Supernatural Gets Wayward – What’s Special About Wayward Sisters

 

One week from today, my favorite show will return from its winter hiatus, and I can’t wait. This return will be extra special, because of two things. One, it’s on my birthday – I suppose that’s only special to me, but it feels extra special because of the other thing. That other thing is the return episode will also be the “backdoor pilot” for a possible spin-off for Supernatural – Wayward Sisters.

What’s so special about that? The show has tried a backdoor pilot before, with the Bloodlines episode back in Season 9. That was a pretty spectacular failure – I adore this show, and I must confess even I didn’t like it. Largely because it didn’t feel like a Supernatural episode at all. There were no established characters who would transition to the new show, and the new characters seemed like they’d be more at home on Dynasty than on Supernatural. I couldn’t imagine Sam and Dean ever making a guest appearance – in fact, I was pretty sure they were secretly rolling their eyes at some of the newly introduced characters.

To the show’s credit, the overwhelming NO response to Bloodlines didn’t sour them on considering a spin-off. And they’ve learned from their mistakes. Wayward Sisters is different in a number of ways. First, it stars characters who are already established on Supernatural, and who fans already know and like (not every character is liked by every fan of course, but you can pretty much say that about any fictional character ever – there’s no such thing as unanimous liking and that’s okay). Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) has been a recurring character for some time, as has Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster) – both are fan favorites on the show and the actors are fan favorites on the Supernatural convention circuit too.

Also in the cast are Claire (Kathryn Newton) and Alex (Katherine Ramdeen), both of whom have been in multiple episodes of the show. In Season 13, we were introduced to Patience (Clark Backo) and Kaia (Yadira Guevara Prip), rounding out the cast. Instead of a bunch of characters we don’t know at all, this attempt at a spin-off utilizes characters who are already familiar to us as part of the Supernatural universe. That should make a big difference.

 

That’s not what makes Wayward Sisters special, though. Instead it’s the way the spinoff came about and the striking evolution that the composition of the show represents. Wayward Sisters, unlike its inspiration, Supernatural, is a cast of women. Don’t get me wrong, I think Supernatural has given us some amazing female characters over the years – the women of Wayward are some of them, but there are many more. The show was roundly criticized in its early days for the rarity of any episode passing the Bechdel test and for its use of the ‘fridging women’ trope to serve as inspiration for its tortured heroes. There has been evolution over the course of 13 years, in terms of cast and more slowly in terms of female writers and directors, but this is a leap forward, not a step. If the pilot flies, this is a show about women that, according to its cast, is committed not only to being told through the perspective of women, but to diversity of many kinds. That’s a lot of evolution for a little show on the CW.

That evolution is one of the unique things, but it’s not the only one. The other unique, maybe even unprecedented, thing about Wayward Sisters is the way it came to be. The idea for Bloodlines came from the usual places – producers, studio, network, showrunners, writers room. The idea for Wayward Sisters came from the fandom. And that really doesn’t happen. Fandom has all sorts of fabulous ideas, as anyone who’s been in a vibrant creative brilliant fandom like the Supernatural fandom knows. But those ideas don’t get heard, and even if they do, they certainly don’t get taken seriously to become reality! As Kim and Briana are fond of saying onstage at Supernatural conventions, “YOU. You did this.” And you know what? We did. And that’s pretty extraordinary.

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A Holiday Message from Family Don’t End With Blood

 

In this holiday season, we wanted to take a moment to wish you peace. It’s the thing we hoped for when we wrote Family Don’t End With Blood – that everyone who reads it will realize that you truly are not alone, and find the peace that comes with that validation. Not that we don’t all feel alone sometimes, because we do – but that’s the point.  The actors who play our favorite characters on our favorite show (that would be Supernatural for anyone new here…) opened up when they wrote this book and shared very personal things about themselves, including their most difficult challenges and struggles, because that is the only way for us to not feel alone. We need to know that others have stood in our shoes and faced similar difficulties in order to feel validated. If those others are Jared and Jensen and Misha, or Kim and Briana and Ruth and Rachel, or Matt, Mark, Rob, Gil, Jim and Osric – then that validation is powerful in a different way than what we usually get. We all, both actors and fans, have struggled with anxiety and depression and that persistent fear of not being good enough. We all need to find acceptance and feel like we belong and have felt like we didn’t. The cast and the fans who shared their stories have all been there, and shared that with great courage – so we hope that when you read FDEWB, you can feel it.

