No Chick Flick Moments: 'Supernatural' as a Masculine Narrative
This thesis examines the CW Network series Supernatural (hereafter SPN) as a revitalized masculine text. SPN as a masculine narrative is representative of 21st century conceptions of gender. Part of why it succeeds on the CW (a network aimed at 18 to 34-year-old women) is because it does not adhere to stringent binary thinking on gender. The show has only two main characters, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, both of whom are meant to be all-American blue collar heroes. Though they are based in this traditional masculine image what sets the brothers apart is the way SPN has updated this very image to apply to contemporary mores.
The first chapter examines the brothers’ roots in traditional heroic masculinity, applying a structuralist method of analysis to determine the heroic and narrative forms being used. Axel Olrik’s Epic Laws of Folk Narrative establish the dual-hero narrative tradition from which SPN is derived. Next, I dissect each brother’s individual narrative, utilizing Jan de Vries’ classical hero pattern for Sam and my own traits of the “new American folk hero” for Dean. Continuing in my effort to link the brothers to their traditional roots, I use examples from both folk and popular culture to show the progression of the two hero types in American culture.
In the second chapter I explore the genre of SPN and how it affects the presentation of masculinity in the series. The main genre of the series is that of the road narrative and thus my discussion of genre is framed by an exploration of the road narrative. By using the road narrative as the basis of my discussion I am able to discuss the inclusion of conventions from other genres hybridized within the show such as dramatic themes and character positioning while maintaining a consistent structural base of the main genre of the series.
The final chapter serves to discuss changes in the American masculine road narrative through a comparison between SPN and Jack Kerouac’s own road narrative On the Road since the novel served as one of the inspirations for the series and can provide historical comparison.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:supernatural gender masculinity on the road kerouac heroes genre homosocial narrative television
Date of Publication:01/01/2009