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rabid1st

Supernatural's Gay Incest Subtext

To quote Dean to Sam: "Could you be any gayer?"

Let me first say that, quite by chance, I rented S1, Disc 1 of Supernatural on the very day that Russell T. Davies suggested we all go watch it because the pretty boys are pretty. To be perfectly frank, during S1, which I watched two weeks ago, I was not very impressed with the pretty boys or their writers. And I was a little bit puzzled by Russell's implication that watching the two brothers cavort would somehow satisfy the heartbroken Ianto/Jack fans.

I midway through S3 and I get the connection. But I really still wondering about why the Supernatural writers are turning up the incest-slash subtext in this show. I mean, was it just someone's idea of "hip" behavior to have the brothers insinuate intimacy? I don't dispute that the insinuations exist. They are there in the canon of the show. But Sam and Dean are brothers, as far as we know. Are there loads of people crying out for them to shag? Frankly, I am only on episode 4 of S3...so I could be wrong about this...but I would place good money on Sam being some sort of demon spawn. That would make them half-brothers, I would imagine, but still too close for the politically correct. And frankly, they don't have that much chemistry. I'm not sure I would believe them as a couple even if they weren't brothers. And don't get me wrong, Dean is really selling the "I love my brother, the fairy princess" to me. I definitely see that I'm supposed to be going along with this.

My FList being the eclectic group that it is, I suppose some of you are down with the Dean/Sam pairing. And knowing fandoms as I do, I'm sure it has a huge following. But it isn't translating to me despite the writers trying their best to sell me on the idea. I suppose considering the number of slash fans in sci-fi that's nice of the writers. Makes a change for the people who swing that way (toward slash I mean). What we are supposed to think, I guess, is since the boys are dysfunctional and hanging out in motel rooms...they are getting busy on one another, despite being related.

But I don't know...it just strikes me as desperate. A sort of "throw everything at the screen and see what sticks approach." But, other than that, I do like the show's gumption. They started out as a real piece of drek, where every episode ended with pit barbeque, and they've come around at S3 to something I am actually interested in watching. It's a show with redneck charm.

But honestly...does it need to be redneck, rock-n-roll, demon-hunting, salt-n-burn, slashy-gay, brother-on-brother incest charm? Really? Who is with me on the incest just being the writers trying too hard?

I don't watch Supernatural so I don't know if the subtext is intentional or not. Perhaps, it didn't become intentional until people started talking about it so the writers decided to really play around with it? I do know that the Sam/Dean pairing was responsible for the term "Wincest."

Another popular pairing that I've noticed people like is Dean/Castiel.

I don't know why, but Supernatural was just a show that I really didn't care to watch and I still don't.


I had the hardest time getting into it. It was horrible for the first 8 or 9 episodes. Then they did the one about the hooks for hands guy. Which is an old favorite campfire story of so many former girl scouts. And it was slightly more interesting than previous episodes. Then, something sort of amazing happened in S2...they seemed to understand writing better...and the boys had acting lessons over the hiatus. They still aren't really ACTORS...but they are much better than the botoxed zombies they appeared to be in S1.

I liked Dean/Jo myself for pairings. I don't know Castiel off the top of my head. But I really don't get the Dean/Sam thing...other than I will agree that they are playing it like crazy. The show very much wants us to believe the boys are shagging...but I don't see the point of that...truthfully. It doesn't add anything to the show for me...because I suppose they could shag if they wanted. It's not really...interesting like say House/Wilson would be. H/W is dynamic. But I can't see that shagging or not...changes the general vibe of Sam and Dean and their brotherly love.

Rae

LOL, we clearly have completely opposite views on the show. I think the guys have done a great job throughout the entire series (I've been a Jensen fans since his DooL days, and Jared fan since GG). And I hated Jo with a passion, and did not like it one bit when they were playing around with Dean/Jo.

It's always interesting to see how people have totally different perspectives on things. =)

I think the reason why I can't get into Sam/Dean pairing is that they're brothers. I don't know why, but I can't ship incest pairings. It doesn't matter if they're male/female, male/male, or female/female. If it involves incest, I can't ship it.

Woah woah woah buddy. They are GREAT actors. They look like that naturally. If you don't watch or understand the show, you have NO business complaining about it. There are ACTUAL fans out there. If you're not one of them, you can move along your marry way. You don't know the characters, the plot, or the point in pairing them together. They work great together. Maybe if you stopped complaining long enough to give the show a chance, you might see it through the fan's eyes. We're not bagging on your little "House" fantasy. Leave our boys alone. You have NO idea what you're talking about.

