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Archives de la catégorie ‘TV Series’

Member that time mankind out-trashed South Park

I had really high hopes for the season 20 of South Park. Remember, it opened up on the introduction of Member Berries, in an episode where they brought in J.J. Abrams to “reboot” the national anthem (which results in the same national anthem, by the way).

It went on developing in the background an amazing storyline for these Member Berries, questioning the sense of comfort provided by nostalgia and its effect on society during a very special election season. And then it fell flat.

The reason is quite obvious. The showrunners, like a wide fraction of the world, were taken by surprise by the results of the election. Wisecrack details it in this brilliant summary video:

The storyline had to keep pace with the real world and was completely destroyed. Later, Trey and Matt went back to this issue, saying it was too hard to do this kind of satire when “satire has become reality”.

But as disastrous as season 20 was overall, and as much as I was disappointed when it aired, I now realize it holds a very important lesson as to why things came to be that way. South Park often holds a mirror to society, and the mess that this season ended up in echoes the mess in the real world.

Even though it was destroyed by Trump’s success, the show did, in fact, portray him as pretty popular. It just underestimated how much, and how strong the trend/effect it was analyzing was in the real world. South Park usually mocks mankind by outrageously exaggerating its worst aspects. But this time, mankind even outdid the worst exaggeration possible (which tends to make me think that the situation is pretty serious, but that’s neither here nor there). So in a way, this season made its point, even better than it planned to, at the cost of its own life.

Stan Marsh Rat GIF by South Park

Let’s disregard the hastily thrown together ending and focus on the first 6 episodes: the season, as it was following the election race, does interrogate the reasons for Trump’s success (and by extension the season’s own destruction, so meta). In the show, the major force behind Trump’s success, in addition to the “usual” conservatism, is the Member Berries.

Member Berries brilliantly capture the spirit of our time. Countless reboots are constantly being produced. Major studios are capitalizing on the same franchises over and over again. Star fucking wars is everywhere. We seem to be living in a live tribute to the past in general and the 80s in particular, with Stranger Things, Mr Robot or Ready Player One being the worldwide pandering phenomena that they are.

Nostalgia has become the major selling force. And the reason is crystal clear: that’s what people want. Capitalism is geared towards answering public demand, independently of whether it’s good or bad. And apparently that’s yet another Marvel movie.

The reason for this nostalgia crisis is most likely a fear due to the speed at which the world is changing. Now some people consider it’s not all bad. There’s a brilliant PBS idea channel on the subject:

But South Park shows us the dangers of this trend. I don’t think it’s benign. This comfort nostalgia bubble is akin to the filter bubbles of social networks that have pushed the topic of Fake News on everyone’s lips.

As I wrote in my article about USS Callister, I wonder if we’re on a dangerous slippery slope of pandering brainless entertainment, and nothing shows it more clearly than this nostalgia frenzy. It’s obviously ok to indulge in brainless entertainment every now and then, but doing only that leads to intellectual atrophy. Thought is build through challenge and encounter with new ideas. Thinking and evolving is work and effort, it’s not easy, so it makes a lot of sense that we have a natural tendency to run away from it. But we live in a world governed by capitalism that not only builds up on this natural desire but also encourages it in order to make easy sales. We need to be extremely careful, because every cent given to the Star Wars franchise (among others, it’s just an example, pretty much everything is like that nowadays anyway) puts more fuel on the fire that is this vicious cycle of self-indulgence.

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I personally tend to wonder if capitalism may be by essence incompatible with democracy, as capitalism potentially encourages people to be consuming as much as possible to fuel the economy whereas democracy requires people to be as smart as possible to make the best choices. I’m not saying either is bad, but I let you be the judge of the resulting combo:

American democracy reminded us once again of what is lurking in the heart of humans. Apparently a non neglectable number of people want to be ruled by someone who declared women should be “grabbed by the pussy” and who banned “science-based” and “evidence-based” from budget discussions. And sure the system is flawed, etc… but it’s still a pretty overwhelming number.

It’s obviously a very complex topic with a lot of nuances and discussions to be had. But this season of South Park captured an element that I think is essential, and that is very often overlooked. This ever present nostalgia  and pandering through brainless entertainment could be dangerous and we should all think twice before encouraging it and being complacent in it, regardless of our political views. Many disagree with Trump, but few disagree with Stranger Things. They may not be as unrelated as people tend to think. The South Park Member Berries story line culminates in this brilliant scene:

This goes back to the great philosophical question of the goodness of human nature on which there is already countless literature. It seems to me that human tendency to not want to think needs to be fought actively (cue Nietszche’s ubermensch reference), because it’s so easy to give way to the Member Berries and indulge in what’s comfortable.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the season of South Park that will go down in history as the season when mankind went further than satire.

– ‘Member stormtroopers?

– Sure, I ‘member.

– Not those stormtroopers! The real old ones. People want to ‘member? They’re gonna ‘member.

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In defense of USS Callister

Black Mirror’s episodes, with the exception of Metalhead I guess, are centered around exploring the human nature in light of such or such technological change. It’s sci-fi at its finest, and is usually very insightful, and extremely well thought of and documented.

