Jeremy Carver: Supernatural Show Runner – Exclusive Interview
By Abbie Bernstein
From 2007 through 2009, Jeremy Carver served as a writer and story editor on SUPERNATURAL. In 2010, Carver left SUPERNATURAL and with his wife Anna Fricke adapted the British fantasy series BEING HUMAN in a new American version for the Syfy Channel. Having produced and show-run the U.S. BEING HUMAN for two seasons, Carver is now leaving the third season in Fricke’s hands solo – while he returns to SUPERNATURAL in its eighth season, now as the show runner.
Carver is a guest at an event at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. There is currently an enormous display of Warner Brothers Television merchandise on display. The array includes SUPERNATURAL novels and comic books, as the series produced by Warners Television and airs in the U.S. on the Warner co-owned network the CW (the series began on the Warners network the WB, which subsequently merged with UPN to become the CW).
In the midst of exploring the multiple floors of colorful exhibits, Carver takes some time to talk about his jobs.
First of all, did Carver have any hesitation about accepting the SUPERNATURAL show runner position? “It was a pretty clear choice when the offer came,” Carver replies. “I was very thrilled and touched by the offer, so it happened to come at the right time for a variety of reasons, so I jumped at the opportunity. Thrilled to be back. Leaving BEING HUMAN was very, very bittersweet, but I know it’s been left in great hands, my wife’s, so that made a sad departure much easier.”
Having been so integral in the creation of the U.S. BEING HUMAN, is he still weighing in at all on that series? “I was on BEING HUMAN for the beginning of the season,” Carver explains, “when we were talking story and breaking character arcs, but once SUPERNATURAL started up full-time, I was gone and Anna has full control over day to day.”
As they’re a married couple, Carver and Fricke are still in physical proximity to each other, “In the mornings and evenings,” Carver notes. “So when you ask me, do I weigh in, I know more about BEING HUMAN than she knows about SUPERNATURAL, so it’s inevitable that we discuss BEING HUMAN.”
Can Carver compare SUPERNATURAL’s monster-hunting Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively) with BEING HUMAN’s roommates, vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer), werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) and ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath)? All of them seem to have the occasional bout of feeling sorry for themselves in common.
“Well, in the generic sense, the characters on SUPERNATURAL would try and kill the characters on BEING HUMAN,” Carver points out. “One [group] are monsters and the others are monster hunters. In terms of self-loathing, I feel like our BEING HUMAN crew has that a bit more, because they are so new to their new existence as monsters, or relatively new existence as monsters, except for the vampire. Our Winchester brothers – there’s no shortage of – I don’t think it’s self-loathing in a ‘pity me’ sense, I think it’s self-loathing in ‘Why aren’t I better?’ or ‘Why can’t I be better?’”
With SUPERNATURAL in its eighth season, what is Carver doing to keep it fresh, without changing it so much that it loses what fans love about it? “Let’s see,” Carver replies. “There are certain touchstones that made the show reliable over the last seven seasons and [one of those is] obviously the relationship between these brothers. One thing I’m doing is, a lot of times, when our brothers are separated for an amount of time, we come back and we don’t necessarily really address that time they were apart. We knew that Dean was in [Purgatory], but we’re making a concerted effort to play with structure this season, so the fans really get an understanding of how these brothers spent their time apart, which is greatly influencing how they are dealing with each other in the present. So there is going to be pretty heavy use of flashbacks, seeing both Sam and Dean’s very, very different times apart from each other.”
Is the flashback structure so that separate stories can be told without having to wait for several episodes for the brothers to be back together, generating the chemistry that is a SUPERNATURAL staple?
“I suppose there’s an element of that,” Carver says. “In a show like this, I think it would be hard for us to really justify keeping them physically apart for long. But I think, if anything, the flashbacks are really there to help us understand some of the seismic events that happen in their lives when they were apart from each other, and to understand, again, pretty much how it’s having an effect on their present day, on their relationship with each other and with others that they have encountered and met in their time apart.”
For awhile there, it looked like the Winchesters’ angel friend Castiel (Misha Collins) was gone for good. Was Carver instrumental in bringing the character back for Season Eight?
