Over the last decade, cable channels have become a more prevalent and acclaimed outlet for TV programming. More and more channels like AMC and HBO have gained critical recognition for pushing the limits of the medium in order to tell compelling and original stories. Shows such as Mad Men, True Blood, The Walking Dead, and Six Feet Under have been critic darlings and generally considered to be the highest tier of television programming available.
In fact, it almost seems to be a given that cable channels are the place to go to watch quality programs. After them comes the networks like NBC, Fox, ABC, and CBS. And finally, comes the CW. The majority of the public seems to consider the CW as a (pre)teen soap opera network generally aimed toward the female population. Despite the variety in programming venturing into more adventurous and ambitious territory with shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as WB), Smallville, and Supernatural.
Supernatural. Now there is a quality show with good production value, humor, a long-standing well thought-out plot (through season 5 at least), interesting and compelling characters, and some good ole supernatural violence. Plus beer and bacon cheeseburgers in abundance. The show features two brothers, Sam and Dean, as they battle demons, spirits, and yes, the devil himself while traveling around in a cherry 1967 Impala to the soundtrack of the best classic rock.
The themes, characters, and plot tackled by Supernatural are at least on par with the previously mentioned cable shows. The show explores sensitive topics such as religion, death, absent parental figures, and each person’s purpose in life in a meaningful and determined manner. That is definitely something you cannot say about True Blood.
While both shows are similar in their supernatural backdrop, the difference between the two comes from the quality of writing, character development, and overall foresight as to what the show writer/runners want to happen. In all regards, Supernatural is far superior. However, True Blood was acclaimed wildly by critics and voraciously eaten up by viewers on HBO, whereas Supernatural has struggled with both on the CW.
Similarly, The Walking Dead also involves a sci-fi aspect with zombies, but centers primarily around the melodrama in the group of survivors. The drama not involving the zombies and the new situation they are thrust into because of the outbreak often seems contrived and yes, zombie-groan worthy. Yet, critics and audience alike praise it for being original, suspenseful, and heartfelt. People give this unorthodox subject matter a chance because of the more mainstream network it is on. AMC has proven they can produce quality shows that receive acclaim and viewership. While Supernatural bests The Walking Dead in suspense, authenticity, and risk-taking, it is still written off by the general public as teen drama.
People simply consider the CW to not produce worthwhile programming. And while some of the shows are less than stellar (OK, a lot of the just suck), they couldn’t be more wrong about others. While it is true that the network’s key demographic is women 18-35, they seem to have at least made an effort to reach out to other demographics or not stereotype their demographic’s taste. Personally I have recommended Supernatural to all my friends, and I always must add this disclaimer: I know it’s on the CW, but I promise it is great!
Most of them just do not give it a chance. And they are missing out. The friends who have taken the plunge into the awesome world of the Winchesters have enthusiastically continued on with the series and never looked back! It is unfortunate that people do not give shows like Supernatural a chance simply because of the network it is on. It is sad that critics have failed time and time again to recognize the quality and compelling work produced, despite an overwhelmingly loud (albeit smaller) fanbase.
So here is my plea: just as you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a TV show by its network. Join team FREE WILL!