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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Charmed is a reboot of a 1990s series of the same name that involves a trio of sisters who discover they have magical powers and need to hold off world-threatening demon attacks. The show is similar to the original in setup but has some changes: the three leads are now all women of color, one of the women is an out lesbian, and feminist issues such as consent frequently play a part in plotlines. Violence is frequent, not too intense, and generally supernatural: people who turn suddenly into demons with scary makeup, otherworldly bolts of lightning, onscreen deaths with little blood and no gore. Both adults and underage college students drink, and refer to being drunk or loaded. References to sex and same- and opposite-sex kissing, including in bed, is frequent, though the camera cuts away before sex happens. Language: "damn," "hell," "goddammit" and some gendered insults: "slutty." Women are strong and powerful in this show, and often have to join together to protect others, a powerfully positive message that will resonate with teens and twentysomethings.
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What's the story?
Based on the earlier series of the same name, CHARMED picks up in the fictional college burg Hilltowne, where sisters Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery) have just lost their mother Marisol (Valerie Cruz) under very mysterious circumstances. But when the Vera sisters discover they have a secret older half-sister, Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Mantock), things really get strange. Suddenly, Mel has the power to freeze time, Maggie the power to read minds, and Macy the power to move objects, and all three seem to be under attack by the same demonic forces that killed Marisol. Thankfully, the sisters have an advisor, Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans) to clue them in: thanks to the "power of three," together the sisters must fight to fend off the demons that never stop trying to attack humanity.
Is it any good?
Even fans of the original who are put out by the significant changes made to their cult-fave witchy TV series will have to admit this reboot has, well, charm. The retooled trio of sisters have chemistry and comic chops, particularly Mel and Maggie, who look like sisters, bicker like sisters, and have each other's back when the chips are down (and demons with giant black eyes are breaking through to your dimension), like sisters. Truth be told, the original Charmed was a silly show, a Buffy knockoff that never reached Buffy's heights of meta-storytelling. But its attraction wasn't that it was great TV, it was that it was fulfilling TV, a sweet fantasy about bad guys who weren't so bad that they couldn't be conquered by a trio of women who had to join together to be truly powerful.
In the #MeToo era, it's a fantasy that's especially attractive, and the new Charmed has particular appeal for a modern woke audience: as an out-and-proud lesbian and feminist, Mel does much of the heavy lifting here, like when she reminds a female partygoer making out on a couch "When it comes to consent you can change your mind at any time." It's a message that might make viewers want to cheer, particularly when it comes around again in the end, when Maggie's able to defeat a former boyfriend/stalker demon who tries to bully her into a fatal kiss by reminding her she'd already kissed him before, so she can't say no now. Wrong! Die, demon! As the sisters join hands and powers and always come up on top, this goofy little show becomes a potent exercise in wish fulfillment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why shows about people with supernatural powers are popular on TV. What about these types of setups are appealing to viewers? Where's the attraction? Do you enjoy shows about otherworldly happenings or people?
The characters in Charmed place a great deal of importance on integrity, working as a team, and learning to sacrifice for the greater good. Families can talk about how they apply those values in their own lives. What do they consider the greater good?
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