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TV Series Review

Back in, say, 1939, you knew a bad witch when you saw one. They had green skin and wart-covered noses and pointy hats and long, scraggly brooms. They cackled a lot and occasionally said things like, “I’ll get you, my pretty!”

We live in a kinder, more inclusive age today, of course, and I’m reasonably sure that anyone with green skin and a perfectly understandable yen for brooms could sue The Wizard of Oz for defamation.

We all know better than to judge someone based on the shade of his or her skin, even if that shade is avocado. Nose warts are not to be judged, because we're all beautiful in our own ways. And just because someone wears a wide-brimmed, pointy, black hat doesn’t make her a witch. She could simply be a hipster.

No, the only thing that witches have to do today—at least if they’re television witches—is cast a little magic. And boy, is there some magic-casting going on over at The CW these days.

Every Witch Way Welcome to Hilltowne, Michigan, affectionately known as “Helltowne” by its in-the-know residents. The nickname is fitting, if unintentionally so. Most of the townsfolk (many of whom are connected to Hilltowne University) unwittingly rub elbows with monsters and demons. They’re everywhere, it seems, often disguising themselves as mortals (or possessing otherwise innocent humans) and wreaking their particular brand of infernal havoc on the world. All their activity is a precursor to, well, the end of the world—and the “awakening of the source of all evil,” according to the ancient Book of Shadows.

Unless, of course, some kindly enterprising witches put a stop to it. And Hilltowne is home to three such witches—the most powerful trio of magic-makers to ever quaff a 21st-century latte, in fact. Naturally, they’re sisters.

Well, half-sisters, at any rate. Unlike the other two, Macy Vaughn never knew her witchy mother. She’d been told that her mom died when she was just a toddler, so it’s natural Macy would feel a little conflicted about her biological matriarch. But no matter. She’s learning to use her special witch skill: telekinesis, aka throwing inanimate objects around with your mind. She's bonding quite nicely with her siblings, too. And she’s trying to wrap her science-centric brain around this whole magic thing.

Mel Vera is the trio’s middle sis, a graduate student in women’s studies at Hilltowne U. She can freeze time with her brain (not to be confused with the ice cream brain freeze we’re all so familiar with), but only when she’s not angry. And given how righteously angry she is most of the time—rage directed at what she sees as a patriarchal, homophobic society—her superpower is a hard thing to channel.

Maggie, a freshman at Hilltowne U., has more important things to do than stare at demon tissue under a microscope like Macy or march in protests like Mel. She’s got snaps to post, boys to date and social calendars to update. Oh, sure, she’s down with the whole save-the-world thing, but she hopes it won’t muss her hair. Thankfully, she can read the minds of people (and demons disguised as people) with a touch, so she’ll know in advance whether they have any hair-mussing intentions.

Harry, a so-called “whitelighter,” assists where he can. Though he technically died in 1957, this ghost knows something about the vocation of witchery, and he’s a handy healer to have around, too, especially if one of the sisters gets an unsightly wound on her face. Which, I suppose, would make him the very definition of a “witch doctor.”

Ooh Eeh Ooh Ah Ahh, Ting, Tang, Walla Walla Bing Bang Charmed is a reboot of the 1998-2006 supernatural dramedy of the same name, one of the most successful series in the history of the old WB network. (Which, frankly, isn’t saying much.) The rebooted version strives to keep much of the original's light, campy vibe intact, and a good chunk of the original show's structure, too: three sisters learning about their superpowers!

But this version has visions of being more than a new Charmed for a new generation: It wants to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a new generation—filled, as Buffy was, with loads of metaphorical baggage and socio-political commentary. And that requires some unpacking.

The new Charmed uses (as the old one did, to a less-shrill extent) the vocation of witchcraft as a way to express the inherent power of women, and how (in the show's perspective) people try to usurp, undermine or belittle that power. Mel, a lesbian engaged in a physical, on-again, off-again relationship with police detective Nico Hamada, seems the most obvious conduit for the show's righteous anger. (That said, the show often pokes a bit of fun at Mel's double-barreled quest for justice, too.) But all the characters here are party to its in-the-moment "woke" vibe.

Sometimes, that's not bad. In the movie's first episode, when Maggie's on-again, off-again boyfriend becomes possessed by a demon hoping to plant a kiss of death on her, Maggie shouts, "When it comes to consent I can change my mind at any time!" as she kicks him away. It's funny and silly and true.

But make no mistake: The politics of this show lean progressive—sometimes radically so—and I doubt that conservative Christians will get much of a positive voice here, if they get one at all. Sexuality is a big theme, too, with none of the girls shying away from some serious physicality with various partners. And yes, things can get gory as well.

Then, of course, you've got the show's supernatural premise, predicated as it is on witchcraft. Like lots of entertainment-centric witches, these three sisters were born with their gifts: They didn't make a pact with sinister occult forces to get them. In fact, as mentioned, they're actively fighting said forces. But still, they engage in plenty of mysterious rites, Ouija-board readings and Latin-loaded spell-casting, which gives their spellcasting a darker spiritual sheen.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

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Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Oct. 14, 2018: "Pilot"



Readability Age Range





Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera; Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn; Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera; Rupert Evans as Harry Greenwood; Ellen Tamaki as Nico Hamada; Ser'Darius Blain as Galvin; Charlie Gillespie as Brian






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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