So, I’m just finished re-watching ‘Charmed’ – all 8 series – and I still love it now as much as I did when I discovered it in year 9 (ish) at school. The idea that magic existed had just been thrown into the mainstream by J.K Rowling and the Hogwarts lot the year before Charmed made it’s TV debut.
This was a different kind of magic though, sure there was still spells and potions but there were no wands, broomsticks or cloaks. It was brought into the ‘real world’ making the battle between good and evil, the sisters trying to balance mortal life with supernatural life in the battle for the greater good; 3 sisters in a battle to save innocents from the various evils of the world. As the youngest of 3 sisters you can imagine what my vivid imagination and I were dreaming up.
I have enjoyed it as much as normal but this time around I took something different from it. Ordinarily I take the episodes at face value, and because I don’t normally marathon-watch them, I hadn’t seen the subtle messages that underlie the series, and who can blame me? Not only was I teenage and not looking for ‘deeper’ messages, when you were watching it just once a week – with months between seasons – it’s easy to miss. This time though, I found some constant themes that really resonated with me, and make me think. We all know that is a dangerous thing because it normally results in a blog….oops!
- Wanting a ‘normal’ life doesn’t make you selfish.
Throughout all the seasons of the show we see the sisters struggle with balancing their work for the ‘greater good’ and their want of a ‘normal’ life. This is a common topic of conversation after (spoiler alert!) Prue dies at the end of Season 3. At this point the focus is on Piper a lot with her trying to have the marriage, career and children whilst fighting demons on a weekly basis. She becomes tired of the juggling act. This want for a ‘normal’ life comes to a head at the end of season 7 and season 8.
What these episodes teach us is this: wanting a ‘normal’ life does not make you a selfish person. It makes you human. You may have an obligation to someone or something, a job, a situation or, like the sisters, an obligation to help people but only you can decide where to draw the line. If you can no longer give your whole self to it because your priorities have changed – as is quite natural as we get older – that is ok. Sometimes you have to put yourself first.
There is no bond on earth greater than that of sisters. If you have a sister or a sister-like person in your life, you will know it’s an unbreakable bond. Even though they piss you off, and know every way to annoy you, you’d still not be without them. It’s like, I can trash talk my sisters as much as I want but if you join in or do it, you better run for cover ‘cause I will bust a cap in yo’ ass. You know what I mean?
Charmed showed us the power of this bond on-screen before we even realised it ourselves. Their sisters unit was tested time and time again and it never faulted, or if it did, it came back as quickly as it went – their magic became even more powerful when they banded together as ‘The Power of Three’. Irving Berlin once wrote “Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister…” he was definitely on to something there.
3. Real life relationships are not like fairy tales
Disney, I’m looking at you here! Hollywood, you also have a lot to answer for. Girls grow up with the ‘happily ever after’ notion in their head – you can’t blame us, we’re force fed it from a young age. Charmed however, portrayed all the relationships honestly (except maybe the time when Piper fell in love with a Ghost, that might be a bit of a stretch).
There were many great love affairs throughout the season, the biggest (and arguably best) one was Piper and Leo. It was never black and white, it was never easy, they both had to make sacrifices to make it work, they overcame huge hurdles, at times you thought those hurdles would be the end of them. It was completely realistic, and heartbreaking at times, to watch the way their individual stories tore them apart. It was completely heartwarming and uplifting seeing when they were then brought them back together.
Prue and Andy showed us that real love always come back around, and that when you love someone giving your life for them is not a real sacrifice. They showed us that it is normal to be scared, it is normal to be scared of being vulnerable, but when you overcome that it can be the best thing in the world. They showed us that sometimes loving each other isn’t enough to keep you together.
Phoebe and Cole showed us that some love is steamy and passionate, captivating but that doesn’t always spell happily ever after. Phoebe craved that when she was young in the early seasons, age and experience taught her that what she really craved was a mature love – like the one she had with Coop.
Paige showed us that the end game you envisaged (Greg) doesn’t always work out, you can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed (Richard) and that you normally find true love in the most unexpected way (Henry).
- We all feel ‘lost’ from time to time
You see all the sisters go through this at some point. Hell, you even see the guys go through it too. Leo and Cole when they give up their powers, Paige when she is trying not to lose her identity after marrying Henry, Piper when Leo leaves (every time), Billie when she loses, finds and loses her sister, Phoebe when she loses her husband and… well pretty much the whole of seasons 1,2,3 and 4.
Out of all of these I love watching Phoebe’s fight through her twenties – she comes back from New York with nothing and is continually lost, trying to find her place in San Francisco, in the family, in the world. By season 8 she’s a grown ass woman (Beyoncé would be proud).
- I LOVE CUPID
I learnt this this time around. Cupid a.k.a Coop is completely lickable. I mean, just look at him..
Of course there are other lessons in there, like don’t fall in love with the source of all evil, and you can always count on a demon to double cross you but I think these are the main ones, especially number 5. Number 5 is very important. Charmed is not only badass TV – if you’ve never watched it do it, it’s super-smashing-great! It also showed us that your life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be happy. Happiness comes from accepting the things in life that you can’t control, and that we shouldn’t take for granted the amazing things that happen anyway.