Boys, Girls, and Monsters: Regulation of Normative Gender in Supernatural
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Supernatural, a cult phenomenon currently in its tenth season on the CW, is about Sam and Dean Winchester and their heroic journey across a Gothic horror landscape of things that go bump in the night; as Dean puts it, “Sweetheart, this ain’t gender studies.” Yet while the creators may not have intended it to be as much, popular media texts always contribute to the construction of hegemonic norms. A close reading of Seasons 1 through 9 reveals that Supernatural is in fact built upon the bedrock of binary sex-gender identities. Through both individual characterizations and narrative structure, Supernatural presents detailed portraits of idealized maleness and femaleness the depend on mutual exclusion and the subordination of female characters to the male ego ideal embodied in the Winchesters. Most interestingly, Supernatural also features a host of inhuman characters, through which emerges a third portrait of monstrosity as that which threatens the integrity of normative male and female identities.