WaywardAThon: Riffing Episodes, Creating Community By: Tanya Cook

Two years ago, on a whim, I decided to have a mini Supernatural Marathon.  It was the last night of winter break before classes started for the semester.  Anticipating that I wouldn’t have much time for TV after classes started, I made plans to watch all of the Supernatural episodes featuring The Trickster (aka Gabriel) and eat an obnoxious amount of candy.  I thought it might be fun to invite others to virtually watch with me and riff or make in-real-time fun of episodes MST3K-style.  I posted my intent on Facebook.  Surprisingly, several friends joined in and we had a blast re-watching and chatting.  Over the next few days, more and more friends commented and expressed interest in joining in for a watch party.  And since then, over the past two years, we’ve hosted 13 “Wayward-A-Thon” Virtual Supernatural Watch Parties and our Facebook group has grown to 148 members!

 

Once a month we watch four episodes of Supernatural centered around a specific theme or character.  We celebrated Jody Mills and Donna Hanscum and the potential for “Wayward Sisters” early in our history, with our first official Wayward-A-Thon with four Jody & Donna episodes.  The wonderful Riley Santangelo with Wayward Daughters created our FB group cover art.

 

We’ve had Bobby-A-Thons, Charlie-A-Thons, Kevin-A-Thons, Crowley-A-Thons, and an extra special super long Castiel-A-Thon on my birthday.  (Because Misha, okay?  Don’t judge me.)  Other themes we’ve explored include:  “The Best of the Worst – The Terrible Episodes,” “Sam’s Hair Through the Years,” “Back to School,” and for Valentine’s Day this year we’re hosting a four episode watch party tilted “Unattached Drifter Christmas.” We even got together IRL for “Wayward-A-Thon:  Live” in the summer of 2016.  A couple dozen of us gathered at a very brave local member’s home to watch Supernatural under the stars.

Wayward-A-Thon didn’t come out of nowhere, however.  I attended Creation Entertainment Supernatural Convention in Denver in November of 2015.  Although I’d attended Denver Comic Con earlier that year, Denver Con was a life-changing event.  Surrounded by like-minded Supernatural fans all weekend, basking in the con atmosphere, sharing extremely fun experiences with my teenage son and fandom friends solidified something I’d been thinking about since falling headfirst into the fandom in 2014.  Fan conventions were incubators for something sociologists have called “collective effervescence.”  The heightened experiences fans shared at cons created emotional energy.  In 2016 I started a research project called “Always Keep Nerd Fighting:  Fandoms as Social Movements” in order to explore how this emotional energy fueled fandom’s turn toward charitable action and social justice initiatives.

 

As fun as the conventions were, they were not accessible for everyone.  I’d made lots of friends both locally and around the country through the Supernatural fandom and I wanted a way to continue to share our love of this weird little show.  My whim of what to do on my last night of winter break seemed like a good way to create and foster this convention-type atmosphere of entertainment and support with minimal financial cost.  I had no idea we’d still be Wayward-A-Thon-ing over two years later and that so many people would want to spend four hours a month watching TV together!

 

Like fandom in general, this group has become a support system for our members.  Personally, I’ve made wonderful friends through this group.  I received amazing support during difficult times in my life.  Last year when my family was exposed to asbestos in our rental home and had to move out unexpectedly, the Wayward-A-Thon community were some of the first to offer assistance.

 

I asked members to share some of their thoughts on what Wayward-A-Thon has meant to them over the past few years.  I can’t read them without tearing up.  I am so very grateful that this silly small thing I did has helped people in some way.

 

Member Quotes:

 

“It’s good for stress and the soul, getting togethers may it be online or with others, with shared interests and getting to talk about said interest and not be judged get to leave behind your personal life for a few hours it’s a great time!!!” – Alyssa

“I look forward to WAT each month. It’s so much fun watching episodes and laughing or crying with you all. Oh the feels! It’s great to be able to talk Supernatural with others who actually get it!” – Liz

 

“It’s so great to “hang” with others who enjoy the show as much as I do. For me it’s a lot like the cons -spending time with my tribe, where I can just be myself. (Not a lot of other tribe members here in the middle of nowhere!)” – Shoshana

 

“I love the feeling of community. As watching a TV show is a not mainstream pastime, it can be hard to find fandom related opportunities outside of conventions & cons. This group has allowed me to geek out about Supernatural & my love of all things Cas in a supportive way. As well, it has made me laugh & see the show in a different light at times.

I have been to 2 Supernatural conventions. I feel like the attitude is similar. We are all there to celebrate, laugh, and talk about one of our passions.” – Anna

 

“What have I enjoyed most? The togetherness, the feeling that I can be myself free of judgement.”- Penny

 

“It’s more than a bunch of people watching and texting madly, it’s family members- who are miles apart, “getting together and talking.” The camaraderie is unlike any I’ve experienced. These are individuals who understand bad days and encourage you without judgement. The individuals in this group all seem to have a common denominator: to make the World a better place. Hanging out and chatting with these people is just good for the soul. I know that I can count on these #WaywardFamily members for emotional support if needed and I sincerely hope they know they can count on me.” – Aimee

 

If running Wayward-A-Thon for the past two years has shown me anything it’s that Fandom really does equal Family.

 

Interested in joining Wayward-A-Thon?  Check us out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/WaywardAThon/?ref=bookmarks

Or Twitter:  @WaywardAThon

 

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