Charlie is a Hero: Making Room for Badass Girls on “Supernatural”

As a Supernatural convert, I’ve taken to the fandom like a fish to water. My interest in the show stems from a lifelong fascination with supernatural phenomenon and a general openness to believing in thing we can’t see.This interest is the groundwork or the platform that my piqued my interest, not to mention the two very attractive protagonists, Sam and Dean Winchester.What really hooked me was the introduction of Charlie Bradbury, a smart fan girl who wants to be a hero like the characters in her books.

“Saving people, hunting things, the family business? I am down. But…I was raised on Tolkien, man. I mean where is all this? Where are my White Walkers and my volcano and magic ring to throw in the damn thing? Where–where is my quest?” (Slumber Party).

Charlie’s question is one that all girls who are fans ask themselves. So often we are forced to watch guys save the world, or god forbid, a damsel-in-distress while the female characters play side-kick or the potential love interest in need of saving. It gets boring. As a fellow female Tolkien nerd (who took Professor Drout’s class, J.R.R. Tolkien), I know that the female fan base of The Lord of the Rings is overwhelmingly female.  Girls like adventures too and we can totally kick butt. Have you seen the Buzzfeed article that re-imagines the Harry Potter franchise with Hermione at the helm? I’m getting carried away but boy is all this girl power exciting!

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Charlie’s role on Supernatural shows what it looks like to have a girl save the world. The show frequently draws attention to the way that they challenge common gender stereotypes. “Slumber Party” (Season 9, Episode 4) is an excellent example of the show’s self-reflexivity. In the episode, Dorothy comes back to life after seventy-five years, which allows the show to play with two female characters and directly comment on how women are portrayed in popular culture. When Dorothy first talks with the group she acknowledges Charlie as the secretary for the two guys. Charlie corrects her and Dorothy says, “You’re not a secretary? You are a woman of letters? How long have I been out?” Later on in the episode when Sam and Dean are possessed by the evil witch they are trying to kill, it’s up to Charlie to kill the witch.Screen shot 2015-04-11 at 9.18.28 PM Finally she gets a quest! When Sam and Dean come back to themselves they ask, “What the hell just happened?” To which Dorothy simply responds,”Charlie”.

In the end of the episode, Dorothy and Charlie form their own same-sex hunting group (I see what you did there, Supernatural) and go to Oz where they hope to eradicate evil from the land.

You can see this final scene here:

Charlie’s  character is yet another way that Supernatural comments on fantasy character/genre tropes. She isn’t a potential love interest (she and Dean share the same taste in women), nor is she just a sidekick. She often finds herself dissatisfied with reality, escaping to Moondoor where is LARPs as the Queen, and then to Oz where she can find the adventures she was promised in the books she loved. In the episode “LARP and the Real Girl”, Charlie declares herself the hero and tells Gilda, the fairy that she is going to save her. In the end, Charlie gets rid of the bad guy and gets a kiss (again a common trope of hero/damsel plays out but differently!) She is, as Sam comments, “the smartest person in the room” and she also makes the ultimate buddy sacrifice when she jumps in front of Dean when the witch casts a death curse. Charlie is in every way the badass in the real world and fantasy world that I certainly aspire to be.

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