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23 January 2018 @ 10:13 pm
Wayward Intentions: what Wayward Sisters did right and how it missed the mark  
I wasn't going to post this, as there've been so many reviews of Wayward Sisters floating around, but monicawoe asked, and I'd never say no to her. :D Be forewarned: I was somewhere between "meh" and "eh", so here goes.




I was guardedly excited going into Supernatural's next (last?) best hope for a spin-off this week. The weight on Wayward Sisters' shoulders is substantial. Not only must it satisfy the existing fandom, it must earn its own following, on its own merits. My eventual opinion on its success? It was ... just okay.

I've never been a big fan of Claire, in all her willful, immortal teen angst, but Alex and Jody are mah homegurls. Donna is a bundle of cute, newcomer Kaia's actor can act her socks off, and honestly, the jury's still out on newbie #2, Missouri's niece Patience. But overall? Solid line-up.

Not only is it something certain quarters of fandom have been campaigning for — women's stories are so topical and important, and now is the time to tell them — but WS's graduation to an actual show means an expansion of the SPN universe (with the possibilities of cross-pollination between the flagship series and its spin-off), as well as continued employment for cast and crew. If WS gets picked up, it will support the idea that female characters can, indeed, spearhead genre shows in today's market.

Clearly, Wayward Sisters is a more fitting spin-off than showrunner Dabb's previous attempt, the canon-busting “Bloodlines”, which was substantially panned for reasons we've discussed ad nauseum years ago. WS is setting up for a true ensemble cast with a fixed location, allowing for more standing sets, a big boon when filming.

But here's where I get grumbly. The show was written by men, directed by a man, and largely staffed by men. Wow, would I have loved to have seen women in some of those guidance roles. The dialogue was missing relatability, snappiness and charm for me, sometimes devolving into stereotypical patios. (I was born in Minnesota. We don't talk that way, Donna.)

Claire actually, unironically, pulled out a diary in the episode's final moments. No, not a hunter's journal, a diary. I laughed aloud, and I don't think that scene was intended to be funny. It just didn't cut the mustard. Maybe younger viewers aren't aware of some of the television I grew up with: Cagney & Lacey, The Bionic Woman, Kate and Allie, China Beach, Designing Women, The Golden Girls, Wonder Woman, Alice, Police Woman, One Day At A Time, hell, even Charlie's Angels.

Point is: for as "progressive" as younger fans figure themselves to be, with their texting and their internet and SJ "woke"ness, we old farts aren't as "white male obsessed" as we're often painted. For me, this isn't about supposed ingrained misogyny; it's about an inferior product. And that's saying something, as SPN isn't even as well-written a show as it once was.


REALITY VS. BELIEVABILITY

While 'suspension of disbelief' is part and parcel to watching Supernatural, we had to execute a more-than-typical level of it to buy into the plot of WS. (I'm going to assume, dear reader, that you've seen the episode by now, and if not, hunt down a recap.)

Claire, not yet 21 years old, self-taught solo hunter, kicks a notable amount of monster butt, at the open. Maybe a little too notable. Kind of verging on Mary Sue territory here, but on we go.

Kaia, in her hospital gown, sneaks out of the building without a hitch, only to conveniently run into an escaped monster from the rift that was ripped between South Dakota and The Bad Place. Dang, those critters can travel! Did it sniff out Kaia? Is that their super-monster power? Why didn't Jody and Claire, who were clearly staking out the backdoor for escaping Kaia, not see said monster? A little contrived ... eh, I'll let it pass.

We've all kinda accepted that the CW must have a special “creme” for their characters that erases scarring. So why do Claire and Kaia have scars, whereas Sam and Dean don't? I guess when it comes to flirting over scars, we don't need no stinkin' Neosporin.

But the point at which I sighed resignedly was when Sam and Dean — seasoned trackers — had been wandering around The Bad Place for two whole days (which we assume are 24-hours, just like our earthly days), and still couldn't find the rift, yet apparently Claire and Kaia can find the boys in a New York minute.

Kaia's Bad Place counterpart gets the jump on the Winchesters with equal ease. (Lizard must not be very nutritious, Dean.)



And then BadPlace!Kaia ties them up right by the rift? Really? I can only hope there's a story behind her that actually makes sense, if we get to see further WS episodes.

FANDOM-CENTRIC COMPLICATIONS

Supernatural has fallen under fire from many fans for what the show often does to its characters — 'fridging women, subtexting non-straight sexualities, killing so-called fan favorites “disrespectfully” — and Wayward Sisters seems to be following in its predecessor's footsteps. If we're going to hold the show accountable for these things, we need to hold WS to better standards as well. I'll admit, I was surprised they opted to kill Kaia, one of their non-white characters (who fandom is already romantically shipping together with Claire, because of moony eyes and hand-holding and "you show me your scars and I'll show you mine"), then turn her doppelganger into a villain. I don't believe there are sacred cows, that any character is above death or heroism or villainy, but if fans are going to criticize SPN for misogyny or overusing troublesome tropes, Wayward Sisters doesn't get a pass.

