Thursday, November 7, 2013

I love you, Raelle Tucker (and you too, Sera Gamble).

I heard Sera Gamble's name long before Raelle Tucker's, during the whole Showrunner thing with Supernatural several years ago.  Mostly, I associate the words 'Sera Gamble' with 'bitching' and 'batshit crazy fanfights' (which, admittedly, I enjoy from a careful distance far more than I ever enjoyed Jerry Springer*).  The SPN fandom, which I am only casually and fairly recently acquainted with, has some odd bends in its overall shape.  I'm not even talking Wincest, or Destiel, or Bobby/Crowley or what have you (all of which, with the former exception, have been done before in virtually every fandom ever, thank you Grand-daddy Kirk/Spock).  I mean the Conventions, really.  And I mean the fanfiction, of which SPN has the second highest number for tv in the world, as far as these things can be reliably counted (...Also, number one is Glee?  Huh.  Was not expecting that).  I am talking about passion.

I started watching Supernatural on the recommendation of someone I can't remember during the fall I began grad school.  It made for a good pairing.  I wasn't really hooked, right away; the first episode was scary for a television show, and I'll watch dat lady in anything (speaking of ships that shall not die: SHARMEN FOREVER), but frankly I'm looking for something more gruesome than can pass on the CW.  However, it was nice to keep the air full of sound while I made flash cards and obsessed over anatomical drawings and wished I hadn't destroyed my brain with drugs in my wayward youth.

I don't remember when I got hooked.  At that time, I wasn't watching any television regularly, and hadn't, in a long time.  I will read literally anything, but I break up with television shows.  Hard.  Michelle Rodriguez dies?  We're done here.  The dramatic but misleading opener barely factors in the finale?  Then who gives a shit.  Giant bulls and english ladies and fairies wait what the fuck?  No.  But Supernatural had the opposite effect.  I got sucked in.

It might have been the comedy; I have seriously watched some of the funnier episodes of Supernatural a dozen times, and I will never tire of them.  It might have been the eye candy, or the talent, or the dynamic, of the leads.  There's no telling.  A lot of it had to do with the eleventh episode of the first season, when Kim Masters, a veteran from the X-Files, threw in a shot-for-shot homage to one of that show's best episodes ever.  But deep down, I suspect it was Raelle Tucker and Sera Gamble.

I think my distance from the fandom is rooted in the fact that I started watching Supernatural as a horror fan.  From what I can tell, this is not the case so much; since Kripke left, in particular, the show has hinged much more on the paranormal/fantasy angle rather than the paranormal/horror angle.  Which, okay, whatever, but it does explain why I had a harder time with seasons six and seven.  A large part of why Supernatural is so compelling--the dynamic between the leads--will never change, but the horror was sapped, a bit.  Kripke is a Horrordork.  I've never met the guy, but I know my people.  And I also know that hard-core horrordorks do not often find a place writing for television.  It's the nature of the beast.  So that, combined with the marketing data showing Supernatural was a magnet for the growing number of lady-fans who read fantasy plus his departure all equaled a change in tone.

But so what?

People went fucking nuts when Sera Gamble became the Showrunner.  When I look over the episodes she had a hand in writing--Faith, Heart, Dream a Little Dream of Me, It's a Terrible Life--there is no doubt in my mind she was a great choice as Showrunner, particularly to transition a show about family and horror into a show about existential dilemmas in a fantasy landscape.  And I think she did a great job.  I can't imagine the amount of pressure involved in handling a production of that size, or managing the 180 degree storyline shift, or the growing, insatiable fan base.  I think she should get a goddamn gold star.**

But Raelle Tucker?  Raelle Tucker I want to have slumber parties with.  In a bat-shit crazy fangirl way.