If you're not one of them, you can move along your marry way.

But you see, if I had followed your advice, I would never have discovered that SPN is one of the finest shows on TV. So, good thing you didn't hop over here sooner, I suppose, or I might have been put off of the show entirely. But, then, again, you are simply doing the same thing I was doing, judging my journal (and opinions of SPN) from a limited experience of it.

I had only watched the first season of SPN at the time I wrote this assessment, which was for MY readers, not for SPN fans like yourself. My opinion of the show developed as I watched it and fell in love with it. Though, I definitely stand-by the idea that the show wasn't impressive, by my standards, in the first few episodes. I have, however, converted at least 10 people who happen to agree with me to equally loyal viewers by telling them to keep going into S2.

I love Dean/Castiel, but I'm not sure yet if I ship them sexually. It's very... ambiguous. But I do know that the show has never brought on a female character I liked enough to ship with Dean. Jo was, presumably, meant to become a love interest, but she sucked and the fans lashed out and she went bye-bye. Really, the writers are not good at writing women. There have been less than a handful that have been great (or even likable) characters. (Most notably, Ellen.)

Dean/Castiel... I love their dynamic. Castiel is so interesting, and something about him is so sad. And Dean is confused by him but also beginning to bond with him and rely on him. I ♥ it. But I don't think Dean will ever have a male sex interest on the show. They won't go there. Not because the show is afraid of having a gay couple, but because Dean has so convincingly been portrayed since day one as a (somehow lovable) chauvinistic womanizer who likes nothing more than chasing tail. Having him develop romantic feelings for a guy would be a betrayal of his character. And as much as I love some nice guy/guy action... Dean is such a great character the way he's written. They don't need to screw with that just to pander to one corner of the audience.

I have been with the show since the very beginning, and I have NEVER gotten the implication that the writers were deliberately writing a sexual undertone to the brothers. I know there is a very loud corner of fandom who ships them, mostly because Jensen and Jared are so pretty. On the show, they do love each other in a very hardcore way, but it's completely fraternal. Dean basically raised Sam, and in a lot of ways, thinks of him as a son, and he would do anything to protect him. Sam thinks his big brother hung the moon, and regardless of how they fight and how he might resent being sort of forced into this life, he is very grateful for the care his brother has given him all his life.

Now, the actors and writers know about the Wincest shippers, and being a group of crazy cut-ups, they do like to make jokes about it and even drop little nods into the show, just for fun. (See 4x18, "The Monster at the End of This Book".)

Honestly, I don't know where people are getting that there is intentional implied incest going on there. But I do realize that different people are going to have a different perspective. It just baffles me, is all, because I've NEVER seen it. But I guess some do. And certainly there are those who want to see it, and maybe that's why they do.

For me, the brotherly bond is the second best thing about the show, right after Jensen's lovely green eyes and blinding smile. ♥

Well...I don't want to see it. I would much rather view the relationship as you outline it here. Extremely loving brothers who look out for one another because all they have is each other.

But I do believe the writers are intentionally adding incest subtext. The why could be what you are saying...that they are just implying something for a narrow slice of the fanbase. I'm only on S3 episode 4 as I've said...so I can't speak to the episode you've mentioned, but in the last few episodes I've watched...there have been lots of insinuating remarks.

And then there is the whole series of S2 episodes where assorted people remarked on the gayness of the brothers. Take the line, "Antiquers?" in the one with the hotel being closed down. That could have been a gentle jibe at the swell of slashing in the ranks of the fandom...but they have now taken it to a place where Sam and Dean are both insinuating things about the other one. Brothers could do that...but it would be rare and, yeah, I find it rather odd that they seem to be playing that card with increasing regularity.

I mean...I can see a brother saying, "Could you be any gayer?" once to his sibling. But they have done it at least a dozen times now and I'm just starting to think...okay, let it go, it's breaking the fourth wall for me.

Rae

Oops, sorry, I missed where you said you were only in the early eps of season 3! Hmm, season 3... well (without giving it away), that whole season was about Dean's impending hell-trip, so it really brought out a lot of angst between the boys. Sam trying desperately to save him, Dean worrying about who would look after Sam, etc., and I think that underlined their love for each other, and inability to imagine life without each other. With the threat of losing each other hanging so heavy in the air, it really ramped up their love. Maybe that's why it seems like it's more incestuous?

