Charmed Roundtable: The Original Vs The Reboot

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the OG Charmed debut. And with the reboot premiering tonight, it made us stop and think about what the original show meant to an entire generation of fans, and what having a reboot made now means to us. A lot of us here at Writes of the Roundtable were huge fans of the original show and grew up watching the Halliwell sisters kick some serious demon ass.

The whole debacle that has ensued since it was announced they were making a new Charmed has really affected us, so we just had to sit down and talk about it. So sit back, relax and come discuss all things Charmed with us.

Were you a fan of the original Charmed? What did it mean to you?

Luciana Mangas: Charmed has a special place in my heart. It was my first show, my first experience with fandom. I was a huge fan. I started watching it when I was 12, and I was obsessed with it. More than anything, I wanted to be a witch. I loved everything about it — the characters, the relationships, the action. It wasn’t even about the romance aspect of it, not really. What I loved was watching the dynamics between the sisters and how they were learning and growing together. To be honest, I didn’t even know what shipping was back then.

But this show was my safe space. I am the youngest of three girls; and, at the time, I could relate so much to the show (and I was also convinced I just had to be a witch with amazing powers, too). And not only that, but the core of the show was about women and sisterhood and what it meant to be a woman in the 21st century, and that was a really rare find for a young girl like me.

Of course, the Halliwells were witches. They had powers and fought against demons and warlocks, but they were still young women, learning to navigate life. I learned so much with Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige, and they still are — to this very day — my happy place. It’s been nearly 20 years since I first started on this journey, but they’re still a source of comfort for me.

Lizzie Lanuza: I was, yes. A very big fan. Reading fanfic kinda fan. And now that I think about it, my favorite part was always that this wasn’t a romance, not first and foremost. This was about sisters. About strong women. I don’t think there were enough shows like that when I was growing up, shows that sent the message that women were more than whoever they chose to love.

Sarah Thomas: One hundred percent, yes. Charmed is still one of my favorite shows and still holds a special place in my heart. I’ll never forget the experience of going on the journey with the Halliwells during those years. It meant a lot growing up to see these amazing women lead a show where they had badass powers, but always fought to live their own lives while battling evil. It was the first show that inspired me to look for fanfiction because I loved Piper and Leo so much. I didn’t know the word shipping back then, but Piper and Leo were one of my first, and still one of my all-time favorite, OTPs. Collectively, the entire story was such a ride that I’ll always cherish learning what women are capable of — though I admit I always wished I had Piper’s power to freeze time.

Shana Lieberman: I kind of casually watched Charmed when it first started airing. The year after I graduated from college, though, it was airing in syndication; and I had to watch it every single day — all the episodes, all the way through. At that point in my life, I was kind of feeling powerless and alone in a lot of ways; and watching the Halliwell sisters save the world, all while dealing with some pretty messy real life stuff, was a great escape for me. I kind of feel like, since Buffy was no longer airing new episodes at that point, those daily Charmed reruns filled a hole in my life that desperately needed filling. I was able to appreciate the series a lot more when I felt like it wasn’t somehow “competing” with my other favorite.

What was your reaction when you found out they were remaking Charmed?

Luci: I’ll be honest here: I was reticent from the get-go. I mean, at first, I was super excited. But then, when I realized it was going to be something completely different and not at all related to the original story, I just felt…I don’t know. Kind of betrayed? I have had very conflicting feelings about this whole thing.

Lizzie: I was excited. I have nothing against reboots, and a new version of my favorite with a diverse cast? I thought, “Sign me up!”

Sarah: I was kind of divided in my reaction, to be honest. Part of me was not surprised, given we live in the land of TV reboots these days, but I was also skeptical given how much I love the original Charmed. I decided to keep an open mind and see where this take on the series would go. If the show sucks, at least I’ll still have the original.

Shana: I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of, “keep it.” Come up with some new ideas, Hollywood; and stop messing with my wasted youth.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the reboot, and some of the original cast members and fans were not happy with how things were handled. What’s your take on that?

Luci: My problem with how things were handled at first was that it felt like they weren’t respecting the original. If it’s a complete reboot with a completely different story and different characters that are not at all related to the Halliwells, why would you call it Charmed? Why not just make a new, separate thing, you know?

And then they were promoting the new series by saying that it had a “feminist” spin to it, like the original wasn’t about three kickass, powerful, strong and independent women who always had each other’s backs. I grew up watching that show, and it was a big, big part of my life as a teenager. I wasn’t completely aware at the time, but looking back, I am so beyond happy that I had those four witches as role models, who were influencing my life for good during the most formative years of my life.

So, to have this new team come and promote their show as something new and different — as if those amazing women didn’t exist at all — really hurt. But I tried to get over it because my curiosity was stronger. I have yet to watch the premiere, but I heard good things about it and am reserving judgement until I can see it for myself.