Fandom may have spurred the creation of this spin-off, but the big questions still remain: will fandom-at-large actually continue to watch WS without the Winchesters involved, and will the non-fandom viewing audience latch onto it, at all? We shall see, come May, when most pick-ups are announced. I suspect it'll get at least a half-season to prove itself, but they're going to have to step up the writing something fierce. I don't think serviceable will be good enough.

 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: "Who Are You" - The Who
 
 
 
monicawoe: Cards-ani (slow)monicawoe on January 24th, 2018 03:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting, darling!

Do we know if any of the directors, writers and other crew are women for the show proper? Have they filmed an actual episode of the show yet or just this backdoor pilot?

What you said about Sam and Dean being dumbed down to fit the plot was definitely one of the things that was so frustrating about the Bloodlines backdoor pilot too (that and the part where they completely threw some of the last few tattered scraps of canon out the window).

I love Jody and Donna. Alex is the vampire, yes? Why do you think they opted to make Claire the lead? Solely because of the popularity of the angel possessing her dad / the angel that assumed the shape of her dad? What did happen to Jimmy, anyway? I can’t remember, for the life of me.

Missouri’s niece? That’s awesome! Though having Missouri herself still around would have been even better.

The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: WEEEEEE!quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 05:28 pm (UTC)
Hey, bb!

The show currently has two female directors, Nina Lopez-Corrado and Amanda Tapping, but they don't do many episodes, and as far as writers, I think there's only two as well: Meredith Glynn and Eugenie Ross-Leming (if she even counts, because nepotism).

Yeah, Alex was the girl they rescued from the vamp nest and turned over to Jody, but she was (still is) human. I think her character has real promise; she manages to be more than 2D. Re. Claire? Yeah, I suspect her relationship to Cas is her saving grace (so to speak, lol!). Also, the actress is getting some traction in the big-screen movies, up-and-comer, which can't hurt. Jimmy is DEAD dead, got officially escorted to heaven at some point. And sadly, they DID re-introduce Missouri this season, lol, just to kill her. None of us were surprised. (These days, it'd be more surprising if they actually let a guest star live, for a change.)

The Dumbening of Sam and Dean is a pretty widespread complaint, but I tend to roll my eyes and chalk it up to lazy writing ... they need to make their plot work somehow. But sometimes, they do good and it's like Pavlov's Dog: I stay and drool.
(no subject) - caranfindel on January 24th, 2018 09:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 09:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
borgmama1of5borgmama1of5 on January 24th, 2018 04:07 am (UTC)
Borrowing a point from someone else's LJ--Why is it that the standards for something that has women as the leads has to be perfect whereas a show with male leads gets time to find its legs? How many episodes did it take for SPN to hit its stride?

Yes, we're all nervous because the show we want to love, SPN, has definitely dropped in quality over the last couple seasons, and this colors our consideration of just what TPTB are going to do with WS.

But, darnit, let's give Kim and Briana a shot at pulling off a companion piece to our show...and one that potentially would have Sam and Dean occasionally show up, because SPN isn't going to go on forever, but it would be awesome for there still to be a way for them to have a presence.

How about we give it a chance? Dabb said in an interview if WS gets picked up they will be using women writers and I would put money on them putting women directors in the mix. With a six-women ensemble cast, I would think there will be stories focusing on different characters, that it's not going to be 'the Claire show' as a lot of people have said disparagingly.

I know people are questioning how she got so good, and why she has perfect hair and makeup when she's hunting, and yeah, those are questions that the writers could have given more thought too...but of course we've never questioned how model-like Dean and Sam have always looked...or the impossible physical stuff they've done...Remember Sam taking out 2 Swat guys in the bank robbery episode? They never showed how he did it--he just did off-screen and no one questioned it.

I just want fans to give it a chance and not hold it to the standards of seasons 4 & 5 from the start, because even SPN itself didn't start at that caliber.

The weakest part of the ep was Sam and Dean in the AU, and the writers did a disservice to WS by feeling they had to dumb down the boys to play up the women. Although I figure that when they were thrown in the AU they ended up quite a distance from the rift--Kaia and Jack also seemed to have been thrown far. So the boys were wondering around in a distant area, but when the mystery figure knocked them out it dragged them closer to the rift. All of Kaia's visions had that big skull, making me think that would have been her entry point whenever she went there, so when they came through by the skull they were right by the boys, ergo ridiculously easy rescue. I wish someone could explain why, though, when they were running headlong through the forest, when they saw the rift they all stopped dead instead of continuing through it...
caranfindel: pic#122754665caranfindel on January 24th, 2018 04:46 pm (UTC)
Remember Sam taking out 2 Swat guys in the bank robbery episode? They never showed how he did it--he just did off-screen and no one questioned it.

