Archives for : the CW

Why I Quit Supernatural

Supernatural poster

A handful of you follow me on Twitter, so you might be aware that tonight, after the ninth season finale, I quit Supernatural–a show I became aware of two years ago and then promptly became so disappointed in that I threw in the towel before the show even got canceled. Well, if only for my own sanity, I’m going to tell you why.

Because when I started this show, it was about two brothers fighting evil, not two brothers fighting each other over the same issue over and over again.

Because when I started this show, it was about both Dean and Sam, not just Dean and how “awesome” the writers and the fandom think he is.

Because it used to make me think, make me feel, make me laugh, make me cry, make me hope, make me wonder.

Because Dean Winchester used to be a complicated, sympathetic big brother with Daddy issues, not a selfish, cowardly, arrogant prick who constantly thinks he knows better than his “little brother.”

Because Sam Winchester used to be an angry boy trying to step out of his brother’s shadow, and now he’s an angry man who keeps a holding pattern in a destructive, abusive relationship with someone incapable of letting him go.

Because it used to stretch up into the stars and pluck out ideas and spread them out on a map and make us chase after them to find the answers they left for us.

Because it used to have memorable, important, vibrant characters from all walks of life.

Because it used to respect the female gender and wrote women with purpose, great backstories, fantastic delivery, and colorful personalities instead of the same boring women copy/pasted and killed off just to make the Winchesters guilty.

Because it used to be able to keep up with its own continuity and wove in threads between seasons like a great tapestry should.

Because it used to have one-liners that made me laugh so hard, I had to pause the video and tweet about it.

Because it used to creep me out so badly that I couldn’t look in a mirror for weeks after watching “Bloody Mary.”

Because it used to know how to break the fourth wall, or paint it, or lean on it, without having to rely on memes or outdated pop culture references.

Because it used to have monsters I never heard of from all kinds of cultures and (except for those lame-ass vampires) made them bold and intriguing.

Because Sam left his own brother in Purgatory for a year just to hook up with some bland girl and a dog.

Because Dean chose a stupid, uninteresting, stereotypical Cajun vampire over his brother because “Benny never betrayed me” despite the fact that Dean has only lived this long thanks to his real brother.

Because Dean constantly chooses to “die alone” instead of trusting the one person on this earth who has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has the strength and intelligence to fight and save the world.

Because the writers are so busy trying to wink at the camera with Meta-Metatron that they don’t see what a pathetic, badly-paced, horribly written, sickeningly sexist script they wrote for season nine.

Because I used to look up to this show and proudly wear the t-shirts my brother bought me for my birthday with Dean, Cas, and Sam on them, and now I shove them to the back of my closet in shame.

Because Sam and Dean were once two normal guys with a bad home life trying to make things right, and now they are just hollow zombies of what they once were because the CW doesn’t want to lose 12 million viewers rather than ending a show that shouldn’t have made it past season seven.

Because I would rather quit now, when I hate everything this show has become, than force myself to see how much more terrible it can become before the end.

Because as much as I love Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, and Mark Sheppard, I’d rather put the series to rest than risk losing respect for them as actors for continuing to work on such a rancid show.

Because I loved this show when I started it, now I couldn’t care less about it.

Because I just watched a psychotic angel stab Dean Winchester in the chest, and I felt absolutely nothing.

Because there is no more wonder for the Winchesters to explore.

Because it is the only show on network television in 2014 that does not have a main female cast member (and I don’t care if it’s the studio being cheap, the fandom being a bunch of nasty bitches, or the writers being sexist, that is fucking unacceptable).

Because I’d rather not see if the writers sink low enough to make “Destiel” canon just because majority the fandom says that’s the way it should be.

Because it hurts to see a show I once respected in the highest regard for its originality, zest for the occult, and unapologetic tinkering with well-known tropes fall so far and continue to crawl through the mud like a mongrel.

It is for these reasons, and so many more, that I say goodbye to Supernatural tonight. You were great, once upon a time. But I can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend that you aren’t a ghost. So I will burn your bones and salt the earth to let you go.

After all, you’ve been dead for years.