I was almost excited until the “not latinx” bomb dropped this week. Damn it, you guys. Why would you promote a show, saying it’s going to feature three latinx witches, and then you don’t cast three latinx actresses? Please explain to me how that works because I’m pretty sure it’s not for a lack of latinx talent out there. Now, it just sounds like it was latinx representation baiting and ugh. WHY? Why would you do that?

I’ll still watch and review the new Charmed, but I will admit that I’m not holding my breath here.

Lizzie: Look, my ONE main gripe with this Charmed reboot is that they promoted a lie. They said they were giving us an all latinx-reboot, and they didn’t cast three latinx actresses. Then, they lied — or, at the very least, obscured the truth — to make it seem like they had.

This isn’t my interpretation; this is a fact. I was there at SDCC sitting in front of the EP, asking her a representation question. Shana was sitting next to me. So, that hurts. The whole thing that had me excited about this was the possibility of taking a show I loved but that was, to be honest, very white, and making it feel like I belonged. But now, with the problematic casting and the lies, well, it changes EVERYTHING.

Sarah: Once the details about the show started coming out, the reaction of the original cast members felt entirely appropriate, honestly. Given how beloved and overall damn well done the original was, I expected they’d take the Charmed reboot into an entirely different direction to set themselves apart. Instead, they took the same basic plot and stood on a selling point of diversity and feminism. Look, the original may not have been diverse, but don’t you dare say it was not feminist.

That left a bad taste in my mouth; and now, come to find out, even the diversity has been tainted. One of the actresses admitted they were not latinx, and it just felt like spitting in the face of everyone who was looking forward to the show having truly diverse representation. I don’t fall under that demographic, so I can’t speak from that point of view — but I know damn well it can’t be from a lack of choice in latinx actresses. To say it’s diverse and then pull this crap completely flies in the face of what they claimed they were trying to do.

Shana: To be honest, the whole, “we’re feminist now” attitude really disgusted me. For the time that the original series aired, Charmed was feminist as fuck. To make matters even worse, there was the bit Holly Marie Combs shared on twitter about the original cast somehow being told they were “too old.” Ageism isn’t a good look, folks. Like, seriously, keep it.

To quote my number one slasher heroine, Sidney Prescott, “you forgot the number one rule of remakes, [Charmed]: Don’t fuck with the original.”

Are you going to watch the Charmed reboot? If you are, are you excited? What do you think they can bring to the table now, twenty years later?

Luci: Eh. I wouldn’t say I’m excited. I went from reticent, to curious, to cautiously optimistic and then to furious after it got out that they had not cast three latinx actresses. I am going to watch it because I’m reviewing it, but like I said — not exactly holding my breath here.

I do think that they can address current issues, and maybe it can be a great show for young girls now — if they do it right.

Lizzie: Yes, because I have to review it and because if someone’s gonna trash it every week, it should be someone who feels this personally. But I am not excited anymore, no. I’ll try to enjoy Mel, at least. I think they can still bring some of the sisterhood feels and some sense of female empowerment; it’s just all going to be tainted now.

Sarah: I am going to watch because I do believe wholeheartedly in seeing television for myself before making a final judgment call, but I’m not brimming with excitement — that’s for sure. Despite all the reasons I have to believe the Charmed reboot won’t be good, I’m going to try to put that mindset away and let the show speak for itself. I’m hoping it’ll bring fans into a new generation of witches, sisters, and awesome ladies on screen; but we’ll have to see if it can weave some magic into its story.  

Shana: I’ll watch because I felt a much better, much more respectful, vibe from the creator when I was at SDCC than in any of the previous press combined. (Yes, I can confirm that I sat next to Lizzie while she asked Jennie Snyder Urman questions about diversity…which were, apparently, answered somewhat misleadingly?)

At the end of the day, it will be nice to see a more diverse cast — even if it is, apparently, not even the type of “diverse” we were originally sold. With that being said, I’m going to be watching the new Charmed a lot more critically than I would have, had the press been more honest and respectful all along.

I truly hope, for this generation’s sake, that this new Charmed can find a way to bring back that old magic (for lack of a better word). We all need an escape right now, and young women, in particular, need to know that we can make a difference. Who better than three badass sister witches to show us that?

Charmed premieres tonight, October 14, at 9/8C on The CW.

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Luciana Mangas

30-something Brazilian journalist. Crazy about TV. Currently in love with DC and Marvel superheroes, that tattooed lady from NBC, clone conspiracies and dystopian futures. You can reach her at @lucianamangas on Twitter and talk about how much you love TV as well. Or puppies. Puppies are cool too.

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