Okay, so you can make the argument that there are other showrunners, producers, and writers that someone can easily challenge me on the assertion that Eric Kripke is the Steven Spielberg of television. This man has created amazing stories on television, Supernatural, Revolution, Timeless, and The Boys. Each has made its mark for me as a compelling story for our time.
Steven Spielberg has created some of the most beloved films in cinema history. Not only have they been critically successful but financially successful as well. He is considered the highest-grossing film director for sparking what is known as the summer blockbuster. His producing credits include Gremlins, Back to the Future, Men In Black, Transformers, Super 8, Roger Rabbit to blockbusters like E.T., Jaws, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Ready Player One, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We can’t omit powerfully and riveting classics like Schindler’s List, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Bridge of Spies, Lincoln, War Horse, A.I., Minority Report, and War of the Worlds. Wow, I need to sit down.
Eric Kripke is a writer and showrunner and has been in the business for almost 20 years, while Spielberg’s career has spanned 50 years. Now I am willing to bet money Kripke did not want to be the next Spielberg. Kripke made a name for himself, and the fanbase speaks for itself. I have enjoyed his impact on television, and the reason for the title of this article is not the quantity of one’s work or how much each project made or how popular it was, or how long they been in the Hollywood game. The quality of Kripke’s work has been entertaining but had something to say about humanity and how art reflects life and vice versa. He created Supernatural, which he was in charge of for five seasons before stepping down when he felt he gave 100% to the story he wanted to tell about Sam and Dean Winchester and the show went on ten years more. Revolution went on for two years before being canceled, as did Timeless, and The Boys is currently back for a third season. If you have taken the time to experience these shows from beginning to end, then I believe his career has taken on a Spielbergian way.
Supernatural deals with two brothers who are trying to find their father who went missing on a “hunting” trip. It’s the X Files updated for a new generation. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester’s father, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), is a hunter. He has spent much of his sons’ childhood after the tragic death of his wife investigating the paranormal, the strange, urban legends to avenge his wife, who died at the hands of a yellow-eyed demon. From ghosts to ghouls to vampires and more, the show tackles them all. The show deals with family as Sam tries to med his broken relationship with his father. Dean believes in the family business and wants to keep the family together. The brothers struggle with betrayal, mistrust, and secrets, and their bond is tested time again.
They are pushed to their breaking point, and they always keep fighting. Jared Padalecki started a charity, Always Keep Fighting to bring awareness to mental health, and it evokes so much of what the Winchesters go through. The boys are heroes, but their job leaves them broke, outcasts, and at the time emotionally drained. What becomes the point even when lives are saved on the show? Now, this movement started after Kripke stepped down, so it shows the impact Supernatural has had on people of all ages. Oh, and Jensen and Jared deliver some worthy performances (s4 for any of my fellow hunters– you know what I mean), along with the perfect season finale in year five until the series finale that wrecked me.
Revolution (2012-2014) deals with the whole world being brought to its knees thanks to a global incident and humanity coping with the fallout. Hot Damn. Let that sink in.
The global incident comes in the form of a blackout, which leaves anything technologically advanced that runs on power useless permanently—planes, trains cars, phones; gone. Chaos ensued, and while many are separated, some have to find a way to live on while the world order plunges into militias and power-hungry leaders. This show is dark, but looking back after remembering a time when the cast took a trip to the United Nations (yep, that happened to look it up), it paints a look at society and how some can deal with a global crisis and find a way to live and keep the American Spirit alive while others have turned to greed and violence for the sake of looking out for themselves or trying to protect their own.
Timeless takes time to travel to a whole new level. I think Nicolas Cage would approve. Oh, Damn, Eric, that would have been a killer cameo. Oh well. First of all, I must point out the power of fandom. This show was canceled after one season, and the fans rallied to revive the show, and it was revived. It was then canceled again after season two, and the fans rallied, and we got a television film to wrap the series. Not to mention the cast got to host a panel at the National Museum of American History.
Timeless is a tale where Mason Industries hire a soldier, a history professor, and an engineer to track down a stolen time travel device called the Lifeboat. The person in question who stole it plans on rewriting history for his nefarious purposes. This show covers an array of compelling events from slavery, Watergate, the Moon landing, Bonnie and Clyde, Lincoln’s Assassination, Alamo, NASCAR, Old Hollywood, Harriet Tubman, Suffragette WWII, and so much more. The show does not shy away from social issues of the past that still cast shadows on the present. A black man, a white man, and a white woman bear witness to history, the good, bad, and the ugly, and all three get to experience and empathize with each other struggle each from women’s rights, a black man in a white man’s world and PTSD and more. They are history protectors in the best way.
Finally, we bring you The Boys. If Deadpool paved the way, breaking the bar of how superhero stories are told, then The Boys made sure it would stay that way. Okay, I guess Watchmen from 2009, directed by Zack Snyder, was the leap well lept.
In the age of D.C. and Marvel, where heroes teach us to become the best versions of ourselves, and we see various versions of a hero’s journey, Eric Kripke takes that trope. He blows it up like a Death Star—adapted from some graphic novels created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Superheroes are working for a billion-dollar company named Vought Industries. Most superheroes we know and love work for an independently funded organization or work alone.
Superheroes in this show work for this company as name brands. Social media presence, marketing, product placement, talk shows, sex appeal, legal teams, etc. These heroes are given the keys to the kingdom and keep America safe. Well, as long as who is willing to pay. Now, this allows the so-called heroes to act independently with zero accountability, and when something bad happens, things just work out while the fallout is brushed under the rug. What happens when the people we look up to crush your admiration of them? or worse, commit a crime and fail to own up to it, and you are left trying to make sense of it and can’t fight back. It paints a gritty picture of those in power who are supposed to protect us failing to do so, and we see the ragtag team of underdogs banding together to keep those in power accountable while evading death at every corner. Just when you thought D.C. and Marvel can tell all the stories in that genre, well, Kripke and Brad Bird say hold my beer.
In conclusion, Eric Kripke is a visionary, and those who have worked alongside him and have helped his vision to come to fruition have my respect and admiration. From family, time travel, humanity amid a global crisis, and a new chapter to the superhero era, Kripke has created timeless tales for the culture and the human condition. Is he the next Spielberg? In terms of quality and the impact? He is well on his way.