Ones to Watch

Nonbinary Actor JoJo Fleites is the Best Part of “The Winchesters”

By the time it had concluded its 15-season run in 2020, Supernatural had become the longest-running fantasy series in TV history. Now, the franchise is building on that legacy with a new prequel series, The Winchesters. Although it is set in the past, the prequel is moving the franchise forward, especially in terms of queer representation. Nonbinary actor JoJo Fleites stars in The Winchesters as a bisexual, nonbinary lead character.

The original Supernatural series followed Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) Winchester, a team of brothers battling—you guessed it—supernatural forces each and every week. The prequel is set in the 70s and tells the story of how their parents fell in love.

Jensen and his wife Danneel Ackles are producing the show, and they recently spoke to Variety about the new direction for the franchise. Much more than a rehash of old material, the prequel is an opportunity to offer a “new voice” in the Supernatural universe and to give new characters “their own space to do what they need to do and not just be a tie to the mothership,” according to Jensen.

One of these new main characters is Carlos Cervantez (Fleites), a queer demon hunter on a quest for revenge. Jensen reflected that it was “very natural” to incorporate a character like Cervantez into the main cast. “If you go back to that time period – you go back to the late 60s and early 70s, and that’s when things were really kind of shifting from a social perspective.

“It just made sense that of course there would be some sort of a Hispanic hippie rolling into town and doing his thing or there was a book smart British woman of Indian culture,” he said, referring to new main character Latika Desai (Nida Khurshid).

“Life has always been that way,” Danneel added. “I know some people don’t want to think that but there have always been non binary people. So for us to include a non binary character, that just makes sense because that is life.”

Jensen agreed, saying, “We’re in a space now where I feel like it is not only largely accepted, but it’s encouraged and I think that that’s fantastic. So we just took that as fuel and went with it. It was a very natural organic thing.”

In addition to Fleites, Meg Donnelly and Drake Rodger star as Sam and Dean’s parents, Mary Campbell and John Winchester. Smallville’s Tom Welling is Mary’s father Samuel, Bianca Kajlich is John’s mother Millie, and Demetria McKinney is occult bookstore owner Ada Monroe.

“With these kind of magnetic personalities, I dare you not to love them,” Danneel said. ” I watch it and am like ‘They’re so great and they love each other so much.’”

The first episode of The Winchesters premiered on October 11, and new episodes will air on The CW every Tuesday.

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