'Supernatural': Why the Time Is Right for Spinoff 'Wayward Sisters'

"Genre television has been very male-focused and it's been very hero-focused in the masculine sense, and that is broadening now," exec producer Andrew Dabb tells THR.
Dean Buscher/The CW
'Supernatural'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's midseason finale of Supernatural, "The Bad Place."]

It's time for women to save the day on Supernatural.

The CW's longest-running series ended Thursday's midseason finale by throwing leads Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) into a different universe populated by a dinosaur-sized monster. Meanwhile, Jack (Alexander Calvert) was thrown into the alternate Hell universe where Mary (Samantha Smith) was being held as a prisoner. When Patience (Clark Backo) saw an ominous vision of the boys in trouble, she turned to Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) for help. And with that, The CW's potential all-female Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters was born.

When Supernatural returns in January for the second half of its 13th season, the midseason premiere will serve as the backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff series about Sheriff Mills and a group of troubled young women, all of them orphaned by supernatural tragedies. Along with Sheriff Donna Hanscum (Brianna Buckmaster), the women will work together to save Sam and Dean, while also forming a monster-hunting family of their own and expanding the Supernatural universe with a much-deserved dose of girl power.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Supernatural executive producers Andrew Dabb and Bob Berens about what this means for the show's expanded universe moving forward, why the time was right for an all-female spinoff and more.

Sam and Dean are stranded in a monster universe. How does this predicament set up a Wayward Sisters spinoff series?

DABB: It was important for us to use this episode as a launching pad for Wayward and what we want to do there and to make it something that also is a part of the Supernatural world. So it doesn't feel like a complete outlier in the way that the last spinoff [Supernatural: Bloodlines] did. We're setting up things for the new show staring in [episode] 10 that, should it be picked up and go forward, we can really pay off. But we're also establishing things in [episodes] nine and 10 that are going to affect Sam, Dean and our core cast and our core show for the rest of the season. We're not looking at this from a purely spinoff place. This is something that will have ramifications for a while.

For such a historically male-driven show, how does an all-female cast change things up creatively?

BERENS: The whole show is changing in order to open up the focus to include other characters, so it's almost not even about gender in that sense. It's about what happens when Sam and Dean are off the board. Basically, they don't exist in our reality anymore, so the cameras, the POV of the show, finds these other characters, a group of women who have, to varying degrees, been saved by Sam and Dean, have been touched by the supernatural, who are working as hunters in their own right. It's not just a chance to put a light on these female characters, it's also a chance to broaden out the POV of the show … as well as an opportunity for these women to actually save the show from itself. Sam and Dean are gone, so they're restoring Supernatural to Supernatural. So the focus will return to Sam and Dean in a very firm way by episode 11, and in a way, it's these women who are making that possible. That's how we conceptualized it.

DABB: The hope is that while these actresses and characters have been injecting a non- Sam and Dean, non-male perspective into the world, these characters all really matter. If we were populating it with four random female characters who no one had met before and expecting people to tune in just because they should support female-driven genre shows, I don't know if the audience would respond to that; I don't think that would be a good thing for us. We've spent, in some cases eight or nine years, building up these characters and hopefully making people care about them. Our hope is that people respond to these characters as characters. I would never say it's not about gender but the gender is something that would permeate the DNA of this show from the beginning, but at the end of the day, I don't think we expect people to tune in only because of the gender mix of the show. They're going to tune in because they're fascinated by these characters and our hope is that we did our jobs and created characters that are fascinating.

But while it's not solely just based on gender, it is so exciting to finally see a piece of the Supernatural world populated with so many strong female characters. Given the climate of the industry today, why was it the right time to do this? 

BERENS: Giving the spotlight to women and getting them to be centered in that [Sam and Dean] way is exciting because it's new. A lot of what we're seeing is Supergirl-like characters, and something that's special about Supernatural that becomes even more special when it's about women is that these are human beings. They're mortal fighters. They get beat up, they get bloodied, they get emotionally devastated. There's something very grounded about the central characters of Supernatural and having female heroes who are women doing extraordinary things, that's a very special and exciting thing that I don't think we've seen that much of yet.

DABB: None of these characters are the chosen one, you know what I mean? When you do a show like this you think of Buffy and people who are, like, anointed. What's great about these characters and Supernatural just generally is there is no one who is anointed. You have to go and search and strive and work hard and sacrifice. That's what we want these characters to do. They're real humans fighting these battles. That's a good thing to see that we should see more of on TV. We should see more women out there kicking ass and taking names and occupying powerful roles in a genre or space where sometimes they get a little buried. Genre television has been very male-focused and it's been very hero-focused in the masculine sense and that is broadening now. Obviously Buffy did that a few years ago, and you've got shows like Wynonna Earp that are doing that now, so the chance to be a part of that is really fun for us and allows us to tell different kinds of stories that are in the Supernatural world that shift the focus enough in a very exciting way.

If Wayward Sisters does go forward as a series and you lose all these characters to the spinoff, do you have plans to repopulate the flagship series with more female characters?

DABB: Definitely. There's still some strong female characters in Mary, Rowena [Ruth Connell] … there are certainly very strong female characters that are not making the full-time jump to Wayward. But should we be fortunate that Wayward goes forward and that both it and Supernatural exist simultaneously, I think we'd be looking at cross-pollination. Just because Jody is off doing her own show, that doesn't mean she can't swing by Supernatural and that certainly doesn't mean our guys or Castiel [Misha Collins] or whoever can't swing by Wayward. We want to make this world feel big and lived-in and dynamic, especially when we start dealing with big worldwide threats which is kind of Supernatural's bread and butter at this point, it would be inauthentic not to make Jodi and everyone else a part of those fights. We don't want to feel like we're sidelining them. We want it to feel like they are a part of this world. We'll just be spending a little bit more time with them.

Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

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