I am amazed at the staying power of the television series Supernatural has with the fickleness of today’s television producers.  No doubt, its creators, producers, and actors, has its loyal followers of occultism, biblical, mythical and good-ole fashion grim and gore lore to thank for the series’ six year run.  From the moment of the first episode that aired back in 2005, viewers got the impression that premise of the series would entail two ghost busting, monster killing, seekers of the supernatural brothers on a mission across America to destroy the malevolent unnatural.  At the end of season one, demons were introduced into the plot and from that moment on the series has been on a one-way track focusing the main storyline of the succeeding seasons and episodes on various Christian mythologies—specifically the apocalyptical battle between demons and angels for the souls of human and their place within existence.

The employment of angels and demons in conflict or the protection or corruption of the human soul and human existence are not new themes or premises of storytelling.  In fact, such themes are not only typical go to canons within the plot of mythic, fantasy, or horror texts, but have become predictable for today’s audience members who have preference for such genres.   In addition, those supernatural or mythic figures—such as vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, or witches—of mythic, fantasy, and horror literature and film have also become predictable canons within such genres.  Supernatural offers no exceptions to what has become passé clichés of these genres.  Last week’s episode entitled “Bitten”—the fourth in season 8—represents a synthesis of the archetypes and canons of the horror story with those of the romantic comedy.  What the writer (Robbie Thompson) has done—through genre blending—was attempt to offer a new way of telling the horror story by presenting the audience with a double-whammy of the typical clichés we find in both genres.

The opening scene states to the viewer that we are about to watch a tale of both horror and romance.  We hear the song “What’s the Matter” (by the band Milo Green) repeatedly playing from a smartphone speaker system.  The song lyrics tell of a lover asking his or her love interest ‘what wrong with you’ and that the love they shared has gone.  The camera pans across a classic scene within horror films—a structurally deteriorating unkempt house with blood splattered walls and body parts on a floor covered with puddles of blood.  Dean and Sam enter to find a note on a laptop asking them to play the contents on the computer.   This is new—the potential suspect or murder leaving a recording as an introduction and an evidential confession for the investigating officer or anyone that might stumble upon this horrific scene.  As Sam and Dean play the recording the genre clichés are exhibited.  First we are presented with two male friends: one tall, muscular, and handsome—the profile of a jock; the other average in height, boney, with acne or a bad skin completion, and social awkward with personality issues—the techno-nerd.  Both notice and share the same love interest—the cute or stunning petite blonde.  As the classic paradigm of romantic narratives illustrate and predictably reveal: who gets the girl, who is it that can’t express their true feelings to the girl of their desire, who secretly or subtly exhibits emotional outbursts of jealousy about being overlooked by their love interest, who becomes the stunning blonde’s BFF, and who has more interests or activities in common with cute petite blonde?

As far as directorial filming the cliché lies within the director’s deliver of the story behind the episode.   Sam and Dean’s current case becomes a story within a story or a documentary within a film.  Though this style of filming is not a first for the Supernatural series, we have seen this style of directing in the films Cloverfield and Quarantine.   This perspective or form of cinematic storytelling was also employed during the Supernatural episode entitled “The Real Ghostbusters.”  This style of storytelling, known as frame narrative, has also been implementing in literary texts such as A Thousand and One Nights, The Mahabharata, even The Holy Bible.  The technique is clever and must be exercised with close attention to detail in order to be successfully carried out.  Thus, the technique is not so much as passé as it is a cinematic cliché because what happens for me when I view the technique in film is a loss of suspension of disbelief.  Specifically, there is an unrealness about the situation or even a character’s behavior when this style of filming is exhibited in the horror story.  I mean really, seriously—two terms that have become clichés among films, commercials, and the general public—I’m watching myself transform into a beast or a werewolf and I’m still hold a camera trying to get it on tape?  My friend or lover shows up in my house with blood flowing out of his mouth, bloody clothes, and bloody hands and I haven’t dropped the camera and ran out of the house screaming?  I’m filming?  I don’t think so.  I can rationalize or ask questions after I’ve called in a swat team holding AK-47’s ready to take you out.

The final cliché speaks of a classic mythical beast—the werewolf.  As with most horror stories and specifically the werewolf tale, the characters decided to camp, chase something or someone, or escape from danger by running into a highly wooded and remote area.   Why haven’t we learned our lesson of don’t go into the woods alone.  The only film I know of that deviates from this paradigm is the 1981 film Wolfen.  However, acknowledging reality, the habitat of wolves remains to exist within dense areas of trees, mountains, and colder climates.

It is the retelling and consequently the reusing of these themes and archetypes that constitutes the narratives of Supernatural as passé clichés.  However, as the title of the series implies, the whole premise of Supernatural is to exemplify the elements and beings of the supernatural world.  Thus, inevitably—which also suggests predictability—the audience and the fans that will continue to support and watch this show would do so out of sheer love and fascination for the classic and timelessness of what these supernatural beings and forces represent and stir up within the human imagination as well as what they reflect of temporal and corporeal human existence.  Thus, to the credit of the writer of “Bitten” what is not passé and subtly revealed at the end of the episode, through the character Kate, is that in a given situation, empathy is an idea, a feeling, a form of reasoning that all humans succumb to, even Sam and Dean.  Empathy that arises from the threat of losing someone we love to violence and competitive jealousy could bring out the beast within any of us.  And the beast is not something we choose to exhibit but way to often may just be pushed to the surface of our being due to outside forces.