On Monday, December 6, 2010, Supernatural fans learned the news they had been waiting to hear. After two weeks of intense, round-the-clock voting (then a few more weeks of waiting for the results), TV Guide Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Debra Birnbaum announced that the cult hit beat out five other dramas and comedies to earn its very first TV Guide cover. Yes, Supernatural was named the pop culture magazine’s inaugural Fan Favorite. This is a pretty huge deal considering it’s in its sixth season.

What’s nice about this bit of recognition? For one, the cast and crew who have worked so hard to create this series about demon-hunting brothers will be able to grasp just how much fans of the show appreciate the 100-plus episodes of genuine primetime awesomeness they’ve written and produced. Sure, they’re probably aware already, but it never hurts to let them know in such a big, tangible way. Sometimes it actually pays off to be a loyal, hardcore fan base.

Another huge benefit will be the instant promotion that maybe a series in its sixth season wouldn’t normally get. The TV Guide featuring Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki on the cover will be on newsstands all across the country. Hopefully, people who have never heard of Supernatural before will at the very least be able to realize this veteran series does exist. On Monday, Birnbaum unveiled the cover on CBS network’s morning program, The Early Show, where she had to school outgoing host Harry Smith about the CW’s Friday night fright fest. This kind of high profile promotion is priceless.

Some TV fans wonder how a small show like Supernatural could become the focus of such a vocal and passionate following. It’s easy to point to the two gorgeous leads. But that isn’t the entire story; not even the half of it really. To get the complete picture, you have to know what it’s all about. It’s a comedy. It’s a psychological drama. It’s a family drama. It’s a horror movie. It often features religious undertones. Occasionally it’s an ensemble. It’s very rarely a romantic comedy. It’s about two brothers who work best when they’re fighting on the same side. They travel in a badass car and their adventures are set to badass music. For the last three seasons, the relationship between the brothers has been turbulent. Sam and Dean Winchester have been finding themselves on the opposite sides of every argument under the sun. This long-term rift may cripple any other show, but The Powers That Be at Supernatural manage to pull it off.

The show takes risks. They don’t always work but the writers and producers never give up. Plus, they do the little things right. Each year the Supernatural title graphic changes to match the themes for that particular season. They often mount special episodes where the music is different; the look is different; there’s suddenly a theme song; and the storylines are often out-of-this-world wacky. And we totally buy into it because Eric Kripke, Sera Gamble and the rest of the Supernatural staff go out of their way to provide the most amazing experience they can. They bring in name guest stars and often hit a homerun when it comes to its recurring characters, most specifically Bobby (Jim Beaver) and Castiel (series regular Misha Collins). In episodes, they have no problems making fun of themselves or the fans that tune in every week. When it was announced that Supernatural had taken the cover, they even released a video thanking the fandom.

Much like other series of the same genre, the fans debate everything all the time. And they do it on many different websites, message boards and forums as well as on Facebook and Twitter. They’re as loyal to the bloggers who write about the weekly drama as they are to the show itself.  When they feel Supernatural isn’t getting enough promotion, they take it upon themselves to get the word out. Along the way, they’ve created new words that have meaning only to the fans that follow the show. A couple examples? The ‘67 Chevy Impala the Winchesters drive around in is now known as Metallicar.  The various breaks when the show is in repeats, is now known as hellatus instead of hiatus. They make fan art, fan videos and write fan fiction. They buy tickets to faraway conventions to meet the actors and hear what they have to say. These conventions have taken place in the United States, Canada, England, Italy and Australia and many of the actors will be heading to Portugal, Spain and Brazil in 2011. Yes, part of the reason why Supernatural was able to out-vote and out-last Chuck, Castle, Smallville, Bones and How I Met Your Mother, is because of its sizable international audience.

Since its inception the show has had to deal with several tough situations including a move from the WB to the CW; another move from Tuesday nights to Thursday nights opposite ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and CBS’ CSI; a writers’ strike; and now one more jump to Friday nights. One thing that hasn’t changed is the devotion the fans have for their favorite show on TV. So congratulations, once again, to the cast, crew and fans of Supernatural.