LOL, the thing where people mistake them for lovers is a running joke. Dean is veeeeery butch, it's just his nature, but the joke is that people assume he's overcompensating. And Dean, being such a butch guy, is always affronted on every level that people would think HE is gay. I don't even think the fact that it's with his brother registers, it's just the idea of him liking guys. He's like "OMG, I LOVE VAGINA, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!" And like you said, there is the redneck element, so that just makes him even more flabbergasted at the assumption. Dean is slightly homophobic. And of course, Jensen plays that so well, and he's so funny, and one thing TPTB NEVER squash is the funny, so they will keep playing that joke as long as it's getting laughs.

But yes, I can see how you'd say it was breaking the fourth wall. If not for the group of Wincest fans being so vocal, I might not think that, but they are LOUD about the OMG GAY BROTHERLY LOVE WE WANTS IT NOW, so any little joke in the show can feel like it's for them, and after a while I can see how people would be like "enough, there are other fans here that you can cater to occasionally, the Wincesters don't deserve to get everything!"

"Could you be any gayer?"

Complete aside, but my brothers said this to each other quite often when we were growing up.

I agree with this. I don't watch Supernatural for any ship or sexual pairing. I adore it for the brotherly love and the mythology.

There is a hell of a lot of Wincest out there in fandom, and I have to admit the few times I watched the show, I could see it, not in an 'oooh I ship this' way, more in a squirmy, 'wtf are they doing?' way. I am just feverently hoping that RTD's hints that we might want to look in this direction are not a foreshadowing that in the postulated S4 of 'the show that shall not be named', there will be the shock revelation that Ianto was in fact Jack's long lost grandson/greatgrandson/father/grandfather/uncle or cousin once removed, and therefore we should really be grateful that Ianto passed away before it all got incredibly sticky, because that would really destroy any thin shred of respect I'm still grimly hanging onto for his writing.

See? This is what I'm saying. I can see that the writers are playing to the Wincest here in S3. And I am more along the lines of "WTF are they doing?" Mostly because it isn't really adding anything to the story for me...and it's like breaking the fourth wall and joking with the fans.

As for RTD...I think he was probably insulting people by telling them to go watch Supernatural. The show is very low rent...and the boys are pretty and he is saying if that's all you want from a show...then go enjoy. On the other hand, perhaps I wrong him and he really is a Wincester.

Rae

Well, remember in Hollywood Babylon they mentioned "Gilmore Girls" and Sam had that look on his face. I think they like joking around due to the story having a serious plot. They like to add in funny things here and there. There really were slash websites before they said something. Maybe they were just trying to make a joke of it. They discuss it at conventions sometimes too.

I've been told to watch the show by various people, but I've also heard far too much about sexist undertones to really give it a try. This is sort of unrelated to your post, but what are your thoughts in that respect, out of curiosity? Is it worth watching, or is it going to make me throw things at the screen?

Sexist overtones...hmmm?

rabid1st

2009-08-12 09:32 am (UTC)

Well, yes, you could also take the "gay" subtext that way. I suppose it is all in your perspective. There is definitely a we are for one another vibe to the two brothers. And that would be all to the normal side of things...even given the motel room sharing and deep and abiding love angle. At least for me, I could easily assume that they are brothers and they love one another and that's that.

However, one of the main things...is the use of the words "bitch" and "girl" and such. Now, I think they mean to imply that Dean is all butch and overcompensating...as Karie22 who is not a fan of the slashy-incest implies somwhere below...and that Sam is sensitive and "girlie." Also, there are a lot of female demon types making unsuccessful plays for our boys. Sam takes a very long time to get an action...but that is readily explained by his suffering a loss in the first episode.

Women are not well represented in the show...the writers don't seem to know how to handle them. I liked Jo, a character that has apparently disappeared completely. I was hoping she'd be back...but I'm not heartbroken that she's gone. I also liked her mother, Ellen. I don't like the two females we have now...some British thief and Ruby, the friendly demon. They seem oddly interchangable to me.

And, yes, Dean is all about cheap and easy women...and booze and metal rock from the 1970's. But that's all part of his character and doesn't particularly bother me.

Should you watch the show? Well, yeah, if you don't take it too seriously...it is worth watching to the point I'm at. And, frankly, I don't see how anyone could take this show too seriously. It's really badly done...even the inside jokes are too heavy handed. And even though I too was a fan of Jensen when he was in DooL...and in Dark Angel...I don't think he's much of an actor. He gets by in this better than a lot of the supporting cast...but that's about it.

