If you've been reading this blog, then you know I have written about Supernatural in the past, but my obsession with brother stories goes back further than that. In fact, I didn't even discover Supernatural until about three years ago. Before Sam and Dean, there were others.
Growing Up On Soaps
Remember soap operas? I've heard rumors that a few of them still exist, but I honestly don't know how many people are watching them, so many have been cancelled in recent years because of diminishing audiences. Why is this happening? My theory is that now people have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and huge dvd libraries, so if they're home during the day they can actually find quality programming to watch and don't need to turn to soap operas with their cheap cameras, cheesy writing, and over the top acting. But that's just my theory. Anyway, moving on.
I grew up watching soaps, primarily CBS soaps. The characters of Guiding Light were talked about in my home as though they were real people. My mother and grandmother would spend half an hour on the phone just talking about how Roger and Holly really should get back together, or how hard Michelle's life is going to be now that Maureen is dead. Because the show came on late in the afternoon, I was usually able to watch it when I came home from school. If I was going to be late, my mom would tape it for me. Anybody remember those days?
What I Love Most in a Fictional Character
Okay, are there any other Guiding Light fans out there? Did you have moments when you were absolutely in love with Roger Thorpe, even though you knew he was evil? I think Roger was the first fictional character I was really drawn to. Why? Because of what the website TV Tropes refers to as the Heel Face Turn. Boy howdy am I a sucker for that. And Roger Thorpe did it at least every couple of years. Generally he was the show's biggest scoundrel, but occasionally, especially if it involved Holly or Blake, he could be made to show his softer side. And when he did women's hearts melted all over America. This so-called Heel Face Turn was what turned me on to the first brother story with which I became completely obsessed.
Richard and Edmund
This was a story line that began on Guiding Light sometime in the late nineties. Looking back on it, I have to recognize that it was ridiculously hokey. It involved a royal family in some made up country somewhere...well I'm not even sure where it was supposed to be, but, wherever it was, it was a country that was ruled by a monarch. Richard was the older brother and heir to the throne. Edmund was the younger brother and...well...not the heir. Remember The Lion King? It was kind of like that. Edmund came on the show as the new villain, probably because it was around the time that Roger left and the show needed to replace him. In his first few storylines he was pure evil, but of course as time wore on he started to show a little of his vulnerable side. And as this vulnerable side started to show itself more and more, there was this suggestion of an incredibly strong bond between the two brothers. Even though on the surface they hated each other, even though they were sworn enemies, in some place deep down they really loved each other, and I loved them for that.
Michael and Kevin
This was a story from The Young and the Restless. It was much more believable and relatable than the Richard and Edmund story had been, but it had all of the same elements. Michael was the older brother; Kevin was the younger brother. Again, Kevin came on the show as the villain. He did some pretty heinous things before he finally made his Heel Face Turn. And when he finally saw the error of his ways, Michael was there to pick up the pieces. The story was made more touching by the fact that Kevin had been abused as a child. This made him more sympathetic, but it also provided the motivation for Michael to want to help him, because Michael carried around the guilt of having left home while Kevin remained at the mercy of his abusive father.
A Pattern Emerging
These two stories were so similar, and I loved them so completely, that I actually started doing Google searches for other stories that fit this pattern: older, responsible brother holding together the broken pieces of the younger, rebellious brother's messed up life. That's a very specific thing to search for, so I naturally did not get many results.
Sam and Dean
Supernatural deviated a bit from the set pattern. Sam was not the bad seed--at least not until season four--and though he did go through some intense stuff in the first episode, it was quickly revealed that he was no more broken than Dean. So why did I fall so hard for these two? I have no idea, but I know I'm not alone in my obsession. Just search for Supernatural on YouTube and you'll see what I mean. There are people who post videos just about Sam and Dean hugging.
So What's the Big Deal?
Okay, so I have no idea what makes brother stories, in particular, so powerful for me. I have some theories, though. I'm an only child, so maybe part of me wants to experience a sibling relationship vicariously through fictional characters, but if that's the case, it should be sister stories that do it for me. They don't. I feel very little when I watch a heartwarming story about two sisters. A big sister and a little brother is a little more interesting, but not much. A big brother and a little sister turns me off completely. But when it's two brothers...sigh...I just can't get enough. So maybe it's the whole sexual attraction thing that hooks me. I would rather look at two handsome men than two beautiful women. And when those two handsome men are crying and professing their undying love for each other--in a completely platonic way--it has an effect on me that I can't quite explain.
At the moment, Supernatural is still going strong on The CW, but nothing lasts forever, so I know at some point I will be in search of my next great bromance. Any suggestions? Do you know of an absolutely amazing brother story that I haven't explored yet? If you do, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter for information about future blog posts. Also, pop over to Amazon and check out my paranormal mystery, Amelia's Children. Interestingly, there's no bromance there, but there's plenty of drama, so give it a read.