The CW is premiering two Latinx reboots next season, Charmed and Roswell, NM. Since the pilots were first announced in early 2018, both received loud backlash from fans of the original series and excitement from latinx audiences hungry for more representation on prime time TV.
The CW recently released the preview for the show and not all POC are happy about the reboot or its depiction of witchcraft.
The Lack of Brujeria
After the first preview was released, some latinx viewers criticized the depictions of witchcraft because the previews seem to show the latinx sisters practicing the euro-centric tradition of witchcraft represented in the original Charmed, rather than brujeria or Caribbean traditions of witchcraft.
However, only the pilot has been written and filmed so far. And while the first preview does reveal that their mother is white, we don’t know yet that brujeria or other traditions of witchcraft won’t also come into play later in the season.
From what we can gather from the trailer, it looks like their father was latinx or afro-latino and we don’t see how much influence from that side of the family will have on their cultural heritage or how that might play into their witchcraft.
Rupert Evans will play Harry, the sisters mentor, and on the surface having an older white man as a mentor of younger women of color could easily become problematic. However, I hope we see a reversal of this dynamic where the sisters end up teaching him a few things or melding both traditions of witchcraft and brujeria.
Furthermore, Executive Producers Jennie Snyder Urman and Ben Silverman have both served as producers/show-runners of Jane the Virgin and Ugly Better, two very feminist and latinx shows. We don’t know yet who will end up in the writers room and in the directors chair for the season, but we can assume the writers room will be just as diverse as the Jane the Virgin writers room.
Feminism in the Charmed Reboot
Criticism of the early promos that seem to whitewash the practice of witchcraft is more than valid. However, fans of the original series have also been critical of the fact that the show is being rebooted at all, saying that a reboot is unnecessary, disrespectful to the previous cast members, or complaining about the descriptions from the CW that describe the reboot as more feminist than the original. The core of this last complaint seems to be that this new show is erasing the feminism of the original and that a “more” feminist version is unnecessary.
Much of the Charmed fandom is female and even some fans of color share this sentiment even though the three sisters are latinx. However, it’s hard not to compare these loud voices on social media to the male fans that complained that the female Ghostbusters reboot was unnecessary and the male fans who complained that there were too many women in the new Star Wars films.
I also find it hard to believe that anyone who claims to be a feminist can complain about something that claims to be “more feminist” or “too feminist.” Creating a new version of the show doesn’t erase the feminism of the original.
The original was unique at the time for starring three women who confronted sexism head-on at times. Why would it be a bad thing to have more of that? Anyone who claims to be a true feminist should be happy that there is another openly feminist show on TV in the fall, especially one that is more diverse than the original.
Perhaps it would be better to describe the reboot as more inter-sectional than the original Charmed, which starred very few POC in the recurring cast. I stopped watching the show around season five, but I can only recall two POCs who had recurring roles before being killed off: Prue’s love interest, an African-American cop, and a latinx villain.
The reboot allows the writers to explore feminism through the lens of women of color and allows young girls of color who may not be familiar with the original to connect with the new characters.
The original also lacked any significant LGBTQ characters, while Melonie Diaz’ character is reported to be a lesbian activist with a possible love interest in Ellen Tamaki’s character.
While the CW may not have the best track record with gay and lesbian characters, the queer representation in Black Lightning, and the most recent seasons of Legends of Tomorrow and Jane the Virgin, has been handled well.
Furthermore, judging from the trailer, the reboot is not trying to be a carbon copy of the original. The way the sisters magic is unlocked is different, the half sister is introduced in the pilot, the youngest sister can read minds, and there is an added mystery around their mothers death.
There are legitimate criticisms from POC about the reboot and about the way the feminist elements are handled but we don’t know enough about the show yet to judge. It would be a shame to condemn the reboot before the show is even on the air. There are numerous opportunities for the writers and producers to introduce elements of brujeria that would allow the reboot to have its own flare, apart from the original.
I won’t complain about a new openly feminist show targeted toward young women with three women of color in leading roles before I can judge the show as whole.