supernatural, ode to americana

One of the original draws of the show for me was the America that it presented- that it represented. I’m talking about the importance of Setting here. SPN’s America is a place of neon signs, empty roads, skies. I am young, British, I have never been out of Europe. This was not an America I had seen before, ever. The closest I’d been to it was American Gods. The place I knew from films was all skyscrapers & crowds. & this- this beautiful isolated strangeness, this sparsity- it’s very wonderful to me.

If SPN took place on a more conventional stage, it would be a different show. Heck, it would be a different Story. & as it is there is a tragedy & a malaise to it. It knows what it’s doing. & this is something that has carried over through the entire show thus far, right from the Pilot up to Keep Calm & Carry On, through the horror, the apocalypse, the noir Season Six, the ghastly fake-tan phase, the intensity & darkness of the late seasons. Death rolls up in a white Cadillac. Angels smash through billboards, plunging to Earth. God hides out in an empty bar & writes his autobiography. There’s a million motels, the Blue Rose, the Blackbird, the Velvet Inn, the Too Tired. When shit goes down, it’s in Lebanon, Stull, Cold Oak, Blue Earth.

This is one of the ways in which the show retains its intense hilarious weirdness, is what I’m saying. I can’t describe how satisfying that is to me. There are ridiculous puns on every sign. Death’s number plate reads BUH*BYE. This is what Christmas looks like on the show:

spn308-0089

I mean. Come on.

There are tremendous images of loneliness.

spn917hd_0163

supernatural204-002184

supernatural111-000656

supernatural0221-0175

supernatural202-001632

There are the whackjob motels, the diners, the neon.

spn0401_0481

spn505-0449

supernatural809-000615

(Look at that freaking dinosaur. A DINOSAUR.)

supernatural812-001576

supernatural812-001313

supernatural801-001221

supernatural809-000877

spn0401_1303

spn418_1154

supernatural0221-00080

supernatural220-000007

supernatural215-000231

supernatural210-000743

spn1106_1424

supernatural210-000302

supernatural210-000347

spn1007hd0324

spn311-1201

spn1104_0358

spn503-0089

spn1021hd1550

spn810-001640

supernatural809-000185

spn1021hd2593

supernatural0221-00040

spn1021hd2381

spn1009hd1536

There are abandoned buildings. Because what other kind of building is there on this show.

spn902_1350

supernatural112-000035

(& that, by the way, is the look of a show that has spent its entire special effects budget on dry ice.)

scnet_spn10x23_1738

supernatural823-000957

spn1123_1023

screenshot-321

supernatural822-001435

There is the insane and sometimes completely inappropriate signposting.

spn514-1261

spn_0200

spn1003_1328

supernatural823-000235

‘Martha’s Ass Chili’… I mean…

supernatural106-000260

spn807-001878

This is never commented on. No-one within the show says ‘OMG, that sign is so funny, in a sick sort of way, because Crowley just cut one of Kevin’s fingers off!’ But it’s THERE, & it’s both subtle & absolutely fucking ridiculous. & of course this is all part of the show’s sense of humour, which is totally individual & what makes the show so rich. Tall Tales. Clap Your Hands. Plucky Pennywhistle’s. Just My Imagination. Wishful Thinking.

It’s so loopy.

& then of course where would the show be without its twelve gazillion shots of Baby, & the open road.

supernatural102-002465

spn306-0067

supernatural106-002334

spn522_1658

spn1006hd0338

supernatural809-000279

supernatural0121-1187

supernatural0609-2483

supernatural106-002384

supernatural103-000272

spn1105_2950

spn1104_2636

spn1016hd2576

spn502-0250

supernatural113-002308

spn1119_0328

spn1104_0056

There’s a huge sense of freedom here. & the isolation that, in show-land, inevitably accompanies it. There’s a sense in the show of the hunting life drawing people in; a sense that once you’ve lived that kind of life nothing else seems real enough. I mean, hell, I can believe it. I love that when we saw a skyscraper on the show last season it looked totally flimsy. (I also love that it has the AKF logo on it. Never noticed that before.)

sup1118_1553.jpg

All this has also given us one of my favourite images of the show to date.

spn1121_2904

The Winchesters, the whole world of Supernatural, feels like part of a dying world. But also an immortal one. The America of the show is theirs, they know it, it’s their homeland, it’s alien. They are damaged, dying, immortal, beautiful. It’s a perfect fit. There’s such a glamour to it all.

supernatural101-001222

I reckon one of the most profound moments in the show (and maybe in television history, all things considered) comes in Fan Fiction. That last bit of the musical, and the lights come up, & the pretend-Winchesters sing. & behind them is a painted backdrop of a desolate highway. & then- Sam & Dean, just standing, watching them. & we watch them Get It- what their lives mean- to other people, to themselves, their own legacy & mythos. & they stand there & they Realise. Y’all know what I’m on about. (If you don’t, do yourself a favour and rewatch.) & that painted highway, & the way the shadows intersect, & the Route 66 sign…

It is extremely non-literal poetic storytelling. It’s beautiful.

spn1005_2384

& you know what, I’m just gonna leave this here.

 

EDIT: so Andrea has informed me that it’s an alligator, not a dragon. Oops. I still find it funny, though.

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “supernatural, ode to americana

  1. *whispers* It’s an alligator. Part of Cajun cuisine is fried ‘gator. Great post, though! I got to go to Europe for the first time this summer and I love the diversity of sights. Everything from the Stonehenge to the Eiffel Tower to the Colosseum. One of the things I love about Europe that America doesn’t have is ancient history. Here, 100 years old is ancient. In Europe, that means it’s barely broken in. But part of the fun was seeing the country side. When movies show landmarks, they want to make it as recognizable at possible so it’s fun to see the more mundane stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, the show is a fairly accurate idea of what it’s like driving between the big cities. I live in the Midwest depicted in the show and if I drive South for thirty minutes, this is a pretty good idea of what it looks like before I reach the next small town, or mid-size city. It’s 250 miles to the capitol of my state and takes about three hours by car, and looks not unlike some of these photos.

    I love this shows cinematography. Even though it’s mostly shot in Canada, it’s not an unreal depiction of the States.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Living in the mid west of the USA is so much different than either coast. Enjoyed this ode. I live in an original colony where the buildings are a mix of historical and modern skyscrapers. Even the countryside has allowed modernization to creep in, but there are country stores and spots that hail to an older time. Supernatural does a great job conveying the mid section of USA even though it is filmed in Canada. Location scouts and Jim Michaels do a great job finding these places. Of course, some of the neon signs are made specifically for the show to honor certain events or folks but do reflect the love of neon that can be seen across the land. Canada and USA on same continent of North America and share some of the same mountain ranges so it all works. Again, lovely panorama.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Can I hug you ? No, seriously,this was an amazing post,the shots xou picked were magnificent and you found words to describe what had drawn me to the show as well. Being young and european myself, I was also enchanted by the back roads America the show gave us, the open roads with their freedom and at the same time their devastating loneliness and I can just totally agree to everything you said here:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • you most certainly can 😉

      thank you! it’s such a unique beautiful thing about the show- & I think especially sometimes for people like us who aren’t used to it, it’s kinda bewitching. & it adds so much to the mythology.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s