Unlike other shows (ahem, looking at you, Magnum P.I.), the multicultural witches of The CW’s new Charmed will be well-represented behind the camera as well, with a writers’ room that boasts not only Latinx writers, but a Latino witch writer.
The executive producers broke the news to journalists at the show’s panel at the Television Critics’ Association’s summer press tour Monday.
“[The writer] and his friends started a coven,” executive producer Jessica O’Toole explained onstage. “They get together once a week to do spells and put energy out there for goals they want to work on. It’s not that they think they can make things levitate, it’s about the spirit of that, the energy they put out.”
“Like putting out what you want to come back,” added Jennie Snyder Urman.
But there is a good diversity of belief systems in that writers’ room, too.
“We have people who really think if you manifest something it happens, we have more traditionally religious people in the room, we have skeptics,” said O’Toole. “It’s very much like what we’ll see on the show. It’s wonderful to hear what everyone thinks.”
The new Charmed revolves around three sisters—Mel (Melonie Diaz), Maggie (Sarah Jeffery) and Macy (Madeleine Mantock)—in a sleepy college town, who discover they’re witches.
It’s similar to the original series and plays upon the same themes, but it’s not a direct continuation, which has caused ongoing controversy, spurred on by original series star Holly Marie Combs and fans of the original series.
Combs and her supporters have lobbed heavy criticism at the reboot for not continuing the story of the Halliwell sisters and moving forward without the involvement of anybody from the original series.
The cast and crew came to their panel prepared with responses to the backlash that has dominated coverage of their show since its inception.
“There’s also been a lot of positive stuff coming out and I think we’ve collectively made a decision to focus on that,” said Diaz.
“We feel really lucky to be telling this story at this time,” said Jeffery. “We understand [the backlash], it’s such a sacred thing to so many people and so many passionate fans. We’re really gracious and grateful and excited.”
“We can’t help but be a little disappointed,” Mantock admitted. “I think the script is fantastic, and I really hope maybe [Holly will] see it and like it, but [the original show] was a large part of her life and she’s entitled to feel however she wants.”
The showrunners also addressed why they went with a whole new set of sisters rather than continue to tell the story of the sisters played by Combs, Shannon Doherty, Alyssa Milano, and Rose McGowan.
“That show wrapped everything up so wonderfully,” said executive producer Jessica O’Toole, who also credited the original show for allowing the reboot to exist. “They all got their happy endings, and there were even glimpses of their future. We felt like it told a complete story.”
The new Charmed Ones are multiracial, with a Latina mother and different fathers, and their various cultural and racial backgrounds will play a part.
“We will explore each of their unique heritages,” said Jennie Snyder Urman. “There’s interesting ways different cultures intersect with witchcraft, because there is a really rich tradition in a lot of different cultures, and we’re going to explore that.”
“Every culture has their tradition with witchcraft,” added Amy Rardin, “so we really wanted to get into all the different kinds of witchcraft that are represented in the world.”
To that end, the new Charmed abandons the original show’s mythos of the Charmed Ones casting spells by chanting rhyming couplets.
“Something about the rhyming felt like it belonged to [the original show],” Urman said. “Especially because we want to get into different languages and different cultures, we didn’t want to limit ourselves [to that].”
Like the original series, though, the three sisters have their own unique powers, and two of the actresses were jealous of their third onscreen sister, at first.
“I wanted [Madeleine’s] powers of telekinesis,” said Diaz. “I’m slowly learning to love my power, because [my character] is a control freak. She can stop time and have conversations with people, she says things she wouldn’t be able to say in real time. Like wow, what a great way to express herself.”
Similarly, Jeffery was underwhelmed with mind-reading at first: “At first I was like, really, mind-reading? I wanted to be able to fly things around. But oddly enough, I feel very close to Maggie in my personal life and there are a lot of parallels there. She’s an empath and I’m an empath and if I had a power, I feel like it would be mind-reading. So it’s kind of perfect.”
Charmed premieres October 14 on The CW, as the first—along with Supergirl—to be part of the network’s new Sunday night original programming.
(image: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images))
Linda Ge is a writer and freelance journalist. She was most recently the TV Editor at Tracking Board and before that spent three years as a TV Reporter at trade publication TheWrap.
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