‘Supernatural’ nears its finale, carrying classic queerbaiting to the end

Isaac Werner

iwerner@uccs.edu  

Proving their love for the “Bury Your Gays” media trope, the CW Network and writers of the show “Supernatural” confirmed a long-awaited gay romance in one of the worst ways possible.  

     “Supernatural” is a haunting series that follows the thrilling adventures of brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, a monster-hunter duo constantly tasked with saving the world. With the show’s pilot airing back in 2005, “Supernatural” will end this year, the final episode of its 15th season set to air on Nov. 19.  

     Described by viewers as a romance confirmed “too little, too late,” characters Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) and Castiel (Misha Collins) are given an emotional moment in Season 15, Episode 18 — titled “Despair” — in which Castiel confesses his love for Dean. Collins’ teary performance outshines Ackles’ gob-smacked expression, and a lack of meaningful dialogue from Ackles significantly downplays the intensity of the scene. 

     However, the actors cannot give much more than their personal interpretation of lines handed to them by the show’s writers. The viewer can only assume that both Collins and Ackles worked as best as they could with what they had, which ended up being a love confession immediately followed by a tragic character death. They did their jobs as actors to the best of their ability.  

     It unfolds like this; Castiel confesses his love for Dean, and, by experiencing this moment of true happiness, he invokes an old deal with the Empty, a primal void that claims angels and demons in a kind of super-death. Giving Ackles’ character almost no time to process Castiel’s confession and sacrifice, the episode ends with Dean in extreme emotional distress. 

     So, was it bad acting? Or bad writing? 

     Fans on social media platforms argue that it was both.  

Photo courtesy of the CW.

     With only two episodes left before the series’ end, the confession could have been done without. Internet and pop culture history surrounding the romance between Castiel and Dean perfectly illustrated the harmful tropes of queerbaiting and fetishization by heteronormative audiences. The shoddy confession was simply the icing on the cake, a weak attempt to try and appeal to the dwindling audience of a television show that should have ended back in 2012.  

     Former fans took to social media to air similar grievances surrounding the confession scene, giving the series attention it had not received in a long time. Released to the public during a time of tension, stress, and anxiety surrounding the presidential election, the only good thing it accomplished was to serve as a brief distraction.  

     As mentioned, the distraction was brief and fueled by former fans’ frustrations with the obvious attempt to cater to viewers who had outgrown the show. The choice to confirm a long-awaited gay romance was obviously not done with good intent, blatantly presenting itself as a last-ditch effort to gain higher viewership before “Supernatural” ends.  

     Despite the romantic confession being implemented in the most insensitive way possible, the validation of the feelings between the fictional characters was something other fans recognized. After twelve years of unpleasant and lagging slow burn, the show’s creators did technically give the fans what they wanted. While the recognition was brief, the critiques were not, and after the show’s final episode on Nov. 19, it will hopefully be laid to rest.