(Photo from denofgeek.com)
By now, it isn’t news that the CW passed on picking up Wayward Sisters. They were wrong, of course, but they’ve made it clear they aren’t changing their minds. I was upset, but not angry. Until Mark Pedowitz, chief of the CW, mansplained that, though he’s a “fan of the characters and the women who play them,” Wayward Sisters wasn’t “where [they] wanted it to be creatively.” (Link: dateline article). Then, I was pissed. I’m still pissed. Mind you, this is the same chief that picked up a second Vampire Diaries spin-off and two (count ’em, TWO) reboots. Most of those didn’t even have pilot episodes before they were selected. Wayward Sisters had a backdoor pilot on Supernatural, which had high ratings and viewership.
Look. I know I’m a fangirl for Supernatural, and I know I get waaaay too involved and attached to the things I love. But Wayward Sisters is more than that. Or, it’s different. There’s something in the characters and their stories that mean so much to me (and to others like me–one only has to search for #savewaywardsisters on Twitter to see the beauty and passion behind the movement). They may be part of the Supernatural universe, but they’re more than female monster hunters. They represent so many things we don’t usually get to see on television. There has been a lot written about the characters themselves and what they mean to people. But what hasn’t been written is the representation Wayward Sisters provides to the most invisible among us: the foster care system.
Sheriff Jody Mills, our first Wayward member and group mama, is introduced during an episode where her deceased son comes back from the dead. She’s overjoyed, of course, until he eats her husband. But instead of falling apart and waiting to be rescued, she becomes every bit as good as a hunter as the Winchesters. And then she becomes more. A fierce protector of Donna, a foster mom to girls who have lost everything thanks to monsters, someone who keeps tue other characters grounded and supported and loved in the face of literal hell on Earth. Unapologetically strong yet soft and loving, unafraid of aging (hell, she has gray hair on tv! How often do we let women age in Hollywood???) Donna, who is another sheriff, provides a different glimpse into what family needs. We meet her as she’s trying to lose weight after being devastated by a divorce, but learn that under her goofy Innocence (you betcha is her most spoken phrase, I think) there’s an iron spine and heart. Together with Jody, she provides a glimpse into what sisterhood and motherhood (as nontraditional as providing home for the monster-orphaned is) should be.
The girls (Alex, Claire, Kaia, and Patience) are a diverse group of different ages brought together by Jody and by loss. Alex was kidnapped by a group of vampires and forced to lure unsuspecting humans to their deaths until Jody saves her and provides her with a home and normalcy. She grows to become a nurse, a healer of others like she was healed. Patience is the granddaughter of a psychic and is psychic herself. She moves in with Jody after her father refuses to let her use her abilities. Kaia is a dreamwalker, presents as queer, and although we see her killed in the pilot episode, we also see an alternate universe version of her appear at the cliffhanger ending, pointing to a possibility of someone who needs to be saved/turned “good.”
But it’s Claire’s story that draws me the most. She’s the daughter of Castiel’s human vessel, and answers a too often ignored question: what happens to the ones left behind in the battle between humans and monsters? In Claire’s case, a lot of bad: abandonment, bouncing from foster home to foster home, falling in with criminals as she struggles against finding a family, even if it’s what she most needs. She’s not trusting. She’s angry, and hurting, and lost. She’s everything that happens to kids left to falter in the foster care system, and everything we don’t talk about. By the time she arrives at Jody’s, she sees her mom die, is sold to a criminal and almost raped in exchange for a cleared debt by a man she thought of as a father, and then sees him brutally killed as well. She hears Castiel, looking like her father, telling her he isn’t her father and walking away, then hears him tell her that her father died awhile ago due to what he put his vessel through. Even at Jody’s, she’s tough. She wants the family, needs it, but can’t say those things. She’s learned to not be vulnerable. But she’s strong, and street smart, and a talented, fierce, gifted hunter. It’s Claire who narrates the pilot episode. Claire who comes home when the Winchesters are missing. Claire who admits she’s staying because she loves her motley chosen family (but only to the camera–she still can’t admit it to them). And it’s Claire who I think about when I think of all the kids I’ve worked with. The strong, abused, hurting kids we ignore and let fall through the cracks. I’ve never seen my kids represented outside of inspiration-porn drama. But now I have in Claire and in Wayward Sisters. And I know that we need more of that.
I’m tired of the lack of representation. I’m tired of men explaining what is or isn’t creative enough. I’m tired of men trying to dictate what we need. And I know I’m not alone in this.
Petition for Netflix to pick up Wayward Sisters: #savewaywardsisters