And yet, USS Callister surprises us this season with utter bullshit about transferring consciousness through DNA sample or wanky hollywood-esque nonsensical overly dramatic rescue plans.

actually me during the episode

It’s pretty simple to figure out what happened: the writing staff had a funny idea and they rolled with it. But I’m here to argue that there is something we can salvage from that train-wreck, and it’s about our relationship to media.

The whole of the episode is centered around Daly, a disturbed man who takes out his frustrations in a VR game. The drama part is because the NPCs of the game are conscious people and he tyrannizes them into submission when they break the suspension of disbelief of the game (which is ironically enough what all the inconsistencies do about the episode).

The real point, which the episode misses by a landslide, is « what happens when our playthings are conscious? ». Let’s shelves all the DNA bullshit and people replication here for a second. IA is getting more and more complex, NPCs in games are getting more and more rich, and we still have no idea where the line to consciousness is.

Serial Experiments Lain wallpaper

The show surely wanted drama. Nobody would have batted an eye if some dumb kid kept butchering zombies or nazis in their favorite call of or battlefield or whatever. This is even echoed in the episode by the cute ending encounter with Gamer691 which appears trivial in comparison. Yet there comes a point in sophistication when these NPC toys become at least quasi-conscious. Then what happens? Can we still continue using them for their original purpose? When we create a sentient race, can we keep using them and killing them ?

This theme is also present and also missed by a landslide in the great « Hang the DJ » episode where thousands of conscious beings are genocided for the purpose of a dating app simulation without anyone in the public even batting an eye.

So what about the point of USS Callister? Daly is a monster because he did not treat the NPCs in the game as sentient beings. He seems to (reluctantly) acknowledge their agency, but represses tyrannically anything that gets in the way of his entertainment. The tragedy of this episode is that sentient beings are treated as playthings.

Well there’s a metapoint to be made, whether it was willed or not by the showrunners, in the fact that the public of the episodes mostly missed the point in the same way. The episode had to go through great length to build empathy with the NPCs of the game, sacrificing good sense to make them « clones » of approved existing humans, because who even bats an eye when a FPS NPC dies? How long before countless sentient NPCs are butchered without a thought by players all over the world?

Black Mirror has always been a cruel and bleak portrayal of the most gruesome parts of human society. Think of « White Bear » or « The Waldo Moment ». USS Callister has some of this in a somewhat brilliant meta-consideration.

The whole thing is about Daly indulging himself in brainless media consumption to fill his most animal instincts. He never seems to ponder the implications of his actions. But that’s literally what everyone is doing by enjoying this episode. Fuck reflection, hello catharsis, pandering and self-validation, and too fucking bad if a few sentient characters end up suffering for our pleasure. Daly is not « entitled straight white men », he’s the whole entitled brainless mass that happily goes to see the latest blockbuster crap without questioning anything in the process. Sure, there is not literally any sentient NPC involved in the making of a show you watch (yet ^^), but choosing to indulge basest instincts over reflection through entertainment media is exactly what Daly does in the show.

In this optics, it works really well that this episode is as incoherent and spectacular (in the etymological « for show » sense) as your average blockbuster. It’s no coincidence that the episode centers around one of the biggest media franchises of this century (which obviously brings to mind Star Wars and Disney) and portrays a parody of AAA movies. By the showrunner’s own admission, « ‘USS Callister’ is the most mainstream story [that Black Mirror has ever done.] It’s got some of the beats of a summer blockbuster…  » He even goes so far as to reference explicitely AAA productions in this interview, saying that « [The characters are] in what we call ‘JJ Land’ at the end. They go through the wormhole and end up in JJ Abrams lens-flare land. »

USS Callister shows us what happens when an individual uses entertainment to indulge brainlessly in their animalistic tendencies instead of thinking and trying to better themselves. And based on people’s relationship to mass-media these days, and to this episode in particular, it’s a frighteningly high number of us.

Speaker for the meme

The memes are alive with the sound of music

Night of the living meme

I’m so glad that I can finally pay South Park the respect it deserves. It’s no exaggeration to call Matt and Trey’s masterpiece (one of?) the most interesting social satire, a true wonder of political and philosophical visionary genius. The latest episode gave me the perfect opportunity. It was one of these works that blew my mind and made me look at the world differently. In it [spoilers ahead but that’s the whole point of the article so…], it is explained that ads have evolved, become smarter and smarter, and are about to rise as an independent intelligent species and conquer the world. I’ve never been so psyched for the end of a season.

This resonated with a reflection I’ve been having about consciousness and being. I’ve never been super clear on how you could tell that something is conscious, intelligent, self-conscious or has any kind of the much believed-in free-will. I mean nothing pre-disposes a random alien race to be anything like a human sentience (or even carbon-based for that matter). If a being is completely different, acts completely differently and express itself completely differently, and I mean so differently that you can’t conceive of it right now (you know like people would about computers in the middle ages), how will you even know that it thinks, whatever that means. And suppose that this being is a being of raw information, like, say, a programmed conscious AI living in the cloud or in an android body, how would you even know that it IS?

