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© 2015 by MimpMag All Rights Reserved  

  • By Nahomy Ortiz-Garcia

Why Wayward Sisters is the next television movement we didn’t know we needed


Illustration by Maia Boakye

Women make 51% of the U.S. population. As of 2017, only 21% of TV shows have casts with more female than male characters. Wayward Sisters will have 6 female leads.

One of the most popular television series with a large fanbase is CW’s Supernatural, a fantasy horror series featuring two brothers who travel across the country hunting demons and spirits. The show has been going for 13 seasons and plans on continuing. Although Supernatural is a great show with a strong fanbase it’s very important to recognize that the show Supernatural hasn’t been the greatest when it comes to female representation. Usually on the show female characters aren’t consistent throughout seasons. On early seasons (Seasons 2, 3, 4) female characters were over-sexualized and mostly only presented for the main characters’ (Sam and Dean) pleasure. But very soon the show is taking a huge step forward in representation with a possible spin-off show.

On Thursday January 18th, a backdoor pilot titled: Wayward Sisters will premiere at 8pm (ET) on the CW. The spin-off show concept ‘Wayward Sisters’ would star long-time Supernatural cast member Kim Rhodes who plays Jody Mills, a woman who is the sheriff of Sioux Falls and occasionally helps the brothers fight demons. The spin-off will center around the story of Jody Mills and a group of troubled young women, all of them orphaned by a supernatural tragedy.

The spin-off only has one episode as of yet planned that will be integrated into Supernatural’s 13th season. Depending on the ratings and buzz around the Wayward Sisters concept there’s a possibility of a full-on series coming out soon. Wayward Sisters could possibly become a spin-off series of Supernatural that will star six female leads!

Actresses Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills) and Briana Buckmaster (Donna Hanscum) are thrilled at the possibility of a show. They have been seen at conventions saying they hope that it would represent incredible, complex women that kick ass and aren’t cookiecutter characters.

The Documentary

Youtuber Alana King (King Books) is a Supernatural fan and on her YouTube channel Alana does unboxing videos, reactions, interviews and vlogs. Most of Alana’s content is related to Supernatural.

Alana had the chance to attend a couple of Supernatural conventions in the past year and from those experiences she was able to make connections and interview people that work with Supernatural like photographers and writers for her channel. Most recently when Alana heard about the possibility of a ‘Wayward Sisters’ spinoff she decided to create a short documentary to prove why Wayward Sisters is so important for representation for women and why it deserves to be on the air.

“I wanted to show that not only is Wayward Sisters important for the representation of women in general, but the representation of accurate women,” Alana said, “not just a sexualized version that we see a lot in TV or the stereotypical female characters we see, but women who are of all ages, races, sexual orientations, etc.”

For her documentary Alana interviewed fans of the show, psychologist and curator of Supernatural TV show related books (Family Don’t End With Blood) Dr. Lynn Zubernis, actress Rachel Miner (former Supernatural cast member) and even Wayward Sisters’ possible lead of the spin-off Kim Rhodes!

I spoke a bit with Alana about her experience interviewing former cast member of the show, Rachel Miner, for her documentary.

“I was excited to have her input as someone who has been on Supernatural in the past,” Alana said, about her experience interviewing Rachel Miner, “but also as a woman and as someone who struggles with a disability. Her input about representation, creativity, and even her childhood views on women in the media were vital to the film.”

As for Kim Rhodes, Alana explained that it was a very emotional experience for her.

“She’s impacted me in so many ways, made me realize how important my voice is, and has just been so incredibly supportive.” After meeting Kim at a Supernatural convention in DC and briefly talking about the documentary project Kim asked how she could help, “I interviewed her a few weeks later over Google Hangouts, and even got to “meet” her daughter. It was like talking to a friend, and her knowledge on the topic of Wayward Sisters made the film a thousand times more valuable. Her interview really carries the whole thing, and I am so grateful to her for taking the time to speak with me.”

