Erasure, Latinx Representation, & the Charmed Reboot

Charmed -- "Pilot"-- Image Number: CMD101c_0494rb.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera, Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera and Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Last night, the Charmed reboot series aired its pilot episode, and overall, it was very Tumblr-speak and has a lot of potential, but the controversies surrounding it have done more harm than good to what the series is trying to be.

When you want to frame your show as one of inclusion, diversity, and having a desire to engage in progressive politics—all things this rebooted Charmed series has wanted to project—then I would usually assume you understand that representation and diversity isn’t just about putting people of color on the screen interchangeably. For months, the Charmed reboot has framed itself as a Latina rebooted version of Charmed, and as we reported last week, that is not the case, with only one of the three actresses actually being Latina.

Kate Sanchez, discussing the issue with this misinformation on the site But Why Tho?, spoke about her (and many other POC’s) skepticisms about these diverse new reboots: “I find it hard to see diverse reboots as little more than money grabs that are empty. But even in the emptiness of it all, we keep seeing studios and companies gain social media successes just by announcing casts and instead of looking at the tradition of mistreatment we celebrate them with no critique.”

In looking at the writer’s room for Charmed, it is indeed diverse, and one of the writers/executive producers, Amy Rardin, told The Hollywood Reporter, “we have one token straight white dude on our staff, who is a very lovely, open person. But every other person on our staff is a person of color, is part of the LGBTQ community. I feel like it’s important to have an inclusive staff to tell those stories, to make them personal and specific.”

And if you want to make these stories personal and specific, why not then cast personally and specifically? The reality of what it means to be Afro-Latina/Latina is different and varied, depending on which ethnic background you are from, and all that comes together and is important if you are trying to create accurate representation.

Patrick Gomez, from Entertainment Weekly, wrote in an op-ed that “In another life, I was an actor who regularly went on auditions. Basically, half the time they were in Spanish and half the time they were for characters of Middle Eastern descent. It’s a problem that agents, managers, casting directors, and executives think that having similar skin color makes actors from completely different backgrounds are interchangeable. But the alternative is having a sign on the door that says “Whites Only.” And I think we can all agree that’s not a good look.”

Except it doesn’t have to say, “Whites only.” It can say, “Latinx actors only.” How many people of color get locked out of casting rooms that are casting for “whites only,” even when they don’t explicitly say so? If this series wanted to get the representation credit for writing Latinx characters, then they should make the effort to cast Latinx actors, which is well within their abilities. Hollywood has to do better, not only just to get those “personal and specific” stories, but also for the other deeply important issue: money.

Diversity and representation are also about giving actors of color jobs and career opportunities. Afro-Latinx actors like Gina Torres (Afro-Cuban), have been outspoken about how their Latinx identity gets erased because of their blackness, and the colorism that they have faced because of that. Hell, this clip, Gina Torres is at the American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) Awards, and the reporter speaks to her in English at first.

I certainly don’t wish ill upon Charmed, and for the most part, I was rooting for it, even as I watched the pilot. It wasn’t perfect, but it was just the first episode, and there’s time for it to find its footing. Yet, the fact that there has been so much deliberate misinformation from the powers that be, and so little done to correct that, is a problem.

I hope the show will try to correct these things, because there’s a lot here that could be good, but ultimately, white executives need to realize that our marginalization is not something for them to profit from without having consideration for those identities at every level. They also don’t get to erase or downplay the identities of other women of color to fit them into a colorist box. Erasure is not suddenly representation just because any  person of color is cast, especially when the goal is to tell a specific story.

We’ll see where Charmed goes next, but I’d highly recommend listening to Latinx voices while we are having this discussion.

(image: Katie Yu/The CW)

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Supergirl’s Politically Charged Premiere Takes on Alt-Right Violence, Immigration, and Privilege

melissa benoist

The fourth season of Supergirl premiered last night, with one of the most politically charged episodes in the entire series’ run. The show has always maintained a level of political awareness, most notably with Kara’s alien origins as a metaphor for immigrant rights, and the treatment of aliens by the U.S. government. The episode, titled “American Alien,” brings the aliens-as-immigrants theme to the main stage, centering it as a major story arc for the season. It also delves deeper into themes of privilege, passing, and alt-right violence.