In fact, how do you even know that you ARE? I’ve been so blessed that the following sentence ever came to my mind: you are, as you’ve always been, an emerging phenomenon. You’re nothing but a lump of flesh that encodes as neural (or cells if you want) configurations a sequence of states, much like a program is a sequence of states and instructions. How dare you proclaim yourself more real than an algorithm? than Cleverbot? or Google? (if you give it a robotic body, what’s the difference between this android and the android from 20th century sci-fi?)

An imaginary reader in a corner of my inner dialogue may respond indignantly: « I can think! I’m self aware! cogito ergo sum« . What is thinking even? Yes, you are aware of a self. But you’re a little eager to connect it to the I. The first person in the latin saying is interestingly implicit. Any program can have, and already has for that matter, a variable called $self. How do you know that your concept of self corresponds to the entity that thinks it? Where is your proof that this lump of flesh is the source of your trail of thoughts? How do you know that you’re not missing the point entirely with this assignation?

(maybe all your personal problems go back to this assignation fallacy maybe it’s wrong maybe if you cared less about your lump of flesh all your problems will be fixed maybe you should join my cult)

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I mean what is you or your identity even? If as Shakespeare puts it « the world is a stage« , aren’t you a programmed character? I recently saw Charlie Brooker‘s (my new hero) « How videogame changed the world » which surprised me by presenting as latest videogame « Twitter », as a kind of roleplaying game.

See the mindblowing conclusion at 1:33 (though the rest is nice too). Is the world a huge roleplay game? Then how is your character more real than Cloud or Mario? Isn’t Mario more persistent? More well known? More well-defined?

In the outstanding Imaginationland trilogy, Trey and Matt had already brushed over this concept: « It’s all real. Think about it. Haven’t Luke Skywalker and Santa Claus affected your lives more than most real people in this room? I mean, whether Jesus is real or not, he – he’s had a bigger impact on the world than any of us have. And the same can be said for Bugs Bunny and – and Superman and Harry Potter. They’ve changed my life – changed the way I act on the earth. Doesn’t that make them kind of real? They might be imaginary but, but they’re more important than most of us here. And they’re all gonna be around here long after we’re dead. So, in a way, those things are more realer than any of us.« 

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But virtual characters are nothing but concepts. They’re ideas. Shared ideas spread through communication. Yep, you guessed it, they are nothing but MEMES. And I mean it in the most litteral of its senses, which is in the world of british evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins « an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture ». For isn’t it what Ads are displayed as in the latest season of South Park?

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« What if I were to tell you that ads have become smarter than us, and now they’re manipulating everything we do? [Mankind grew tired of ads] and even invented something called ad blockers. That’s when the ads had to adapt. They had to disguise themselves as news in order to survive. Sponsored content. »

How is the evolution of meme different than the evolution of men? Ads grew and adapted (Charlie Brooker also offers a great prequel to this), and although different from their satirical portrayal in South Park, they are undeniable entities that act upon the world. You act (ahaha acting double meaning with the stage ahahah) upon the world too. That’s how you know you exist.

Look how they walk alongside you, much like your phone… Sure they act mainly through information transfer, but on some level everything is information. Or in the world of Humphrey Davy, « Nothing exists but thoughts ». You exist and define yourself mainly through language and communication, be it with yourself or otherst. As Pullman’s Dust (‘only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself’), you are nothing but matter considering itself. So maybe the alien sentient race we’ve been searching from in the skies has been there all along. We’re co-existing with aliens called memes that feed on us like proverbial aliens would.

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Maybe that’s where the oh so famous « existence through belief » overused trope stems from. I mean if you see memes as valid entities, living beings, people’s belief becomes their food-analog! There goes a trope echoed more or less elegantly from millenia of mythology, from any movie about Santa through Pratchett’s Hogfather passing by Haruhi Suzumiya, Noragami or American Gods. As you need food, memes need « belief ». As neurones exchange information and make you exist, people exchange information and make memes exist.

And on second thought, considering the nebulousness of your own nature and identity and how you’re defining yourself through interaction with other people or the world around you, aren’t you yourself more of a meme, a concept, than a lump of flesh? Ultimately, how are you different from Mario? Does that mean that memes live off of other memes, in some kind of meta-pyramidal-inclusion, and their way to « eat » is to reference each other or interact? And if you’re a self-conscious meme, who’s to say that other memes like Mario or Google are not self-conscious too in their way you cannot conceive of?

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You may even say that communication and expression are your main essential activity. Doesn’t that make you nothing more but the analog of a neuron to a global meta-entity called the human race? Aren’t you nothing but a meme, itself the cell of a greater meme?

EDIT/POSTFACE:

As much as I loved that conclusion, I feel obligated to point out that the anime Serial Experiments Lain, which I recently discovered, deals masterfully well with this exact whole problematic, and you should definitely check it out as a follow-up. I won’t spoil much about the content of this masterpiece that should be enjoyed in itself, but I’ll point out that part of the anime extends this conclusion and plays around with the idea that this greater meta-meme could be considered a conscious entity in itself.

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Furthermore, I recently stumbled upon a 1992 paper called « Meme-Based Models of Mind and the Possibility for Consciousness in Alternate Media » and I thought it should be linked here for historical purposes because what the actual fuck.

