Nearly every day when I came home from middle school, I would turn on the TV to find that TNT was once again airing “Charmed.” Though the show originally aired long before I had progressed from the likes of Disney and Nickelodeon, I found myself drawn to its reruns. What more could a 13-year-old girl ask for? Witches, demons, love stories and three powerful sisters — it was a helplessly cheesy series I couldn’t get enough of, and I’m not the only one.
The mention of the original “Charmed” conjures a memory in many people — mostly women — of watching it with their moms, at sleepovers or just by themselves when they were home sick from school.
Perhaps this nostalgia is what inspired The CW to bring it back — its feminist-centric reboot of “Charmed” has just premiered. There are some differences: The women of the original “Charmed” were updated to the much-younger Mel, Macy and Maggie. Notwithstanding the name changes, the series plot remains pretty much the same: Two of the girls find a sister they never knew they had, their mother is dead and there are demons constantly hunting them.
The pilot quickly establishes the personalities of each of the girls: Maggie, the youngest (Sarah Jeffery, “Shades of Blue”), is an incoming college freshman looking to rush a sorority; Mel, the middle sister (Melonie Diaz, “The First Purge”), is a stern graduate student heavily involved in feminist activism. Mel and Maggie lived together with their mom their whole life, so they are shocked when after their mom’s death, Macy (Madeleine Mantock, “Age Before Beauty”), a brainy new hire at the college nearby, shows up at their door telling them she’s their sister.
From here, the show follows the traditional “Charmed” route. The sisters meet the cheeky whitelighter Harry (Rupert Evans, “The Man in the High Castle”) who explains to the charmed ones that they are powerful witches, just like their mother, and that he has powers of his own. This sets the main conflict of the pilot, with the sisters deciding whether they want to accept their magical fate.
With all of the similarities to the original “Charmed,” the reboot had to make some changes to establish itself as something new. This comes through the often heavy-handed “wokeness” that permeates the pilot. Some of the representation comes naturally — all three sisters are women of color and the fact that Mel is openly gay is less of a plotline than a simple detail. The show does not want you to forget how woke they are, delivering such lines as, “Being a witch is a full pro-choice enterprise,” and slipping in a dig at Donald Trump.
Some may point this out as a glaring flaw in the show, but as someone that used to watch the original “Charmed” religiously, I have to disagree. You don’t go to the network that airs such mindless, guilty-pleasure television like “Riverdale” looking for a top-quality show. Nobody is going to turn on “Charmed” expecting a high-caliber script and Emmy-award winning acting. The viewers are going to be people just like I was — mostly young, mostly female, mostly looking for something to entertain them. And if that thing just happens to be a show that promotes true sisterhood, progressive feminism and modern pro-women movements, I see no problem with that.