We know the power of three will set us free, but can a power of reboot make all the difference we need?
Reboots often meet with mixed reactions, but when it comes to the cult-favorite '90s show 'Charmed' there was a whole new level of backlash. When the CW announced that they would be rebooting the series about three witch sisters, they claimed the revival was a "fierce, funny, feminist reboot of the original series centers on three sisters in a college town who discover they are witches. Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy, and maintaining familial bonds, a witch's work is never done."
While the statement sounded great, it directly or indirectly implied that the feminist spin was not present in the original, so, on raged the fans and the original cast members, who are not a part of the new show anyway. They took to their social media to speak out against the 'Charmed' reboot statement. Of course, they felt betrayed because back in the '90s the show was one of the most feminist kind, though not diverse, (but that will come later), the originals did help raise strong and independent women. The series, created by Constance M. Burge, ran from 1998 to 2006 and starred Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty, and Rose McGowan as the leads. At that time, it was a landmark achievement for the show centered around three women to run for eight seasons. So here's the reaction from the OG stars:
Following the backlash, the team behind the new reboot responded in early August, saying they understood where the sentiment was coming from. Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman said at a press conference that she "empathizes" with Combs. "It was a huge part of her life and if [she’s] watching it go in a different direction, then, of course, that’s going to be hard. I understand that.”
The producer, Jessica O' Toole, added: "We're only here because of [that show]. We were huge fans of the original, by the way. That show wrapped everything up so wonderfully—they all got their happy endings, and there were even glimpses of their future. We felt like it told a complete story."
The 'Charmed' reboot premieres on October 14, and while skepticism soars high among the original cast and the fans, here's how the reboot will differ from the original. One of the most important differences, already pointed out, is that the majority of the main cast are people of color, unlike the original 'Charmed,' where the leads were only white. Added to that, one of the sisters is queer.
The power of three is now a multiracial trio played by Madeleine Mantock, Melonie Diaz, and Sarah Jeffery. Mantock, who plays a long-lost sister Macy Vaughn, is Afro-Caribbean and the three sisters make up for a Latina team, Vera sisters', unlike the Halliwell sisters’ children, who were all white just like the vast majority of the cast. The inclusion of diversity has also reflected behind the screens as O’Toole told Buzzfeed that staff members are people of color as well: “Writing is a team sport on a TV show, so having those voices and making sure that they feel heard and empowered to point out blind spots, that’s something we always announce openly. It’s the real world. It’s weird that Hollywood is whiter than the rest of the world.” Adding to gender diversity, Diaz who is a queer and an activist for women’s rights, was the first sister to get cast as the lead of the show.
Now that 'Charmed' has moved to 2018, its progression is also as timely. The pilot of the show is heavily influenced by #MeToo and Time’s Up movement. The show, that is partly set on a college campus, opens with the sisters' connection to an ongoing case of campus sexual harassment and assault that has left a girl in a coma. This plot will likely continue throughout season one. Even a line in the pilot states that “witchcraft and strong women have always been connected.” There are references to the 'Bad Feminist' author Roxane Gay’s Twitter account, on preaching the importance of teaching people consent, and a calling-out of those who refer to justice against sexual predators as a “witch hunt.”
Another thread of difference in this new reboot and the '90s 'Charmed' is that the inspiration does not stem just from the latter. In fact, it is going to be a "creative descendant of Jane the Virgin," created by the makers themselves, Urman, O’Toole and Amy Rardin. During a Comic-Con panel that took place last July, Urman said that her experience on Jane as showing the importance of representation in Hollywood was the inspiration behind an inclusive cast and writers for 'Charmed.'
“The intricacy of the storytelling of Jane the Virgin was such a master class,” O’Toole stated as she wanted 'Charmed' to be a series that is also “a show you want to be really soapy, but also scary, and funny.”
The' Jane the Virgin' connection meant a lot to Diaz as she added that she was "really excited about Jennie being [a producer on Charmed], because of what Jane the Virgin did for me as a viewer, to see someone who looked like me, felt like me.”
It has already been over a decade since the last episode of 'Charmed' aired. There are many who opine that as much as nostalgia is cherished, the new generation is entitled to have their own set of witches.
Variety reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister rightly stated: "A successful reboot has to make sense for modern audiences and new viewers who may not be familiar with the original series, on which the new series is based... so while familiar characters and storylines will act as a backbone, a reboot is an entirely new show and should be treated as such."
There are ample examples of reboots that took a different turn only to emerge as successful shows. 'Riverdale,' can be named here as it is a massive departure from the Archie comics that inspired it. However, the teen thriller spin to the franchise only resulted in a steadily growing fan base.
In the new 'Charmed,' you may find the 'Book of Shadows,' but you will definitely not find rhyming couplets in the spells, assuring us that times have changed, and so have the spells.