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How a fantasy drama helped a couple through lockdown life

Lockdown had seemed like the perfect romantic opportunity. But it was through the show Supernatural that this couple found companionship, connection

A screenshot from Supernatural, showing Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester
A screenshot from Supernatural, showing Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester

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At the end of a regular post-pandemic day filled with Zoom meetings, meal-prep and unending emails, I tiptoe out of our toddler’s bedroom and give my husband the thumbs-up!

On that cue, my husband pops into the kitchen and returns with heaping plates of chocolate brownie and ice-cream. We settle into the couch, navigate to our favourite TV show and with some fanfare, I hit Play! It is a special day for us – we are about to watch the final episode of the Western-inspired dark fantasy show Supernatural.

My husband and I had begun watching the Warner Brothers’ show sometime in November 2020, during the middle of the pandemic. It is a long show with fifteen seasons and over 300 episodes, and it lasted us a whole year. While we were mostly cooped up at home, in the absence of date nights, fine dinners, and club scenes, the show gave us something to look forward to. The protagonists, the brothers Sam and Dean Winchester became our best buds and we fell in love with the lore around every supernatural creature the show featured.

In theory, a lockdown seems like the perfect romantic opportunity for a couple. There’s something to be said about why the lyrics from the iconic 1973 film Bobby – “hum tum ek kamre me band ho” – have remained in our imaginations for nearly half a century after its release. But that fantasy lasted all of twenty minutes, when it was rudely interrupted by my husband sneezing with earth-shattering loudness.

In any case, Bollywood doesn’t seem to factor in questions like whose turn it is to order the vegetables or who was in charge of today’s craft activity for the kiddo’s online school. In real life, there are one too many “Stop yelling, I am on a call!” and “Where the F are all the hand towels?”. And all of this without the respite of a tea break with a colleague, or even a client meeting to break up the humdrum of the WFH cocktail we’ve been sipping!

At such a time, watching Supernatural was like coming home to a glass of Baileys-laced hot chocolate – warm, comforting and with a heady punch! When the day came to an end, we would watch, eyes glued to the TV as Sam and Dean jumped into their Chevy Impala loaded with an armoury of salt guns, holy oil, silver bullets, dead-man’s blood, and killed ghosts, werewolves, and vampires.

At one level, the show provided us an opportunity to let off some steam. Suddenly, my husband and I had something entirely different from ‘what-do-you-want-to-eat-for-lunch to talk about – and that made a huge difference. We geeked out on supernatural beings and their abilities and weaknesses. We expounded on possible theories and at times successfully predicted a twist or two in the tale. The show’s inside jokes became our inside jokes, and when one of us felt the craving for a cheesy burger, we’d say: “Don’t be such a Dean about it!” We each had our favourite characters – mine was Sam, the youngest brother who (like me) prefers libraries to bars; while my husband’s favourite was the King of Hell, Crowley, with his dry British humour and snark!

But at a deeper level, it was about how much the show reflected the post-pandemic world. While the brothers fought supernatural monsters, the world around us grappled with covid19. Every season of Supernatural upped its game – the monsters got bigger, stronger and scarier. Sam and Dean Winchester graduated from killing garden-variety ghosts to killing vampires and then to even bigger fry – Angels, demons and Leviathans. On planet earth, we battled ever-changing variants of covid19 and dealt with the new normal. When the day seemed tougher than usual, the Supernatural theme song ‘Carry on my wayward son’, promised us that “there will be peace when you are done”, and became our anthem against pandemic stress!

It wasn’t just us, though. Many others too seem to have found solace in TV shows, movies and books. Some preferred escapist fantasy, others laughed away their troubles through comedy and some of us just looked for a friendly face on TV when we couldn’t meet our friends in person. While we were bereft of actual human company, the silver screen was a lifesaver. A friend and his wife took to re-watching the cult classic Friends during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, he’d watch a random episode just for the laughs, but during the pandemic, it became a ritual – a glimpse (and promise) of a fun, pandemic-free world.When we couldn’t meet our family and friends, the characters in our favourite TV shows had to stand in for them. We craved the ‘normal’ world — a world where we could hang out with friends, go to the movies, take a vacation, or even just pick up vegetables at the market. What we couldn’t do in real life, we experienced through the television.

All good things (and bad), come to an end, and so it was with Supernatural, and so it will be with the pandemic. The last season was released in 2019, but the series finale was aired in November 2020. When we finally caught up to the end, it was a bittersweet moment. We had got so used to our Sam and Dean dinners, and to the mellow rhythm of lockdown life that we were reluctant to bid adieu. Somewhere we had hoped that Sam and Dean’s final victory over the forces of evil would herald a pandemic free world in real life too, but with Omicron still out there, it seems like us Wayward Sons and daughters will have to fight on a little longer!

Yashodhara Sirur is a part-time writer and full-time IT professional based in Mumbai

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