“Supernatural”: Will the new girls use their powers for good?

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If you’re a fan of Supernatural on the CW,

you’ve probably already heard that two ladies will be joining the cast for its

third season, and that these additions are causing a bit of uproar before the

first scenes have even been shot.

(Caution — minor

spoilers about casting and characterization for season 3.)

Katie Cassidy

(yes, daughter of David) will play Ruby, a slightly

"unhinged"
demon hunter who hooks up with the brothers Sam and Dean to

track all of the escaped demons from last season.

Lauren Cohen will

play another demon hunter named Bela. She

is
a "confident mercenary who lacks a conscience." In other words, a thief.

I am impressed with Cassidy and Cohen, who appear to be taking

their new roles seriously
.

They had never met before accepting the roles, but have signed up together for kickboxing classes to

prepare to play with the boys.

I did catch Supernatural‘s

first season — the execs at the former WB had it following either Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars in the lineup, so my TV was still tuned in when it

started — and I was hooked by the end of the pilot. The scene where the boys’ mother dies suspended

on the ceiling in flames kept me sleeping with my eyes to the wall for a week. It was some of the most seriously scary TV

I’d seen in a long time.

What kept me coming back to the show was its modern take on

some of my favorite urban legends, and even more than that, its standout

string of guest stars:

Sarah Shahi

Amy Acker

Julie Benz

Midway through the season, Meg (Nicki Aycox) appeared in the first recurring female role.

Even though, on its own terms, it was a nifty twist that Meg turned out to be evil, I was a little disappointed

that she fit into a developing pattern of the show’s female characters. The women were either helpless innocents in

need of manly rescue, or devious and mysteriously evil vixens who interfered in

the Winchester

brothers’ relationship and interrupted the quest for their missing father. The show became too boys town for me, and I

quit watching.

Whether that assessment is fair

or not, it’s true that the show’s audience is generally

male
(despite the initial sales pitch to female audiences on the WB),

and to aim for higher ratings and a female viewership, the network and creators

are bringing in girls. Now, this makes

total sense to me! (On a related note, it doesn’t surprise me that the actors

who play the Winchester

brothers, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, turned up on the AfterElton.com Hot 100

list
at 35 and 37.)

Watching the recent casting

headlines and fan site reception has been fascinating and not a little disturbing. Fans worry that this is a network move

to "bimbofy" the show (that’s not

my word
) to attract higher ratings.

Headlines

worry, "Will Girl Power Break Supernatural’s Spell"?

What I really wonder about is the

murky definition of "girl

power
" being tossed around. Kripke

says

that the plan for female characters in the show this season

"is to make trouble

for the guys, not to be helpful. To introduce them as their own

fleshed-out characters in their own right, who are raging pains in the ass, and

trouble, and dangerous, and then sort of see what happens."

Cassidy says

of her character:

"Ruby is a demon hunter, definitely

kick-ass, bad-ass. A little bit mysterious. Definitely manipulative."

Cohen says

of Bela:

"My character is being brought on

to compete with the boys. She has her

own agenda, and she’s very centered and focused on what she’s doing. She has

her hands on a lot of the stuff the boys need, and she sells it."

Fully developed, ass-kicking female characters are a

definite plus, but it appears that the way to empower women on the show will be

for the women, again, to have questionable allegiances and morals and, again,

to cause trouble between the Winchester

brothers. Now, I like a bad girl or two to kick up a little trouble as

much as anyone, and I also wouldn’t want the brothers to pick up a couple of nice

girls to be their roadies. But I’m not

so sure that this casting is really going to change the show’s atmosphere, or

that it has anything to do with "girl power."

Kripke has

said
the whole point of bringing the girls on the show is to help the

boys to grow, and he’s not ruling out a romantic

relationship with Sam or Dean should fans embrace either of the actresses. This does not reassure fans, and it’s not

convincing me to watch the show, either.

(I take that back. If

Lauren Cohen promises to wear this outfit,

then I promise to tune in.

And consider changing my definition of "girl power" to include arrows.)

What I’d really like to know is, are there any Supernatural fans on AfterEllen.com? Have I got the show all wrong? Are you excited about the new girls

arriving? Should I give it another

chance?

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