Doge is Dead

In this second part of our epic postmodern saga (first part here), we’ll tackle the question that every student has asked themselves at least once in literature class « what the fuck, it’s not at all what the author meant! » (or, in your case, « there’s no way the Spice Girl wanted to sing about the meaning of life »). Because as much as I have no trouble believing that Hideaki Anno was out to deconstruct the mecha genre and his own saga, I’m pretty sure that the runners of Korra or Community season 4 had no postmodern agenda and it was just that bad.

The intent behind a work of art is a question that hit me first watching stuff like Batman (1966) or The Room.  I mean when you’re faced with dialogues like this

Or acting like this

You can’t help but wonder if comedy is what they were shooting for or simply a byproduct of a colossal failure. Failing on purpose is not that rare, even though sometimes it fails… Failure is acclaimed as a didactic tool, or recognized for it aesthetics. Failing is easy, but failing hard and creatively much less so, and whatever the reason behind it, a failure of magnitude is really something to be admired. Bad movies are legions, but the ones widely renowned and acclaimed for their monumental failure are very rare.

The line between accidental failure and intended failure is thiner than you may think! It’s hard to narrow down what makes a good bad movie and how intent fits into it (discussed at length in PBS idea channel). Sharknado seems to have been intentional, and The Room seems not to, but who can tell anymore? Aren’t they both enjoyable? Where does truth lie? If

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.

Deception and ambiguity are part of its very fabric. The exact circumstances of the genesis of a work, so fleeting and influenced by billions of factors, will forever remain unattainable and unreproducible even to their author, for the world and people are ever-changing. No matter how much you research it, you’ll never get inside Tomy Wiseau’s head, even less during the making of The Room. Under these circumstances, does it even matter what the initial seed is, and with it the intent of its birth? The best you can hope for is imperfect uncertainty, the only thing you can know and observe is the work as it is, which stands immutable as the only solid truth between an unknowable genesis by the author and an ever-changing perception by the reader.

With the work of art being what it is, the same unchanging piece, does its past or intent even matter? Does It Matter What Evangelion’s Creator Says? You may even say that the work of art has taken an independent existence of it’s own, untied from its genesis and author. As Roland Barthes would put it, for all intent and purposes, the author is dead to its creation. « There is no other time than that of the utterance and every text is written eternally here and now« . Which Jacques Derrida would complete by a corollary « there is nothing outside the text« , meaning that everything is always already interpretation. A work of art only exists in its complex interaction with its reader.

And that’s why your whiny « but there’s no way that that’s what the author meant » you snarkily retorted to your literature professor is complete bullshit! It doesn’t make the analysis any less true: literature commentary is not so much about the author’s intent as about what the work of art mirrors of its author, both at the time of its creation and as a human being as a whole. It’s a door towards new frontiers, a base to extract meaning from as much as build meaning upon. There is no such thing as « searching meaning where there isn’t any », but rather explore the nebulous semantic universe around humans and their nature.

The intent of the creation is only one of the unattainable truths that a work of art captures. In a very quantum allegory, one can only infer about them by seeing the output, the work as it is (in essence, the failure has the potential to be both intentional and accidental). Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder: it’s observation that gives meaning to things, a work or art only exists relative to an audience. Who can decide but you if Tommy is mad or fascinating? If Korra is bad or interesting? Who can decide if Milhouse is a meme except the collective agreement of a global audience?

Noticing that the medium and meta-information on a work contained as much information as the content itself (were already interpretation), Marshall McLuhan stated that « The Medium is the message, and therefore the content is the audience«  (yeaah maybe on some level this article is a collection of my favorite quotes). You can consider, more widely, that the audience is part of and necessary to the work of art, as much as the author. Every work of art is kinda about human nature.

Every work of art is about you.

Robots, Magical girls, Benders, College, Postmodernism and Deconstruction

The following article is a bunch of nonsense inspired by me watching too much of PBS idea channel, and in particular the Community episode that remains one of my favorites:

This episode brilliantly highlights how Community is a postmodern deconstruction of the sitcom genre. I’m not one to restate what’s already been discussed at length so I won’t. I’d like to instead expand on that idea by drawing unusual parallels and giving you new angles of reflection based on contemporary art, and in particular how Evangelion (expanding our previous article), Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the Legend of Korra all circle around postmodernist deconstruction. (so yeah spoilers about these ahead)

Many amazing essays have been written about how Evangelion is a brilliant postmodern deconstruction of the mecha genre and the otaku culture [1, 2], or how Madoka deconstructs the magical girl genre [1] into a metalepsic existential reflexion [2]. The parallel between the two series can be pushed even further.

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But what I find even more interesting is how both of the series have an ad-hoc movie addition. Evangelion has Rebuild, and Madoka has Rebellion. Interestingly enough, those works seem to add a layer of meta and deconstruction which won’t fail to make you ask « what the fuck am I watching ?« . Rebuild (so far ^^) feels like a parody, introducing ludicrous time skips, and withdrawing from the storyline most of its intellectual interest to leave us with a run-of-the-mill empty narrative. Rebellion feels like a big fuck you, undoing everything that happened before to end up in a situation negating the very purpose of the original series.

