Brilliant and smart women in the past have historically been seen as witches. Many societies and cultures have often portrayed women with talent as enchantresses. So, it comes as no surprise that our three favorite sorceresses-Prue, Phoebe, and Piper–have been readapted for modern audiences. The new Charmed reboot is a more inclusive and ever more diverse cast of women. It’s an innovative series that is not afraid to incorporate more of what America wants to see in its television shows. The series even has its very own Black girl nerd—an Afrolatina actually–as one of the leads. The show produces, with remarkable veracity and sensitivity to today’s modern feminist, a product that informs and entertains. This is not a witch hunt, but it is a reckoning to see how audiences will react to the show.
The original television series Charmed aired in 1998 with an all-female cast of super powerful witches. The reboot of 2018 shares many of the similarities as the original show, but with a more comprehensive approach. The new generation of Charmed has a far more wide-ranging style that is meant to target the ever-changing demographics of American culture. By having more minorities being represented, portraying strong women in college, and having them explore career choices, the pilot episode establishes its goal to reach groups that have been overlooked in Hollywood. And, to give those groups a message of hope.
The revived Charmed showcases a group of strong and powerful witches, which includes Melonie Diaz who plays Mel Vera the middle child. Mel is believed to be the oldest until they find out they have a third sister. Mel has a lesbian lover and is an adamant fighter for women’s rights. Madeleine Mantock plays Macy Vaughn, the oldest, but we introduced to her as a child given away to her father to raise. The reasons are not revealed in the pilot, however. Macy is a scientist with a superior IQ. Her brains come in handy when dealing with forces outside of the academic realm. Sara Jeffery plays Maggie Vera as a freshman in college and the youngest sister of the three. Maggie is more concerned with her ability to have fun, and her social life, than her two sisters. Each one finds their respective power and therefore helps the story stay true to the original work.
These empowering roles for women represent an all-encompassing paradigm for future television shows. In the very few opening scenes, Mel is seen texting a lover, who we later find out to be her girlfriend–a detective. Mel’s ardent and passionate personality does not stop there. She is also a graduate student, graduate assistant, and published writer. Her sister, Macy, is a smart woman who has ambitions of winning a Nobel Prize for her work and is currently working at the college as a researcher. The youngest, Maggie, is still establishing herself and is becoming a more empathetic person, while also being more aware of the social and political problems that plague their society.
While the show purports to explore women’s issues and a place in society, it does incorporate men into this equation. The most notable male lead is Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans) who plays the sister’s Whitelighter. This handsome character has been appointed the head of the Women Studies department. His interactions with the three sisters always seem to have a double meaning. He wears dark colors, he is always watching them, and his form of teleportation is anomalous. There is an instant urge to distrust him. It is almost impossible to know if he good or evil. Despite there being a male lead, the show does move towards a more female focus, leaving men on the sidelines, and seeing them as fixtures rather than assistants.
While the new series shares its name with the first generation of Charmed, it does, however, verge off into a more inclusive direction. The series incorporates a more progressive view of women and sexuality. The Charmed sisters’ mother is a clear example of how the show brings the 21st century to Hollywood. Their mother was a professor and chair of the women studies department at a college. Showing its relevance to today’s more informed social groups, the program explores aspects of cultures that are often not discussed. Its implementation of modern terminology and use of technology shows how far the show is willing to go to connect to the younger generation of viewers.
Every culture in society has their belief systems, values, and issues that they focus on. In Charmed, so much of what is happening in America today is being magnified. The idea of protesting, sexual representation, pro-choice on problems that affect them, are artfully interjected into the show. The show can be understood as a social commentary of today’s society and how women are still perceived as witches when they are too smart, talented, or step out of what society deems reasonable. The discussion about sexuality is intense throughout the show to explore not only women’s sexuality but the place in which harassment can also occur. How these spaces are perceived and the reasons as to why they should be put under the microscope are examined and explored to reveal a social justice warrior agenda.
The first episode does, however, end on a cleave, if not devilishly droll scene that is encompassed by an air of mystery. Their Whitelighter Harry appears to them in the final scene, standing behind them as they were just warned not to trust him. This captivates and draws viewers in close as the story develops more. The social justice aspect of the show helps to promote the show’s relativeness to women. But it might hurt its viewership if men are kept out of the loop. The final question is asked, is there a witch hunt? Or is there a reckoning? Who is hunting whom?
Charmed airs Sunday nights on the CW at 9 p.m. EST.
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Donnie Lopez is a gay Latino/Hispanic social and political commentator, writer, entertainment journalist, and professor. He writes on topics that affect Hispanic/Latino culture. With his novel insight, veracity, and sense of humor, he entertains as well as educates the world.