The thing I do like about Supernatural...is that it played out with a nice arc through S2...and I am finding the revelations as they come to be a tangled web of interesting tidbits. It really is like they took everything from other, more successful, shows and made their own version. I find myself going..."Oh, I remember THIS X-Files episode. Or, HEY, they are doing The Fog, loved that movie."

Rae

I don't see it either, but I still love the show. But then I didn't see the chemistry between Clark and Lex on Smallville for like six years. Eye of the beholder and all.

The show has really gotten better over the years, much deeper, much more entangled with the overall plot. I loved last season to pieces and can't wait for the new one to start.

Plus the boys are from my hometown which I just find hilarious. *g*

Now that is interesting. You are one of the people I thought might see and favor it on my Flist. I do think it could be a chemistry thing. I'm seriously icked out by the concept of incest...but I can still see the chemistry between Peter and Claire on Heroes...or for that matter...Peter and Nathan.

I suppose, when it comes to shipping on a show...a lot of it for me is that the ship must be believable in the context of the canon. And I can't believe Sam and Dean would be lovers. So, for me, the idea that they would kid around about that...strikes me as sort of anti-redneck, rock-a-billie and so it breaks the wall and makes the show more of a cartoon than it needs to be.

I would agree that the show makes huges leaps forward as far as plot. And the boys certainly got their acting together between S1 and S2...though I still doubt if I had started with S2 I would have considered them GOOD actors. Still, I feel they deliver on their premise better and better each year. But the individual stories are transparently lifted from other shows. So they have what I find to be one of the more interesting overall plots...and they have a very steep and successful growth curve to the place where I am in the canon, at least.

Definitely a show that's worth watching, in my opinion, provided I don't take it too seriously. I am happy to hear that you loved last season to pieces. And, yay! Lawrence! :grin:

Rae

Supernatural definitely gets better and better as time goes on. I wasn't impressed with S1, but decided to stick with it (it was my summer, catch-up-on-repeats show at the time) and was glad I did.

I don't think the writers have ever intentionally written the show with any sort of gay undertone. It's more that a bunch of fans saw the pretty and decided that the pretty would look good together in bed. There was one line this past season, but it was a very obvious nod to the crazy Wincest fans. Which made it hilarious. XD The have definitely used "gay" (and related words) as insults, but in a brotherly manner, not a let's-hop-into-bed manner. It's played for laughs, not anything serious.

Jared Padelecki (Sam) I'm still only "meh" on as an actor, but Jensen Ackles (Dean) gets some really fabulous moments later in the series. I totally just thought he was a pretty boy and remember being shocked at how good an actor he was.

Women are definitely not well-represented, but it sort of makes sense. Sam and Dean are guys, raised by guys (dad, Bobby, etc.). Things may have been very different had there been a stable female influence in their lives. And, you know, not on the run all the time hunting down phantasmagoria. ;)

As for the plot rehashing...well, there really is nothing new under the sun. I am interested to see what they do next season. Sounds like it'll be interesting.

Yes, this is sort of where I stand

rabid1st

2009-08-12 04:44 pm (UTC)

...on the series. I do not feel that the writers are saying Sam and Dean are shagging. They are not setting up obviously gay moments so much as just addressing the fanbase too much for my comfort level. Though, other, younger people have pointed out that calling your brother "bitch" or "gay" is not the taboo it was with MY generation of brothers. We see this with Rose saying, "You're so gay" to the Doctor in S1. It's just something people say to mean you are being overtly emo. Though it is still stereotyping and not to my taste.

I do see potential in Jensen. I've seen him clock in good work as Eric Brady and in Dark Angel as Ben. But I am not a fan of his acting, yet. We will see what he delivers later on in the show.

And the plot rehashing...is just poorly done. Most of the show is poorly done in S1...but it was much better in S2...and they have a ready built excuse for the rehash in that it IS a show that claims that our urban myths are real. The X-Files did it much better...but I find that I still enjoy this show very much...and I do think their approach to demonic activity is an unusual one, one with potential to break them out of their rut.

Rae

"They started out as a real piece of drek, where every episode ended with pit bar-b-que..."

Oh, you noticed that too, did you? I bailed out after the first couple of eps due to that. I decided that didn't want to allow their nightmare CGI visuals into my brain for so little return on investment. I haven't glanced at it since.

Sorry I can't contribute to the subtext conversation...just had to chime in to say that your sentence resonated with me, as I'd reached the same conclusion (only not as funnily encapsulated).