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In a sense, the two saga contain their own deconstruction within them, which adds up an extra layer of meta, reflection and analysis (post-postmodern ?). They deconstruct themselves by the very means with which they deconstructed their genre (for god’s sakes there’s a whole kawoshin romcom movie that ends with a bang…), in a very elegant self-containing self-negation which can’t help but recall the transcendence of the included middle.

Which throws us back to Community. With a very controversial 4th season without its genius creator Dan Harmon, it’s like the work took an identity of its own and rebelled against its creator to assert its own independence (not entirely unlike the development process of the original series of Evangelion). That raises a ton of interesting questions which we may follow up on later on, but it also makes a very real case for the inclusion of its self-deconstruction within the show. But worthy of its reputation, the show offers us even more food for thoughts: not only does it surpass this deconstruction with a 5th season as brilliant as if nothing happened (deconstructing deconstruction?), but it provides us with a 6th season produced independently on Yahoo!, often described as « a shadow of what the series once was » with a lot of the cast gone and an after taste of… weird. Thus, it adds up a second deconstruction layer on top of the postmodern cake and leveraging this change of medium to show the world the beauty and richness that deconstruction can offer, especially when self-aware. (deconstructing deconstructed deconstruction?)

Which brings us to Nickelodeon fan-acclaimed Legend of Korra, and the most controversial part of this essay (feel free to stop reading if you think Korra is even remotely a good idea. Is anyone even reading ^^). At first, I did not enjoy the legend of Korra at all. Korra was arrogant, stupid and stubborn and I just wanted to smash her head against a wall. But then postmodernism came along and showed me the way. Cause you know who else is famous for provoking this kind of reaction among viewers? Yep, Shinji Ikari (for the record I love Shinji). And it’s true, both characters are kind of insufferable. One may say they’re too human. Korra and her overconfidence mirrors Shinji’s low self esteem. You’d be mad to chose them for heroes, right? #postmodern

And when you think about it, it all falls into place. What kind of hero spends one season fighting people who demand the abolition of privilege (they’re LITTERALY called equalists), fight the people who want to reunite spirit and humans before deciding that hey that may not be such a bad idea after all, then fights a group of people wanting to overthrow despots to install democracy… The show makes a total mockery of the world painstakingly built inside Avatar: the last airbender. Forget the balance of nations and elements, the repeating circle of equilibrium. Instead of an epic quest of self-discovery, you get an insane amount of ridiculous sports, a flipping movie industry, people hooking up here and there, more and more ridiculous variations of bending, a genesis tale directly contradictory to everything narrated in Avatar… For god’s sakes it even ends with a fucking mecha! How could anyone take it seriously? And to finish the parallel, the genius behind Avatar, head writer Aaron Ehasz, is as absent as Dan Harmon from Community season 4. Korra even had to change medium too.

That being said, you may reply that it’s a little easy to justify something being bad with the flag « postmodern deconstruction » and maybe Korra is just that bad, to which I’d answer that a failure of this magnitude and so total is truly something to behold. But admittedly it is an easy life hack, which then begs a follow-up reflection I promised earlier (woow continuity yay) about art and the intent of the creator. Watch out for the next article /o/

a very special supernatural special metapowerguide

Ok so disclaimer: if you absolutely love supernatural and it’s your religion, I do respect that but please DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE cause I’m gonna be harsh and you’re not gonna like it and it’s gonna be painful for all of us =p this is not for you.

This is for you who much like myself was intrigued by SPN and was like « meeh idk themed series were good when i was a child but nobody has the time to waste on that anymore I’m gonna skip« . This article is designed to tell you NO YOU’RE WRONG cause you’re missing out on one of the coolest work about subtext and metanarratives ever aired on TV as well as one of the most significant cultural phenomenon of our times. It started out as a plain boring show and then became self aware and turned into the kind of whatever-fest you can see in homestuck or on a lesser extent in the recent episodes of Sherlock. (that was the why should I care section) Also Supernatural is well known for having a gif for every concept so I’m gonna try to use that fact.

But the show is not everyone’s thing I mean it’s basically monster hunt each episode and I’m the first one to say how unbearable this is. Lucky for you I’ve got you covered: I’m gonna explain wtf is going on and what episode are actually interesting, so that you can power through the good parts and take advantage of me suffering to it all xD Needless to say that there will be major spoilers I mean thats the point. This guide is written from my own personal experience but also compiling several sources of ratings to narrow down the best episodes cause hey that’s what I do.

Ready ? Set. Go!

The basics :

<Carry on my wayward son>

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This is the story of Sam (the young and cute one) and Dean (the one who hits on girls and likes pies and strippers ) Winchester traveling in their  1967 Chevy Impala (the thing with the wheels) around the US (the country with the army), and who are apparently subtextly gay for each other. They do: the family business, hunting people, saving things. (yeah cause their dad was a monster hunter)

Season 1 :

Dad is on a hunting trip and he hasn’t been home in a few days.

