Any news of a reboot either makes you want to jump for joy or cringe and ask, “Why?”
Many of us were on the fence when the CW announced a reboot of Charmed. Given the original show only ended its run in 2006, with a comic series extending the story until 2016, many fans were confused why the show needed a reboot in the first place.
While the reboot has received mixed reviews, that doesn’t make the show bad or irredeemable. There are good things being done in it, some of them better than the original. Change isn’t always bad and the Charmed reboot is a good example of taking a pre-existing universe and tweaking it for a new audience.
Here are ten things the Charmed reboot does better than the original show.
10 Location Change
To avoid backlash fueled by a sense of nostalgia, the team behind the reboot changed a lot of the details of the show. At first glance, the most apparent (aside from the lack of Halliwells) is where the new story takes place. While it remains a modern fantasy, the reboot is set in the fictional college town of Hilltowne, Michigan rather than San Francisco.
The shift works well if only to keep our suspension of disbelief in check. We don’t know the history of Vera Manor just yet, but all things considered, it probably wasn’t passed down through four generations of witches. Its location will probably come into play later, but for now, it’s much more believable that the Vera sisters’ parents bought a house in Michigan versus a house in Silicon Valley.
9 Student Sisters
Adding to the specific location change to a college town, the Charmed Ones put more of an emphasis on their educational pursuits. Macy has a Ph.D in molecular genetics, Mel is a graduate student in the women’s studies department, and Maggie is an undergraduate freshman who later majors in psychology.
Considering that the CW’s demographic is older teens/young adults, many of their viewers are most likely in some form of schooling or have recently completed their education. It’s encouraging to see three educated, bright women in a fantasy show and helps define their inventiveness. In the case of Macy, the science vs. magic struggle is real and a very believable reaction to any STEM field expert being placed in a fantasy setting.
8 Work/Life Balance
In the original Charmed, Piper was probably the most career-oriented of the sisters. As the series went on, we only really saw Piper working, though Phoebe was a columnist for the newspaper The Bay Mirror. Prue also worked, but died in the season three finale and was replaced by Paige at the start of the fourth season.
The Veras have more detail given to their personal and professional lives. Macy works full time in Hilltowne University’s lab and one of her challenges was finding a workaround to prevent layoffs. Mel starts as a graduate student, though she does drop out about halfway through the first season to regroup and reevaluate how she wants her life to be. Maggie joins a sorority and also waitresses, most likely for supplemental income. Hey, even if you own a house, you still have to pay the bills. And considering Macy’s lab was in hot water, she’s not going to be the sole breadwinner for two sisters paying off student loans.
7 Different Lore
Instead of drawing from the history of the Salem Witch Trials, the reboot’s lore is rooted in Greek mythology. Maybe it’s a cop out considering how extensive Greek mythology is and how often it’s used in media, but the reboot definitely needed to get away from the original lore in order to keep concepts fresh and allow the new team to do what they want.
Honestly, the change works surprisingly well. The prevalence of basic Greek mythology makes certain concepts strictly found in the Charmed universe easier to understand. Yeah, Tartarus would be used to trap bad witches. And given that we have many more women of color, getting away from old America was probably done in good taste. No need to bring Tituba into this.
6 Questioning the Elders
Like in the original, the Elders oversee all proceedings of the Charmed Ones. In this version, they are the oldest, most powerful witches in existence and like the sisters, have lives outside of magic. Charity, the Elder we see the most, is an entrepreneur who helps women in developing nations start their own business.
It’s not new to have the Charmed Ones disregard the Elders, but the Elders’ motives have already been brought into question. Though Marisol was part of the council, Jada claims that Marisol was also involved with the S’Arcana. So we don’t really know who to believe, which is honestly really fun. The Elders had a stigma against them anyways, why not play that up?
5 The Darkness Within
Some of the biggest criticisms about Prue’s character was that she was very hard to like. She was meant to be more abrasive and rough around the edges as compared to her sisters. But it could go overboard in certain situations and some of the character dynamics suffered from it.
The reboot strikes the right grey morality with Macy. As a baby, Macy was resurrected by Nancy the necromancer. Nancy struck a deal with demons. In order to resurrect someone, she would use demon blood, which would then turn the resurrected into a demon. Macy’s dark side is lightly explored and most likely will be expanded on farther down the road. The biggest difference between Macy and Prue is that Macy actively acknowledges what makes her who she is and reaches to understand her limits and what might tip her over the edge.
4 Early Serialization
One advantage the reboot has over the original is a pre-existing audience base. Charmed was a highly successful, critically acclaimed show, but it had to build up credibility and solidify its universe before launching into the overarching stories that it explored in later seasons. The reboot has a starting point and pre-built in-universe rules to abide by.
Due to the history, the reboot can and has begun serializing its story. We’re introduced to new characters, but we get the demon betrayal plot much sooner. It gives a purpose to season one outside of the Monster (or rather, Demon) of the Week setup and a direction for the overall plot and characters to go in, rather than having to figure it out farther down the line.
3 New Takes on Old Ideas
It’s not until season four of the original series that we’re introduced to half witch, half Whitelighter characters. That’s not the case with the reboot. Jada, a quasi-ex of Mel, is a Whitelighter-witch associated with the S’Arcana. Parker is half demon, trying to overcome his father’s desires for him due to his lover for Maggie.
We’re getting into characters, concepts, and plots very quickly which, in order to keep fans of the original, is necessary. Rather than having these ideas feel like fan service, it allows the seasoned Charmed nerd to theorize based on knowledge from the original and get excited for plots that can be done sooner rather than later. It’s a double-edged sword as the production team doesn’t want to squander all their ideas before we even hit a second season, but done correctly, it adds more twists for the newer fans and gives a nice nod to the older fans.
2 Harry Greenwood, Resident Whitelighter
Step aside, Leo. It’s time for Harry Greenwood. Harry is the Vera sisters’ Whitelighter. In his old life, he was first an actor and then part of the British Secret Service. Upon his death, he was chosen to be a Whitelighter. In order to get the sisters together, he posed as a professor and chair of the women’s studies department at Hilltowne University. Currently, he struggles with maintaining his Whitelighter abilities and overcoming his entomophobia (fear of insects).
Harry’s role as Whitelighter takes on a bit more of a parental role rather than as a potential love interest. And unlike Leo, the sisters help with his emotional baggage from the beginning. He relies on the sisters just as much as they rely on him and as a result, have a really nice adoptive family dynamic going on. Harry’s also given a majority of the comedic beats, which is a wonderful juxtaposition to his general demeanor and the role of The Elders.
1 Diversity and Intersectionality
In the initial launch of the reboot, the marketing team definitely overstepped their boundaries by calling the reboot “more feminist.” We’re all in agreement that the original was plenty feminist. The Halliwells were capable, intelligent women with the fate of the world in their hands. However, the original really didn’t have a lot of women of color or people of color in general. In an age of constant progression and a push for a wider variety of voices, it’s something the reboot knew it had to take into consideration and did.
Yes, the reboot misstepped along the way, but it does embrace diversity and intersectionality. The Charmed Ones are educated women of color and many of the recurring characters are people of color, such as Jada, Niko, and Galvin. Mel is also a lesbian and isn’t afraid to show her affection in public. The marketing team didn’t jump on pushing that aspect as much, which is good. Being part of the LGBT+ community shouldn’t be the definition of a character, just one of the many aspects that contributes to who they are.