Don't get me wrong, I love Supernatural. But sometimes I think the show has pushed its luck as far as it can go.
Most series have a hard time sustaining a high level of quality for more than three seasons, but Supernatural (Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW) is closing in on double digits now. I have no doubt Jeremy Carver will deliver a solid Season 10 next fall, but how much longer can the series continue before becoming an echo of what it once was?
Creator Eric Kripke originally envisioned the series with a five-year plan, and while some fans wish Supernatural had ended then, I've never shared those views. I'm grateful for these past four seasons, which have included some truly inventive story lines and characters I can't imagine the universe without (R.I.P. Kevin). But while it's been fun, I'm hesitant about the show's future.
We're nearing a decade of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean's (Jensen Ackles) break-up-and-make-up relationship. And while Ackles told TVGuide.com during Season 8 that "Conflict brings the story," there is a myriad of ways to stir up conflict other than brotherly angst. The world Sam and Dean live in — and how they relate to it and themselves — is constantly shifting, so there is no reason for the brothers to continue living out the same fights and drama as if trapped in their own personal Mystery Spot. But here we are, in the midst of yet another rift in the brothers' bond, and I can't help but wonder if the writers simply don't have anything new to say about their relationship.
Despite the recycled story lines, what Supernatural does have going for it is consistency. The series has managed to put out decidedly solid television for 10 years without jumping the shark. This is largely due to the show's concentrated focus on the brother's relationship, which keeps the story lines grounded in emotion rather than veering off into "anything goes" storytelling. But while the chemistry between the Winchesters is one of the show's main draws, Supernatural's dedication to such a limited focus actively works against its longevity.
New characters add new perspectives and can push Sam and Dean in unexpected, interesting directions. This is exactly what the introduction of Castiel (Misha Collins) did in Season 4, and the angel has since become a needed pillar in Supernatural's endurance. But the Supernatural fandom is extremely protective of the show, and it's hard for any new character to really click with fans the same way Cas has — especially those of the female variety — so most are killed off, disappear to God knows where or only pop in once in a while so as to not wear out their welcome.
Supernatural has been going over the same ground for years now, which, while repetitive, also means it's exceptionally competent at what it does. They know what works, what doesn't, and all the right strings to pull to ensure total Tumblr domination. But there are only so many times one can watch the same plots playing out in slightly different variations. Do we really need to see another fight over how Dean doesn't trust Sammy enough? How have they not settled their differences over when to let monsters live? And if I see a Winchester fail at settling in suburbia while his brother's trapped in a demon dimension one more time I will sic Hellhounds on them. Do you hear me, Carver? Enough with suburbia!
The thing is, I would watch 100 of these same fights. Two hundred even. I am so invested in the Winchesters' relationship and the world the producers have created that there's no way I'm quitting now. I just hope that if Supernatural does continue past Season 10, they allow Sam and Dean to evolve and be driven by conflicts they can unite against, rather than the same tired ones that have been tearing them apart for years.
Do you think Season 10 should be its last?
Supernatural airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.
(Full Disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)