Wednesday, 12 November 2014

More than just a show

Last night, the 200th episode of Supernatural aired. 
That's insane! Do you realise how few shows actually get to this monumental milestone, let alone genre shows on tiny networks like Supernatural on The CW. In fact, by the end of season 10's 23-episode run, Supernatural will have aired 218 episodes. The most successful sci-fi/genre show to date is The X-Files, which had nine seasons and aired 202 episodes; that makes Supernatural the most long-running sci-fi/genre show EVER!

That's amazing. 

A few weeks ago, I got my first hateful comments on this blog (#hatersgonnahate). Whilst I deleted the comments, the commenter (who was one person hiding behind an anonymous AOL identity) did suggest that I should stop "harping on about TV shows like Supernatural... it's just a dumb show".

Oh you poor, poor misguided soul. 

Supernatural is far from 'just a dumb show' and I'm here today to explain why...

Let me start from the beginning; Supernatural is about two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, who drive across America in their 1967 Chevy Impala “saving people and hunting things” because it is "the family business". Their mother, Mary, was killed by supernatural forces when Dean was four years old and Sam was just six months old. Mary's death set their father, John, on a quest to avenge the death of his wife, searching for the monster that killed her. It was a life-long quest that saw the boys roped into numerous hunts, more frequently as they grew up. They went from town to town (staying in cheap motel rooms) hunting for the thing that killed her, killing every evil thing they could find, to spare another family from the same fate. 

Understandably, ten seasons and 200 episode later, Supernatural is about so much more than that! In fact, it's much to hard to accurately describe everything these brothers and their 'family' have gone through and have faced over the past 200 episodes in just one paragraph, but seeing as most of the seasons are now on Netflix, or cheap DVDs, if the paragraph above sounds like your cuppa tea, you can catch up!

Anyway, during its nine years on air, Supernatural has amassed fans all over the globe. This fandom has a long-held tradition of coming together to do good deeds, whether it's as simple as participating in random acts of kindness or raising huge chunks of money for charity.

In 2011, Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester, tweeted that he and his wife Genevieve (who he met when she starred in the show during season four) were expecting their first child. Jared, knowing the generosity of the fandom, suggested that any fan that wished to send gifts to him and his wife for their baby should instead make a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. St Jude's is unlike any other paediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made there have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today’s most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly. Fundraising was co-ordinated through WinchesterBros with fans from all over the world donating whatever they could. Once Jared and Gen's baby boy, Thomas Colton, was born, it was revealed that an astounding $40,256 had been raised by fans.

Just take a minute to let that number sink in - $40,256!

Impressed with the generosity of strangers, Jared and Gen matched the fans donation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital received over $80,000!

Jared and his sons, Thomas and Shep [x]

In 2013, in similar fashion, $50,000 was raised for Hats Off For Cancer when Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester, and his wife, Danneel, had their first child, a daughter named Justice-Jay.

Jensen, Danneel and JJ [x]
That's over $90,000 donated by fans for just those two causes. 

That isn't the end of the money donated in the name of Supernatural. 

Supernatural's first assistant director, Kevin Parks (who is affectionately known as 'Parksapedia' due to his knowledge of the show) regularly takes part in the 'Ride to Conquer Cancer' from Vancouver to Seattle; in fact, in 2010 he raised over $10,000, in 2011 he raised almost $12,000, in 2012 he raised over $15,000 and in 2013 he raised $14,881. Kevin rides in honour of Supernatural director Kim Manners, who died on 25th January 2009. Following Kim's death, his family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The American Cancer Society; fans donated $1,650 to the The American Cancer Society within a week of his death.

Arguably, the largest contribution to the charity-sphere (is that even a thing? It is now!) has been organised and instigated by Misha Collins, who plays Castiel, a Winchester ally since season four. Misha has founded his very own charity, known as Random Acts. 

According to the website, 'On December 3, 2009, Misha Collins used Twitter to ask his followers (affectionately known as his "minions") to come up with ideas for a "minion stimulus" project. The goal was to obtain US government stimulus money (funding to aid endeavors to stop an economic recession) for non-profit initiatives. The pursuit of government funding was soon abandoned in favor of morphing into a privately organized charity, formerly known as MinionStimulus. After visiting the fledgling website, Misha appointed Lisa Walker as the Director of Charitable Affairs and provided her with some initial direction. Together, Misha and Lisa began marshaling the forces of good at their disposal. Since that auspicious beginning, our organization has gone through several changes, including our name.'

Initially Misha's minions raised over $30,000 to help UNICEF's aid efforts in Haiti. However, with the metamorphosis into Random Acts, Misha and his numerous minions promised to conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time.

Misha launched the Random Acts website, posting a self-made video explaining the organisation's mission, as well as announcing that he would be running to raise money for efforts in Haiti and Pakistan, for as long as he could on September 5th 2010. He ran for  over 11 hours, covering 83km (51.6 miles). An estimated $94,700 in pledges was raised.

