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July 29, 2014

It's getting a little too 'meta' on Supernatural

by Hemal Jhaveri, posted Nov 19th 2009 9:02AM
The Real Ghostbusters Who wants to help me run down all the "meta" moments so far this season on Supernatural? Seriously, anyone? Because there are a lot.

Last Thursday's episode, "The Real Ghostbusters," reached almost unforeseen levels of meta-dom. To appreciate the intricate levels of meta in this episode, and the back and forth that's happening between the fans and the actors, creators and even prop people from the show, you need to have lived and breathed this sucker from episode one to right now.

But, as much as I love Kripke's ability to break down that fourth wall and, in the process, send a huge, heart-felt hug to fandom, it's time to take the story back to Sam and Dean.

Supernatural has a long tradition of playing with its fans, from working often discussed topics in fan forums (like, say, whether Dean ever graduated high school) into storylines to overtly acknowledging the "homoerotic subtext" between Sam and Dean. Wonder if they know about the slash fan fiction that hard core members of the fan community write? Yep, that's been discussed in explicit (and slightly embarrassing) detail.

Then last season, they took the playful inside jokes to a whole new level and inserted fictional Sam and Dean characters into a story about Sam and Dean. I know, it sounds weird. And like most meta, it's a game that goes around and around, with events overlapping another in many ways.

And yet, Kripke's meta gamble paid off. Instead of making the show unintentionally silly, the addition of a fictional Sam and Dean, the heroes of a little-known cult series of books who also have a small army of dedicated fans, added a respectable layer to the show's overall myth arch. It also introduced one of the best new characters to the show; Chuck , the prophet/writer who can see Sam and Dean's future.

Supernatural doesn't come close to the genius of The Simpsons when toying with meta, but it's still very well done and even more rare, very enjoyable. Meta-concepts work best when applied with irreverence and humor, and "Ghostbusters" was not only twisted funny, but executed with a disturbing amount of sincerity. After watching that episode, I'm more convinced than ever it's not coming back for a sixth season. Was it their way of saying thanks before they bow out?

At any rate, this Thursday's episode, "Abandon All Hope" looks like it should get us back on track with the impending end-of-the-world scenario. Not that I don't appreciate the love, but I miss Sam and Dean kicking some demon ass. To really keep moving the story forward, the love-fest between creators/actors/stagehands etc. and fans should come to an end, at least in the fictional universe.

So fans, what do you think? Is it too much meta? Does it break down the fourth wall too much? Or are the insider jokes like getting a love letter? I'm serious about listing all the meta-esque moments on Supernatural, either this season or overall. Help me out here, ladies (and the occasional dude) in the comments, by listing which meta-moments you loved or hated.

[Watch clips of Supernatural at SlashControl.]

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Diana

I agree the episode was funny, but sign me up for "too much Meta". Not only that, but frankly. is this fan service or fan mockery?

Ok, it's alright to make meta references to your show, it's alright to make fun of it (like Stargate SG1 used to do with it's Wormhole X-Treme and 200 episodes)... but there's a difference between making fun of yourself, and making fun of the fanbase.

There was not one decent reasonable human being in all the fans presented in that episode. Most of them were walking punch lines, while Sam and Dean are ever so rightous in their dismissal of the fanbase and what it stands for.

Keep it to yourself Kripke. I understand it's the last season and maybe you wanted to do the fans a favor by making a special episode about them, but maybe there's a better way of doing that than having Becky look like some psychotic fangirl that screams off the top of her lungs: "if you don't like it, don't watch it, hater"

November 20 2009 at 6:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

Are you kidding me? That episode was hilarious! Maybe its because I am have a closet case of online obsessions with my favorite cult TV shows (Buffy, and now Supernatural), but I found the self-referencing on point and fresh. The dialogue and plot lines read as tough the writers were like, smoking spliffs and having a few beers into the wee hours of the morning.

You just know they're all crowded around the computer while one trolls around for the most ridiculous "wincest" "slashfest" (whatever you want to call it!) fanfiction pieces they can find, giggling hilariously. Because that's what it is... hilarious. I think its hilarious and I'm just a fan! What must the creator and writers think?!

But to list a few favorite moments... it has to be when the LARP-ing started with that girl screaming upstairs. As soon as that happened, things just escalated to a whole new level of fandom. Not to forget the "homoerotic subtext of Supernatural" seminar, which was also a good show.