I thought I’d share a few of the things that Jared, Jensen and Misha wrote for anyone who needs a reminder today of what this SPNFamily is all about (and why we have the Best. Cast. Ever. And the best fandom too!)

In his chapter, Jared opens up and tells the intensely personal story of his struggle with anxiety and depression – and how the Supernatural fandom taught him what he needed to know to keep fighting:

The fandom has taught me to Always Keep Fighting. More often than not, the fight sucks. But I guess what’s why it’s a fight. The fandom has helped me realize that there will be a brighter day on the horizon. It may be further off than you’d hope, but it’s there, and if you believe that and commit to fighting through hardships, you will find that peace.

As Misha says in his chapter:

Not everyone has a supportive family around them to help get you through the hard times. But luckily, in this SPNFamily, you may have landed in a supportive and loving community – a community that has your back.

That’s also why FDEWB benefits Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse – because we are a community, and we do have each other’s backs.

Jensen puts it this way in his chapter:

You see, we’re not strangers anymore. You’re not strange to me. Of course we’re all a LITTLE strange – and we take the little bit of strange in each of us and mix those little bits all up together, all of us, and that’s why we love the relationship we have. You’re family.

That pretty much sums up what we wanted to say to the Supernatural fandom. We hope that every time you read Family Don’t End With Blood, you remember just how true that is and it brings you some peace and joy.

Happy holidays from all of us, and we look forward to seeing and hearing from all of you in 2018!

–Lynn

 

Where To Find It – All Our Books on Supernatural and More!

Wondering where you can find Family Don’t End With Blood and our other Supernatural books? Here’s all the information you need and links to order!

Family Don’t End With Blood – the only book actually written by the Supernatural actors. Jared, Jensen, Misha, Kim, Briana, Ruth, Rachel, Mark, Matt, Rob, Osric, Jim and Gil and a dozen Supernatural fans all share their very personal stories of how being on Supernatural and part of the SPNFamily has changed their lives. We love hearing that reading this book has inspired others to keep fighting too – and every purchase benefits Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse to help make a difference! Click Here to Order!

Already a part of the FDEWB family? There’s merch too! Featuring the beautiful cover design by talented artist Cris Griffin. Order here (instructions for how to see ALL the many FDEWB products are at the top of the page) Click Here to Order!

Supernatural Psychology – If you’ve ever tried to figure out why Supernatural is the best show ever, this is the book for you. Written by psychologists who are also fans of the show, with chapters exploring how the Winchesters, Castiel and company deal with the challenges thrown their way and always keep fighting. Click Here to Order!

Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls – The true life adventure story of two women who fell head over heels in love with Supernatural and never looked back. Or the misadventures of Lynn and Kathy – online, at conventions, and behind the scenes on the set of Supernatural. I swear this all really happened! (Yes, even those moments in Jared’s trailer…) Click Here to Order!

Fan Phenomena Supernatural – A 360 degree look at our favorite show, with chapters from fans, academics who teach about the show, the show’s brilliant cinematographer Serge Ladouceur, and actors Misha Collins and Richard Speight Jr. Click Here to Order!

Fandom at the Crossroads – If you’re fascinated with fandom, this is the book for you. Our more academic look at what makes fandom so life changing, how fandom functions, and what makes it awesome. And what fandom is the focus of our study? Supernatural, of course! Click Here to Order!

Happy reading!

