious?
These traits are undoubtedly one of the reasons why the show is so beloved – so take the hint, Riverdale cast! Jared and Jensen have been working in the TV business (successfully!) for two decades (non-stop!) never wavering in momentum or excitement for their craft, or more importantly their current series. In a time where the next generation of TV actors seem entrenched in narcissism (ie. posting selfies twice daily on instagram), newcomers KJ Apa, Camila Mendes, and Lili Reinhart should take a page from “J2”’s book. Your fans/audience are what make your show possible, they are the final and most vital ingredient in allowing a show to survive.
At a convention this past year, Jared mentioned he, Jensen, and some of the cast of Riverdale had dinner in Vancouver. First of all, doesn’t that sound like a night you would LOVE to be apart of? No? Just me? Ok moving on. Second, I pray the Js imparted some wisdom on those kids. Who knows, maybe there’s a secret to how fans have fallen for them? Sorcery? Maybe. A deal with the devil? Most likely. Here’s hoping Jared and Jensen gave them coordinates of a crossroads and an incantation.
3. The Darkness
Based on the promos and early reviews, Riverdale is the child of Twin Peaks and One Tree Hill. There’s a love triangle, suspicious townsfolk, a murder and, to top it all off, the trademark dampness and steam fog of Vancouver to add an extra layer of spookiness. Adam Lambert’s cover of “Mad World” comes to mind when I envision the setting and tone of this show which subjectively would pair well with Supernatural’s “Hells Bells” tone. I truly believe Thursday night will be The CW’s strongest night (in ratings, buzz, AND story) and here’s why…
For starters, Supernatural has been on a creative high since season 9. The show experienced a dip in originality following the fifth season’s incredible conclusion of the series’ original arc. By season 8, thanks in part to the addition of The Men of Letters, Supernatural began an entirely new chapter. Secondly, both Riverdale and Supernatural have believably dark tones* and paired together offer two sides of the same sinister coin. The paranormal terrors of Supernatural alongside the real world terrors (murderous teenagers!) of Riverdale will double the true fright, body jolting scares, and a little sex appeal the Winchesters have been producing since 2005.
*I say “believably” as to separate them from Arrow, a show that feels like they’re trying to prove their darkness to audiences without any evidence – shockingly predictable deaths, black clothes, and climaxes all happening in the dead of night feel like cheap means to provide a darker tone than it’s spritely counterparts (The Flash, Supergirl, Legends).
4. Some Much Needed Balance
Since Gossip Girl’s end in 2012, The CW has lacked their signature teen drama (non genre). The WB began the trend with Dawson’s Creek, then One Tree Hill bridged the gap to The CW which brought about 90210 and finally Gossip Girl. The Carrie Diaries debuted in 2013 as a clear replacement to Gossip Girl but unfortunately missed the mark. If you ask me, The Carrie Diaries failed because the network underestimated the maturity of their teenage audience. The Carrie Diaries was far too cutesy to satisfy the lustful appetites of teens. I myself was a teenager during this low period and can say that I (we) just wanted a new Ryan Atwood/Lucas Scott/Dan Humphrey along with some love triangles, affairs, dangerous newcomers, and one overzealous quirky sidekick! But nothing…until now. Riverdale is the solution to The CW’s teen drama dry spell.
Riverdale caters to the familiar teen drama formula but its sharp writing and stellar young cast makes it a true contender in this “Golden Age” of television. Alongside Supernatural, a cult show, Riverdale has the opportunity to balance the (very likely) critical acclaim with a well founded audience, a feat The CW has never experienced before.
5. Sam & Dean Save Archie & Jughead From Barry & Oliver
Riverdale paired with any other show on The CW would have been a creative mistake. No, not a publicity mistake or a scheduling misfire, a creative one. Hear me out. If Riverdale was coupled with romantic comedies Jane The Virgin or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it would be belittled into a soapy melodrama. You can’t put an edgy new take on a comic book next to a musically inclined lunatic, it’ll just feel awkward – not to mention the casual rom-com viewer of Crazy Ex is not likely to stick around for a gritty teen drama. But what makes Supernatural the better choice over DC’s greatest heroes? Supernatural gives Riverdale some breathing room. Riverdale is a comic book adaptation but that doesn’t mean it should be aligned with The CW’s other live action counterparts. Pairing it with a show outside of the superhero “Berlantiverse” allows it to diverge from the comic book category as to not rely on the fan serving nature of comic adaptations. Supernatural gives Riverdale the time and space to be unique, to stand out, to maybe even gain the ever-lasting vitality of The Winchesters themselves!
Supernatural’s midseason premiere (The 250th episode!!) airs tonight at a new time 8/7c, followed by the series premiere of Riverdale at 9/8c. I can’t wait.