Another woman that Alana got to interview was Dr. Lynn Zubernis, curator and editor of the book Family Don’t End with Blood, a book written by Supernatural fans and actors including Supernatural’s lead men Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins. There are also chapters written in the book by Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills), Briana Buckmaster (Donna Hanscum) and Rachel Miner (Meg Masters), all related to the Wayward movement.

Dr. Lynn Zubernis explained to us why Wayward Sisters was so important to her as a psychologist, “I know firsthand the deep need we all have to figure out who we are. Identity development occurs in part through a process called "attribute substitution". We try on ways of being, and through that trying on we determine which attributes fit us. That process depends on having examples out there that we can model ourselves after in our 'real lives' and also in media. If there is no one who feels like me out there, the process can be frustrating and not nearly as successful.”

The Wayward Movement

Something spoken about a lot in Alana’s documentary is that one of the main reasons there was even a possibility the network thought about doing a show like Wayward Sisters was due to the fanbase being largely female and wanting to see themselves represented on screen.

When on an episode, Kathryn Newton’s character (Claire Novak) delivered the line: “What..? this is some sort of halfway house for wayward girls?”, this line began a movement. The Supernatural fanbase began daydreaming about the possibility of a show called Wayward Daughters where women were more represented in this supernatural world.

“The Wayward movement started back in 2015 with an episode of Supernatural called Angel Heart.” Alana explained, “It turned into an idea where a lot of people were like: wouldn’t it be cool if we got to see a show centering around Jody, Donna, Claire and Alex? A show all about female hunters? Then it turned into the Wayward movements, like the Wayward Daughters/Wayward AF campaigns that were run by Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Stands (charity platform), and this wonderful woman named Riley who really kind of spearheaded the whole Wayward movement from early on. Since then it’s just grown as more people considered the idea, and more episodes aired with these female characters involved.”

Representation

In Alana’s documentary there is a striking statistic included in the film:

Women make 51% of the U.S. population. As of 2017, only 21% of TV shows have casts with more female than male characters. Wayward Sisters will have 6 female leads.

Alana actually created the short documentary film and turned in a rough cut as her final project for her Culture, Race and Media class. “In that class we learned a lot about the way different types of people are represented in the media. One day in particular we focused just on women and how they’re portrayed in TV shows. We were going over these statistics and I was genuinely shocked.” Alana said.

The particular statistic was incorporated into the film to show how far we as a society still have to go with representing women in television on an equal level as men. “To me, the numbers just help show how drastic the divide between male and female representation still is.” Alana explained.

In hopes that the show gets picked up for its incredible promise Alana shared her opinion on why it’s so important, “I think it will inspire so many women. It can reach younger girls, show them that they can be brave and strong, but also emotional and caring. It can teach them that their bodies aren’t their most valuable asset. It can shows girls like me, who don’t feel like they belong, that being off the beaten path, being Wayward, is okay.”

The show Wayward will also show middle aged women as badass, inspirational, and role models for younger girls while at the same time making mistakes and being beautiful too. “A lot of my friends are middle aged and they talk all the time about how they wish they could see themselves represented in media as something other than the mom or the wife. This is their chance to see their age group represented as authentically strong in a way that we haven’t seen much of before.”

Wayward can definitely become a game changer and set a new standard for other shows that haven’t reached this level of representation yet. “If everything goes well, hopefully Wayward’s impact on its audience will show other TV shows that it can be successful to include this type of representation. I would like to see more shows follow in Wayward’s footsteps.”

What can we do for this show?

Watching the episode live on January 18th will help the ratings. Tweeting with the hashtags: #Supernatural and #Wayward (or whatever the official hashtag is, normally the show’s official Twitter page will tweet out some hashtags) while the show is airing will help the show’s Nielsen Ratings which networks do look at. Talking about the show and giving feedback is important!

And like Kim Rhodes said on Alana’s documentary, “Just give it a chance.”

You can watch Alana King’s full Wayward Documentary here:

Special thanks to Alana King and Dr. Lynn Zubernis for their incredible input and everything they do!

References: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KkSUYf-oYQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cznmXp-cElM

#WaywardSisters #AlanaKing #NahomyOrtizGarcia #WHATNOW #BooksMovies #TVTalk