I know, I already posted a vlog about Bloodlines, but that was very much my on the fly opinion.
But having given it a chance to sit, and being able to discuss it with a few people… I have a few more things that bothered me about the episode- a backdoor pilot for “Supernatural: Bloodlines.”
When the show was first announced, the list of the main characters was comprised of men. It wasn’t until much later that they started to announce female characters. Which was a bit of a relief. Since Supernatural is such a male heavy show already- I was glad to hear that there were some women in the main cast.
…except that the main female character, Violet, is a love interest. And might not be much more than that, since in the backdoor pilot she was kidnapped and didn’t manage to escape on her own, despite being a werewolf who was able to break free once the hero was also in the scene. The other notable female character is David’s sister, Margo Lassiter- who is running their family since their brother died and their father is very ill. And she fits right into the stereotype of the well-dressed woman who’s just interested in power. Great. Add in the multiple uses of bitch and whore in relation to Violet (who was being married off to another pack, as a power play), and Ennis’s fiance being fridged (more on that in the next paragraph) in the first 10 minutes of the episode… there’s a lot to be concerned about.
Fridged is short for Women in Refrigerators, the trope where a character is murdered/raped/incapacitated in order to get the hero to jump into action (named after the Green Lantern storyline where Kyle Raynor’s girlfriend was murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator, where he would discover her body and thus jump into action). It’s almost exclusively something that happens to female characters to motivate the male hero. In this case, Ennis learns of the supernatural through her death and begins to investigate who was responsible. This isn’t a new trope for Supernatural – in fact, it’s a Winchester legacy. Mary Winchester was fridged, sending John and boys into the life. Jess, Sam’s girlfriend was killed by the same demon who killed Mary in the exact same way for the identical reason. You could try to argue that WiF isn’t a thing, that it does happen with male characters to motivate women- but it happens so rarely, that there isn’t much of a corollary. Off the top of my head, all I can think of is Alias, where Sydney’s fiance was murdered- which got her to turn on her employers. The fabulous Kristen mentioned Steve Rogers – since his “death” pushed Peggy Carter towards founding SHIELD and Jason Voorhees for Friday the 13th. It’s rare, though, since there aren’t many female action leads. And typically, if we are talking about a female action lead, it’s the threat of harm to a loved one that spurs them into action. If it’s a man, there’s usually a body involved.
It was obvious that the intention for this was to create a connection between Sam and Ennis- but it’s completely unnecessary. Ennis is the son of a policeman, and there are a lot of nosy children of lawmen in television (see: Stiles Stilinski of Teen Wolf). Ennis could have simply seen something suspicious on the night of his proposal and become drawn into the investigation. As a bonus, his fiancee (a woman of color, no less) would still be in the cast- and give him someone to hide the supernatural world from. Instant character conflict. And frankly, Sam cares enough about humanity as a whole to try to keep anyone else from joining the Life.
But no. They went with one of the most standard tropes of them all.
You’ll notice I mentioned that his fiancee was a woman of color. One of the other things that I (and others) noticed is that Ennis was the only person of any ethnicity other than White in the show. Anyone with any power in the show? The five families? The bar owner? All White. There wasn’t a single person of any other shade, and this is Chicago! A quick glance at data from the 2010 census shows an ethnic breakdown of: 45% white, ~33% Black or African American, ~30% Hispanic/Latino). When you look at that, it seems highly unlikely that every single person in power in the show, that every member of the five families we’ve met – would be white. There should be at least someone in there that isn’t White, since I’m assuming that they’re family in the same way that mobs were… where there might be some literal family, but mostly it’s people taken into their organization.
Considering the origin of the Djinn, I find it upsetting (to say the least) that on Supernatural (both the regular series and now this spin-off) we’ve never run into a Djinn that wasn’t white.
As I said in the vlog, I did like the premise of the show- that Chicago is, unbeknownst to the human population, run by Monster Families. That there were power struggles within those families, and the obvious complications of the human and supernatural worlds mixing.
But the writing was less than inspired (in fact an entire argument between David and Violet actually happened between Dean and Castiel). And the writers made choices with the story that weren’t anything new (see: the fridging, Margo Lassiter who just wants to start a war). Factor in the uninspired casting, and this is a show that I’m going to pass on, unless there are substantial improvements made.
Update: The CW passed on Supernatural: Bloodlines for the upcoming fall season, but said they weren’t writing off the possibility of a different spin-off. Here’s to hoping that they’ll avoid the same mistakes.