Why Sam! girls are very openly “bitter”: aka my entire relationship with Supernatural aka i’ll huff and i’ll puff and i’ll send u 2 hell aka season fuck you 2: electric boogaloo: A mini rant on Supernatural’s most under appreciated baby doll.
ANYWAY, I always see people attacking Sam girls for being whiny and bitter. “Sam’s arc is fine, why are you bitching”, they say. Considering the fact that a lot of the fandom doesn’t really have much of an interest in Sam beyond a secondary character, I think it’s safe to say that it’s REALLY hard to understand someone’s frustration if you aren’t invested.
* Please note: the purpose of this post isn’t to attack ur faves or make an insinuation that there is anything wrong with the ships and characters you like. I also like those characters. Please do not interpret my issues with Sam’s handling in comparison to other characters as a suggestion that those characters don’t deserve good arcs. The only character in SPN that this blogger even remotely hates is that 12 year old fat spaceman creeping on Dean in the parking lot. That kid was the worst.
Since after season 5, Sam’s trauma has been constantly erased. While other characters in the series are allowed to evolve or devolve based on their trauma, something always happens to Sam so that he’s trapped in a static state. In the beginning of season 6, we are fully expecting to see Sam as a changed man, much like the VERY different and troubled Dean Winchester after returning from hell. The writers could have taken so many routes with this.
Rather than giving us a broken Sam however, we get soulless Sam; an interesting and still workable premise that ends up being largely used as a space filler and contributes nothing to the main plot. So the brother reunion? The trauma from hell? We don’t get that.
Then Sam comes back, under the condition that hey; Sam CAN’T remember what happened to him.
Finally, Sam’s wall breaks, and it all comes flooding back. This is supposed to be a really heavy, incredible moment for Sam. All of that suffering and pain that is supposed to break him comes flooding back; but instead of using it to evolve his character, it’s once again subject to being an inconvenience completely irrelevant to the plot. Sam doesn’t change or suffer or reflect on what happened to him. He doesn’t have any On the Head of A Pin moments like Dean. He isn’t forced to come face to face with how his experiences changed him. No. We get hallucinations, paired up with an otherwise sane and functioning Sam who is completely at peace with what he experienced.
This may seem like a strange thing to complain about for some people. After all, we did get those 1-2 episodes where the hallucinations got really bad right? But the question needs to be posed: If Dean fans never got that rich character development from hell and instead got an episode or two of Dean being scared; what that have really been worth the experience at all? Would that have been satisfying?
The truly frustrating thing about it is that Sam’s suffering was used to catapult is straight into a heavy arc for Cas. Apparently, trauma and horror are easily fixable as long as you have a really good friend who can simply “take it” from you. The backlash of what Sam went through. His pain and suffering and potential of a powerful narrative were all obliterated in the blink of an eye to make room for another character. Sam’s trauma could simply be wiped away; and then he’s back to his own sweet self; as if he never jumped into the pit. As if the consequences of that choice are completely irrelevant. Cas and Dean are still living with their choices (Hell, Godstiel) and these choices have vastly shaped who they are as people. Sam giving himself to the devil was arguably the most important choice ever made on the show, yet in the end, it did absolutely zero justice to Sam’s character.
Possibly the greatest issue i’ve ever had with Sam’s writing however, is based on his interactions with side characters; something that has really been an issue since season 3 and onward.
While Dean has made fundamental connections with almost every larger side character on the show, Sam’s interactions with people other than his brother are extremely limited. In the beginning of the show there was Meg and Azazel (though later it’s as if Meg and Sam never really interacted at all, and she turned all of her focus on Dean and Cas). Lucifer, Ruby, and Jody are the other two notable characters Sam has made a heavy connection with other than Amelia (a character who’s sole purpose for existing isn’t to be an independent character, but a love interest for Sam) His relationships are mostly with villains aiming to manipulate them, and though he’s typically portrayed as the “empathetic” Winchester, his connections with other characters are EXTREMELY limited. Even Cas, who’s re occurred more than almost any other character, has an extremely fleeting relationship with him; while Cas and Dean’s scenes account for almost all of that character’s screen time.
and the characters Sam has spoken to more than Dean? Well..Dean still has a relationship with them.
Dean on the other hand, has interacted with almost every major character in the show. Anna, Jo, Bela, Cas, Meg, Bobby, John, Benny, Lisa, Gabriel, Crowley…you name the character, and Dean’s relationship with them is stronger than Sam’s. He is allowed to connect with them. MORE IMPORTANTLY, all of the major characters that are meant to represent family (Mary, John, Ellen, Jo, Cas) are ALL deeply connected with Dean. Very few of ever shared an intimate moment with Sam, and the ones who have have had moments that are few, far between, and forgettable. The most recent example is Charlie, a character Dean has developed a deep family bond with and Sam has hardly exchanged words with despite her being the only living “karmic good” female regular left on the show. These are supposed to be the people that the boys think about when they picture family in their head, yet Dean is the character who overwhelmingly gets the bulk of the screen time/relationship time with them.
Sam’s character is violently isolated, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why Sam fans often feel frustrated as viewers. After season 2, Dean even has more interactions with one episode characters.
- Dean is also a more central character to the plot. While the brothers are marketed equally, Dean’s emotions, thoughts, and struggles are always considered in the narrative. even in what were more “Sam centric” episodes, Dean was a pivotal part in the storyline. When Sam was soulless, the large part of the season was focused on how that affected DEAN. When Sam was struggling with Demon blood, Dean’s feelings about this, as well has his experiences in hell were not forgotten and explored very effectively. When Sam was being stalked by the devil, Dean was struggling with Michael.
