'Supernatural': Does fan reaction impact the writing? Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund weigh in
"Supernatural" fans are amongst the most vocal on Zap2it, so when we had the opportunity to talk to executive producer Sera Gamble and consulting producer Ben Edlund at San Diego Comic-Con, we had to ask them about how fan reactions impact their storytelling process.
"It's hard not to read it," Edlund says of the fans' online rants and raves. "You're in a dialog. It's an amazing thing that the internet gives you this chance of seeing what people think... so we definitely take it in."
He says that just as fans respond to the material, he hopes that the material also responds to the fans. "Like any dialog, we're in that conversation. It gives us an indication of what viewer expectation is and that helps us play tension against viewer expectation. We want to scare people and surprise them and make them worried, so it tells us where the zeitgeist is moving so we can do a counter-move or move along with it."
Gamble says that while the writing team always wants to surprise the fans with unexpected twists, responding to fan criticism is often impossible. "We're so far down the line by the time something airs, we couldn't possibly shift courses based on the fact that unexpectedly, they don't like a certain twist or a certain character," she says. "And, by the way, at this point in the life of the series, there's always going to be a divided opinion. That's part of the fun."
One thing that's surprised Edlund in particular about the fans' response is that there has been a distinct lack of anger when it comes to the series' depiction of biblical figures and themes... with the exception, he jokes, of his in-laws, who are not particularly amused.
"They're very upset with the way we treat angels," he laughs. "My brother in law will come up and say, 'Raphael's not like that.' I don't know what he's like, I'm sorry! I didn't go to school for that! So I actually was very surprised by how little special interest we get. I mean, we have done some fairly subversive things with the Judeo-Christian tenets. But no one cares!"
It's the fans, of course, that have kept "Supernatural" alive for seven seasons -- far longer than anyone expected the show to last. Season 7 is already mapped out, including its ending -- to an extent. "As usual, it will slightly depend on whether or not we're picked up for Season 8, which is a possibility that we hope for," Gamble says. "We always hope for that."
She admits that there are days when the team is pessimistic, despite their endurance thus far. "In the morning we always feel like the glass is half empty, and this is it," she says. "Are we going to drive them off into the sunset, are we going to drive them off a cliff? What are we going to do today? But [series creator Eric Kripke] and I have talked about how to end the series. He stepped into my office and talked about that during Season 1 or Season 2. Some of what we talked about ended up in the end of Season 5, and the characters have gone on from that, so we have some new ideas now."