The tragedy in Haiti had obviously touched Misha's heart because on March 12th 2011 Misha posted a video announcing ongoing work in Haiti would include a trip to build a community centre. Twenty-two fundraisers (who raised a minimum of $5,000 each) travelled to Haiti with Random Acts staff, and Misha joined them on June 24th - 26th 2011. You can read more about this trip here

Misha with his wife, Vicki, and his children, Masion (left) and West [x]
As well as founding Random Acts, Misha has also created GISHWHES - the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen - in 2012, when the event shattered two Guinness World Records; one for the largest scavenger hunt with 14,000 participants from 69 countries and the other for the most pledges to commit a Random Act of Kindness (over 93,000 in 94 countries). GISHWHES brings fans from around the world together into teams to complete a selection of challenges, with the main goal of spreading a little kindness and having fun. In fact, this year, Star Trek legend, William Shatner even took part!

Misha and Jared even took part in the recent Ice Bucket Challenge craze; while he didn't do the challenge, Jensen did donate to ALS.

It's not just Supernatural's main stars that encourage their fans to donate their time and money to charity. The recent stroke suffered by Rob Benedict, who played Chuck during season four and five, has encouraged fans from all over the globe to donate to the American Stroke Association. Rob suffered his stroke whilst at a Supernatural convention and if it hadn't been for the quick-thinking of his friends and cast-mates, the result of his stroke could have been very different.

As well as being fantastic places for fans to meet their heroes and connect with one another, often forming life-long friendships, Supernatural conventions have raised their fair share of cash for charity. In 2009, at All Hell Breaks Loose Sydney, t-shirts drawn on decorated by Jared and Jensen were sold for thousands of dollars to raise money for the Starlight Foundation. Jared's t-shirt sold for a whopping $1,200. Also in 2009, at Salute to Supernatural in Chicago, Jared auctioned a watch he'd worn as Sam Winchester to raise money for students from his mother's school to go to the University Interscholastic League.

You can read more about the charity efforts of the Supernatural cast, crew and fans here.

Moving on from the amazing acts of charity carried out by Supernatural's cast, crew and fans, Supernatural is much more than a show to one of its main actors in particular. As I already mentioned, Jared met his wife, Gen, while filming season four. Jared and Gen married in February 2010 (Jensen was a groomsman - as Jared was at Jensen's wedding to Danneel in May 2010 #brothersforlife); they had their first son (Thomas) in March 2012, followed by a second son (Shep) in December 2013. Not only would Jared have never met Gen without Supernatural, Thomas and Shep wouldn't even be alive without this show - it doesn't get much bigger than that,

Thomas and Shep aren't the only people who owe Supernatural their lives. 

Numerous fans will happily tell you their stories on how Supernatural has saved their lives and given them a reason for living; whether it's the friendships and connections they've made, the way they relate to and identify with the brothers' struggles in the show, or simply feeling part of something, affectionately known as the SPNFamily, the reasons are as numerous and as individual as the fans themselves. 

Jared said it best. At a convention recently, a fan apologised for forgetting her question for the boys (Jared and Jensen, who are often referred to as J2/J-squared) during a panel, Jared said "You don't have to apologise; you're among family here."

Personally, I have been to two Supernatural conventions (and have booked to go to a third) and I've made some amazing friends from those weekends. 

I've met up with friends outside of Supernatural-related events and I regularly tweet with and text with people who I have bonded with over Supernatural, some of whom are in America, who I would love to hang out with for the weekend!

When compiling this blog post, I thought it'd be a good idea to tweet a few Supernatural-related Twitter accounts asking fans to tweet me why they feel Supernatural is much more than 'just a show'. Here are just some of the responses I got...

I'm not the only blogger who has waxed lyrical about how Supernatural is more than just a show; check out this article by a fellow fan :) 

So now you can see why Supernatural is not just a dumb show!

Happy Hump Day, peeps!
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1 comment:

  1. This blog nails it on the head! I'm a little late getting on the #SPNFamily bandwagon, but that's okay! I've caught up on all the seasons just this summer (some more than once!) and have joined the family on Facebook and Twitter. My hubby laughs at all the fangirling -- let's just say that I'm a bit older than you! -- but he gets it. He's a huge DC / Marvel fan so we're watching the same network, if not the same shows. :)

    The SPNFamily has proven to me that we're lucky in that we are following a show that means something. There's a story there that keeps us engaged every week. We watch a show that is put together by a fantastic crew and cast, folks who seem to enjoy their work and love their fans. We're not getting lip service from them, either. When they tell us that they love us, it seems to be the real thing.

    Last night's episode was proof of that. They seemed to touch on all things fandom and I loved it. I watched it, um, three times in one night: once with the East Coast bunch (Massachusetts, USA), once while waiting for the West Coast broadcast, then with the West Coast gang. And of course,I was watching Twitter the entire time, too, to get the actors' and crews' thoughts/comments on what was happening. I'm mainlining caffeine today, but, boy!, it was worth it! I'm not sure that I would have done that for any other show/group of people.

    I've been impressed with the caring nature of the SPN Family and your comments about their giving nature are so important. While other shows' stars might ask for help via a PSA on network TV, I don't see anything about their fans doing it on their own....raising thousands of dollars for a charity in honor/memory of a person they've never met. Oftentimes money gets thrown at a cause without a real consideration of who it's helping. Knowing that we're honoring the child or nephew of a favorite star, supporting a cause because one of our own has been affected by sometihng....that seems to mean more.

    I look forward to many more episodes of a show that has come to mean so much. It's not just the's the people in it........the actors and crew who bring it to life who have made such an impact. It can't get any better than that.