The episode opens with a montage of Supergirl around the world, saving citizens and and receiving thanks and admiration from the people of Earth. For Kara, humanity has never been more welcoming, and as the anniversary of the Alien Amnesty Act approaches, she shrugs off the warnings of her mentor, J’onn J’onzz.

J’onn, who has left the DEO to live among the people, sees a rising tide of anti-alien sentiment and hate crimes against aliens. J’onn’s alien support group debates the issue, especially in light of a new LuthorCorp invention that allows aliens to disguise themselves as human. While some group members believe the invention helps them gain employment and acceptance, one outspoken alien (sporting pointy ears and arm tusks) argues that they shouldn’t have to assimilate to be accepted.

Kara’s privilege blinds her to this ongoing debate and the rise of anti-alien prejudice. It’s easy to assimilate as an alien when you look like a beautiful, white, cisgender woman (the “constantly saving people” thing doesn’t hurt, either). Kara’s privilege, combined with her unfailing optimism, has left her majorly oblivious. She doesn’t experience prejudice, and more importantly, she desperately wants to believe that humanity is the best it’s ever been.

For someone who has dedicated her life to protecting Earth, Kara is shockingly ignorant of the darker side of humanity. It takes an attack on the alien bar, as well as a confrontation with a room full of computer screens set to 4chan (which was a little on the nose, but Supergirl has never been a subtle show), for her to acknowledge the uptick in anti-alien prejudice.

The realization coincides with the season’s Big Bad, as Mercy Graves (Rhona Mitra) and her brother, Otis (Robert Baker), pull off a plan to expose President Marsdin (Lynda Carter) as an alien. This is a reveal we’ve been waiting for since Marsdin first appeared as an alien in season two, and the fallout of the president’s exposure will surely kick alien prejudice into overdrive (and possibly create a constitutional crisis).

We also got a look at Agent Liberty (Sam Witwer), who heads up the Children of Liberty, a human-first hate group that will likely play a major role moving forward. It’s refreshing to see Supergirl lean into its political themes, which feel more timely and compelling than ever (and are a welcome break from the Mon-El drama of the past two seasons).

It’s also a smart move to remember Kara’s humanity and career as a journalist, by setting more scenes at CatCo and having Kara mentor rookie reporter Nia Nal (Nicole Maines, who will become television’s first trans superhero). So much of Supergirl’s story is the dueling roles of Kara Danvers and Kara Zor-El, which will no doubt become an even bigger storyline when her mysterious Russian/Kaznian doppleganger surfaces. All in all, “American Alien” was a strong debut for the new season, and we’re excited to see where season four takes us.

(image: Bettina Strauss/The CW)

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The Haunting of Hill House is a Ghost Story About a Family Haunted by Trauma

the haunting netflix

The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix’s latest adaptation of the beloved Shirley Jackson novel, gives us a stunning and foreboding look at the titular haunted house. The Gothic mansion is large, with long hallways, heavy wood paneling, and ornate details in every inch of the house. The door knobs are gilded with lion faces, and the property is strewn with menacing sculptures. But the house, at turns both enormous and claustrophobic, isn’t the focus of the series. This isn’t a haunted house series, it’s a series about how moments of trauma can linger within a family like a disease, poisoning each member in a painfully specific way.

While Jackson’s original novel takes place almost entirely inside the mansion, the series uses the novel as a jumping-off point to explore the dysfunctional dynamics of the Crain family, past and present. Hill House follows Hugh (Henry Thomas) and Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino) and their five children as they move into the house in the 1980’s. The Crains plan to flip the house and re-sell it, but a family tragedy forces them to flee the house. Years later, the adult siblings are still haunted by their experience in the house, a trauma that manifests itself in a variety of different ways.

Eldest sibling Steve (Michiel Huisman) is a writer who investigates paranormal activity but doesn’t believe in ghosts. He explains his rationale to a women haunted by her dead husband, saying “A ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.”

His responsible, type-A sister Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser) deals with ghosts in a different way, by running a funeral home with her husband. Their younger sister Theodora (Kate Siegel) numbs her pain with casual sex with a revolving door of women, but keeps people at an arm’s length due to her touch-based psychic abilities. And the youngest twins, Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Nell (Victoria Pedretti) suffer from drug addiction and depression, respectively.