–Lynn

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles on Writing a Book for the SPNFamily – and Being Thankful

 

It’s the season in which we celebrate what we’re thankful for, and this year I’m very thankful for a television show. Not just because it has brought me tremendous joy over the past twelve plus years, or because it has allowed me to find some of my closest friends, or even because it has gotten me through some tough times. This year I’m thankful that Supernatural and the special people who make the show and are fans of the show allowed me to give something back to the community I love – the SPNFamily.

Even at this time of year – maybe especially at this time of year – many of us are hurting. As a psychologist, I know that better than most. Anxiety, depression, self doubt, and loneliness make life a lot more challenging. One of the things that helps is feeling like you’re not alone in your struggles, particularly if people you relate to or admire have been through some of the same challenges. That was the idea behind Family Don’t End With Blood, a book with chapters written by most of the actors on Supernatural as a message of support and encouragement to the fandom. When you hear that the Supernatural actors have doubted themselves, fallen into despair, even wondered if they could get up again and keep fighting – but that they DID – and you read it in their own words, raw and uncensored, that is the best kind of inspiration to do the same. I was honored to work with the actors and fans to put this book together.

Since Family Don’t End With Blood has been published, we’ve received countless emails, tweets and messages about how someone read the book when they were at their lowest point, and this was the thing that convinced them to keep fighting. That words written by Kim Rhodes or Briana Buckmaster or one of the other actors rang so true they felt understood. That words written by Jensen Ackles or Misha Collins or Jared Padalecki convinced them they really were not alone. The actors have heard the same from many fans, on social media and at conventions. We are all so very grateful. We wanted the book to make a difference, and we are absolutely blown away by how much of a difference Family Don’t End With Blood has made.

The stars of Supernatural were in Washington DC for a convention with Creation Entertainment a few weeks ago, celebrating the success of Season 13 of the show and answering fans’ questions. Many of the actors appearing at the convention also wrote chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood. Both fans and actors shared in the book how the show has made an impact on them, changing lives and in some cases even literally saving lives. As fans, we often take this for granted, knowing how life-changing it can be to be passionate about a television show or a film or a band or whatever it is we geek out about. But in the case of Supernatural, the show and the fandom have had an equal impact on the actors, including the two actors who bring the iconic characters of Sam and Dean Winchester to life, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.  At the convention, Jensen and Jared were onstage for a panel and were asked by a fan about their experience writing chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood. They shared some insights about that process and about working with me as editor of the book (both seriously and with playful ribbing, which is par for the course with Jared and Jensen).

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Supernatural’s Gil McKinney and Osric Chau – On Writing Books, Releasing New Music and New Seasons of Television!

 

It’s been a while since I had a chance to sit down and chat with Gil McKinney and Osric Chau, two of my favorite guest stars on Supernatural (as Henry Winchester and Kevin Tran) so I was happy to catch up with them at the Supernatural convention in Chicago this summer.

It’s been a busy year for Gil – he has a new baby, wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, and just released his first EP (How Was I To Know), produced by fellow SPN Family member and talented singer, Jason Manns. After a wildly successful kickstarter, the EP was released this summer to rave reviews. Family Don’t End With Blood, was released this summer as well, and many fans have said that Gil’s chapter has inspired them.

It’s been a busy year for Osric as well, who also wrote an inspiring and personal chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood. And of course because he’s a regular on the smash hit Dirk Gently, on BBC America. As we sat down to chat in Chicago, filming was just beginning on Season 2, which starts airing next month, and Dirk Gently was about to conquer Comic Con in the gigantic Hall H!

Gil and Osric did a panel together at this convention, something they haven’t done in a while. I was there for their first joint panel, several years ago, when they haltingly started to get to know each other after being thrown together somewhat randomly, and I watched as they developed a genuine fondness and a lot of chemistry. It was a joy to see them onstage together again.

A fan asked about the book they both wrote chapters in.

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