I agree with a lot of what you said, but I do have to comment on this. By the time we saw (or didn't see) Sam taking out the SWAT team, we'd watched him hunt for over a year. We knew he'd been hunting and fighting since he was a child. It wasn't a surprise to see what he was capable of. Claire, on the other hand, is still a novice. We've seen her be successful, and we've seen her stumble. It didn't make sense for her to be such a complete badass at this point in her career.
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 05:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 05:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - caranfindel on January 24th, 2018 09:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
casey: spn claire blondcasey28 on January 24th, 2018 09:37 am (UTC)
Kaia is a series regular if Wayward Sisters gets picks up, so either Kaia comes back from the dead, or the AU version of her sticks around. There's a good chance we'll get our Kaia back, so I'm going to wait and see.

The script was way too long, so a lot of it didn't make it to screen. I loved the ep, but maybe some of the parts that seemed rushed (like the rescue) would've turned out better if there was more time.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: WEEEEEE!quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 05:52 pm (UTC)
"The script was way too long, so a lot of it didn't make it to screen." Interesting! Where did you read this? I'd love to hear more about the production!
(no subject) - casey28 on January 26th, 2018 09:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 26th, 2018 04:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - casey28 on January 26th, 2018 04:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
madebyme_x: Defaultmadebyme_x on January 24th, 2018 12:05 pm (UTC)
I love thinky thoughts!!!! Thank you for sharing.

I too would like to see some female writers, directors and producers etc for this show if it gets picked up (like you, I feel it's likely CW will 'give it go' and take it from there, and who knows if that's a tool they may use to 'sell' the show in this political climate).

There were certainly some short cuts and dumbing down in the script, which is unfortunately a trait we're seeing with a lot of writers and is a particular sticking point with me (I like my Winchesters smart and badass and would like to see my girls doing the same!)

But I found plenty to enjoy (I liked the sibling 'biker barbie' banter between Claire and Alex, badass Jody and Donna, and like you I'm a big Alex fan and would welcome more backstory on these characters) and I feel that there is potential here. I did love that it looked like the heart of the show will also be family, and expanding on the idea that family can be the one you create and choose. A great way to keep the shows connected.

Thanks for stopping by :)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: WEEEEEE!quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 06:07 pm (UTC)
I kinda dug the Claire-Alex banter too! But I didn't feel a lot of chemistry between the actresses. (We're way too spoiled by Jared and Jensen's kismet.)

I certainly hope we see more Jody and Donna, because the Stereotypical Teen Angst™ was so thick in this episode, I nearly choked on it. I have three teens (albeit sons), and there were so many more interesting ways they could've steered these characters, just tiny quirks that would've given the actresses something to latch onto (more things like the "biker Barbie" comment ... Alex should've given Claire hell for having so much grabable hair).

Eh, I just wasn't wowed by it. There were just too few character sparks to get me past the plot holes. But I do think the episode was solid enough to get it picked up. Maybe it'll get a chance to grow into something better than "meh"!
blythechild: Dean dramablythechild on January 24th, 2018 02:29 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm, in a perfect world (where I control tv content), I'd axe Claire (because ENOUGH with petulant, mysteriously self-possessed teenagers already) and substitute in Wynonna Earp instead, and the next time they meet Sam & Dean they kick so much ass that the boys are left blinking and "welp, they don't need us..." <- because they don't. The thing about spin-offs is that characters from the original show introduce them, but they don't linger. Someone commented above that SPN won't last forever, so WS would be a good way for the boys to stay connected to the audience. This spin-off will never work if that's the case - this cannot be about Sam & Dean, even if that possibility DIDN'T cause all kinds of sexist discomfort from the outset. The cast has to make it their own, the writers have to find uniqueness within the HUGE canon restraints already presented, and the show - in totality - has to stand capably on it's own. There's ample evidence that THIS is the secret sauce for a good spin-off (see Law & Order, see CSI, see NCIS...). Sure, the premier episode of any show is usually mediocre, and I'm not very interested in this one because I've seen this show before. I want something different, but living in the same world as the Winchesters. Something darker, edgier, uniquely tailored so the characters can show their strengths, not just as women, but as individuals. Wouldn't it be something if WS was SCARIER and TOUGHER than SPN ever was? There is nothing special about WS so far, and certainly nothing that would lure in *new* viewers, and really, that's what they have to do if they are going to make it.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: WEEEEEE!quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 06:22 pm (UTC)
OMG, you effin' NAILED IT. BOOM.

