I meant to watch the first episode of Community yesterday, which turned into my roomie and I watching a few, which turned into my entire house watching all 25 episodes of the first season. It was fun. I don't know if any of you watch, since it's almost as far from SPN as you can get, generically, but it's a great summer sprint show, during Hellatus.
And in spite of its complete lack of analogy wrt SPN, it did make me realize something about my relationship to Dean fandom in S7/8.
I am extremely attracted to the vulnerabilities of people in charge. People stressed by their responsibilities but still trying (and probably failing) to hold themselves together in front of people who look up to them/perceive them as infallible/are under their charge in some way.
As much as I am a Dean H/Cer by trade, having him consistently take up the caretaker role doesn't upset me as much as it does other Dean H/Cers. And I say this with the utmost sensitivity to that faction, because I know that for a lot of them, this is a huge, huge issue of personal resonance to them.
For me, though, that caretaker role is the H/C. Or I guess, the H; the appeal is the lack of comfort, or inconsistently offered/received comfort, in any case. Dean acting as caretaker for Sam, or X or Y or Z, is a crucial part of the appeal of his H/C, not for any actual "responsibility" I believe he has to the role, or his personal need or aptitude for it. I find this satisfying specifically because I think it's ultimately unsuccessful, frustrating, and unhealthy, not because I think it's the opposite and is great, on Dean's behalf.
Don't get me wrong. I don't want Dean to suffer all the time. I can be, and have been, concerned for him, too. My interest in Dean and my interest in Dean H/C are separate things a lot of the time. I wouldn't mind a little self actualization somewhere down the line, and I don't think S7/S8 gave him a whole lot of that in the end, regardless of the "upbeat, more like old Dean" verdict disturbingly large pieces of fandom have come to.*
My interest in Dean H/C is inextricably tied to the caretaker role; it's not cockblocked by it.
*S8 is not "healing," it is not okay. It's a paralytic, dissociated flatline, maybe, which is less alarming than Dean's ideations in earlier seasons. But it's not an improvement, strictly speaking about Dean's well-being here, and not about storytelling conventions, the strength of character arcs, or other meta/literary discussions. <--My two cents.