And btw, thanks for introducing me to the term "meta." Because I watched that episode and was thinking that there must be a perfect word out there to describe what I was seeing...

November 20 2009 at 3:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sabro

WAY too much meta; if I wanted to know about fans, I'd go online or to a convention. I'm not watching this show to watch fans, I'm watching for Sam, Dean, Bobby etc and Supernatural stuff. Enough with the silliness already - let's get on with the show!

November 19 2009 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
normal

I agree wholeheartedly TV Squad. There has been MUCH too much of a fairly decent thing with the overload on comedy and meta episodes this season and we're only half way through. Where the show excelled in the past was dramatic, scary episodes with some snappy one liners and the occasional absurd situation.

I liked the rare forays in comedy in previous seasons, episodes like Season 1's Hell House and Season 2's Tall Tales and Hollywood Babylon(meta done right), and even Season 4's Monster At The End Of This Book but this season is only half way through and I feel like half the episodes have been comedy and meta.

This show was never a jolly show. It started off with a young mother being gutted and burned on the ceiling in front of her family for god's sake. Anyone looking for lighthearted good times never should have been looking to this show for them.

I hope we are now finished with the funny ha-ha's for the season because I want to get back to serious Apocalypse, end of the world stuff. I have no trouble admitting, I love Dean and Sam but I also love to see them suffer, and eventually overcome it, so more of that please less of making a joke of the shows entire premise.

November 19 2009 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to normal's comment
Sean

True, but the show did have its lightheartedness at the same time. It may have opened with serious subjects, but at the heart of it was humor and the brotherly relationship. It since got away from that with the whole demon blood and angelic destiny deal which really messed up the brothers. Now we're seeing them trusting each other again and demon hunting. I liked the meta-episodes best, but I suppose I should agree that they have been too many for most.

November 19 2009 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sean

I loved the episode, though I have watched since season one, so I get the inside jokes. I think Supernatural was getting too serious last season. And this kind of brought the series back full circle by recreating the first season in a way by being very episodic and hilarious while nail-biting with a thread running through the episodes. This has been my favorite season so far. Although, I wasn't too much of a fan of the future episode. I'm never a fan of those, except for the recent one of Sanctuary. It's also why I stopped watching Heroes. Too much reliance on time traveling, convoluting the storyline. ANYWAY, Supernatural's writing is top notch this year, and even if you aren't a huge fan, watching since season one, I think you can still appreciate the humor in the episodes. Great guest stars. It's been nice to have light-hearted episodes, since it's been so dense and serious.

November 19 2009 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

this Thursday's episode, "Abandon All Hope" looks like it should get us back on track >>> THANK GOD as I didn't watch the last 2 episodes personally I hate the meta episodes but that is just me.

November 19 2009 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tracey8051

I thought this episode was brilliant! Yes, I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to the overall season arc next week, but no one does standalone episodes as well as Supernatural. I especially love how they took such an outrageous story, and still managed to tie it in with the overall arc by the end. I can't think of a better way for Sam to get a lead on the Colt!

November 19 2009 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
chrissthomas

"You can't really call it jumping the shark if you never come down right?"

Since Supernatural has become more and more about the main story arc and has focused less on fun (and sometimes creepy) side arcs I think it has a tendancy to loose its charm. Don't get me wrong I still love it and think where they are going is great but these episodes, like changing channels and last week's, really give the show character. I also appreciate how they have worked in major concepts or plot devices that have moved along the main arc during these eps. Last week's episode reminded me of old Supernatural when they dealt with ghosts on a regular basis and I liked the diversion.
As far as "meta" goes, I think you are reaching for discussion on this one as two episodes of fanfare simply does not equal two much of anything. This is especially true when you consider that they haven't done shows like these in over a season's worth of episodes.

November 19 2009 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris

That episode was hilarious and I loved it.

This week we get back to business.

Seriously TV squad so lame. Everything can't be end of the world.

November 19 2009 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris's comment
malany

exactly!!! i loooove the meta and i am highly entertained by it!! i was in fear of the apocalyptic season being highly dramatic, but i am soo much enjoying the show right now! they won`t forget to bring on the drama, no worry

November 19 2009 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adriiiii

I like it. They're masters when it comes to parodying themselves and others. So far, I don't feel it's too much "meta".

November 19 2009 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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