“I’m part of that decision, yes,” Carver says, but adds he doesn’t think that anyone seemed to want Cass permanently gone. “That was never my understanding, that they were trying to write him off. It’s a slightly difficult question for me to answer, only because I’m being passed the baton, I’m being passed a very particular set of circumstances based on last season’s cliffhanger, so it was my job to take that cliffhanger and make of it what I will.”
Carver notes that there wasn’t much of a road map for Season Eight when he came back as show runner. “There was no story passed on to me, you know what I mean? It was sort of like, ‘Here you go, good luck.’ Which was fine, but I don’t have any great insight into what they were thinking with Cass. He’s a beloved character who I’m thrilled to bring back.”
Season Eight will have a storyline trajectory, Carver promises. “There will be an overall myth arc to the show, which we’ve described before as something of a quest in the vein of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. We’re starting the season a little differently than in past seasons, in that when the boys do reunite, they’re reuniting in want of something, so for the first time in a long time, they’re actually starting this season on offense, as opposed to starting from a defensive crouch. They want something and they want it very bad.”
Will there also be resolutions to specific things from Season Seven, like the Alpha Vampire who knocked on the fourth wall when he said, “See you next season”? “Yes,” Carver reveals with a laugh.
Sam has a girlfriend this season. On SUPERNATURAL, love interests are an unusually loaded issue. Is Carver doing anything to make this less loaded? “Let’s just say that it is with fully open eyes that we know it’s a loaded issue, and we are sailing into the wind despite that,” Carver says with a laugh. “We are very interested in presenting a side of Sam that we may not have seen before. We have a wonderful actress by the name of Liane Balaban, who has stepped into the role. And like everything else in SUPERNATURAL, everything has its reason and everything comes full circle, but we’re very interested to explore the relationships that both the boys have formed in their time apart from each other.”
How do SUPERNATURAL fans compare with BEING HUMAN fans? Carver says it’s difficult to determine this, because “I don’t know that there is any fan base that is quite comparable to the SUPERNATURAL fan base. They’re such a singular, committed, dedicated, opinionated fan base that it is unlike any other that I’ve certainly come across. I mean, BEING HUMAN fans are wonderful, but I don’t think they’ve had enough years under their belt to really become as ardent warriors as the SUPERNATURAL fans are.”
DJ Qualls will be returning as Garth, Carver confirms. “That character – the second I saw him, he’s such a wonderful, wonderful character in our world that we had to find a way to bring him back. And we have.”
Mark Sheppard’s King of Hell character Crowley will have a big part in Season Eight, Carver adds. “Crowley is very much involved in the events this year. As a matter of fact, he lines up as something of a Big Bad against the boys this year, which is a bit of a departure for him. In the past, they’ve had somewhat of a businesslike, uneasy relationship with him, whereas this season, they’re finding themselves much more at odds in want of the same thing.”
What about Jim Beaver as the late Bobby Singer? “Jim Beaver unfortunately is one that we can’t comment on, only to say that anything can happen.”
Behind the scenes, is the real SUPERNATURAL producer/director Robert Singer still aboard? “He’s still with the show, very much so, very much at the heart of the show for the last seven years.”
Besides supervising the series, how many episodes will Carter be writing himself for SUPERNATURAL this year? “I think the number to look at is probably three to four.”
What’s it like having been on staff, going away and then coming back to run things? Carver provides an analogy. “It’s like when you go to camp as a camper and you come back as a counselor. It’s an enormous difference and it’s been made a lot easier by the fact that much of the writing crew has been there a long time, same as the cast, same as the crew, and they’ve all been wonderfully supportive and they’re just the best, smartest, most dedicated group of people. It’s at once daunting and familiar to step into this role, especially with the group of people over there.”
If SUPERNATURAL keeps going, does Carver know how long he wants to stay with it?: “We are trying to launch a myth arc this year that could carry at least three more years, so we dream big, but who knows? But we are certainly not looking at this as the last season, and should we be lucky enough to get more, things will be in place.”
How long does Carver think SUPERNATURAL will run into the future? “Hopefully that future is seventy-two years from now. I’m thrilled to be part of it, so I couldn’t say. Who knows?”
Interview by Abbie Bernstein