There is a misguided idea that Cassie Robinson is wholly responsible, if not completely beholden to everything that comes out of Dean Winchester’s mouth. That, because she was Dean Winchester’s girlfriend, she should’ve believed him and not kicked him out of the house. But because she didn’t she is undeserving of him and moreover every derogatory word you think of (bitch, whore, slut, whinny, ugly, etc., etc.) is something she deserves to be called. I’ve reconciled with myself a long time ago that SUPERNATURAL was by no means a safe television series to watch if I was a): a woman, b): a fan who happens to be a woman and c): a fan who happens to be a woman who happens to be Black. I’m all of the above. The SUPERNATURAL fandom is pretty horrible; it embodies everything I’ve described above alone. It is by no means kind to fans that are Black and female (despite the predominantly female fanbase) and it is perhaps even worse to Black female characters and Characters of Color period.
So, let’s talk about Cassie Robinson. She’s a bucket of fantastic, isn’t she? I think so . She premiered in the thirteenth episode, “Route 666”, in 2006 on a Tuesday in what would presumably be the most watched episode of the first season with 8.8 Million viewers. Yet, in order to justify the appearance of a Woman of Color, Cassie, specifically, whomever was in charge of writing the episode (two writers who credits include “Moonlighting” and “Scarecrow and Mrs. King”, two of the WHITEST shows you could possibly watch) was decidedly set on basing episode around the issue of racism as faced by one sleepy town and in particular, Cassie Robinson’s family.
Cassie is a reporter or a journalist —- the episode never really seemed all that interested in solidifying her professional life, let alone her personal one beyond the realm of Dean —- who is determined to figure out why the people with whom she is connected to are dying on a stretch of road wherein racist practices were carried out and why the victims are always Black. She’s also Dean’s first love and probably the only civilian that I care to remember, who was told outright what he did for a living without hesitation. Naturally, Cassie reacted accordingly and kicked his ass out as no sane person would buy that for a dollar and change. When she started to suspect what he told her had something to do with her father’s death, she was big enough to admit that she was wrong about thinking he was crazy, but it’s my personal opinion that she never had to be sorry for thinking about herself and her safety vs. his feelings.
For all the episode’s apparent self-awareness of racism and how it affects Black people it has probably fostered some of the most backhanded, sexist and racist commentary and behaviors towards a single woman I would ever see at that time before I was exposed to more and more of it. I never got much of it at first and I would sit at my computer utterly baffled by the vitriol that was thrown (and is still thrown) Cassie’s way. There were times that it would make me cry and I experienced much of the same cycle with characters like Sheva (whom I’ve covered before) and Rochelle, Black female video game characters in zombie games.
It’s been seven years since “Route 666” premiered, Cassie Robinson has ultimately been solidified as a one-time-character no little or relevance to whoever is writing this show, yet the sticking point of her character is “Dean’s first love”, and most, if not all people remember this, which puts her in place that most ONE-SHOT or established characters don’t have the privilege (or misfortune) of saying they stand in. She is important because of who she is to Dean as far as relationships go, but not necessarily who she is as a woman divorced from Dean. I think I could gel with that if it weren’t for the fact that fans of SUPERNATURAL seem hell-bent on degrading her character because she is Black woman with whom their favorite white male character fell the hardest for. This phenomena, of course, as I mentioned, is not isolated to Cassie, but is visited upon many Black female characters in mainstream media.
Because she dared to put first her own safety and welfare and kicked Dean out, because she did not have audience retrospect and take Dean at face value (because all people do that, amirite?), some believe it gives them free reign to call her a “bitch” because she doesn’t take him at face value. And for her to come back, in order to justify her reappearance (if it ever happens and it probably never will with how ill this series is towards anything that is not straight and white), “she has to earn forgiveness from Dean and his fan girls/boys” (MiaPocca, ff.net). Cassie has to earn the forgiveness of an otherwise misogynistic man and his gaggle of adoring fans who toss about the worst things to say about her within their circle.
Point in case:
“well i disagree about cassie shw is not smart and if she loved dean i would have felt it! dean is a great guy and he doesnt need that bicth cassie! and really she sucks end of story! the actress was bad and i wanted other actress to play deans first love cause cassie was lame and […]cassie was ugly, idoit!” (ebonylovessamanddean)
Sure, not everyone writes their feelings like the above; some do it in more “eloquent” manners, but the sentiment remains the same. So you’ll forgive me when I say I doubt the Kumbaya circle and the belief that “we all bleed red” will ever solve racism and sexism towards Black characters and the Black community in general.
It goes without saying that I like Cassie, I think, like Missouri Mosley, Tamara and Isaac and basically every other Black character on this show, she’s a great character with great potential. Her profession alone gives her a gold mine of narratives in which she could be utilized in and utilized well in the series. Her personality is as such that she doesn’t fear to speak what’s on her mind, whatever the consequences that might bring her, and she is fairly independent to the point that she can function without being romantically involved with someone to validate her existence (despite that being her position in the episode itself). Despite my dislike of Dean Winchester and that he and his series appears to stand for, he loved her, he loved her enough that he came back to help her and she loved him enough to even remotely consider asking for his help because of the nature of her situation.
Unfortunately I also think she is stuck and wasted in a series that regards her existence with little to no worth of importance at all and by proxy the fandom continues to foster that outlook. I mean, the writers really thought that in order to justify Dean being in love with a Black/Biracial woman, the episode had to be about racism; as if that’s the only thematic that could’ve facilitated her presence. That in and of itself is problematic and speaks more to how the production team sees or saw POC characters within the frame of their show at all. It also really drove home that they probably had no intentions of revisiting her ever again as most writers tend to distance themselves from the subject of racism once they feel they’ve checked the required “After School Special” episode theme. Cassie’s “I don’t see much hope for us, Dean” pretty much encapsulates this, but hell, Dean was optimistic as fuck that they could be together again so we all hoped as well.