Part of what makes the series so effective is it’s unreliable narration: the siblings each recall the events of their childhood differently, with their experiences defining how they process their respective trauma. As the show bounces back and forth between the 1980’s and present day, the story unfolds and reveals the secrets and shame that each character carries with them.

It’s not the ghosts that haunt the Crain family, but the shared trauma that they are unable to process separately. While the show leans heavily on family drama, there are plenty of scares to be had. Writer/director Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game) builds a foreboding sense of dread in every scene, that creeps through the plot and makes even the mundanity of everyday life seem suspect.

Flanagan artfully combines the classic hallmarks of a haunted house story (locked doors, creepy shadows, slowly turning doorknobs) with a refreshingly modern family melodrama to create a series that is both moodily atmospheric and genuinely heartbreaking. If you’re in the mood for slow burn horror and strong performances, The Haunting of Hill House is a powerful entry in the televison horror genre.

(image: Netflix)

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Natalie Portman Gives Powerful Speech on Gender Parity in Hollywood

Variety’s Power of Women luncheon brought together the women of Hollywood for a moving discussion of gender parity, Time’s Up, and the #MeToo Movement. Natalie Portman, along with fellow honorees Emma Gonzalez, Tiffany Haddish, Regina King, and Lena Waithe, took the stage to give voice to the anger and frustration felt by women in the industry, while touching on the universal struggles all women in the workplace endure.

In her speech (which is well worth watching in full), Portman discussed her dismay with the Kavanaugh confirmation, while also lamenting the fact that a year has gone by since the Harvey Weinstein story broke, and Weinstein remains free (with one charge dropped). She then discusses the pervading myth that women drop out of competitive workplace environments to have children, when the reality is that most mothers not only want to continue working … they must continue working to support their family. Portman said, “It’s much more likely for a woman to stay in her job for her children, than leave for her children … let’s stop saying that women are choosing to drop out of the work force because of their families, that’s wrong.”

Portman continued, saying “the reason women in nearly every industry are not represented in powerful positions is because women are being discriminated against or retaliated against for hiring and for promotion.” Because of this widespread discrimination, Portman said that the most important part of the Time’s Up movement was launching their legal defense fund, and cited a defamation lawsuit that Brett Ratner and his lawyer Marty Singer had filed against Melanie Kohler, who had accused the director of misconduct. Once Time’s Up funded Kohler’s defense, the case was quickly dropped. Portman said of Ratner, “He saw that she could not be bullied legally just because he has hundreds of millions of dollars and she does not.”

The actress also urged the audience not just to hire women, but to create a workplace that’s representative of all races, ages sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities. “If any group you are part of only has people that look like you, change that group. Be embarrassed if everyone in your workplace looks like you.”

She also urged the audience to “gossip well”, and avoid the career-damaging tropes of the “crazy and difficult” woman, saying “If a man says a woman is crazy or difficult, ask him, ‘What bad thing did you do to her?’ That’s a code word. He is trying to discredit her reputation.”

Portman finished her speech by urging the audience to help more women in the industry with a powerful call to arms:

“Many men are behaving like we live in a zero-sum game. That if women get the respect, access and value we deserve, they will lose. But we know the message of the mammaries: The more milk you give, the more milk you make,” Portman explained. “The more love you give, the more love you have. And the same can be said of fire. When you light someone else’s torch with your own, you don’t lose your fire, you just make more light and more heat.”

(via Variety, image: screengrab)

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Liyana Finds Hope and Healing in the Power of Storytelling

Every culture in the world has their own fairy tales, stories handed down from generation to generation. These myths often serve as the origin story of a people, or as lessons to guide and educate the children of the community. But what happens when that childhood is cruelly ripped away, through trauma and hardship and violence? Where are the stories for those children?

Liyana explores the therapeutic properties of storytelling and myth-making in an orphanage in Swaziland. There, a group of young children work with acclaimed South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe to craft a folk tale about a young girl, Liyana. After Liyana’s parents die of HIV/AIDS, her younger twin brothers are kidnapped during a brutal robbery. This sets Liyana on a hero’s journey as travels through the countryside, battling fierce creatures and cruel men to rescue her brothers.

Swaziland, a small landlocked country in South Africa, has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. With an estimated 27% of adults living with HIV, the disease has had devastating effects on the country, leading to tens of thousands of children orphaned from the disease.

