It was recently announced that Supernatural is trying out another spin-off via backdoor pilot. It revolves around the character Jody Mills, who’s been taking in orphans and runaways and training them to be hunters. After the disaster that was Supernatural: Bloodlines, some might be wondering why bother at all? And why choose this storyline?
Supernatural is in production on their 13th season. They seem to be thinking of wrapping it up in a season or two. If they’re gonna spin anything off, they’ve gotta do it quick. And considering that they jettisoned most of their cast at the end of season 12, it makes sense to take a supporting cast member out now, while the show makes a clean break.
Why this show? Unlike Bloodlines, fans asked for this one. Supernatural, and I say this as a fan, has a serious problem with their female characters. Where the issue stems from and what could be done would take its own post. I’ll just say this. Women love the men in the show, but they’re gutted when a character like Charlie or Rowena are killed. Or Jo and Ellen. Or Meg. Or, hell, I’m about ready to start a campaign to bring Bela back.
Point is, I saw a lot of people say why didn’t they spin-off [Insert male central show here]? Well, there’s an actual answer to that. The Wayward Daughters. Who? A group of Supernatural fans, who’ve been writing in to the network and posting online, asking for a spin-off revolving around women.
And the woman they identify with and/or look to as a role model? Jody Mills, as played by Kim Rhodes. She’s a sheriff whose family was killed in a supernatural incident, who has since devoted her life to taking in young girls in similar predicaments who need a place to go. She also hunts monsters and is a total badass.
The day it was announced the spin-off was happening I saw so many twitter posts from happy fans, feeling as though the CW network was listening to them and how unusual that felt and how happy it made them. But we don’t want a repeat of Bloodlines, so here are the things the show can do, as well as some things I’d like to see, if the series is picked up.
I also kind of wish they were calling it Wayward Daughters, not Wayward Sisters as they announced, because it’s a closer approximation to Wayward Son (as in, Carry On My), but I’ll let it stand.
Make Donna Hanscum a Series Regular
My first thought when I heard that Jody could be getting her own show was “Hurray! Is Donna coming too?” Despite the fact that they’ve only had one episode together, the real life friendship between the two actresses has linked the characters in many fans’ minds.
They’ll need a full cast, and Jody can’t be the only adult series regular week after week. Donna, also a sheriff who’s fallen into hunting, seems like the obvious character to join her. And their personalities are so different that I could really see a fun odd couple dynamic between them. Or, if she’s not a regular, she should, at the very least, make frequent appearances.
Hire Women Behind the Camera
This is a big one. Supernatural‘s own record for women working behind the camera ranges from pretty damn good to abysmal, depending on the season and the position. For instance, seasons 2, 3, and 4 had an almost even split of male to female penned episodes, and the showrunner during seasons 6 and 7 was Sera Gamble. But the show has only had 3 female directors total (including Rachel Talalay of Doctor Who and Sherlock) who’ve only directed 4 episodes. And in season 8, only one episode written by a woman. Yikes.
But here’s another opportunity to hire women to work behind the camera. You know who are really good at telling stories about women? Women. Sadly, it would be groundbreaking for a major network to have, not even a majority, but just 50% women working behind the camera of a single show in writing and directing roles. Like, this probably won’t happen. But it’s what I wish would happen.
Don’t Erase Jody’s Backstory
Jody has been with the show for 8 seasons. She didn’t appear much in the beginning, but they realized what a goldmine the character was and began giving her more to do. Mostly, this has been great stuff. I like what they’ve done with the character. So have the other fans. That’s why they’ve been asking she have a show. Please keep that in mind, writers. Don’t immediately ignore everything that made the characters what she is.
Some of her story is dark (her zombie son ate her husband). But all of that built her into the character she is now. The fact that she was a mother has been incredibly important to the story. Don’t lose that. The fact that she doesn’t give up the fight until the war is over, no matter the losses. Don’t lose that. She’s a good sheriff. Don’t lose that. Above all she has a bright unbreakable spirit. Show it often.