In contrast, there are a number of episodes where Sam’s character is mostly in the background; agreeing with Dean or researching. Seasons 6-8 are particularly guilty of this; reducing Sam to a secondary character who’s thoughts and emotions are not being explored. I feel like the earlier seasons did NOT make this mistake. Season 3 for example, did a beautiful job of showing what Sam was going through while Dean was struggling with the possibility of going to hell. Dean’s plots and Sam’s were very elegantly balanced, and monster of the week episodes showcased both of them as individuals without giving into favoritism.
- Sam is forced to own up to the choices he makes, where has Dean is rarely held accountable for them.
- In season 4, despite the fact that Sam genuinely was attempting to be heroic, his character was painted as “ungrateful” and “immature”. Despite Dean’s choices and actions very actively pushing him away, the show really never holds him accountable for it. The “demon blood” drama is dragged right into season 5, where Dean and Cas spend a good chunk of it berating Sam for what he did and is never chastised for it. Sam apologizes repetitively for his actions. Perhaps this example will go on deaf ears to people who weren’t around for how the fandom reacted to these seasons, but it was pretty disgusting.
- When Dean kills Amy, Sam is upset. Sam is painted as whiny and immature. The fandom agrees. When Sam and Dean meet up later, it’s SAM who apologizes. Dean had the right to brutally murder his friend. Sam changes his entire black and grey opinion on killing monsters to fit Dean’s moral code.
- Sam leaves his messed up family to go to school. Sam is painted as immature and heartless. Dean repetitively attacks Sam for this. Sam eventually “Sees the light” and accepts his job as a hunter. The fandom (to this day) will still go on about how Dean was right and Sam needed to learn to be more appreciative of his family.
Dean is a great character, but lacks accountability from the writers and the fandom; both of which are very sympathetic to his character. It’s almost exclusively Sam who’s forced to give in or apologize. The fandom almost unequivocally supports Dean’s negative choices, but attacks Sam for breathing wrong. Even when it’s Sam who is the victim, any altercation he gets into with Dean or Cas typically ends in a shit storm of hatred thrown his way. Alternatively, Dean’s actions are typically excused or justified in regards to his treatment of Sam. He’s allowed to be a dirtier character. More importantly, the show doesn’t put fourth the effort to hold him accountable.
Season 8 is by farm the biggest disservice to Sam’s character yet. Let me count the ways in which this season has completely forgotten how to write him:
- Despite the fact that Sam is a character who canonically LOSES HIS SHIT when his brother is missing and has been known to do this since the beginning of the show, he was somehow able to move on with his life and get over it. While that’s great for his mental health, that’s not Sam. Need I remind anybody that Sam once almost murdered someone for even the mere possibility of bringing his brother back?
- Moreso, we’ve spent the last 8 seasons developing a character who started out wanting a normal life, but who has sense lost an interest in one. The Winchester brothers are meant to compliment each other in this. Dean begins to dream of a normal life in season 3 and onward; a secret dream that he keeps locked away. Meanwhile, Sam revels in his work. His reactions to Bobby’s death in season 7 show how far he has come at that point (HEY DEAN LETS GO KILL SOME STUFF THAT WILL MAKE US FEEL BETTER LOL)
-Sam’s character in season 8 has reverted right back to season 1 without any hint of explanation; and nobody sees to care. It’s not that I think that him wanting a normal life with a girlfriend is selfish or wrong, but it’s just wholly NOT Sam Winchester anymore. It was as if the writers got lost as to how to include him in Dean and Castiel’s story, so they rehashed season 1’s plot to try to somehow slip him in.
- Sam’s reaction to Benny is the exact opposite of who he is. Dean’s character is a moral absolutist who has always hated all things that go bump in the night; only softening his heart a few times through out the course of the series. Sam’s character has always been the one to ask the hard questions and had empathy for sentient monsters who show the capacity for change and remorse.
- Sam & Amelia is a real tragedy, because Sam’s relationships previous to her (season 1-5) have been interesting and well constructed. The very idea of Amelia was to be a love interest. Sam’s love interest. So far, her part to play has been a female for Sam to be attracted to, completely void of her own voice and story. I have issues with this as a feminist who watches the show wriggling for another complex woman to be explored (who won’t die immediately) but it’s also a desservice to Sam; who’s only plot line is a confusingly out of character relationship with a character constructed for no other reason to be part of that relationship.
And finally, beyond the over accountability he is held to, I think in terms of FANDOM is that he is by and large overlooked. I understand that everyone has their favorite and you can’t help it, but it’s hard not to be bitter when you see people stanning Dean and Cas (who’s an important side character, but still a side character) and Sam really just doesn’t get that sort of attention despite being absolutely vital since the pilot. Jared never wins any awards despite the fact that his acting is fantastic and his ability to play multiple characters has been praised countless times. Sam ranks very low in character fan polls. The fact the he doesn’t get the screen time he used to is based on his lack of popularity, as season 6 and onward are a love letter to the fans and are largely compromised of what WE have asked to see (more Dean, more Cas, more destiel)
And the writers respond to the fans. And that’s why sam’s arc sucks.
So this last bit may be irrational, but it’s there. I don’t think most of the fandom HATES Sam, but I do think most of the fandom isn’t INTERESTED in Sam, and their feelings for him are fleeting/passing/based on a fear of being called a hater. I see a lot of people who claim to love him that almost never reblog anything about him. These are the same people who ask Sam girls why we are so bitter and to be “grateful” for what we have without even considering the fact that we may be angry for a reason.
And I don’t condem the fandom for not being interested in a character that I like, but I am frustrated by it on a strictly emotional level. It gets to me.