The Swazi children collaborated on creating the story, which is then beautifully animated by artist Shofela Coker. The film is directed by married team Aaron and Amanda Kopp. Aaron had previously worked on The Hunting Ground, an Academy Award nominated documentary about sexual assault on college campuses.

Aaron, who grew up in Swaziland, was inspired to make the film after seeing the media portrayal of Africa in the U.S. In a released statement, he said “In part, LIYANA is an effort to tell a different kind of African story – a story designed to cultivate respect and hope rather than pity and guilt … We realized that asking them to revisit traumatic memories in front of a camera was not something we wanted to do. Films about the hardships faced by Africans have been made before.”

The animation of Liyana’s story is juxtaposed with images of the children in the orphanage: together they complete chores that help sustain the orphanage, they play, and they build a makeshift family. Despite the devastating circumstances, the children remain hopeful, and the storytelling project becomes a way for them to process and deal with their shared trauma.

Executive producer Thandie Newton said of the film, “It is one of the purest and most powerful examples of the importance and purpose of storytelling.” She continued, “It’s horribly rare to have African stories written by Africans, let alone African children. Stories like ‘Liyana’ make us realize that an orphan from rural Africa has the same dreams, imagination, hopes and potential as a more privileged child living in New York or Tokyo. ‘Liyana’ compels me to want to do everything I can to close the gap, and it will for audiences everywhere.””

(via USA Today, image: Abramorama)

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Avengers 4 Has Wrapped, So Let’s Speculate Wildly About This Glowing Image the Russos Tweeted

marvel avengers infinity war poster

Shooting has officially wrapped on Avengers 4: Stop Asking Us What the Title Is We Don’t Know. The Russo brothers, who directed Infinity War and Avengers 4, announced the end of the shoot with a tweet featuring a glowing object of some sort. Fans immediately took to Twitter to try and figure out the meaning behind the image.

It’s time to break out the red string and speculate wildly over the meaning behind this mysterious image, y’all! Is it an Asgardian weapon like the Stormbreaker? Is it a sneak peek at Captain Marvel’s awesome powers? Is it a glimpse of the rumored Annihilus or another Bigger Bad entering the fray? Or is it just a lamp and we’re all reading way to much into this? Literally anything is possible.

This follows the vague image the Russos posted last month, leading to widespread internet conspiracy theories over what the Russos were trying to reveal (if anything at all):

There were several funny attempts to decipher the image, like the ones below:

It seems that even the stars of the film are unsure of how exactly the movie will resolve everything. Mark Ruffalo (who plays Bruce Banner/The Hulk) describes the plot as constantly evolving, saying “Some of [the decision making process regarding plot] is happening while we’re there, it’s pretty amazing. And we’ll shoot some stuff and a few days later come back and reshoot it cause we wanna take it in another direction. It’s a very living organism, even as we approach it being a locked picture, we’re still working on it.”

We do know that Chris Evans is likely hanging up his shield and finishing his eight year long run playing Captain America, but rumors around the rest of the Avengers cast are few and far between. It’s safe to say though, with the upcoming Black Panther 2, Spider-Man: Far From Home and the standalone Black Widow film, that those titular characters are safe.

What do you think of the glowing image that the Russos posted? Is it the key to a plot point in the final Avengers film or is it just trolling?

(via CBR, image: Marvel)

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Netflix Cancels Marvel’s Iron Fist, Paving the Way for the Daughters of the Dragon Spin-off We All Want

Danny Rand and Colleen Wing in Netflix and Marvel's Iron Fist

Netflix is not ordering a third season of Iron Fist, in the first cancellation of a Marvel series by the streaming giant. Despite a second season that course-corrected many issues with the critically panned first season, Iron Fist remained the redheaded stepchild of Netflix’s Marvel family.

A joint statement from Marvel and Netflix was released, saying, “Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is proud of the series and grateful for all of the hard work from our incredible cast, crew and showrunners. We’re thankful to the fans who have watched these two seasons, and for the partnership we’ve shared on this series. While the series on Netflix has ended, the immortal Iron Fist will live on.”

The idea of Iron Fist living on may not just be an empty platitude. There will be plenty of opportunities for Danny Rand and Colleen Wing to appear in the other Marvel Netflix shows (although probably not a Defenders season 2, as no one seems interested in making that).

