Today I read TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, edited by Stacey Abbott and David Lavery.
TV Goes to Hell is a collection of pop culture essays about the television horror show Supernatural, starring Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester, brothers who travel around the United States fighting monsters and demons. Essay subjects include such topics as comedy strategies, music and character development, motel rooms as liminal zones, social class, connection to the 1970s, gender representations, narratives, metafiction, religion, fans and fandom, inspiration, and the history of the show on the networks.
I’m a pop culture junkie, especially science fiction pop culture and fandom, so I love essay books like this. I’d have done my masters in pop culture studies instead of library science if I could have figured out a job to use it for…Well, maybe one day just for fun, when I’m old and retired (which will be never, at this rate). I really enjoy active participation in fandom as opposed to just passively and individually watching the shows (though if that floats your boat, whatever). This kind of academic study is really broadening to me. Due to the nature of Western post-secondary education, it tends to be quite difficult to take a wide variety of classes and subjects–the ideal is to take only degree & subject-specific courses and to get out of school as soon as possible, as opposed to actually learning something interesting. I’ve only taken one film studies course, but this and other television show essay books have taught me a great deal about film studies and history and concepts. It’s easy to say “I love this show!”, but these kinds of essay books help to articulate why I love this show, and to help me think about things about the show that I never noticed on my own. For example, the essay about Supernatural‘s connection to the 1970s is interesting because I missed the 70s, on account of not being born yet, so it explains references that I didn’t catch from lack of familiarity.
This book will appeal to academic nerds and pop culture and fandom studies junkies, but likely not to the casual viewer of the show.