'Supernatural' Cast Unleashes Season 8 Secrets
Gay appeal may not be the first thing you’d expect to find in a television series about two brothers hunting gods, monsters, and demons, but for seven seasons Supernatural has offered enough skin, subtext, and suggestion to keep gay fans coming back for more. In fact, Supernatural so easily lends itself to a queer reading that an overwhelming amount of fanfiction stories have been written involving a sexual relationship between the show's main characters, Sam and Dean Winchester.
Today, the “Wincest” phenomenon is not only a part of the show’s fandom, it’s become an inside joke that the writers of the cult series have referenced on more than one occasion. (Even the hunky co-stars themselves, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, openly embrace it.)
Supernatural’s welcoming approach to all aspects of its fandom is one reason this series as evolved beyond a simple show where hot guys kill things and has become a multi-layered, malleable, piece of pop culture.
Though the most recent overarching storyline of Leviathans taking over the planet corporate-style lacked the punch of previous seasons, fans will be happy to know that Jeremy Carver – the man who wrote several fan-favorite episodes of Supernatural during seasons 3-5 – has replaced Sera Gamble as showrunner for the series' eighth season, which kicks off tonight on the CW at 9/8c.
Carver has teased big plans for the show’s future and promises this new season will not only be a fresh start in many ways, but also a return to some of the core concepts that have made Supernatural such an enjoyable series for more than seven years. “We’re using this season as a chance to reboot some mythology to give us legs for at least a few more seasons,” says Carver. “We’re also going to see the brothers acting like more of a team than they have in a while. For the first time in a long time the boys are going to come together, united, on a quest of sorts and they’ll be playing offense instead of just reacting to something in the universe.”
Also returning this season is the scheming demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who will once again be at odds with the Winchesters now that the Leviathans are in disarray. With his snarky comments and (apparent) fluid sexuality, Crowley has become a favorite for many gay fans of Supernatural – a fact Mark Sheppard knows only too well. “To say my character is sexually ambiguous would be putting it mildly,” says Sheppard. “To be fair however, I think Crowley enjoys making people uncomfortable more than anything else, but his sexuality is certainly not as defined as people seem to want. It’s great fun to play that up, especially on a show like this where the writers keep giving me wonderful things to do and say.”
Season 8 will pick up one year after the hair-raising events of last May’s finale, which left Dean (Jensen Ackles) locked in purgatory and Sam (Jared Padalecki) completely alone. Without a single anchor to the life of a hunter for the first time in his life, we find Sam has left behind his monster-mashing ways and started a relationship with a girl named Amelia – a development Padalecki is looking forward to exploring.
“I’ve had the chance to play Sam in a lot of different ways, but never in a place where he’s truly happy,” Padalecki says. “In the past he’s always had something hanging over him and this season we’ll get to see him unencumbered by the need to stay in the life because he feels guilty that his brother and other people he cares about are still out there hunting. I’m excited to see this side of Sam and find out if there really is hope for him, Dean, and hunters in general. Hope that, despite all these horrible things they’ve seen, they can eventually lead a happy life.”
Good times for Sam Winchester may be a rarity on Supernatural, but Padalecki has a reputation for creating more than his fair share of laughs on set. “Jerred is a monster,” jokes Misha Collins, the actor who plays the show’s adorable angel, Castiel. “When I first came on the show he would mess with me in the middle of takes all the time. I’d try to bite my cheeks or smirk to keep from laughing, but of course that never works very well. I eventually got to the point where I just stopped trying to hold it in and if he was doing something like, I don’t know, fondling my crotch with a broom handle, I’d just go ahead and laugh. Now he knows it’s really easy to make me break and I suspect that’s why the writers have stopped putting Sam and Castiel in so many scenes together.”
Clearly the cast of Supernatural are having the time of their lives, but a show like this doesn’t become a hit without plenty of hard work. Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) tackled new challenges when he took a crack at directing two episodes last season and now the 34-year-old actor is returning to the director’s chair for a third time. However, he admits the job hasn't gotten any easier.
“The last two times I directed episodes my character wasn’t included in as many scenes so I could just focus on being a director, but this time it’s more challenging because they’ve written me into almost every scene,” Ackles says of his experience directing the eighth season’s third episode. “It’s been a little difficult learning to switch back and forth from actor to director because they are two completely different mindsets. After eight seasons, Jarred and I have got a rhythm down. We can easily slip into those characters and bang out a scene. It’s comfortable, but being a director is not comfortable to me, and I really enjoy that challenge.”
Thankfully, Ackles’ additional duties won’t mean less screen time for the gruff-voiced hunter we’ve come to know and love. The actor promises we’ll see his character more fierce and focused than ever before. “Dean is going to come out of purgatory with a sense of clarity. He understands that there’s a reason and a purpose to his life and what he does, and this is what it is. It’s behind the wheel of that car, sitting next to his brother, cruising down the road.”
Catch a preview of the season premiere below.