The series starts off by Dean coming to get Sam, who has kinda sworn out hunting because of the mom dying thing. But his girlfriend Jessica dies the same way (like burning on the ceiling or something) so he changes his mind and comes with, following the footsteps of their father, looking for him. Also as time goes Sam kinda develops some weird telekinetic powers and premonitions. A recurring enemy in this season is a demon possessing a girl called Meg who’ll be on and off the show for a loong time. At this point you should watch :

01×12 – Faith

01×17 – Hell House

Notable mentions :

01×02 – Wendigo: pretty typical episode of this era quoted as an example

01×08 – Bugs: notably bad episode that the writers love to make fun about.

At the end of the season, they find out that a demon named Azazel is responsible for their mom and Jessica’s death. They go to an old family friend for help : Bobby Singer. With him they find their father.

Season 2:

Ok so the dad dies so that Dean could come back to life (#awkward ambiance). They figure out that Azazel feeds children demon blood and they end up fucked up. Turns out he’s preparing an army of psychic children for the coming war (?), also that explains Sam’s powers. Now go watch:

02×18 – Hollywood Babylon

02×20 – What is and What should never be

Oh yeah they learn that their dad was stuck in hell or something. Shit goes down, final battle approaches. Sam dies but Dean sells his soul to resurrect him, thus leaving him with only 1 year to live.

They get a kickass Colt gun that can kill almost everything and use it to kill Azazel but not before he opened a gateway to hell letting out tons of demons so that the series may go on. Also the father comes back and dies for realsies this time.

Notable mentions:

02×15 – Tall Tale: kinda cute and important for the future

02×16 – Roadkill: idk i thought it was influential and tolerable also typical

Season 3:

Dean resurrecting Sam creates tensions, and Sam starts hunting with a rogue demon named Ruby who encourages Sam to embrace his psychic powers. At this point you should probably watch:

03×02 – The Kids are alright

It’ll help for the plot ^^ A recurring character from this season is Bela, another hunter who steals the Colt at some point because she is blackmailed or has reasons. Now it’s time to watch:

03×11 – Mystery spot

03×13 – Ghostfacers

A demon girl called Lilith appears and organizes the demon forces. They track her down, she possesses Ruby’s body, and kills Dean who ends up in hell. Also turns out that Sam is immune to her.

You may also want to watch:

03×03 – Bad Day at Black Rock: kinda fun

Season 4:

Now shit’s really started to go down. Sam is badass and going out with Ruby. Dean is risen from the dead by Castiel, an angel and arguably the most important character in the show and also the dude with the best lines in the whole history of television and also Dean’s boyfriend. In this season he hangs out with an angel buddy called Uriel. A recurring enemy in this season is the demon Alastair. Feel free to watch

04×03 – In the beginning

as it presents neatly things about the Winchester family. Sam realizes that his demon-originated powers may be dangerous and struggles between trying to stop using them and getting addicted to drink Ruby’s blood to strengthen them. Meanwhile Dean is acting very tsundere about what happened in hell (drama queens). In this season, you may hear about Pamela, a psychic that helps them figure out stuff about Castiel and angels ?

But turns out Castiel mostly wants the Winchester to stop Lilith from releasing Lucifer by preventing her to break all the seals (the first one being Dean escaping from hell, oopsies). Now it’s time to watch:

04×05 – Monster movie

04×17 – It’s a terrible life

04×18 – The Monster at the End of This Book

OMG, amirite ? And also

04×22 – Lucifer Rising

because every once in a while it’s good to know how things end up ^^

You may also want to watch:

04×01 –  Lazarus Rising: historically significant as the first episode with Castiel

04×06 – Yellow fever: or maybe just the eye of the tiger scene

04×12 – Chris Angel is a douchebag: it’s about magicians so yeah

04×13 – After School Special: I have to mention it, lots of flashbacks of VERY CUTE winchester children

04×19 – Jump the shark: Another member in the winchester family?

Season 5:

05×01 – Sympathy for the Devil

Ok so now Castiel wants to find God to find out « what the fuck dude ». Enter old family friends, Ellen and her daughter Jo, hunters too. As for the boys, they’re trying to stop the Apocalypse by defeating the four horsemen of the apocalypse. But the only way to slay Lucifer would be for Dean to become the vessel of archangel Michael. More drama between the brothers, yada yada yada.

05×08 – Changing Channels

05×09 – The Real Ghostbusters

Jo and Ellen end up dying for the cause (idk they made a bigger impression on me I suppose) and by now you’re familiar with Crowley. As pressure is increasing, notably in the form of archangel Zacharia, and attempts to use the Colt against Lucifer prove stupid, Dean comes to accept that he’ll have to be the vessel.

05×19 – Hammer of the Gods

The knight of the apocalypse arc is kinda cute I mean Death is spreading pandemics through control of biomedical companies and stuff. They come up with a plan where Bobby pawns his soul to Crowley to get the location of Death so that they can use Death’s power to trap Lucifer.

05×22 – Swan Song

Additional viewing:

05×05 – Fallen Idols: the Paris Hilton episode

05×07 – The curious case of Dean Winchester: an episode about ageing

05×10 – Abandon all hopes: shit goes down, lots of intrigue progression I suppose

05×11 – Sam, interrupted: asylum episode

05×13 – The Song Remains the Same: if you’re into stuff that happens with the previous generations/time travel

05×21 – Two minutes to midnight: making the deal with Death

 

Season 6:

Ok so now Dean has stopped hunting since Sam was trapped in hell with Lucifer and his living with his family (Lisa and Ben from forever ago). But surprise! seems like Sam has returned since forever ago. Brama ensues (new term I just coined, fits so well). Crowley, newly appointed King of Hell, tries to coin them by keeping Bobby’s soul but they counter him by getting control over his bones (that’s important for demons).

