Vivisecting Supernatural- Jerk. Bitch.

The exchange ‘Jerk. Bitch’ may be one of the most iconic phrases in the SPN fandom- right up there with ‘I lost my shoe’, ‘I’m proud of us’, ‘Team Free Will’ and ‘driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole’.
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Yet despite being the tagline for hundreds of blogs and the focus of thousands of gifs, it’s only referenced a total of five times over the series- and, being SPN, we are given what we want in ways that kind of make us wish we never asked for it.
Firstly, we have the Pilot. This is where the legend had liftoff- but why did it have such an impact? Perhaps because it was obvious that this was an in-joke. We’d never met Sam and Dean before, and already it was clear that when they were in sync, they were really in sync. And the pilot had elements of the brothers being absolutely coordinated- talking in unison- and also elements of conflict, like when Dean shoves Sam up against the bridge and screams at him about their mother. It highlighted their relationship in its full twisty, turny, unhealthy attachment. But the jerk/bitch exchange was really the first glimpse of what the brothers are like when they get along, when they’re synchronised.
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Look at any Tumblr forum discussing Season Nine and it’ll be obvious how much the fans long for them to work together. In a way, jerk/bitch became the tagline for that synchronity, which is probably why so many people wanted it to be all jerk/bitch, all the time.
The next emergence of the phrase is in Hunted, after they escape Gordon. This episode is post their breakup at the end of Croatoan/beginning of Hunted, and jerk/bitch is a kind of catharsis to that breakup, I think- a way of confirming that they’re alright with each other once again. I don’t think Dean could have participated in saying it while still carrying the weight of his father’s last words to him, and this glimmer of Winchester synchronity helps clear the air. You feel like everything will be alright, like they’ll be able to deal with Sam’s psychic stuff and it will all be resolved.
Of course, then this happens, so turns out SPN was just screwing with you.
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It next cropped up in What Is And What Should Never Be (2×20). Dean is in the Imapala with normal, non-hunting Sam, who thinks he’s lost his marbles, and when Dean calls him a bitch Sam’s response is, ‘What are you calling me a bitch for?’
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This, if anything, demonstrates SPN’s understanding of the fandom love for that line. Like Dean throwing away the Samulet was proof of his loss of faith in Sam, Sam’s incomprehension is proof of their lack of bond here. Because the illusion wasn’t really perfect.
There’s eight seasons between this and the return of jerk/bitch, and when it finally does appear- in 10×1, Black- SPN uses it to make everyone hurt just a little harder. Because apparently seeing Cas dying and Sam alone in the bunker with the Marianas Trench under his eyes wasn’t bad enough.
The entire fandom, from the looks of it, had been hankering for a jerk/bitch callback, and they got one. But this time instead of being used as a confirmation of Sam and Dean’s bond, or even as a signal to show the state of their relationship, Sam isn’t involved at all. Dean simply does not seem to give a flying crap.
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Whether this is actually true is debatable- certainly Demon Dean’s behaviour is something I’ll be writing more about- but I’d argue that he at least wants it to appear that Sam is the last thing on his mind.
And actually, this isn’t the only symbol of the Winchester bond that’s twisted back on itself during the Demon Dean arc- Sam’s famous puppy eyes are referred to in canon for the first time since Season One’s Scarecrow, but mockingly here. And then there was Dean’s treatment of the Impala- one by one, renouncing the symbols of their relationship.
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All this is probably why the jerk/bitch moment in Fan Fiction was so welcomed. It was a fix-it and a fandom nod at the same time, since the fangirl Marie- who is playing Sam in the musical- says ‘Jerk’ and Dean automatically responds with ‘Bitch’ (followed by a moment of horror as he realises he just called a teenage girl a bitch).
It was at once a recognition of the importance of the phrase within the fandom- the fact that Marie said it at all- and a statement of hope for the brothers: all is not lost, and they can recover their closeness.
The episode ends with the brothers driving off into a fake sunset. It’s beautiful- and temporary too, but we all know that. So let’s just focus on the beauty. Winchesters have to take happiness where they can.
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10 thoughts on “Vivisecting Supernatural- Jerk. Bitch.

  1. This was never one of my favorite lines in the show. But I get that its use is used to determine the state of their relationship. Good catch, that.

    OTOH, i always, always laugh at, “I lost my shoe.” and “I’m Batman.”
    And i have used that line about passengers shutting their cakehole in my own car. My family members feel free to ignore me, when I do.

    Liked by 3 people

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