P.S. - I just realized that there is something that I can contribute to the subtext conversation: when you mentioned that there are who folks tease "you're so gay" indiscriminately, I have to agree with you. I've been around people who say it as a general, all-purpose comment to or about others. My standard response is to tell them that "I do not think that word means what you think it does". With a grin!

P.P.S. - The theme of your LJ is now all about the Pony, huh?

I enjoy Supernatural (following it on German TV, so somewhere in Season 3, I think), but I take the slashyness as what it is: a simply fangirl pleaser. It's just as funny as Clark/Lex (Smallville) slashyness and a just as much never going to happen. So no, I don't think either of these pairings are hot for each other, but some scenes are made so it looks like they might be and that's quite amusing. Yes, I'm amused :)

I don't think the show is intentionally pushing Wincest, or that the actors are playing the roles sexually - it's much more likely that legions of desperate fans latched on to the least flicker of intimacy on the screen and translated that to sex. As usual. That's kind of how fandom works. Kirk and Spock, Starsky and Hutch, Fraser and Ray, House and Wilson - all close friends, with close-friend-intimacy, who get slashed. It's not terribly surprising that familial intimacy between two hot guys got treated the same way. Then you have the intimacy of enemies, as in Doctor/Master, Mulder/Krycek, etc. Interesting phenomenon, fandom. We're so odd. ^_^

I don't know that it's just the fans. I mean, I'm not interested in the gay/incest side of this at all...but I have noticed it coming up in practically every episode. Now, I agree that the actors are not really playing the relationship as intimate. But, for example, I just watched the Very Special Christmas Episode of S3...and not only does Sam get the purse and shoes razzing...which might be appropriate between brothers...but later Dean and Sam pose as a gay couple seeking wreaths.

What I am wondering is not if anyone sees the gay...because I can easily see it...what I was wondering is why in the world the show is going there...when there appears to be no developed reason to go there. And it appears to be that they are being led by a small faction of the fanbase that calls for the Wincest.

Rae
who happens to find it disconcerting...but only because it seemed sort of tacked on to a sort of lean-to of a show.

I watched the first few episodes of Supernatural and never went back. I know a couple ppl who really enjoy it, in and out of fandom. The person I know who's in fandom is a big Wincest shipper which - ugh!

I don't really do incest as a general rule. The closest I've come is a tolerance for Lee/Kara/Zak and some Peter/Claire shipping - though I blame TPTB for that (too much chemistry before naming them related).

Yeah, that's exactly why I am a Claire/Peter shipper...they had such steaming chemistry...no doubt because of the actor's attraction...that I was hooked on them long before they were relatives. Also, the relative line is so tenuous in my opinion. I mean, they were not raised as relatives...and they do not live as relatives...so the social taboo is a loose one. We must simply remember to believe that they ARE relatives. And given the web of lies surrounding most interaction on Heroes...I would not be surprised to learn that some part of the relationship is manufactured in any case.

We don't really have that in Supernatural though. And while I see some people saying there is no connection in the show...and I agree that I don't feel the actors play the characters as sexually interested in one another...unlike House/Wilson where there is definite sexual tension in the acting...I couldn't help but notice the writers playing the gay card over and over again.

Take, for example, the Very Special Christmas Episode I just watched. There are the usual "Sam's a Nancy Boy" references...Sam suggests Dean might be interested in a purse or some shoes since he's interested in a wreath. Later looking for the manufacturer of the wreath, Dean and Sam pose as a gay couple with Dean teasing about how Sam simply must have this particular wreath. There are also girly presents for Sam in the episode...though they are off-set later with nude-girlie magazines and shaving cream.

To me, the gay teasing one on one...wouldn't be so obvious...could be natural brotherly behavior. But the writers do carry it into subtext by having the boys pose as a couple or having various people insinuate that they are a couple. It's not like it is never addressed. However, it's not completely blatant either. I don't find myself at all convinced that Sam and Dean are shagging. I just think it is weird to go there...so regularly...and I commented on it because...well...RTD made his suggestion, but also, I've noticed the show goes there in practically every episode.

Rae

We must simply remember to believe that they ARE relatives. And given the web of lies surrounding most interaction on Heroes...I would not be surprised to learn that some part of the relationship is manufactured in any case.

Seriously I keep waiting for them to drop some sort of Peter and Nathan are only half siblings bomb or other. Though part of me feels they've moved past the time where it would've been best to do so.

Dean and Sam pose as a gay couple

And that's where the show loses me because really? really really? How many ppl would actually do something like that? sigh.