You just didn’t know it.



Kyoko M.


Things Nikita Taught Me About Writing

There are two kinds of people in this world. People who find this hot and liars.

There are two kinds of people in this world. People who find this hot and liars.

First things first: Happy New Year!

This past Friday, I unfortunately had to say goodbye to one of my absolute favorite television shows. Nikita is a spy thriller show on the CW, and one of the only good things on that entire channel. It’s by no stretch perfect, as I will elaborate on in just a moment, but it was one of the most atypical shows on that particular network. The CW typically panders to the teenage girl demographic, and Nikita was a fresh breath of air for all four seasons. I’d like to honor its memory by discussing the things in the show that helped me as a writer.

Massive spoilers ahead. Ye be warned.

Beware the Mary Sue. For the non-writers out there, a “Mary Sue” is an original character who is poorly written and exemplifies traits of an inexperienced writer who doesn’t understand how to make a character three dimensional. Mary Sue characters are often the most beautiful, funniest, quirkiest, smartest, and powerful among any of the people around them. They are written like goddesses and most of the time, the other characters either irrationally hate them in order to serve as a foil for how “awesome” they are, or everyone loves them and constantly praises them. This term is thrown around too often in the fiction and fanfiction world, especially if said character is based on the author, but it’s still an important mainstay in the writing world for a reason.

Nikita managed to avert the Mary Sue character with one character and then embodied it with another. Here’s the skinny, in case you skipped the 1990 original film (La Femme Nikita by Luc Besson) that the show is loosely based on: Nikita Mears was a drug addict who killed a cop and was sentenced to death. However, after her faked lethal injection, she woke up in an underground facility in the hands of a covert government agency called Division, headed by Percy, Amanda, and Michael, respectively. They take felons with the death sentence, rehabilitate them, and turn them into undercover spies and assassins to do the U.S. government’s dirty work off the books. After getting clean, Nikita quickly became Division’s best agent, but she eventually fell in love with a guy named Daniel. Relationships with outsiders are forbidden, so Division killed Daniel and Nikita broke out and swore revenge. She recruits a young girl named Alexandra Udinov to infiltrate Division and help her tear it to the ground.

Nikita has all the makings of a Mary Sue—an absurd wealth of beauty, a sharp tactical mind, bad ass martial arts skills, fluency in several languages, and genuinely a good heart—but the show recognized what makes a great character and instead made her three dimensional. For instance, Nikita’s biggest character flaw is that she has a serious guilt complex. There have been plenty of missions she failed or battles she lost because she is so obsessed with saving everyone that even one loss is beyond her comprehension. She also has deep rooted self-esteem issues brought on by the darkness inside her that Division cultivated and brought out of her in her earlier years. The reason why she’s such a fantastic leading lady is that she often questions her own actions, has doubts and fears, and makes mistakes that affect herself and her team. She is a loner, but she also falls in love with the second-in-command at Division, Michael, and spends the entire first season trying to get him to see the error of his ways. Nikita is self-sacrificing to a fault and the show does a wonderful job showing the repercussions of making decisions for other people instead of trusting them.

On the other hand, Alex is the biggest Mary Sue I’ve seen on television in ages. Her backstory reeks of bad writing. For instance, her father was a Russian arms dealer and head of a multimillion dollar company. Division stormed his manor to kill him and his family, but Nikita couldn’t bring herself to shoot Alex in cold blood so she saved her and ran away from Division. Alex constantly screws up missions in the first season, but she always avoids “cancellation” (which is what Division does if an agent doesn’t get with the program) through incredibly stupid, contrived situations rather than using her own smarts or skills. In the second season, she gets even dumber and works with Division to hunt Nikita because she found out Nikita killed her father before saving her life. She claims that she’s using Division instead of the other way around and continues playing right into their schemes up until the very end of the season where she gets some sense knocked into her. Then she gets brainwashed by Amanda, Division’s psychotic psychiatric assessment agent, and becomes so obsessed with “freeing” the agents at Division that she sabotages Nikita’s plans, shoots a supporting character and nearly kills him, incites a mutiny, and gets her own love interest killed. She is everything that Nikita is not—incapable, snotty, selfish, short-sighted, and constantly getting everyone else in trouble.

