We all have our favorite and least favorite tropes. From love triangles to slow burns, tropes are often the best ways to showcase great characters and storylines. They can also be frustrating and make you question why it is even a trope at all. In this bi-weekly column, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the most classic television tropes.
We all have enough shit to deal with in normal life. Plenty of problems that keep the average person awake.
But imagine taking those problems and facing them in a world filled with supernatural beings. Werewolves, vampires, witches and so much more can take any problem and amplify it by ten. How did characters like Scott McCall, Elena Gilbert, and Buffy Summers possibility get through all of high school when dealing with all the supernatural crap they face on a daily basis?
I’m convinced they didn’t even go to school but that’s beside the point.
Supernatural elements have been a constant and popular theme in many television shows. Because why deal with the struggles of normal life when you can deal with monsters instead!
But seriously, I love television shows that deal with the supernatural. Perhaps it’s because deep down I wish vampires, witches and werewolves exist. Either way, they add a fun twist to a show that will undoubtedly deal with issues every other television show has tried to tackle.
So what makes shows with supernatural themes any more special than the rest? Well, nothing really. Any show can add an element that sets it apart from others. Some shows do that with involving the supernatural, others have done the same by setting the show in the apocalypse or making your lead character a superhero. The thing one must remember is that just because these shows have these components doesn’t make them necessarily good or worthwhile.
True Blood was a fantastic take on the supernatural. It had vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings and used it to strategically tell various stories. It had vampires living in the “real world” which is a different approach than most other shows dealing with the supernatural. This way of doing things allowed for unique story-lines that really worked well for the show. It didn’t use the supernatural for the sake of knowing that they could.
When shows start to do this, that’s when things can go bad.
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Lost was a perfect example of this. We knew something fishy was happening on the island. People who died appeared as if death never came upon them.
The strangeness of that had, at times, been some of the best parts of Lost. That show was all about the mystery and we ate it up. But the lack of a real explanation is really what makes things go from compelling to frustrating.
The same can be said for the later seasons of both True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, which got too lost in trying to explore different lore and detracted us from the things that made those shows so great. The first couple of seasons of The Vampire Diaries were truly its peak because we had a good mix of both the human and supernatural elements of the show.
Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring different supernatural tales (learning about The Originals during season two of The Vampire Diaries made it the best season the show ever produced). But there needs to be a balance between the supernatural and the real world because otherwise, we won’t care.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I feel as though, always thrived in that department. Each season tackled a different “big bad” supernatural issue while still dealing with the tedious human problems. Is Buffy’s roommate a demon or is she just really an awful roommate?
Those kinds of episodes – rooted in real-life issues – are what can make a television show about the supernatural stand out amongst the rest.
Do I really care how many times Buffy staked a vampire? No. What I care about and what I want to see is how many times she is able to do this despite all the other drama she has to deal with.
Wynonna Earp is the exact same way. Sure, season two had a lot of big supernatural problems. But let’s be real: the best part of season two was watching Wynonna having to deal with her pregnancy. Something she never planned but had to deal with nonetheless, that story arc was achingly raw. A mix of her fighting Bobo Del Rey while also dealing with her baby at the same time is the reason Wynonna Earp is one of my favorite shows.
Unfortunately, supernatural tv shows are a bit overdone as well. Many people, myself included, say “been there, done that” when contemplating whether or not to watch another supernatural show.
With that in mind, upcoming and current series with that element really have to look in the mirror and figure out what makes them different. Otherwise, they are just going to get lost in the sea that is television shows with supernatural creatures.