The CW has decided to can Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters, inexplicably betting against a sure thing.
In shocking news, it’s just been announced that Wayward Sisters, the planned Supernatural spinoff which aired its backdoor pilot in January, will not be going ahead, as the network has decided to pass on a full season order.
This comes off the back of a truly bizarre slew of cancellation and renewal news this week that has left television fans reeling and asking what on Earth it takes for something to succeed, and what a network’s true priorities and values behind closed doors might be. Every May, fannish hearts are broken, but this year, the news is absolutely terrifying across the board, in a way that feels darker and more political than merely “what TV shows do people like to watch?”
The decision not to proceed with Wayward Sisters seems especially backwards given the unprecedented amount of promised fan engagement that this particular spinoff held. Most new pilots — and as shows rise and fall, there will always be new pilots, every single year — have to fight for their initial audience and build up steam, whereas Wayward came with a signed, sealed, delivered guarantee of a higher starting point than most new series. Even spinoffs of beloved shows still have to earn their keep — they’re usually dreamt up in boardrooms and pushed on a loyal audience, not requested by the viewers themselves.
Given that The CW’s party line about Supernatural has always been “as long as they want to run, they can run,” and given that every single person working on Supernatural — executive producers, cast, crew, writers, directors, stunt coordinators, PAs, you name it — has each passionately thrown their all into making Wayward Sisters a success, and given that Wayward was a solid way to keep the world and characters of Supernatural alive for the boys to come home to every now and then after retirement — a surefire ratings bump — and given that the network will choose to greenlight and fund some new wildcard pilots (or reboots that no one wanted, like Charmed, which the original cast have utterly panned) for full seasons, and given that there’s no way in hell that Wayward Sisters would do worse than the bizarrely-renewed Dynasty, or The Originals spinoff-of-a-spinoff, which has much lower ratings than Supernatural on any given week, there is absolutely no way to reasonably justify this decision.
CW, Wayward Sisters was your safest possible bet for a freshman season. What is your angle here?
This is the article I should be publishing right now — a piece I prepped in advance of this week, so certain — just as everyone involved was so certain — that the investment in a first season would be an absolute given.
“Mere days before the network’s slot at Upfronts in New York City, The CW has finally given us the news that we’ve craved for months, if not years — it’s a go for Wayward Sisters, the fan-concepted Supernatural spin-off featuring a number of well-developed female recurring characters, some of whom have been around since Eric Kripke’s era.
Wayward Sisters will go into production for an initial (X AMOUNT OF EPISODES) and is expected to (AIR AT A TIME). It will star long-time fan favorites Kim Rhodes as Sheriff Jody Mills, Kathryn Newton and Katherine Ramdeen as her foster daughters Claire Novak and Alex Jones, Briana Buckmaster as Sheriff Donna Hanscum, and newcomers Clark Backo as Patience Turner and Yadira Guevara-Prip as Kaia Nieves.
Between them, Claire, Jody, Alex and Donna have racked up 20+ episodes — that’s a full Wayward-centric season’s worth already — of backstory. Patience and Kaia were created especially for Wayward and introduced over the course of this Supernatural season as the playing pieces for the events of Wayward Sisters two-part backdoor pilot, which aired as the mid-season finale and premiere of season 13, were moved into place.
Wayward Sisters is helmed by SPN staff writer Robert Berens, who will depart Supernatural to serve as Wayward’s showrunner — his first gig at the top. Supernatural mainstays Andrew Dabb, Robert Singer and and Phil Scgriccia will also serve as executive producers on the little sister show.
Unlike failed spinoff Bloodlines — a totally independent series that just happened to be set in the SPN world — the Wayward gang will remain closely within the reach of Sam and Dean Winchester, exploring a different perspective of a world we already know and love.
These heroes — close allies of our Supernatural core characters — will experience the challenges of balancing hunting with school and careers while living settled in a town, within a family. In juxtaposition to the Winchesters’ isolated and transient upbringing, Wayward will show us what the lifestyle of saving people and hunting things could look like with a different sort of support network.
The Supernatural fandom conceptualized the idea of a ‘Jody and Donna’s Home for Wayward Girls’ type story during seasons 9 and 10, when Sheriff Jody a) met Sheriff Donna and b) adopted two separate wayward daughters, both orphaned by the supernatural.
The idea became so popular that a season 11 episode, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” paid tribute to it, and writers and network kept brewing, laying hints in season 12 that Wayward was on its way in earnest. By summer, the pilot was announced as part of the promo for season 13, and the threads of Wayward were woven into the season alongside the Winchesters’ other current predicaments.
Instead, you are forcing me to write this miserable announcement featuring statements such as this one, from stifled showrunner Robert Berens:
— Bobo Berens (@robertberens) May 11, 2018
“It breaks my heart to say this, but CW has chosen to pass on Wayward Sisters. We love these characters, and have spent almost two years trying to make this show a reality on the network… but there are some fights, sometimes, you can’t win. I want to thank everyone involved in this entire process, from our fantastic crew, to our amazing cast, and, most of all you. Your passion for this idea fueled us, and we wanted so much to make this happen for you. I’m so sorry we couldn’t. But know that these characters will live on. We owe them, and you, and us that. Thank you.”
Or this, from Kim Rhodes:
“We have lost nothing. I cannot say, “This is more than a TV show,” and then mourn a death when there’s no TV show. We are still here. All of us. We will not lose the community nor the voice we have made. This is how the heart’s yes is louder than their no. Feel the feelings. But don’t add to your pain. Don’t allow anger to make you feel strong. Don’t allow self-pity to make you feel powerful. We ARE strong. We ARE powerful. This just hurts. It won’t always. At least, not like this. Finally…. It’s Wayward Mother Fucking DAUGHTERS!!!!!!!!!! #waywardasfuck”
This news is quite plainly heartbreaking — a labor of love crushed by a decision that appears to make no sense. Until we hear more from the network or the creators, there’s no way to really come to terms with this situation, because for this community, the mere existence of Wayward Sisters hinged on so much more than a TV show.
We’ll continue to puzzle through this and we’ll hope to see the characters’ journey continue on Supernatural, but me personally? I’m furious for my fellow fans and for my friends, I’m devastated that this kind of representation was not deemed worthy, and I feel pretty damn hopeless about the future of both entertainment media and honestly, society at large, if the current TV industry is choosing to silence stories like this one for the sake of amplifying and validating the things they’re choosing to amplify and validate.
Storytelling is, above all, a tool for empathy, and “be the change you want to see in the world” is a mantra that those in power in the media can, if they wish to, use to great effect to genuinely influence the hearts and minds of the general population. It’s taking all I have to not start screaming at the ways in which this world is constantly changing for the worse.
Back when I first caught a whiff of Wayward in the air, I wrote about its history and what made me believe it was in the cards. I implore you to read it, if you’re not already familiar with why the concept of Wayward Daughters was never just about a series, and understand. It seems like Past Me was doing Present Me a favor, because this is what I said in its closing passage when pondering whether my own theories were correct. It’s probably worth remembering right now.
Wayward Daughters is already so much more than a potential TV show. It’s a support network in and of itself, a community of people who gather strength from one another while sharing their voices and their vulnerabilities. This ethos — to be one another’s tether, to keep each other steady and safe, to carry another’s burden for a little while and to have yours lifted in return — should be the core foundation of this story, if it does make it onto our screen. If it doesn’t, that’s okay: it’s already real, and that’s even better.
It’s already real. It’s already real. It’s already real.