Nikita has its fair share of problems, but the differences between Nikita and Alex are what leave the biggest impression on me from a writing standpoint. It’s very easy to lose grip on a grounded character and create a Mary Sue. Writers do it all the time. The key is balancing out the good with the bad. Every character has traits that make them worthwhile, and traits that make you want to smash their head against a concrete wall. They need to have realistic faults and shortcomings. They need to be human and mess up and work hard to atone for their sins. Writers tend to put some characters on pedestals out of habit and love of their work, but if we want people to enjoy them, we have to bump them off it.

Understand the scope and duration of your storylines. One of the absolute hardest things about writing the final novel in my Black Parade series is knowing the limitations of the story. Nikita has definitely struggled with this in the past.

For instance, the first two seasons are by far the strongest because they have an insidious main villain (Percy), a steamy love affair with all kinds of Dating Catwoman vibes (Michael and Nikita), a lovable team of ass-kicking misfits (Birkhoff, Ryan, Nikita, Owen, Sean, and Michael, and I don’t count Alex because she sucks), and a pretty straightforward plot. Season three falls apart after the death of Percy because while the old bastard was starting to get tiresome (he had a very Lex Luthor way of getting out of every single scrape by talking his way out), Amanda is just not main villain material. She’s far too one-note and she was incapable of seeing the big picture the way that Percy did when he ran Division. He knew exactly how to manipulate the agents and how to make them think they were helping their country when they were really just serving his needs.

The idea that the show did well with in the third season was that Division could be used for good instead of evil, and the team struggled with that from start to finish. However, the story wore thin as the mutiny and the brainwashing and Amanda’s creepy obsession with Nikita began to take over. The end of season three had some pretty soap opera level types of drama, especially the plotline with Michael’s bionic hand, and any of the realism the show used to have dried up. By the time season four hit, it was pretty clear that the series had run out of gas.

Pacing is vital to a good book. One has to know how to intersperse action, dialogue, inner conflict, and other story elements in a way that keeps the audience’s attention. This is why a lot of writers suggest outlining the novel before one starts it because it can help keep the reins firmly in the author’s grasp. It’s easy to slip off into a tangent with your story if you don’t have all the details. You don’t want your story to be derivative, so it’s important to explore all the limitations of your world and then decide how to trail blaze.

Choose your villain carefully. Percy is one of the best TV villains I’ve seen in years. He’s got all the calm, cool demeanor of Lex Luthor with the vicious killing streak of Darkseid. Even though Nikita constantly foiled his plans, he always found a way to profit off of his losses. He could talk his way out of damn near anything, and he also managed to stay detached from his emotions, meaning he had no weak points. He was such a slimy bastard that I’m sure we were all cheering when Nikita dropped his ass down that silo to plummet to his death.

However, Amanda’s shift into the main villain seat was misguided, in my opinion. Amanda shifted between second in command and third in command while Percy was still running Division, and it worked because of her skill set. She knew how to influence the recruits and get what she wanted out of them with persuasion, and occasionally, force. However, she got too ambitious and turned on Percy because of her own massive ego. I appreciate that the show didn’t want Percy to be the source of conflict for the entire show’s run, but Amanda didn’t have the panache to pull it off. She was certainly a cold hearted bitch with no remorse and no morals, but she didn’t know how to truly run Division effectively.

I believe a commonly used quote in the writing world is that “every villain is a hero in their own story.” Villains need to get beneath our skin. We need to hate them or fear them at the end of the day. Sometimes all one needs is a one note villain with an end goal of world domination, but the better villains are the ones who have at least one redeeming quality. Percy and Amanda didn’t have those, but plenty of the antagonists in Nikita’s world did. After all, a hero is only as good as their evil counterpart. If one fleshes out the protagonist, one needs to flesh out the antagonist. However, Nikita did do something I enjoyed—they didn’t expose anything about Percy on a real level. We didn’t find out his last name or his childhood. He was just an imposing asshole and that worked because it kept the mystery. Less is more with villains like him, and this show understood that very well.