But that’s not the only opportunity. Disney is already gearing up to launch their own streaming service, which they are stacking with Marvel content. There’s been talk of standalone Loki and Scarlet Witch series, with Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olson reprising their roles. Iron Fist could easily make the leap to Disney’s streaming service, which will also be home to Jon Favreau’s highly anticipated Star Wars series, The Mandalorian.

While Iron Fist was arguably the weakest entry in the Marvel/Netflix partnership, it gave us one of Marvel’s best heroines in Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). Season 2 saw Wing taking on the power of the Iron Fist, satisfying fans who always thought that Colleen was more deserving of the power than Danny. Centering Colleen as the hero of the show was a smart move, and it will be disappointing not to see more of her character.

Which is why (hopefully) Netflix or Disney will greenlight the series we really want: a Daughters of the Dragon spin-off about the badass friendship between Colleen Wing and Luke Cage‘s Misty Knight (Simone Missick). The two actors displayed great chemistry in season 2 of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, giving us a female buddy cop dynamic that is rarely afforded to female characters.

Besides, a kickass action series starring two women of color? What’s not to like? The ball’s in your court, Marvel.

(via Deadline, image: Netflix)

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The Domesticated Horror of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives

mia farrow

They say you never forget your first … scary movie that is. But I’m not just talking about the ephemeral effects of the jump-scare or the blood and gore we’ve come to expect from our horror films. I’m talking about the more devastating scary movies, the ones that stick with you long after the lights have come up. The ones that remain fixed in your mind, because they touch on an essential social truth or deeply held fear.

I think that the best horror movie villains aren’t monsters or ghosts or zombies. They’re something far more sinister: men who hate women and want to control them. And it’s simple, really. Zombies aren’t real. Monsters aren’t real. These men are real, they’re everywhere, and they hold great positions of power. One need only look at the 2016 election or the Kavanaugh hearings to know the truth. But if you’re a woman, you’ve known it, instinctively, all your life.

This knowledge is the basis of two of the best, scariest horror movies of all time (for me, anyway): Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives. Both films were based on novels by Ira Levin, and both center on women who grow increasingly paranoid as they feel there’s something fundamentally wrong with the world they live in. Each film (released during the Women’s Liberation movement) explores the inherent darkness in the most traditional of women’s roles: wife and mother.

Rosemary’s Baby, released in 1968 and directed by Roman Polanski (a monster in his own right), follows the story of Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) as they move into a new apartment building in New York City. There they are befriended by their elderly eccentric neighbors, the Castevets (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer). Rosemary becomes pregnant, but there are signs that something is deeply wrong with the pregnancy, her husband and her neighbors.

The film plays with Rosemary’s growing paranoia, and the audience is left to wonder whether she is having a paranoid breakdown or whether her fears are founded. And despite the protests of her neighbors, doctor, and husband, Rosemary discovers the truth: she was raped by demon and gave birth to the Antichrist. Her husband sold her out for the promise of success in his acting career. Rosemary is merely a pawn in a larger Satanist scheme, and her body is used against her will to serve a fanatical cult (sound familiar?).

katharine ross

(Katharine Ross in The Stepford Wives (1975), image: Columbia Pictures)

The Stepford Wives (1975) explores similar terrain. Directed by Bryan Forbes, the film follows Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) as she moves with her family from New York City to suburbs of Stepford, Connecticut. There, she discovers that the women are beautiful, docile, and seem to have no interests outside of housework and pleasing their husbands. An attempted Women’s Lib meeting she throws with her friend Bobbie (the only other normal woman in town) ends with all the wives discussing cleaning products.

As Joanna grows suffocated in the small town, she complains to her husband, who ignores her for frequent meetings at the Men’s Association. Soon, she discovers the truth at the heart of Stepford: the men are murdering their wives and replacing them with docile robots.

Both films center on vibrant women who are betrayed by their husbands, men who are aided by their complicit communities. And while Satanist cults and evil robots are at the root of these genre films, the tools the men use against their wives are frighteningly realistic: sexual violence, gaslighting, and separating their wives from the people who truly care about them. By using the calling cards of real-life abusers and the framework of a society that dismisses and mistrusts women, these films display the innate horror and fear that women encounter at varying degrees in their lives.

The misogyny and hatred of women is so scary because it is so very intimate, and it’s perpetrated by the men closest to these women. In both films, the call is coming not only from inside the house, but inside the marriage. And there’s nothing scarier than that.

