In Beyonc&'s universe, girls might run the world, but in Hollywood, the surge of witch-centric stories on TV and in movies is indicative of who runs that town, so to speak. Debashine Thangevelo takes a closer at how Witches of East End, a new series on M-Net Series Showcase, slots into this trend...
BONDING with a show is great. The only draw- back for aficionados of all things supernatural is finding a suitable programme to fill the void when a series ends.
In keeping with the theme at hand, it has never been easy to satiate the appetite of fans of cult series like True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural.
Thankfully, Hollywood writers’ creativity has spilt over into new and ingenious offerings that are helping in that regard.
Right now, witches seem to be all the rage.
Looking back, we have been conditioned to have a negative perception of witches from watching fairy tales like Snow White. But there has been a paradigm shift since TV shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed.
Our favourite TV series these days – The Originals, Sleepy Hollow and season three of American Horror Story: Coven – offer devilishly creepy and addictive storylines with witches being the anchor. And the big screen releases such as Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters, Bewitched and even Disney’s Frozen propel this fascination even further.
Now Witches of East End joins the fray with a very stylish cast to boot: Julia Ormond spearheads the line-up as Joanna Beauchamp, the mother of two next-generation witches (played by Jenna Dewan Tatum and Rachel Boston) who have yet to discover their magical powers and learn about their Asgardian heritage.
This comedy-drama that delves into the supernatural and fantasy realms has already been given the green light for a second season, which speaks to its popularity.
Interestingly, the show also features some dreamy eye-candy in the form of Eric Winter (better known as Rex Brady in Days of Our Lives) and model-turned-actor newcomer, Daniel Di Tomasso.
Creator Maggie Friedman shed more light on the show, which was inspired by Melissa de la Cruz’s best-seller of the same name, in a chat with Collider.com.
She hinted that family and family values are very much at the core of the series – that’s the anchor of Witches of East End, as it explores the generation gap and issues between a mother and her daughters as well as the mother’s relationship with her younger sister, Wendy.
De La Cruz said: “What makes it different, I think, from other witch shows is that it’s very much centred on this family (the Beauchamps). It’s about mothers and daughters. It’s about sisters. It’s about a multi-generational family. It’s four distinct women, and how they each deal with their powers and gifts. And I don’t think we have seen a show like that.
“Julia’s character is a mom who has to learn how to let go of her daughters, let them make mistakes and put them in harm’s way – but that’s part of the learning process.”
Given the book’s popularity, the creator says they didn’t want to make name changes for the TV series, hence they kept the title.
On whether fans will appreciate the TV series, she said: “It’s a little bit different. I think what’s the same is that, at the core, it’s the mother-daughter relationship, and it’s the sister relationships. We have a great love triangle with Jenna’s character. And that stays very close to the book. But the Wendy character is new. She’s very dear to my heart. She’s that crazy aunt that we all either have or wish that we had.
“Another big difference with the book is that, when we begin, the girls don’t know what they are. It’s about them coming into their gifts and discovering them and learning how to use their powers. That’s really compelling, as an ongoing storyline, and that was a change I wanted to make.”
As for the question of immor- tality: each character bears his or her own gifts and curses and way of facing death. Obviously, keeping them all alive for as long as possible is the key.
But I’m confident viewers will be immensely Charmed with this new series. Even better, it fills the void of Sleepy Hollow. Now that’s spellbinding stuff!
• Witches of East End airs on M-Net Series Showcase (DStv channel 113) on Monday at 8pm.