2018 is set to see the reboot of the cult classic 90s/2000s supernatural drama ‘Charmed’ reinterpreted for the small screen, as picked up by The CW, and developed by showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman (Jane The Virgin).
The series is set to feature actresses Sarah Jeffery (as Maggie Vera), Melonie Diaz (as Mel Vera), and Madeleine Mantock (as Macy Vaughn), a new generation of witches connected by ‘the power of three’ in what is tagged to be a “fierce, funny and feminist” remake.
This May saw the release of the first extended trailer of the series, in which the Vera sisters experience the mysterious death of their mother, their half-sister Macy shows up on their doorstep unannounced, their respective powers of freezing time (Mel), telepathy (Maggie) and telekinesis (Macy) spontaneously emerge, and their destiny to take the path of ‘The Charmed Ones’ initiates, where they will be called to vanquish demons, and unite in sisterhood, while tackling the patriarchy.
The reboot will also feature its own attempt at diversity, with our three lead actors being women of colour, playing characters who are seemingly different to the original three that was played initially by Holly Marie Combs (Piper), Alyssa Milano (Phoebe), and Shannen Doherty (Prue) as the Halliwell sisters, with the later addition of Rose McGowan (Paige), as Doherty’s role was cut from the series.
The Charmed series for the 2018 era will focus on the lives of geneticist Macy who is new to town, and reaches out to her sisters to find out more about her roots, bubbly freshman Maggie who wants nothing more than to be a sorority girl, and activist Mel, a women’s studies grad student (at Hilltowne University where their mother was head of department) and lesbian.
Of course, like with any remake of a classic franchise for the screen, there’s always bound to be a section of the community who is vocally skeptical in strong defence of the original, as is the case with the Charmed reboot, which has received criticism from fans and original series cast member Holly Marie Combs. In response to this, a recent rebuttal was made on Twitter by Sarah Jeffery.
Without delving too much into the old and new cast feuds, it is understandable to consider in some ways, the other side of the coin, in which there has been discussion that the original cast members seemingly won’t be making a cameo appearance in the reboot (from what’s been stated so far), which could be interpreted as insinuating that they’re too old for this fresh take.
The Charmed 2018 cast, however, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight did tease a possibility that the original cast could get a cameo appearance in the show.
As discussed in an article in Vulture there are a couple of reasons why reboots are quite common in the volume of shows that are produced to date. We all get a form of nostalgia when it comes to our favourite tv shows and characters. Fandom is a pretty powerful thing, as people are passionate about the stories they care about.
While it is a chance for broadcast networks to create new and lucrative material that emerges from an already established fan-base, there is some some outcry that it heralds an increasing lack of originality, or creating completely new work with an old title slapped against it. In regards to the Charmed reboot in particular, Vulture’s west coast editor Josef Adalian commented in particular,
“Because TV is all about those deep bonds, it’s logical that folks will feel protective. But preemptive outrage at the very idea of a remake is almost never justified.” – Josef Adalian
In terms of fiction, the concept of a reboot could be defined as “the restarting of a series’ storyline, discarding all previous continuity”. TV Tropes in addition, uses the term continuity reboot, proposing that it is an “alternate universe that shares virtually little to no canon with the preceding works in a franchise”, and that “reboots don’t necessarily replace the originals”. Furthermore, continuity reboots may include a tone shift depending on what is marketable to the target demographic.
In an older, but interesting video talk hosted by Mike Rugnetta from the Idea Channel, we look at the proliferation of remakes for the screen, and how movies (or in this case, TV shows) are commodities created for a generation (starting from Gen X and early Millenials) that is accustomed to consuming (popular) culture in an era of industrial mass production, and reinterpretations are a marketable trend which has stemmed from the youth of the 70s and 80s, who expect content that is an evolved version of the media they watched during their childhood.
From that time to the present, it is now expected that popular media connects to the past media we consumed growing up, as artefacts of modern entertainment and culture are abundantly produced for a maturing audience that isn’t expected to grow up immediately post-adolescence, and duplication of every tangible thing we use, is the norm.
Now, as to whether the series will be able to stand alone as a powerful yet entertaining narrative, that includes meaningful feminist themes (as its premise claims to), is yet to be determined.
There have been some young adult/teen speculative fiction series/films that I do watch, that do get cancelled and can’t really go past the first season or two. But it does happen with some shows that just flop for different reasons, so it is something to speculate now and observe later to see if this reboot can get renewed for more than just a few episodes.
The concept of the witch can be representative of feminism so it’d be interesting to see what sort of references in Charmed 2.0 could be possible. As observed by Kaitlin Reilly for Refinery29,
“The potential show’s timing could not be more perfect. The #MeToo movement has proved that women can change the world when they stand strong together, and it sounds like the characters on the new Charmed will place an importance on sisterhood” – Kaitlin Reilly
The embed video linked in the article, of the HuffPost Live panel discussion on ‘Understanding The Witch As A Triumphant Feminist Icon’ is also worth watching as well.
That being said, with the pilot set to air during the fall season in the US, we’re looking at a spring time release in Australia later on in 2018.