What were your initial impressions of the Supernatural spinoff show, The Winchesters? After seeing the series trailer released at the CW upfronts on Thursday, May 19th, I have to admit, I was… shocked. What I saw wasn’t at all what I expected the show to be. I rewatched the trailer several times, trying to understand how those characters related in any way to the Supernatural that had been part of my life blood for the past 15 years. If you promise to stick with me all the way to the end of my journey of discovering this new show, I’ll share with you how my initial skepticism of “What is this??” transformed into “I can’t wait!” If you haven't yet seen the trailer, sneak a peek at it in Alice's news story covering The Winchesters and Walker: Independence.
The first surprise of The Winchesters trailer was John. I expected John (played by Drake Rodger) to be naïve about the gruesome reality that is hidden to everyone except monsters’ victims and the hunters whose job is “saving people and hunting things”, but John as an innocent kid with a toe-in-the-sand, small town, come home to momma, personality? Could John Winchester have EVER been that bumbling sweet?
On the other hand, I was enthralled with Mary (played by Meg Donnelly). Confident, fierce, unafraid. This young woman was clearly the lead of the story, versus the traditional choice of the tall, handsome guy who just returned from war. I’m totally there for that!
Their two sidekicks really threw me off. Latika (Nida Khurshid) and Carlos (Jonathan “Jojo” Fleites) weren’t hardened hunters with a lifetime of scars. Instead they were lighthearted, fun and… goofy. That’s not at all what I expect hunters to be.
I know that The CW often makes trailers that are intentionally misleading, trying to draw in a specific demographic or baiting a conflict that isn't at all what the episode ends up being about. They have done that a few times with Walker. At first, I wondered if they did that with The Winchesters. Was this 3 minute snippet of the show really what it was going to be - a teen drama? This wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Frankly, I was extremely confused and really disappointed. Where was my Supernatural in all this?
So I started analyzing what about the trailer surprised me. Why was the show so different than what I expected? Recognizing that I am only one fan out of millions, and my experiences with Supernatural and expectations for The Winchesters are mine alone, here’s what I realized shocked me about Robbie's, Jensen's and The CW’s vision for The Winchesters:
- The show's main cast was chosen to appeal to teens (the Netflix generation who found the show in reruns). That shocked me, taking Supernatural all the way back to ages younger than when we first met Sam and Dean. That makes it different from the "mother ship" and reveals my subconscious expectation of age/maturity of the characters.
- I didn’t expect Jensen, Baby or the Samulet (or the Green Cooler) to actually appear in the show. That was a good surprise, but it still threw me. I'm guessing Jensen’s inclusion is meant to draw in the original old-timers who have loved Supernatural for years, and I love that he’ll be in the show, but Dean, and the entire history that is embodied in his appearance, made the contrast with the teenagers all the more jarring.
- There was far more campy humor than I expected. I guess I was expecting serious and scary, because we all take Supernatural so seriously (because its content of life/death is serious).
- The diversity in the four main characters. That corrects a criticism of the original series (which reflected the thinking/era when it premiered). That's valid and the right thing to do, but it still differentiates this show from the original - again making it unlike my subconscious expectations.
- There wasn't any Supernatural classic rock music that pulled me into the original story so many years ago. Robbie and Jensen both love 70's music, though. In my extended interviews with Robbie, he talked a lot about music, so I have to believe they want music to be a part of this new show. Maybe not hard rock, but 70's music nonetheless?
I feel like all the pre-premiere promotion for this show is working against it. Jensen's secret, the leaked script, now being surprised by this trailer? That's a lot of oops. Are the latter two events purposely trying to lower expectations?
At the recent Supernatural New Jersey convention, Jensen said about the script, "We floated those things out there for a reason. Perfect! That's nothing like the real script!" Is that damage control or an admission of a promotional tease? About comparing The Winchesters to Supernatural, he quoted Kim Manners, "Give them what they want in a way they won't expect it." After my reaction to the trailer, I now believe that Jensen's words were the precise message the producers felt fans needed to hear, i.e. 'This show will not be what you expect. We're purposely trying to make something unique from Supernatural - in that world, of course, but fresh and new.' I didn't realize how important relinquishing expectations was going to be until I saw the trailer and really took time to process what I saw.
John and Mary's history is the obvious canon compatibility problem that had to be addressed, but that never really concerned me. As Jensen said, they did their homework and created a storyline that will be true to the original. But even brushing that and the ancestral lead character changes aside, I didn't realize I had a mental image of everything else about the show being the same as Supernatural.
So I wrote down all these observations this morning, which helped me process the shock I felt yesterday after seeing the trailer. THEN, I rewatched the trailer. To my utter amazement, my reaction to the trailer today, after confronting all the subconscious expectations I had for this show, was completely different than yesterday. I felt unabashed excitement! Suddenly, I loved what I saw and got excited about all the Supernatural references and being in that universe again!
Maybe this trailer’s primary purpose was to begin the process of erasing the slate, filling our minds with new images for a new story. It gives fans time to let go of expectations of what they envisioned for this show, and embrace the vision of the time before Team Free Will took over responsibility for the world. It's in the Supernatural universe but it will be distinctly different than our Supernatural.
I'm so happy that I'm genuinely excited about this show again! It's not Sam and Dean, which I know is a full stop for some fans, but it is Robbie and Jensen, and looking at it with fresh eyes, I see great potential. A mother not wanting her child in "the life." A man recognizing that he was born into a legacy of saving people and hunting things. Two people trying to follow clues to find fathers who went missing while on “hunting trips.” Men of Letters bunkers with treasure troves of knowledge. "This is good vs. evil" and "As long as there's a Winchester alive, there's hope." It feels so good to be back in this world! I’m rewatching the trailer repeatedly because I can’t get enough of this new story!
Does my journey help you process what you saw? Did you love the show from the first moment you saw the trailer or are you still skeptical? Let’s Discuss!
See complete Coverage of The CW Upfronts 2022 - Tweets, Pictures, Media coverage, BTS photos and more - in a Special Edition of Supernatural Weekly World News!