Charmed was a show from the 90s about three sister witches. It was a classic to some and others just another 90s flick, like Buffy or Angel. I feel the show had a lot more distinction then that. It did take a while for it to REALLY come into its own, but the story was always there. It was fairly well thought out and the characters were well-rounded. The Halliwell sisters were a pinnacle to its time. Despite being the 90s they distinctly showed the feminist zeal of today in the limited allowance they were given. The sisters were not only witches. They were hard-working women who balanced full careers and family life. They had men in their lives they loved, but it wasn’t just this all-consuming thing; love gave them balance, it didn’t “complete” them. They were first and foremost the Charmed Ones, the most powerful witches that ever were.
I think considering the time frame they did an exemplary job at the story. Could it have been more diverse or went over more topics? Sure, but most shows today still struggle with that. It’s hard to expect a show from 20 years ago to branch out when it’s only just barely begun today. I only say this because of the impending reboot that seems to be saying that the original Charmed didn’t even try. They did. (Small SPOILERS ahead) The girls had careers of their own that they didn’t give up for a man, that they worked hard for despite the toll of their roles as witches. Phoebe spent years in school during the show to get a degree. Piper balanced being a witch, a club owner, a wife, sole provider of the money more often then not and a mother. Prue had been a top curator of historical items. Paige was a social worker. And it that wasn’t feminist enough, one episode stands out when Phoebe makes a social stand at a business that wouldn’t let Piper breastfeed her child (who was covered to boot) in a very bold statement (naked on a horse). Did the girls have romances? Yeah. But I think where feminism sometimes goes wonky is in the thought that women shouldn’t care as much as we do about finding love. That’s not true. Love can be great, but as women we don’t always make the right choice (love is blind and all that). I think with the romances in Charmed they more then show that. It shows how complicated love can be and that sometimes when it feels the most right is when it’s the most wrong. But also that despite the relationships they could still be strong women as long as they were with someone who didn’t try and take that away from them.
With all that being said,, below are some synopses of the seasons. It is a good show and definitely worth a watch. Just remember that it was the 90s, they did their best but there are going to be a few hijinks and things that seem outdated.
The first season of this show was a bit slow and very 90s. There wasn’t the flow yet that later seasons would project, but it’s still enough to hook an audience to the unusual (at the time) story line. Throughout the next three seasons relationships and magic build between the sisters but there is still a lack of growth and depth that isn’t felt until later seasons. SPOILERS Ahead! Throughout the first three seasons Prue is the glue that holds that sisters together, but it feels a little empty. Watching this time, there just seems to be a disconnect on how Piper and Phoebe look up to Prue and how Prue actually acts. They view her as a mother, but through most of the show she feels more arrogant and bossy, then ‘motherly’. It’s clear through a few episodes that she doesn’t really view herself on the same level as her sisters. She seems to hold over them that she knew their mother longer, that they couldn’t possibly understand the full loss of their mother as they can barely remember her. I think this emotional separation keeps Phoebe and Piper from growing as witches and as women. They have been trained to rely on Prue for how they should react and what they should do, which ultimately turns Prue into the great “Charmed One” with her two sisters lagging behind. I liked Prue, don’t get me wrong, but I feel, in the end, it hurt the show more for her to be so disconnected from everything. She had her moments of sensitivity, but she’d always turn back to the way she acted before. A show needs emotional growth from the characters, especially a fantasy show like this needs to humanize the story and make it more real.
After Prue’s death the sisters are dealt a major blow. With her demon murderer still on the loose, the girls are faced with the extinction of the Charmed Ones and without their strongest sister as their leader. Their lives get even more complicated when they find out that their mom and her white-lighter (guardian angel of witches and future white-lighters) not only had a romance but a baby who they put up for adoption to protect her. They aren’t even able to process this as the demon who killed Prue goes after Paige, their half-sister.
Once the drama unfolds, the Charmed Ones are united once more. Paige is thrown for the loop of a lifetime. Not only does she have sisters, but she is also a witch. Piper has to become the strong big sister and Phoebe has to accept the role of the middle sibling. Together they have to figure out how to be sisters and witches in what feels like a whole new world of magic.
By season 5, though, they’ve grown together as sisters but they all have their own individual hurdles. Piper is faced with having a child of her own. Phoebe is struggling to find herself after her separation from Cole without relying on just being a witch. Paige struggles with finding her balance between her who she was and her desire to become a strong witch.
Season 6-8 FINAL
The girls have been through a lot at this point. Piper and Phoebe are especially feeling the weight of the years and it’s made them cynical to a happy future. Paige is coming into herself as both a witch and as a sister. The comradery between the sisters has grown to a comfortable level and all of them have matured. The last few seasons the sisters face some of their worst fears and battle against some of their most difficult enemies.
Season 8 is probably my least favorite, not only because it was a rushed finale, but the sisters seemed to lose themselves a little bit in the complex stories going on. They wrapped it up in a nice way that was fulfilling, but the season itself felt forced. The finale was definitely a whopper, but it would have been nice if WB (the channel company Charmed was on) would’ve given them a chance to work out the storylines a little better.