Thursday, January 10, 2013

Supernatural - Season 7, Episode 15 - Repo Man

Let me just start of by saying how much I love love love this show.

I started watching mid-season six after a series-long boycott of the show. I was a huge fan of  Smallville at the time Jensen Ackles showed up, and his entire storyline pissed me off so much I refused to watch his new pilot. I really hate myself for that stupid decision now. If you haven't heard of the show or its concept, you can read about it here.

I was reading some back posts over at Ars Marginal that discussed the treatment of homosexuality in fantasy and science fiction media, and it made me think of how the topic is treated on Supernatural. The show has an enormous, and infamous, slash fandom that is often alluded to in the show, and the stars often make jokes about it during interviews and on the gag reels of the DVDs. (Yes, I have watched them all. Don't judge me.)

In universe, however, there are definitely some problems with how LGBTs, particularly gay men, are treated. Though egregious homophobic comments are nonexistent, the Bury Your Gays trope is prevalent (see All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1 and  Ghostfacers), and with the dearth of gay characters on the show, it seems like everyone who is gay ends up dead, often involving and/or as a direct result of their homosexuality. (One exception to this is Charlie, a season 7 character, portrayed by the fabulous Felicia Day, of Eureka fame. She's slated to make a return this season.) 

Today, though, I want to focus on the Season 7 episode Repo Man, in which a burgeoning serial killer named Jeffery who had been possessed by a demon takes steps to get the demon back, since he misses the powers demonic possession gave him. In my opinion, it was one of the best episodes of the season, and Jeffery's actor was fantastic. The episode alluded to an event that happened off-screen during Season 3, presumably between episodes of the show, and this is done successfully and without noticeable retconning of previous events. Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) put in a hilarious performance, and the pace of the episode was perfect. All of these things made me very happy.

What was troubling, though, was the quality of the interaction between Jeffery and his Demon. Though we as the audience know that he's referring to demonic possession and supernatural power, he calls his demon "the love of his life" and speaks about how he misses their "connection." When the demon is summoned from hell and inhabits the body of a guest character's son, he and Jeffery slow dance, and Jeffery professes his love for the Demon and tells it he wants to be together again. The Demon responds by smacking Jeffery to the ground and telling him "we don't do 'no'" after Jeffery expresses disappointment at the thought of going on to continue the Demon's work alone. By the end of the episode, the demon is back in hell and Jeffery is dead.

Now, this ending is fairly common for this show - it is Monster of the Week series, after all. But in light of the way homosexuality has been mocked, dismissed, and literally killed on the show, Jeffery and his Demon's relationship casts very negative aspersions on the concept. Think about it - Jeffery is a serial killer. He meets the "love of his life," and together they killed and torture a dozen women and indulge in all manner of evil. Two other men come along and break them up for the public good, and when they try to get back together, more people nearly die. In the end, they're both killed or in hell, and the world is better for it.

Even the interaction between the two of them is problematic, and plays to a host of offensive tropes about gays - that they abuse one another constantly, that one partner is always dominant and makes all the decisions, that homosexuality is a gateway into depravity. Though Jeffery was a bad dude before the Demon came along, meeting him and being together brought out the worst in both of them. His Demon/partner beats him when he expresses affection and is overly controlling. They even kill a puppy during the episode.

Anyway, as I become more media literate, I find myself noticing these things in many works that I love, especially since I started writing M/M romance. 

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