Stay True to the Supernatural Universe
This was one of the reasons Bloodlines was so bad. The world felt unfamiliar and often didn’t follow the same rules that Supernatural had established for itself. This shouldn’t work against show in a confining way, but should be used to give it structure.
After 12 plus seasons of Supernatural, this is a very lived in universe. Like comfy jeans. We know how it works, we’re familiar with its monsters, we have lore to work with and build on, we have characters and relationships to expand. There’s enough to work with. You don’t need to change the mythology and probably shouldn’t. It also gives the show an excuse to revisit some Supernatural characters that couldn’t/shouldn’t/haven’t returned to the show.
Make It Different from Supernatural
That being said, we don’t want a straight across rehash either. Let that be it’s own thing. Shape this into something new. Considering the number of fanfiction writers out there, I’m sure there’s room in the universe for both shows to co-exist harmoniously.
I’m sure will be monster hunting in the spin-off, but these are learning, lesser trained hunters, all of whom, whatever the line-up for the cast is, need to have different skill sets and personalities from the Winchesters. Some of these characters have already been introduced, we know we like them, don’t go turning them into copies of Supernatural characters.
An Ensemble Cast
I don’t know what the Supernatural showrunners have against ensemble casts. Like, did a supporting character kill your family? What’s the deal? I personally love ensemble casts, and I thing Wayward Sisters is a great opportunity to build a strong ensemble. I don’t mind if the cast revolves a bit with girls coming into the fold and leaving it as they grow older, find their families, etc. But I think that a core group, for instance Jody, Donna, Alex, maybe Claire (I’ll get to my reservations about her in a second) and 2 or 3 new characters, could be beautifully applied in a show like this. The plural in the title makes me hopeful.
Create a Family
Going off that, give the group (or some of the group) a familial quality. The success of Supernatural hinges on the relationship of the brothers, but the line “family don’t end with blood” has been echoed throughout the show. Whether a character is a biological relative is immaterial.
It’s about the people you choose to make your family. This would make a lot of sense for a show made up of a motley crew of misfit girls. Already we’ve seen Jody become like a mother to Alex, and Alex and Claire sometimes act like squabbling sisters. Whether or not the creators want to include new characters that are actually related isn’t necessary (though they could, I guess). Make these characters a family.
Watch Your Younger Characters
Okay. Here’s my Claire thing. I’m not a terrible big fan of her character. I could get there, but I often find her teenage behavior abrasive. I get what they’re doing, but somewhere between the writing, directing, and acting, I’m getting tripped up. They’ve just brushed some dimension with her recently, and if they could just dig into that, she could work.
On the other hand, sometimes a show will introduce a cool likeable child/teen character, get a positive response, and bring the character back, only for them to become one dimensional or get their personality erased altogether. I think they already have a strong handle on Alex, and I hope they don’t lose that. Any incoming girls would have to walk that same line.
Make It Scary
Or at least dangerous. Put the character in the same peril the Winchesters are in. Put them up against formidable enemies. Supernatural can be a little dark and a little gory. Those elements should transfer straight across to Wayward Sisters.
I also think this could be a great way to return to Supernatural‘s early monster of the week format. Fewer demons to reason with, more monsters to kill. Expansion is great, but to start, keep it simple. Make them basic hunters in the beginning. Give them ghosts, werewolves, ghouls, and wendigos to fight. I’m not saying we can’t get into dragons later on, but maybe don’t start there. Give it somewhere to go later.
Keep It Funny
But don’t loose sight of the humor! This is a fun concept, and I hope that the writers have fun with it. One of the reasons we wanted Jody (and, again, please God, Donna) is that she can quip as well as Dean. Her relationship with the other potential series regulars is charming and amusing. And that’s the great thing. It’s not a point to reach for. It’s already there. These characters have been created as fun quirky people. They just need to stay that way. Supernatural can be incredibly funny. It’s been repeatedly proved that’s actually a strong suit for that show. This is another element that I think should transfer straight between the two.
Overall, this is exciting, and I’m optimistic. If they can create a halfway decent pilot for the show, I will champion it for all I’m worth. I count any scenario in which the CW network wants to give Kim Rhodes a show as a win. And I’m anxious to meet the rest of my wayward sisters.