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

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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