SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details about the pilot episode of Charmed.
In 1998, the WB released a fantastically witchy show titled Charmed where three sisters discover they have powers of the occult — but the good kind. Fast-forward 20 years later and the WB is now the CW and the sisters are back in a reboot that is in the center of a Venn diagram between 1998 and 2018. It feels dated but at the same time, fresh enough to appeal to the millennial generation. Seems appropriate since late ’90s nostalgia is circling back on the trend cycle.
The CW reboot of Charmed debuts on Oct. 14 and it will also celebrate its 20th anniversary of its predecessor with an exclusive sneak peek during New York Comic-Con on Oct. 7, which happens to be the exact date the original premiered in 1998. It seems that the stars are aligning for the series to make for a grand welcome for the return of the Power of Three. As fun as this reboot is, it gives nothing new for us to hook us in except for incorporating an element of relevant and super-progressive “wokeness.”
Charmed tells the story of two sisters who find out that they have a long-lost sister after their mother is mysteriously murdered. When they reconnect with her, weird things start to happen. Maggie (Sarah Jeffery) discovers she has the power to read minds while rushing a sorority; Mel (Melonie Diaz) finds out that she can freeze time while having coffee with her girlfriend, and the estranged sister Macy (Madeleine Mantock) realizes that she can move things with her mind a la Jean Grey from X-Men. Things are all explained when the cheeky Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans), who has been masquerading as the new chair of the women’s studies department at their school. Turns out Harry is actually a whitelighter, which is an advisor and guide to witches — he also has powers. He practically kidnaps the three of them, ties them to chairs to break the news and explain what the hell is going on. Considering how female-forward and empowering this show is, the bondage didn’t seem on brand.
Nonetheless, the trio finds out that their mother was a witch and that they are the “charmed” ones, the most powerful witches who are tasked to protect the innocent and vanquish demons. That’s a lot of responsibility — not to mention crazy for people who did not know witches existed. That said, they have to unanimously decide whether they want to be witches or not because as Harry says, “Being a witch is a full pro-choice enterprise”, reiterating the future is female vibe of the reboot.
The pilot solidifies the sisters in specific roles: Mel is the aggressively hot-headed one, Maggie is the fun-loving sorority hopeful, and Macy is the smarty pants scientist. These can be considered predictable tropes, but the reboot makes some changes so it’s not so…bland. For one, they are all people of color and out of all them, Mel is the most progressive. She’s openly gay and the show makes no pomp and circumstance about it. Her sexuality is just…normal. What a concept, right? She is also very much of the Time’s Up and #MeToo era, protesting a sexual predator and hellbent on toppling the patriarchy — and we later learn her sisters are of the same mind.
In this first chapter of this reboot, the sisters are out to find out who murdered their mother. They encounter a demon that they think killed their mother. They see him in a dog, Maggie ends up fighting him out of her love interest and then, at the end, the demon is in the aforementioned sexual predator. But surprise! This demon is not responsible for their mom’s death. If it were, then the show would be over…and that would totally defeat the purpose of the reboot. But the real story is at the end when they bust out the Ouija board and try to communicate with their mother. They receive a message about Harry that will leave you thirsty for more.
Charmed brings back a familiar feeling of teen-driven television — the same feeling you felt when you watched the lineup on the CW when it was called the WB. It felt very much of the Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and original Charmed era. It’s a little hokey, the perfect amount of melodramatic, and a fun form of escapism. It doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking or new to the table, but it doesn’t need to. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, it just keeps the general bullet points of the original and adds details to let viewers know that the show is very much about sisterhood and how women can be “stronger together” when faced against oppressive obstacles. Seems relevant more now than ever.