So far, it just feels like a poor man's (person's?) Supernatural, minus the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry between the leads. But I get why they're doing it this way: "Bloodlines" was almost entirely unrelated to its mothership, and it failed spectacularly. Now, they're at least keeping it in the very same universe, using some of the characters we're familiar with, but it doesn't feel like its own thing yet. They borrowed too heavily from the original set-up for SPN, right down to aping lines and setting up Claire as the "Dean" to Alex's "Sam". (Right down to making Claire our POV character, just as they did with Dean.) Which, OUCH.

But as I've said, I think it did enough to get a pick-up, so I guess we'll have to see if it 1.) hires women for positions of guidance, like directors and writers, and 2.) does something different than just wanly mimic its predecessor.

(no subject) - blythechild on January 24th, 2018 08:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 08:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - caranfindel on January 24th, 2018 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 09:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
caranfindelcaranfindel on January 24th, 2018 04:40 pm (UTC)
Great analysis! I think a lot of my flist and poll takers agreed that it was somewhere between eh and meh, and that the boys being so inept in The Bad Place was disappointing and transparent. Hopefully WS can improve - gee, maybe with the addition of some women to the staff?
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: WEEEEEE!quickreaver on January 24th, 2018 05:54 pm (UTC)
There's a scientific explanation for that: Boys - on the road againhugemind on January 24th, 2018 07:51 pm (UTC)
This was an interesting read and I agree with most of it. Claire's little werewolf episode did cross over to Mary Sue territory for me, as did her super-dramatic "I promised to protect her" angst which was forgotten as soon as the Claire fans had gotten their "OMG so sad!!!1!" tweets out, and then was back to ass-kicking Mary Sue.

This ep reduced Jody to almost being just a mom and even though WS seems to be aimed for the younger audience, it would be good if they could show Jody kicking ass too and not just mom over the kids.

I don't think serviceable will be good enough.

My internal reader said "serviceable" exactly the way French-Mistake!Serge commented on freeze-framing the boys going through the window. :D
gidgetgal9: Sam in bed from distancegidgetgal9 on January 24th, 2018 07:56 pm (UTC)
I think my age played into my enjoyment of the episode. I'm middle aged so I had hoped that the episode would have centered around Jody and Donna with the younger girls mentoring and learning from them. When it became teen driven it lost me along with the dumbing down of Sam and Dean. Cops that hunt the supernatural with a support group had been my hope so this was a disappointment. I hope it finds its legs because it does have some great actresses in it and it could be a great show. Thanks for your input, I agree with your thoughts on it. :)
Amber: Bumamberdreams on January 24th, 2018 09:13 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit concerned about this week's episode after reading a text from Jim Michaels that called teh WS backdoor pilot a 'two parter'...

But that and my dislike of Claire aside, I agree absolutely that WS needs to be good. That pilot was ok(ish) but it really wasn't GOOD. However, I will watch the first few WS episodes if it does get picked up, in the hope that they realise they need to pull out their A game and not rely on the section of fandom that wants to pillory anyone who doesn't like it because then we won't be supporting feminism in TV etc etc.
YohkoB: S&D-Impalayohkobennington on January 25th, 2018 03:12 pm (UTC)
I'm going to be upfront: I didn't watch it, nor the episode before this one.

And I've no intent on doing so. Why? Because I knew the CW was going to screw this up VERY badly. I knew they were going to take this amazing chance to add more females and expand the spn universe and shit all over it with their stupid plots that don't make sense, and their natural progression of verging in misogyny too often. And people that love this are just grasping at scraps, because they want something to represent them, even if that representation is not done the right way, and are hopeful that with time it will get much better. I applaud them, don't lose that hope. But the truth is the truth: Unless they get females involved in the creative process, this show is doomed.

If it had been in another channel and females doing the writing/directing? Hell yeah I would had watched in a heartbeat. Because I would know that at least the female POV would be there, even if the writing turned out bad at the end. And I adore Jody, Donna, and Alex. Claire... well, she's hard to like by anyone but a bratty teenager like her #sorrynotsorry.

Don't even get me started with the using Sam and Dean for this crap too. I just...can't anymore with these showrunners and writers.

I think, I'm too fandom seasoned to not see through the bullshit straight from the start. And I'm tired of that same BS over and over again.

Now if it gets picked up, and they get female writers at least? I might give it a chance gladly. But as it stands, Im staying away from it.
Kristina Johansson: claire novakkribban on January 27th, 2018 04:16 pm (UTC)
Claire... well, she's hard to like by anyone but a bratty teenager like her #sorrynotsorry.


Heyyyy, I'm 38 and Claire's one of my favorite characters.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on January 27th, 2018 05:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on January 27th, 2018 06:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kribban on February 1st, 2018 10:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)