Raelle Tucker is associated with almost every single episode of Supernatural I love best: Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, What Is and What Should Never Be, Roadkill, Hunted, plus most of Sera Gamble's goodies.  She turned me from a horror fan watching Supernatural into a fan of Supernatural.  Her writing perfectly captures the ambivalence of desire and duty, resentment and love; it embodies every shade of grief.  She is so damn good, y'all.  Some of these episodes slip under the radar because they're dark in a different way--they don't offer resolution, the way many do, by showing the brothers together, bonding over a beer, picking up and moving on.  This is often implied, but these episodes do the dirty work of exposing their character through more insidious means.  Dean is rude to an abandoned woman, lost on the highway; Sam is compassionate.  Why?  What drives Dean: the knowledge that people will die if he stops hunting, or the realization that without his job, he's nothing?  How different is Sam from the monsters he hunts?  And on and on.  Genius.  Take away the work of Raelle Tucker and Sera Gamble, and you gut the psyches of Sam and Dean Winchester.

Bonus round: Raelle Tucker also wrote the finale of the first season of True Blood, which I lurved, and she wrote a play about being a stripper once upon a time, which is how she met her writing partner... Sera Gamble.  She doesn't let her past dominate her writing, she doesn't glamorize it, and she's not sorry about it either, all of which is why I want to make her smores and listen to her talk about anything, pretty much.  Instead, I will just obsessively study her dialogue and keep trying to give True Blood another chance.

And obsessively re-read interviews with her (so damn few).  If you can get through these (the 2007 one in particular) without wanting to make her smores I want some of your meds.

In a parallel universe, this writing duo work together on a series about sisters who fight the apocalypse and it doesn't have to break any ground at all to matter, it's just hella popular, and all of the fanfic it generates is about unifying the good in the world and rainbows and joy.***  I go there in my dreams.

*Jerry Springer was required viewing when I was growing up.  It was literally played in every single household on every street in my neighborhood and that was that.

Also, I have two anecdotes relating to Jerry Springer that belong nowhere else, so here they are:

1)  If you want to map the change in attitudes towards virtually any demographic in America, all you have to do is watch audience reactions on Jerry Springer.  On the upside (I think?), they were one of the first shows to have a 'surprise! I'm a guy/girl/trans/intersex person who's in love with you' spin, which means that twenty years ago on these episodes, without fail, there was a riot/lynch mob feel whenever this happened and the party who had been fooled was both reviled and pitied in turns by the audience.  When I was watching this show a year ago with my Nana, they had another 'surprise! I'm trans!' show and I was dreading it, feeling that pit in my stomach, remembering and wishing I didn't know the audiences turned into frothing homophobic rage machines.  When the trans girl turned towards her boy-friend and said, 'surprise!' He said, 'oh honey, I know.  I'm bisexual.'  Worst possible response, I thought, waiting for the crowd to lynch them both.  Instead, to my absolute shock, they cooed over the couple like they wanted them to get married right there.  I'm still reeling from that change.

Downside?  I'm from the South, and I had a co-worker from Seattle once ask me if I could read.  No shit.  Thank you, Jerry Springer, for convincing America that everyone born south of the Mason-Dixon line is incapable of critical thinking.  Let alone filling out an application for a library card.

2)  One of my besties went on Jerry Springer.  He was pretending to be a guy that was sleeping with his cousin, who was cheating on her boy-friend.  In real life, of course, they were all gay Sculpture majors and bored as hell.  He told me that on the limo ride to the show, however, it was revealed that they were the only fake cousin-love-triangle.  There were three other couples who were the real deal.

And so there you have it, folks, some totally unverified statistics: 3 out of 4 are not faking on Springer.  And statistics don't lie.

**My standards for heroism are basically looking at whether or not a job needs to be done in the first place, and whether or not I would want to be the one that does it.  Heroes by this standard include bus drivers, the President, US Army Bomb Disposal experts, kindergarten teachers, custodial staff everywhere forever, ER doctors, and many others; although the first criteria is pretty shaky, the second is so overwhelmingly 'NO' that I hereby award Showrunner of Supernatural Hero status.

***No, Buffy doesn't count because Dawn is ridiculous.  I loved Buffy so much that I didn't break-up with her over Dawn, but man, it was close.