So when I discovered that the writer’s, in their infinite lack of wisdom, decided to have Dean return to a woman whom didn’t appear to regard his and her weekend fling together as anything important until the plot needed both of them to (“The Kids Are Alright” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me”), it naturally brought up the question “Why didn’t he go back to Cassie, aka Lady Love of his Life?” In my honest opinion, Lisa Braeden exists solely to minimize and erase Cassie’s importance within the series; there isn’t a shred of continuity that leads back to “Route 666” and Cassie. For all intents and purposes, Cassie has ceased to exist in the same manner as Missouri (whose own problems as a character stem from “Mammy”-ism. Loretta Devine as an actress, deserved better for her character) as an important woman in the Winchester circle.
Cassie’s importance is further erased by Destiel fans with who apparently have come to believe her existence was solely to foreshadow a slash ship that is used only to bait the LGBTQ and queer baiting fanbase that watches the show. (“Her name is Cassie, her nickname is probably “Cas”, her mother wears a trench coat. Clearly this means Dean was meant to be Castiel all along!”). Still, the reaction to her non-reappearance and the subsequent IMDB.com rumor that Megalyn Echikunwoke was returning to the series has been such that the character has actually seen something of a resurgence of popularity. It’s barely anything to get excited about, but it has introduced me to a fair great amount of people who are also fans of Cassie and have written some great things about her within the SPN fandom, so in a way, I’m glad for it.
There has been an incredible amount of shitty things said about Cassie, all of which can be summed up through the examination of racism, misogyny and the erasure of Black women within mainstream media. As far as anyone on SUPERNATURAL is concerned, Cassie doesn’t matter, but as far as I’m concerned, she’s important to me. Not because of whom she was involved with, but because of what she represented for me as a Black viewer and what she helped me figure out when I was certain that I was the only person seeing this acidic pattern being repeated over and over again with POC characters.
I know you wrote this like…a year ago, but I wanted to reply with lots of words, so here goes.
I started watching Supernatural at the beginning of last year and I’ve only made it up to the end of season 4 so far. (I don’t have much time for television…) I would like to say that I love Cassie and I feel like having her character just get ditched is so wasteful and so strange. She was so unlike any woman before and she’s so unlike any woman after in the show, mostly because she is willing to put herself first. She’s not a girl hanging out at a bar. She’s not a coed looking to score. She’s portrayed as intelligent and inquisitive and courageous. She’s got class and common sense. Do you know what a normal person would do if her boyfriend said he fought monsters? She would think he was nuts. Not only does it set up the conflict between the characters (he’s hurt because he was honest and she shot him down, she thinks he’s bonkers), but it shows that she’s not an idiot.
The fact that Dean would find a woman with all these traits worthy of his love also goes a long way toward humanizing Dean in a way that nothing else had up to that point. I think Ben (Lisa’s son) is the next non-Winchester that Dean really opens up for. Before this point in season 1, Dean was a total cad. After you find out about Cassie and the fact that he really did love her, that she was the one to walk away, it’s like, oh. There might actually be something going on with this guy. Plus, I don’t think Cassie is ever counting on seeing Dean again. I say this because it’s the one thing that would motivated Dean to see her again: to prove her wrong. It seems like the idea of “coming through” when he is either doubted or in need is so intrinsic to his character that I really am surprised we haven’t caught up with her again.
I haven’t gotten to the episode where Dean is united with Lisa during this viewing, but there were like 5 episodes that I actually saw during their original air date, and that’s one of them. I don’t remember much about the episode, but I do remember the original episode that Lisa showed up in, and anybody who really tries to make the claim that Lisa was a particular love of Dean’s life is just freaking delusional. He looked her up because he had just signed away his soul and he was looking to get laid. It just so happened that she had a kid who was suspiciously Dean-like AND who was in trouble. I think the idea of being a father after signing away his soul was probably an excruciating thought for Dean to contemplate, but it was probably also comforting to think that he was leaving a piece of himself around to give the world hell in his absence.
Also, Ben is a cool little kid, and he’s a cool little kid who looks up to Dean. Dean is an older sibling through and through, and it’s the main reason I can identify with him even when he’s at his most misogynistic. Dean had always been Sam’s protector and he did his best to provide Sam with love and support, even when their dad could not provide it. I mean, if we learned anything from the Jump the Shark episode in season 4, Dean was jealous of his half brother’s experiences with their dad. For his birthday, John took Adam to a baseball game. BASEBALL. WHAT THE FUDGE!?!?! The new brother’s name also probably had nothing to do with John, but to name the kid Adam, like he was the first, like there were no other children before him? Ouch.
I guess it also mirrors the angels’ potential jealousy towards humanity in general, what with them being made first, but God preferring the humans…but that’s kind of off topic.
Anyway, the point is that if there’s anything Dean feels for Lisa, it’s all about being the dad for Ben that Dean AND Ben never had. Ultimately, that’s the only reason why I think Lisa would have any kind of lingering hold on Dean’s affections. If you put Cassie and Lisa in some sort of relationship line-up, though, and told Dean which one he cares about, he loves Cassie. There are just no two ways about it. The fact that Sam reacts so strangely to the information that they were together for *weeks* says it all. And of all the girls Dean has really been involved in, Cassie is the only one I would want to hang out with.
I haven’t read anybody else’s comments about Cassie, but I’m saddened to hear that people hate on her. Even if she didn’t have any special place in Dean’s life, she’s the one civilian girl I can really relate to in this show, and that says it all.