How Fifty Shades of Gray Sporkings Sparked My Supernatural Obsession and Enriched My Life

How could some of the world’s worst fiction lead me down very rewarding paths? I didn’t think it possible. When Fifty Shades of Gray first impinged itself upon my awareness, I thought it had no redeeming value whatsoever. How shocked was I to discover it does? And how did it lead me toward Supernatural, which has become one of my favorite problematic shows of all time?

It’s all got to do with sporkings (CN: TV Tropes link). I’d only straight-up read something as poorly written as FSOG if I were trapped in a bathroom for days and had already memorized all the product labels. But then I stumbled across people basically pulling an MST3K-style critique of the horrible trilogy. I read Jenny Trout’s series on it first. In the process, I learned what real kink is, lost a lot of my hangups over sex, and discovered a community of people who were serious about enthusiastic consent. I also found a series of romance novels that were utterly brilliant and exemplified what romance should be. It was awesome. And when I got done, I wanted more. Which is how I found Das Mervin, Das Sporking, and Supernatural.

You see, I never really intended to watch Supernatural. When the show first came out, friends who were fans explained it to me, and I had utterly no interest in following the exploits of two dudes fighting demons. Yawn. And there was a lot of other, better stuff to fangirl over, like Doctor Who.

But Das Mervin and other sporkers use Supernatural gifs copiously. So as I watched them give FSOG (and later Twilight) much richly-deserved criticism in highly entertaining ways, I started to get fond of those boys. And Castiel. At first, an angel in a stuffy white dude’s body melted absolutely none of my butter. But as I grew to understand him through some of the references and fangirl enthusiasm creeping into the sporkings, I started getting involved, without ever having seen the show. Destiel? I shipped them. Watching gifs of Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles at conventions made me understand why some of my feminist friends were completely entranced by a show that was reportedly all about two brothers using toxic masculinity to fight monsters (someone please point me to the post that described it that way – I can’t find it now. But it was brilliant). I started reading posts about the show when they came across my dashboard. I didn’t laugh when a friend named her dog Jensen. I got it, even though I’d never seen a single clip.

Image shows Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles holding books from the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy and reacting in comic horror.
Castiel (Misha Collins) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) react to FSOG pretty much the way I do.

And then, several weeks ago, teetering on the edge of a major depression and needing something to pull me away from the abyss, I decided it was time. I started watching the show.

And I pretty much didn’t sleep for a month.

I don’t think I’d have gotten as caught up in it if it wasn’t for those gifs and the discussions I’d seen in the sporkings. I wouldn’t have understood the significance of some of the moments. Like when Castiel’s wings first appear?

Image shows Misha Collins as Castiel, a young white man in a tan trench coat, wearing a cheap suit and tie. He is standing in a building with an arched roof and occult symbols spray-painted on the walls. Behind him, black wings made of shadow stretch to the ceiling.
Castiel’s first appearance. I thought those shadow-wings were cheesy at first, but now I find them simply wonderful. So much better than the plain feathered variety.

I can’t even describe to you how deeply, thoroughly right that felt, seeing those dark wings unfold (also, being a Danzig fan, “Her Black Wings” roars through my head every time). It was one of the most powerful moments in television for me. And I don’t even like angels as a general rule.

I’m with Dean on this one: Angels are dicks (CN: TV Tropes again).

There’s a shitload of problems with the show. It’s overwhelmingly obvious it was created by a couple of self-satisfied dudebros who are too busy being impressed with how clever they are to actually live up to the talent they have working for them. They rely too heavily on tropes, and they’re really heavy-handed when they tip their hats to their influences, and the toxic masculinity is super-thick, and they don’t let their characters learn from experience the way they should, and and and… but the damned thing works anyway. The actors, the set designers, the composers, pretty much everything else is brilliant. And they laugh at themselves. And they service their fans. And they don’t shy away from feeding the Destiel ships. And there are times when it’s sublime.

Funny to realize I never would have watched it if it wasn’t for some of the worst books to ever be published, but it’s a funny ol’ world, innit? Good things can come from horrible things. Fighting awful leads to awesome. This I have learned from FSOG sporkings.

This long, silly tale of How FSOG Sporkings Got Me Into Supernatural ends here. But a friend and I will soon be bringing you a series in which we analyze Supernatural episodes, exploring their stylistic elements and deconstructing their tropes. We’ll be talking about social justice as it relates to the show. We’ll be exploring where it fails, and where it succeeds. And whether you love or hate the show, or just don’t give a toss, I think you’ll like what we do with it. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the year and a half I’ve been addicted to sporkings, it’s that exploring pop culture on this level can open up avenues we never thought existed. It can tell us things about ourselves and our culture we didn’t realize it was saying. And it can make us better creators, and better consumers, of media.

As Dean might say: That’s awesome.

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How Fifty Shades of Gray Sporkings Sparked My Supernatural Obsession and Enriched My Life
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3 thoughts on “How Fifty Shades of Gray Sporkings Sparked My Supernatural Obsession and Enriched My Life

  1. 1

    People keep telling me that Supernatural gets better as it goes on, but I was never able to push past the first season or two. I just found the two brothers too fucking annoying. I’m still hoping for a really good version of Constantine. (i.e., Not the one that we had a couple years back which included him going on at length about how gypsy magic was the worst kind, etc.)

  2. 2

    Oh, oh, oh. YESSSSSSS.

    I started watching the show because it was the only thing on during daytime programming that wasn’t objectively vapid, trying to sell me detergents or yogurt, and had entertainment value. I stuck with it at first as a sort of embarrassing little secret and was entirely unaware there existed a fandom, or of anything else you mentioned. The longer I watched, the better the show started to handle some of the tropes, the more depth the actors brought to their roles. My favorite episodes are the meta ones from earlier on, even though I never got into the shipping or fandom aspects, I can appreciate the fan service.

  3. 3

    OH MY CAS I am super excited to hear about SPN analysis! Very exciting! Count me among the many feminists who count Supernatural as a #problematicfave and very much appreciate a good sporking.

    Also kinda neat: Your trajectory towards SPN fandom sounds similar to mine. I kept seeing gifs on Tumblr and fell in love with Castiel before ever seeing the show. ^_^

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