It's been announced that Bloodlines is not being picked up. I was only going to write a few lines about it and then I got thinking and it turned into an essay (of sorts).
Supernatural: Bloodlines. How to misread your audience.
A spin off to Supernatural was announced at the beginning of Season 9. We were told it was going to be episode 20 and be called "Tribes". We were told a few of the basics - set in Chicago, rival monster families and some of the characters were mentioned. I didn't particularly have any strong feelings either way about the idea, only that it could be interesting and it showed that the producers thought there would be a strong enough audience to get it off the ground. It was Supernatural after all.
As the cast was announced and more information came I was actually looking forward to it. Supernatural can't go on forever (I know, it's hard to believe, but there it is). I thought a spin off might be a good way to ease into another show. I was interested to see what could be done in the same universe - and a bit excited that another show would be set in a universe that I've loved for so long.
It wasn't until it aired that it became clear what the producers were trying to do.
Supernatural fans are known for being passionate, loud and pretty powerful. We've kept the show running for 10 years and have voted the show, characters, actors and ships into first place in many polls and winning a few awards. If you get us onside we can be a force to be reckoned with. On the flip side, get us offside and we can be a pretty vocal and (unfortunately) nasty bunch.
It seems that Bloodlines got many of us offside.
My reaction to Bloodlines not being picked up is one of annoyance. Not because I particularly wanted to watch the show, but because the failure of this lands squarely on the shoulders of those who made the decision to launch the show the way they did. I'm annoyed because, with a little bit of thought and consideration to its audience, this could have been a success story for the CW. Instead, fans were expected to come to the party, sing its praises, flood the interwebs with passionate pleas and support the show simply because it was associated with Supernatural.
I am also annoyed because I didn't want to be put in that position. I didn't want to be a person who made a decision about this show. I didn't want to have to support a show JUST because I love Supernatural. Because now, with the lack of support from Supernatural fans, we can be considered part of the reason why it's not being picked up. Due to fans not being all those things the producers obviously hoped we'd be, the show has failed. I feel like WE have failed them rather than them failing us.
The question is...is it our fault? I for one, went into the episode well aware that it would be Sam and Dean light and despite that I had my cheerleading frame of mind on. I was READY to get excited. I wanted to support the people who have brought me a show I have loved for years. And I gave it a good chance.
The problem was, I wasn't the show's target audience. I don't watch Supernatural because it has monsters in it. I don't watch it for all the family drama. I don't watch it because enjoy seeing all the struggles and arguments between Sam and Dean. I LIKE those aspects of it sure (well, not the arguing so much) - I enjoy genre TV as a rule, but it's the two central characters of Sam and Dean that captured my heart and basically sold me on the rest of the show. And even though the show does have occasional romantic story lines and family dramas, it still remains a (mostly) monster of the week formula with massive myth arcs driving each season. I would also say that for many the show is also enhanced with Castiel and many of the other "regular" characters. Though, initially, the show was been built around two incredibly strong and charismatic characters. Without them it just wouldn't be the show it is - or the show I fell in love with.
That's not to say Bloodlines was all that bad. As a pilot we might forgive its clunky start - introducing new characters isn't easy and it takes a while to warm up to them (unless you are Sam and Dean of course). We might even forgive the cliched characters and similar story lines because as the show progressed they might have started to get more interesting. In fact, I think it had potential. But as they didn't give the show a chance with a NON-Supernatural audience we'll never know. Just because much of the Supernatural audience decided it wasn't for them, it doesn't mean that other audiences wouldn't have loved it. Supernatural only draws in about 2 million viewers each week. What about all those viewers who don't like Supernatural? Or the ones who watch The Vampire Diaries? Maybe younger audience members who have never watched SPN? Maybe fans of the actors?
By launching this as a Supernatural spin off I believe they shot themselves in the foot. Not only did they not try it on non SPN fans but they asked SPN fans to like something that was nothing like their show. They expected us to support it (maybe even love it) because it was loosely connected to Supernatural. It had a similar story line after all - a character who wanted to be "normal", a character seeking revenge, a missing father, a dead girlfriend, two male leads - but it didn't have the same essence
, the same look, or even seemed to occupy the same universe (even though it actually did). (As this isn't a review of the actual episode I won't go into that any more, but I'm sure there were things people loved and didn't love about it. I'm also sure there are many SPN fans that did like it. Just not enough to get it off the ground it would seem).
The thing is, I think Bloodlines would have had an audience. I absolutely believe that SPN fans would have supported the hell out of it if we hadn't been used as an insta!audience. I think if we have been treated honestly and they made some effort to get us onside then the power we have as fans could have been used to great effect. If we were told there was a show coming out written by Andrew Dabb and many of the SPN crew were involved in it and "it's very different to SPN, but we'd love it if you checked it out" I have no doubt we would have cheered them on. Even if it wasn't something we'd watch, I know that the interwebs wouldn't have been full of the abject dislike it received (more as protest rather than actually hating the show I feel). The young actors in the show seem amicable and many may have thrown their support behind them.
Rather strangely, I feel cheated because we weren't given the chance to show our support.
I know they saved money and labor by doing it this way, but in the end they lost a lot more. By understanding their audience, working with
their loyal following I think they could be celebrating a new show, rather than commiserating its demise.
End note: I think there is still huge potential for a Supernatural spin off. There are certainly enough beloved characters who could probably carry a show on their own. Castiel comes to mind. "Supernatural: Angels and Demons" has a nice ring to it. There's already an epic ton of canon and all sorts of potential for further story and character development. It might even be a good way to separate Sam and Dean from the Heaven and Hell battles so they can get back to their routes of hunting urban legends. Even Bloodlines could have another shot if they took they time to develop the characters within the show we already have. The premise has potential.
The thing is - I want to be given the chance to support the endeavours of the hard working writers and crew of the show. Just please do it in a way that doesn't leave me feeling used.