Supernatural, the long-running monster-hunting show on The CW is nearing the end of its 15-year run. For 11 of its 15 seasons, the show queerbaited its fans. The popular ship Destiel has been hinted at for many seasons, but it wasn’t until the 18th episode of the final season that it became canon. But is this a good thing?
Simply put, yes. Destiel finally becoming canon is a great thing. Fans finally got what they had been asking for for the past 11 seasons. The problem comes in how Destiel became canon.
In the 18th episode of season 15, the Winchester brothers’ fight with God is coming to an end. Dean is left at the bunker with Castiel as they fight off Death. To save Dean, Castiel professes his love for Dean and sacrifices himself. He made a deal earlier in the season that once he finds pure happiness, he will go back to The Empty— the place where celestial creatures go when they die.
Don’t get me wrong. The scene in which Cass professes his love was beautiful. Misha Collins’ acting was phenomenal. The problem comes in that as soon as Cass professes his love, thus coming out as gay, he is killed. This adds to the trope in which the gay characters are killed off as soon as they come out or as soon as they’re in a happy relationship. After 11 seasons of queerbaiting, Supernatural only added to the underlying homophobia and general problematic nature of the show by showcasing this harmful trope.
There is one final episode to air. Knowing Supernatural, there is a high possibility that Cass can come back as he has done before. However, just because he can come back doesn’t mean it’s not wrong that he died in the first place. This is just one of the many examples of casual homophobia in the media.
Another huge problem is the fan response. Fans are justified in their anger at Destiel’s representation in this scene, but many fans have turned their anger towards Jenson Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester. They have said that Jensen’s homophobia is the main reason that Destiel hadn’t become canon. However, Jensen has shown time and time again that he is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Fans interpret Dean’s shocked and unemotional response to Cass’s confession to be homophobic. Some have gone so far as to say that Jensen refused to shoot the scene altogether, which isn’t true. Dean’s reaction is completely true to his character. As someone who went through so much emotional trauma growing up, it is no wonder he is shocked when someone confesses their love for him.
It’s completely okay to be mad at the show for how they represented Destiel. But it is in no way alright to accuse the actors of homophobia. Hopefully, the mistakes are rectified in the final episode.