Make sure your supporting cast is actually supportive. Team Nikita is pretty awesome, all things considered. You have Birkhoff, aka Nerd, who heads up all the technological aspects; Ryan, who handles deployment of the agents and knows how to dig through the government for answers; Sean, who is basically extra muscle; Michael, who is the tactical genius leader guy and Nikita’s moral center; Alex, who is Nikita’s lesser half but still helps out despite being a massive idiot. This brings me to Owen—an agent whose job was to clean up messes and get rid of trace evidence after certain assassinations. Owen had been put on a regiment of rare vitamins and substances that made him faster and stronger than the average bear, but then he got in trouble and defected after Division killed his girlfriend. Nikita later recruits him because of her savior complex, to my complete exasperation.

The problem with Owen is that he doesn’t really pull his weight. The other members of Team Nikita have solid, set purposes and roles. They all do something that is needed on their missions. Owen, however, isn’t much use most of the time. He’s irrational, hot-headed, impulsive, and smug. He rarely thinks ahead and without the regimen, he was no longer super-strong or fast. He was by far the most extraneous character on the show. It seems as if he was brought in as a regular in order to cause tension (at one point, he seemed to take a shine to Nikita while she and Michael were having relationship issues), but at the end of the day, you could remove him entirely and not much would change.

This can sometimes happen in stories with ensemble casts. Authors tend to want to show a diverse spread of characters with their own quirks. Sometimes they can get so wrapped up a character’s personality that they forget to actually make them relevant to the plot. It’s easy enough to fix—often times, one can combine two characters into one, or remove the character entirely and just save them for another story. Owen is a constant reminder to always make sure to tie each character into the plot with their own thread. Otherwise, what are they there for?

I’m honestly in mourning for Nikita. While they went out on a fantastic finale, it’s hard to see it go when there are so few unique shows out there. Here’s to you, Nikita. Thanks for the memories.


Things Supernatural Taught Me About Writing


If you’ve never seen Supernatural, shame on you. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done. Now.

If you have seen Supernatural, then you are one tough son of a gun. Supernatural is known for a lot of things—creative monsters, the world’s hottest main cast, hilarious dialogue, unapologetic Fourth Wall breaking—but the reason it was recommended to me by my writing sensei was because it had a lot to teach me about writing. Plus, my angsty Winchesters and their emotionally constipated angel friend Castiel are returning to the airwaves tonight, so let’s get started, shall we?