(image: Paramount Pictures)

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In What World Is Mr. Mom a Movie That Needs to Be Remade in 2018?

 mr mom reboot

If you thought Hollywood had already scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of movie remakes and reboots, nope! It turns out, there were still further depths to reach. Because until now, no one had thought it might be a worthwhile endeavor to remake 1983’s Mr. Mom.

If you’ve forgotten, or you never knew in the first place (jealous), Mr. Mom was a movie written by a pre-Brat Pack John Hughes, starring Michael Keaton as man who–get this!–is a stay-at-home parent. After he’s let go from his job, his wife goes back to work and he stays at home with the kids. That’s it. That’s the entire premise. It’s one of those movies that really doesn’t hold up on rewatch because it’s 1983-ness is overpowering. That was an era where a scene of a man vacuuming was a solid joke that translated clearly as a humorous reversal of our general shared social norms. In 2018, does that joke still work? Sure it would for some demographics, but on a large enough scale to be the premise of not just a movie, but a weekly television series, as this reboot plans to be? I have to believe not. The alternative is too depressing.

The show will be a digital series from the Walmart-owned streaming series Vudu, and the site’s senior director Julian Franco admits it’s a pure nostalgia grab. “As parents, we want to share with kids the TV shows and movies that we grew up with,” he told Variety. “They made us feel something. The Reality [sic] is we want our kids to feel the same thing too.”

That’s all well and good, but what makes them think kids want to feel those specific things? Those people who grew up on movies like Mr. Mom had different interests and sensibilities than their parents, just as young people today have different tastes than their parents. It’s natural for parents to not understand the tastes of their children’s generations and to wish their offspring would appreciate everything they loved in their youth. But for a network to pour money into forcing that desire into reality seems strange.

On top of asking whether the show can connect to audiences, we have to ask whether it should. Do we want to reinvest in pushing the idea that a man doing housework or raising his children is so abnormal as to be grounds for an entire comedy series?

Franco calls the movie an “American classic,” but even if you agree with that, it’s “classic” for a reason. From his statements, it doesn’t sound like there’s any intention to update the premise for a modern audience–an audience which includes an estimated 1.4 million stay-at-home dads, more than double the number from 10 years ago and far more than we had in 1983. Now, by the end of the original movie, the couple has talked through their issues with the work/family binary and come out stronger and more balanced. But in a series, is there any way to remake this premise in a way that doesn’t make a weekly joke out of men caring for their children?

(via Variety, image: Orion Pictures)

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Gives Us a Sneak Peek at Salem the Cat

It’s clear that Netflix’s upcoming Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series will share little in common with its Melissa Joan Hart-starring predecessor. While Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a part of ABC’s family-friendly TGIF line-up, the new Netflix series looks to have more in common with Riverdale and American Horror Story, if its trailers are anything to go by.

salem

Now, a new clip from the show features the introduction of Salem the cat, Sabrina’s trusty familiar. But this new Salem does not appear to be the animatronic quip machine of our childhoods. The clip opens with Sabrina inspecting claw marks on her window, before a demonic voice calls out to her, “Sabrina, I heard you calling in the woods, and I came.” We get glimpses of a slithery tail and a creature in the shadows, before a black cat meows and walks into Sabrina’s arms.

We already know that the Sabrina of this series is half witch/half mortal, and must choose a side when she turns 16. Salem is clearly a supernatural creature, but we don’t know which side he’ll be on yet. In the comic series, written by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Salem’s backstory is that he was a mortal man named Samuel in old-timey Salem Village who was turned into a cat after he impregnated a witch and refused to marry her (aka the original fuckboi). His duty is to protect Sabrina, and if he fulfills that prophecy then he may turn back into a human.

salem

This deviates from Salem’s origin story in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, where they were formerly Salem Saberhagen, a warlock sentenced to the form of a cat because he tried to take over the world. We don’t know yet how much time Salem will spend in his cat form in the new series, but it’s clear that he will be Sabrina’s familiar, aka a supernatural animal guide that helps a witch with her magic.

So far, we’ve been pretty impressed with the trailers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The show premieres on Netflix on October 26th, just in time for a Halloween-friendly binge session.

(via The Wrap, image: Netflix)

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