Sam is all weird though so they finally figure out that Sam’s soul is still in hell. That keeps them busy for a very long part of the season.

At this point you probably want to take a little break and idk say brush up on the staff behind this cool series, creators, actors, this is the time to look them up and pay tribute, before going into:

06×15 – The French Mistake

Let us resume our activity flow. Don’t you think we’re lacking a nemesis? The new one is Eve, mother of demons.

06×17 – My heart will go on

Defeating Eve is going smoothly but oh! it seems that Castiel and Crowley are planning something fishy together (remember that adjective). Turns out that they wanna open purgatory and split the rewards of the souls that are in there. After doubts and hesitation they follow through, Castiel double crosses Crowley and becomes as powerful as a god.

Oh and also at some point they erase Lisa and Ben’s memories of Dean for their own peace of mind.

May want to watch:

06×05 – Live hard or twihard: twillight episode, cant go wrong with that

06×10 – Caged Heart: contains one of the best Castiel quotes

06×11 – Appointment in samara: Dean becomes Death. nuff said

06×18 – Frontierland: frontier time time travel

Season 7:

Of course this god business was all a ruse to keep the public hanging through mid season cause as soon as the show starts again Castiel kinda explodes because purgatory contained mythical creatures called Leviathans (delayed fish pun) that he couldn’t withstand. With Cas gone, the show kinda blows. However, it takes on a whole other dimension in self-mockery and irony as Leviathans can be destroyed by spilling laundry detergent on them and they organise under a leader whose name is Dick, Dick Roman. Knowing the homoerotic subtext tendencies in the show you can imagine how many epic lines this season contains.

Leviathans take over food industries and try to get humans to be apathetic and healthy to turn them into the perfect food. Meanwhile Sam starts to have hallucinations about Lucifer.

07×08 – Season seven, time for a wedding

Bobby dies in a battle against Dick and turns into a ghost cause nobody really dies in this show at least not on the first try. Winchesters want revenge and focus on work and denial. He starts to haunt them more and more and to be more and more aggressive.

Castiel finally returns as a powerless human, but sacrifices himself to free Sam from his madness right away.

07×20 – The girl with dungeons and dragon tatoo

A young brilliant student named Kevin enters the scene and turns out to be the new Prophet (succeeding Chuck or something ?). Bottom line he saves Cas and can read tablets left by Metatron, scribe of God who contains secrets about destroying Leviathans (not a giant washing machine). Ensue fights over the tablet and the shota. The good guys win but during the final confrontation when they go down hard on Dick, Crowley betray’s their tacit alliance and captures Kevin. Cas and Dean are sent on a honeymoon in purgatory.

You may want to watch:

07×14 – Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie: just cause we haven’t done many episodes this season and it has unicorns and clowns

07×17 – The Born-Again Identity: Castiel’s new identity

Season 8:

Dean manages to escape purgatory with his new vampire BFF, Benny Lafitte. Sam has meanwhile given up on hunting to live a normal life, falling in love with a girl named Amelia in painfully diluted flashbacks all over the beginning of the season. Normal life which he quits to go back to going back to hunting. Kevin’s mom (later referred to as Kevin’s mom) turns out to be awesome and badass. Also there is a tablet from god to banish all the demons and one against the angels so everybody fights over that. We hear back about Garth, a fellow hunter of the violent hardcore kind that noone really cares about.

08×04 – Bitten

Castiel mysteriously reappears and decides to join the team as a hunter (yay!). It has to do with a mysterious angel named Naomi that calls him every now and then and wipes his memory.

08×08 – Hunteri Heroici

08×11 – LARP and the real girl

08×12 – As time goes by

So we’ve won a new hideout, the base of the men of letters, a scholar-hunter’s association, and a new charismatic nemesis, demon from the olden times called Abaddon who will rival Crowley for the control of hell. Turns out there are three trials to close the gates of hell forever (from that tablet you know) : bathing in the blood of a hellhound, free an innocent soul from hell (they chose Bobby) and cure a demon by feeding them human blood (they chose Crowley). Sam is the one carrying out the trials so as in every season it takes quite a toll on him.

The boys are starting to get suspicious of brainwashed Castiel who still acts for Naomi who wants the control of the angel tablet and they end up distrusting him.

08×20 – Pacman fever

Crowley gets hold of the demon tablet and Kevin, so the boys hunt down the aptly-named archangel Metatron. Which is a bad thing cause as soon as he can he kills Naomi, takes away Castiel’s powers and seizes the control of heaven. Thousands of powerless angels also end up on earth.

Potential additions:

08×13 – Everybody hates Hitler: the nazi episode

08×16 – Remember the titans: cute episode about prometheus


Season 9:

Sam is kinda dying yet again from the trials but not really cause angel Ezekiel starts possessing him to fix his body. Castiel and the fallen angels start discovering the human world. Abaddon takes control of hell.