  1. People love to be emotionally gut-punched. And boy, Supernatural does NOT pull its punches. It introduces you to an entire rainbow of interesting, three-dimensional characters, makes you care about them, makes you bond with them, and then snatches them right out of your hands like a bully grabbing a kid’s lunch money. The relationship between Sam and Dean is Emmy-worthy because there are so many layers to the boys’ personalities. They are constantly bickering, constantly arguing, constantly not trusting each other, and yet they will die for one another at the drop of a hat. Several times, mind you. Supernatural is addictive because it barges its way into the watchers’ hearts and then proceeds to detonate like an atom bomb. This is something that all writers should strive to do. Even if your main character is an unrepentant a-hole of epic proportions, the readers should still find themselves attached to them and want to know what happens to them down the road.
  2. You cannot please everyone. Supernatural is also infamous for its loyal but rabid fanbase. Half of said fanbase is hilarious, thoughtful, and creative. The other half is full of angry, petty, self-righteous jerks. The Supernatural writers have done a lot of things over the course of the show’s eight seasons to appease the fanbase, but it is still impossible to make all of them happy. There are several examples of the writers trying to keep their fans happy. It’s no secret that the fanbase and the writers favor Dean over Sam after season five. He gets the better storylines, the better girlfriends, the funnier lines of dialogue, and is usually characterized as being “right” when the two of them are having an argument. He is also inexplicably popular because majority of the fanbase insists that he’s madly in love with Castiel. The writers have been playing to this angle ever since season six, and while the fans clearly enjoy the Dean-heavy emphasis, they still complain unrepentantly about Dean/Castiel (dubbed “Destiel”) not being “canon.” If anything, this has taught me that no matter what I write, someone will have a problem with it. Even if I acknowledge things that the readers want to see happy, I will still piss someone off. The key is to find balance. Find a way to write that makes both me and the readers happy. It is hard to accomplish, but many novels and shows have proven it is possible.
  3. Variety is the spice of life. Supernatural gained its popularity largely through the first four seasons. Its premise captured the interest of the audience because it adopted the idea that almost all myths, legends, and monsters exist within the same universe. The writers did their homework and dug up literally dozens of types of mythical predators and brought them into the real world with fantastic results. This is something I have tried to take to heart with my own writing in terms of the setting, the imminent threat, and the villain of my stories. No one wants to read the same novel with a different name. Even if it’s in the same series, the plot and storyline should move, evolve, and develop over time.
  4. Know when to quit while you’re ahead. Okay, this is going to be controversial so let me just get it out of the way. I personally think Supernatural should have ended a couple seasons ago. God knows I love Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Jim Beaver, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard and company, but in my opinion, the last two seasons have been rather poorly done. I feel this way because Supernatural has covered so many stories, so many monsters, and so many conflicts between the brothers that they have honestly run out of ideas. For instance, season eight had a lot of recycled plotlines and moments between the brothers, and it also ended up casting them in an unflattering light. Sam not looking for Dean because he wanted a boring girlfriend and a dog was absolutely idiotic writing and completely out of character. They didn’t even attempt to justify his actions. He just…didn’t look for him. The seasons prior showed Sam’s desire to eventually quit the life of a hunter, but this season made him look like a total jackass. It worked in the other seasons because Sam knew Dean could take care of himself. With Dean in Purgatory, Sam knew he’d be in constant danger and yet he still didn’t do anything about it with no true explanation as to why. Then when Dean found out, he lorded it over Sam and acted as if Sam hasn’t saved his life a hundred times and died for him at least twice. To make matters worse, he starts treating the generic vampire Benny like his actual brother because he’s “never disappointed him” and basically acts like a stuck up, self-righteous douchebag for most of the season. Granted, all of this is subjective and many people will disagree with me, but the concept is what has taught me a lesson. It has made me examine my writing and decide if certain stories are going to be one off, have a sequel, or have the potential to become an entire series. One should know ahead of time if they have the fuel to go the distance of Alex Cross, Harry Dresden, or Sherlock Holmes before they accidentally stall out and end up stranded.
  5. Don’t fear the fairer sex. There are a bunch of ladies in Supernatural whom I completely adore—Pamela, Meg, Ellen, the list goes on and on. Yet, have you noticed something? The show has been on for eight freaking seasons and there is no female main cast member. That chaps my Bat-briefs. I do not understand why Supernatural is so unwilling to have a female main character who is a regular. Granted, it took them eight seasons just to add Misha Collins as a main cast member (seriously, what the hell) but I don’t understand. They also have a bad habit of mistreating all recurring female characters by killing them off just to make the Winchesters feel bad, but it still makes the writers seem like they don’t quite care for the fairer sex even though they clearly can write them competently. Now, my current theory is that the fanbase has a hand in the lack of ladies sticking around. As I mentioned before, the Destiel fangirls will cry bloody murder on any of Dean’s love interests but this female lead wouldn’t need to be a love interest. She could just be another hunter, or if they were smart, they’d make her a monster with a heart of gold who wants to help them. I actually would have liked Meg to join the main cast because she is so entertaining and she was starting to turn a corner before season eight ruined everything. I keep this in mind when I write. The character of The Black Parade tends to have a lot of male counterparts because the story is loosely based off of Paradise Lost, but I still make sure to find time for other ladies in her life. The first novel is still male centric, but the second and third ones depart from that. It can be hard sometimes, but I think it’s important for every writer to portray both genders equally and with all three dimensions intact.

Overall, I’m actually happy my writing sensei talked me into partaking in Supernatural. Even though I have problems with the current seasons, it has definitely taught me a lot of do’s and don’ts, and I believe I am more rounded writer thanks to them. Here’s to you, Winchesters.