“Will they, won’t they?” is a popular question you’ll find between Meredith and Derek, Scully and Mulder, Jim and Pam… Dean and Castiel?
The creators of Supernatural, A CW TV series, accidentally and masterfully created the chemistry between an angel and a condemned man.
Throughout the show there are many references, in the earlier seasons and further on, that Castiel (the angel) is Dean’s (the condemned man) boyfriend. Their relationship is constantly teased and pulled at much to the excitement of the Supernatural fan base. To note, the fan base is comprised largely of young adult females and LGBTQ+ youth.
The problem with this and a problem with the show is that it toes the line of “queer-baiting.”
Queer-baiting is the act of having a will they, won’t they relationship between two characters who are of the same sex without ever fulfilling or explicitly making their relationship. They don’t fulfill this relationship for fear of losing their heteronormative audience, all the while maintaining their LGBTQ+ audience who think that the story line will be fulfilled.
Queer-baiting is a symptom of a bigger problem that stems from the issues surrounding gender roles, the stigma or taboo in media of LGBTQ+ relationships, and what that means for T.V. shows that produce them.
It’s easy for watchers of the show to interpret one of the main characters, Dean as bisexual. He comes from an oppressive past where he wasn’t allowed to be who he wanted to be. Family always came first and he assumed the role of his mother for his brother, Sam, early on after she died. He was constantly restricted and his father pressed masculinity and what it meant to be a man’s man. That can be seen throughout the series where it almost seems like Dean is overcompensating when it comes to being masculine. His background is one that LGBTQ+ youth can strongly relate to, a story some know all too well.
Supernatural is a perfect case study for how gender roles lead to story lines that can never be fulfilled out of fear from producers and writers that they’re going to alienate certain audiences. This is something that needs to change.
3A, English Literature