Writer/Producer Krista Vernoff Discusses Charmed’s Sexy Costume Choices and Ignites Conversation About Fan Service
It feels like when Charmed is in the news lately, it is always related to some kind of drama. Recently, Grey’s Anatomy producer and writer Krista Vernoff spoke about her experience working on the show’s fifth season.
“I signed on because Charmed was a girl-power show,” Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter, “and about halfway through, there was an episode where Alyssa Milano comes out in mermaid pasties and there was a huge spike in male viewership. And then every episode after, the question would come from the network, ‘How are we getting the girls naked this week?'”
This led to Vernoff feeling uncomfortable and, despite being offered money to continue, she decided it wasn’t a good fit for her. “And they were throwing money at me, and the number keeps going up, and there’s all this pressure, and all I can think is, ‘I’m creating something that’s now bad for the world, and I’ve had enough bad for the world in my life.'”
She has clarified this statement on Twitter, saying, “I want to clarify here for Charmed fans and also for my colleagues from Charmed who I love and admire, that I do not believe that the show was bad for the world. I felt that the objectifying notes were bad for the world – and were demoralizing for me. All love to Charmed.”
Actresses from the show, Holly Marie Combs Ryan and Alyssa Milano, both responded to the TV Line article that got a lot of attention on Twitter:
Also we all chose our outfits or lack thereof. 💯 The WB nor our producers ever controlled us or our choices after season 1. Cuz it was a good year for them. We changed dialogue at will and refused storylines when it was warranted. Our execs will attest to that as well I’m sure.
— Holly Marie Combs Ryan (@H_Combs) April 1, 2021
Well, this absolutely broke my heart. I hope we didn’t make something that was “bad for the world” for eight years. I think we gave permission to a generation of women to be themselves and to be strong and own their sexuality. I’m so proud of what this show meant to so many.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 1, 2021
Combs Ryan states that the actresses “chose our outfits or lack thereof” after season one and that they “changed dialogue at will and refused storylines when it was warranted.”
Milano said in her own tweet: “I think we gave permission to a generation of women to be themselves and to be strong and own their sexuality.”
As someone who grew up with Charmed’s later seasons and, as an adult, still loves those early 4 seasons, looking at it with a critical feminist eye makes it hard sometimes.
Sometimes being a critical feminist means holding the fact that two things can be true at the same time. The female actresses of Charmed had the power to own their sexuality, choose outfits they wanted, and sit in the power of leading one of the most popular shows on their network at that time. The outfits still fit into the male gaze and were fan service.
Being empowered by feeling sexy and the power to pick out your own clothes is beyond important, but in many ways, when I rewatch, some of the clothes they wore in the workplace … it just seems like “Who is this for?” Not just because it is 2000s-era clothing that seems really dated, but they are often in environments where it just feels sexy for the sake of it. A performance, not natural. Because it is, after all, an act.
That power doesn’t translate into power for all women to wear low rise jeans, and it doesn’t mean male executives weren’t super happy to objectify their leading actresses behind the scenes using that empowerment label.
(via TV Line, image: WB)
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