Hannah Scribbles

Why Supernatural’s Bloodlines Got Called Off

In Movies/TV, Pop Culture! on May 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

CW’s planned spinoff of Supernatural is officially dead in the water.  Bloodlines, which entered the picture during Supernatural’s season 9 episode (9×20), felt too much like The Originals for many longterm Supernatural fans to stomach.  The backdoor pilot episode earned a slew of negative reviews on Tumblr that outweighed the positive response and killed its future.

Bloodlines wasn’t a bad show.  It wasn’t even a bad concept.  Many fans miss the “good ol’ days” of monster hunting before Supernatural began using the Bible as a reference book.  Setting up a monster mafia in one of America’s most historically corrupt cities was a stroke of genius, and writers could have explored Chicago’s mafia-ridden roots.

But the CW pilot failed in several key points, which they should acknowledge if they expect to keep the Supernatural giant from sinking after season 10.

Upper class, white monsters

Margo Lassiter, shape-shifter family, lassiter shapeshifter, spn bloodlines familiesThe CW hosts slew of glamorous shows about betrayal, monsters and fashion trends.  And they could have continued the run with Bloodlines but for one worrisome fact:  upper class white monsters.

Spinoffs aren’t expected to be identical to their origin material, but Bloodlines proved too jarring a transition for many fans.  While Supernatural chronicles migratory life of blue collar roots, home town cops and your small town Everyman, Bloodlines set its eyes on a more glamorous life.

The pilot split the story between Ennis Roth, the urban man with more traditionally Supernatural roots, and the posh world of monsters.  After giving a courteous head nod to other monster families, Bloodlines focused in on the very wealth – very white – shapeshifter and werewolf families.

I hope the writers planned to expand the story in future episodes, but I was left miffed by how they handled race and class.  Surely the Lassiter family, pure-born shapeshifters, didn’t need to be white – or at least not entirely white.  And where are the other factions, the Djinn and ghouls, who could be cast with more diversity?  Why is Ennis, the protagonist and only minority character, simultaneously given blue collar roots and the less captivating storyline?

Man Pain and Women in Refrigerators

Supernatural has the dubious legacy of beginning its nine season run by killing Sam Winchester’s girlfriend, Jess, and setting a long precedent for killing off the show’s female characters as a plot device.  Bloodlines had the misfortune of mimicking the trope and doing so clumsily.  Not only have audiences become more aware of Women in Refrigerators – when TV shows, movies and video games kill off the main character’s significant other as a motivating plot device for the male protagonist – but they know when it’s not done well.

supernatural man pain, Spn Bloodlines, Ennis Roth spn, women in refrigerators, sexist tv tropes

Ennis’s story is fueled by the death of his girlfriend.  David Lassiter spends the pilot grieving his lost relationship with Violet, which is dead in another sense.  The villain is a grieving man, driven crazy by victimization at the hands of monsters.  Even Sal, who departed within minutes of the show’s opening, died grieving and remorseful.

Too close to the Supernatural pilot

A successful, independent young man is called back home by his sibling to take care of family matters.  He struggles to reconcile the loss of his girlfriend while taking care of the job, eventually deciding to stay on with the family business.  Surprise!  I’m talking about David Lassiter, not Sam Winchester.

Jessica Moore, women in refrigerators, tropes in TV shows, women representation in Supernatural

A hot-headed young man takes up hunting to seek revenge following the brutal death of his girlfriend, but things are more complicated than they seemed.  Then he receives a surprise call from his “dead” father telling him not to get involved with affairs in Chicago’s underworld.  No, I’m not talking about the Winchesters.  I’m talking about Ennis.

I enjoyed the clever characters in Bloodlines, but witty banter and brotherhood forged in loss couldn’t save the show.  Maybe the Winchesters will return to Chicago in season 10 so we can get some closure – and the spinoff that longtime fans deserve.

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