A captivating exploration of the television phenomenon that is Supernatural, with insights into characters, plots, and the show’s impact on pop culture.
When Supernatural first aired on the CW in 2005, it was dismissed by many for being “pretty guys fighting demons.” Yet Supernatural persisted for 15 seasons to become the anchor of the network’s line-up and the longest running genre series in US television history.
In Supernatural: A History of Television's Unearthly Road Trip, Erin Giannini delves into the phenomenon of this cult series and its devoted fan base. Covering all 15 seasons, including the series finale that aired in 2020, this book examines the show’s predecessors, characters, major storylines, and fan activism. It also revisits creator Eric Kripke’s road to creating the series, draws surprising and revealing connections between the show and other series, and discusses the ways Supernatural responded to social and industry changes throughout its long run.
Supernatural was the little show that could for 15 years, persisting beyond its original network’s lifespan and surviving the departure of its creator and showrunner, in no small part due to its loyal fans. Inspired by shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and going on to influence many shows that followed, Supernatural offers insight into how a series can adapt and grow to become a mainstay of primetime television.
Erin Giannini has served as an editor and contributor at PopMatters and has published and presented work on television series such as Supernatural, Dollhouse, iZombie, and Angel. She is the author of Joss Whedon Versus the Corporation: Big Business Critiqued in the Films and Television Programs. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Introduction:The Family Business: Supernatural’s Unlikely Success
PART I: IN THE BEGINNING
Chapter 1: On the Road So Far: A Trip through TV History
Chapter 2: Creating (and Recreating) Supernatural
Chapter 3: Sam, Dean, and the Great American Road Story
PART II: THE SUPERNATURAL WORLD
Chapter 4: “We Saved the World. A Lot”: Supernatural and Its Predecessors
Chapter 5: God(s) and Monsters: Supernatural, Folklore, and Religion
Chapter 6: Blasting the Fourth Wall: Supernatural’s Metafictional Episodes
Chapter 7: Deals With the Devil: Supernatural’s Political Hell
PART III: “PEOPLE WATCH THIS?” SUPERNATURAL’S CULTURAL IMPACT
Chapter 8: Supernatural and the Changing Television Landscape
Chapter 9: Beyond “Sam” and “Dean” Girls: Supernatural and Fan Activism
Conclusion: The End of the Road?
Appendix: The 30 Must-See Supernatural Episodes
About the Author
With this absorbing text, Giannini takes a deep dive into Supernatural, an immensely popular horror TV show that—despite a then-unknown cast—defied expectations and garnered legions of fans. Giannini considers the show’s wide-ranging influences, including Route 66, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Roseanne, and The X-Files. She also looks at the role that each of the show’s four showrunners had in shaping the series and the exploration of the main characters’ arcs. The book discusses the role of religion, politics, and folklore in the series and pays special attention to Supernatural’s numerous metafictional episodes, in which the writers comment on the overall narrative, as well as the activism of the dedicated fanbase. Finally, Giannini explores Supernatural’s evolution as the television landscape changed, its impact on other CW television shows, and the showrunners’ later work. In an appendix, she reveals her selection of must-see episodes. An insightful and entertaining analysis that fans of the series will devour.
Erin Giannini’s Supernatural: A History of Television’s Unearthly Road Trip is an impressive road map through one of television’s most-loved cult series. Giannini weaves together expert knowledge of television history and network production with a passion for Supernatural in her discussion of this show that defied the odds. Filled with the insight and conviction of a Winchester, this book is ideal for both the newcomer and established Supernatural fan, longing to revisit their favorite show.
Supernatural defied the odds since its beginning—a rare horror genre television show, surviving the crash of its network in its first year, and premiering in 2005 when the media landscape was changing dramatically. Despite those challenges, the show not only survived but thrived. Giannini investigates and ultimately explains Supernatural’s success, writing from her perspective as both a media scholar with a vast knowledge of television and a fan of the series, to allow an in-depth understanding of the show’s enduring appeal.
10/28/21, University of East Anglia Blog: Giannini’s story to becoming an author is told in this alumni feature.