A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that classic sitcom Bewitched -- which revolves around a witch trying to live a regular mortal life in American suburbia -- reflects the values of the time, including some now-dated ideas about men and women's roles in society. Witchcraft is often used to both create conflict and resolve problems, and there's occasional cigar smoking and drinking (by adults). The tensions surrounding societal changes in America over the course of the show's run are subtly addressed -- but all of that will probably go over kids' head as they giggle at the nose twitches and silly scenarios.
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What's the story?
Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) is a witch who marries mortal Darrin Stephens (played by both Dick York and Dick Sargent) and tries to live a normal life in the suburbs. Despite her promise to Darrin not to use witchcraft, Samantha often finds herself casting spells with a twitch of her nose -- usually to undo the magical chaos created by meddlesome family members like her mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead), and her Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde). Their children, Tabitha (Erin Diane Murphy) and Adam (David Greg Lawrence), also inherit some witchy powers -- and further complicating things are Darrin’s overanxious boss, Larry Tate (David White), and the family’s nosy neighbor, Gladys Kravitz (played by both Alice Pearce and Sandra Gould). It gets pretty hectic, but Samantha always manages to work it all out in the end.
Is it any good?
BEWITCHED, which originally aired from 1964 to 1972, mixes supernatural fun with traditional family values and gender roles. But despite its focus on Samantha’s domestic role, the show does reflect some of the cultural changes of the time. Witches and witchcraft became metaphors for discussing contemporary issues like racial discrimination. Meanwhile, Samantha’s clothing -- which changed from classic ‘50s fashions to more hippie-like attire over the years -- offered subtle commentary about the country’s social transformation.
A testament to the show’s popularity is its longevity despite major modifications, including going from black and white to Technicolor and re-casting Darrin halfway through its eight-year run. And despite the fact that some of it now feels very dated, today’s Bewitched fans can still find humor in the show’s running gags. All of these things make the series -- along with Samantha’s unique nose twitch -- a memorable part of American TV culture.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how women's changing role in society has been depicted in the media over the years. How has that portrayal changed in the time since this show originally aired?
Why do some TV shows stay popular after major changes (like recasting key roles) while others lose viewers? Do you think it's a matter of luck, or are there other reasons?
If you had magical powers, do you think you'd be able to stop yourself from using them? Why or why not?
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