09×05 . Dog dean afternoon

As it always seems to be the case, the fallen angels are divided in a civil war between the factions of Bartholomew and Malachi. Ezekiel is revealed to be Gadreel, the guardian of Eden who let Lucifer in and betrays the party to join Metatron. He kills Kevin as a token of his good faith.

Meanwhile Crowley decides to help Dean get the Mark of Cain and the First Blade, only weapon capable to kill Abaddon but which leaves Dean with terrible bloodthirst. Castiel defeats Bartholomew who was after him and kinda steals his place.

09×15 – #thinman

After a disastrous attempt at a spinoff series, it turns out that Castiel has gained quite a lot of followers among the angels, which he looses quickly when he refuses to kill his boyfriend. The angels turn on Metatron when Castiel broadcasts to all the angels his plans to use them and make himself into God. Deans kills Gadreel and Abaddon, dies in the process and resurrects as a demon in the arms of his new lover Crowley.

To go further:

09×04 – Slumber party: an episode about Oz with Charlie

09×06 – Heaven can’t wait: a cute episode that puts in perspective point of view, suffering, etc

09×08 – Rock and a hard place: to see the brothers in a chastity group

09×18 – Meta Fiction: about stories and illusions

09×22 – Stairway to heaven: a destiel episode with a cool castiel quote

Season 10:

Ok so in this amazing season nothing happens, they all try to remove the Mark of Cain from Dean, Dean has a love affair with Crowley, Crowley’s mom has an important part and a truly awful accent, and Charlie dies at the end. They get rid of the Mark with the help of Cowley’s mom thanks to an old spellbook.

10×05 . Fan fiction

The 200th episode. A must see. Involves musicals

To go further:

10×06 – Ask Jeeves: vaguely funny episode following a murder in the manor style

 

 

So that’s about it up to now. They recently releases a documentary called « a very special supernatural special » which I recommend because it summarizes really well the highlights of the show as well at the point of view of the creators.

gosh I wish I had had something like that… this show presented like this is clearly AMAZING =o seriously DO NOT MISS OUT ON IT just because most episodes are bad. 

Big thanks to Dolkeem who helped a whole lot

The price of life is right

So I had exams today, and what better time to dive again in existential anxiety and metaphysical crisis?

As the clock was ticking, I kept thinking about one of my traumas as a child. I hated the game Cliffhangers, from the price is right (le tyrolien, for the french peeps around). I distinctly remember running to my room or hiding under the table every time it was announced. Later on, support groups on the early versions of facebook (where people were doing groups for no reason at all) even told me that I wasn’t the only one.

Brief reminder. In this game, contestants had to guess prices, and a little yodle guy would climb a mountain. The more wrong the contestant, the higher the yodle guy went. Little by little, approaching the peak, happily yodeling. Should he go over it, impending doom was awaiting on the other side under the form of a bottomless pit.

As years passed, I realized that it was the perfect embodiment of tragedy, in the purest greek theater form. The very essence of tragedy. No unnecessary extras. Everybody knows where this is going. There is only one way. There is no stopping it.

Unbearable tension builds up as the little guy approaches the climax and its likely death. Could he even be oblivious to his deathly fate? Little pawn to the will of merciless gods pushing him further and further up towards his death. The whole public joins in a cry of terror and agony, confronted to the reality of their own futile existence. All around the world, audiences joining in on this collective existential crisis. And in that moment, we were all the little yodle guy, the symbol of human life that has only one possible end that we watched, powerless, unfurl in front of our trembling eyes.

There is something deeply disturbing about this little guy singing cheerily as he marches towards his death. Is he oblivious or kidding himself? Is this the only way to cope? Aren’t we all the same way, going about our little meaningless daily lives? (isn’t it somewhat ironic that the quintessential materialistic capitalist society would kill this little guy faster than curiosity killed the cat? All of this suffering for futile consumerist purposes? God this game is deep)

So that’s all well and good, but it’s fairly straightforward and obvious and doesn’t teach us much. What does is another yodling fellow named Sisyphus, condemned by the gods to push a huge boulder up a mountain only to see it roll down and start over and over and over again. This will all be much clearer when you’ve played the game version of it. Or seen this cat:

Sisyphus is the symbol of the meaningless repetitive task. So what does it have to do with anything? Well. they both climb mountains… I mean… isn’t that enough?

Sisyphus isn’t facing an imminent death but an eternity of meaningless suffering. That’s still pretty bad. In the footsteps of Albert Camus, we could see in this symbol a representation of the absurdity of human life. Since this is the internet, a quote is always better with a picture, isn’t it:

sisyphus-happy[1]

Faced with the unbearable absurdity of our yodle-like existence, we have no choice but to run away and think of something else. Perhaps diving entirely into this menial task is the only escape for Sisyphus. The only thing to keep his eyes from the abyss of his condition. His Pascalian diversion. Perhaps our daily life and our made up society is our boulder, meaningless, but that we keep pushing relentlessly because the alternative is simply too horrible to behold. Perhaps we need this boulder more than anything to be able to happily yodle our way to the immutable pit of doom. And always look on the bright side of death…

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