“The Power of Three will set us free. The Power of Three will set us free.”
How many magical moments does this phrase bring to mind as we followed the Halliwell sisters in their struggle against the evil forces? Do not deny it, you too jealously guarded the desire to own a copy of the mysterious Book of Shadows.
Who has never wanted to stop time like Piper, perhaps during a school exam or during an important job interview? How many of you hoped to be able to move objects with your mind, a bit like Prue, to retrieve the remote control when you were already comfortable on the sofa. And don’t tell me that none of you have ever hoped to be able to take a peek into the future with Phoebe‘s skills, to understand if your ideal job is to be a greengrocer or become an archaeologist in Zimbabwe.
In short, these young girls made us dream, prompting us to believe that there is always a pinch of magic in the world. But let’s find out more about the mystical charm of this show.
It all begins
It is October 7, 1998, when for the first time Charmed makes its appearance on American televisions. In a time when the Wiccan religion was experiencing a certain spread, the release of this series couldn’t have been more appropriate. In a tangle of spells, demons and potions, the story of friendship, loyalty and trust of these three sisters unfolds; the perfect combination of fantasy and reality.
Despite being set in years when technology still didn’t allow for the special effects we’re used to today, I’ve always found the way magic is represented accurate. Just the fact that it is made so simple accentuates its charm, making it real, something that could really exist.
It is perhaps from them that we learned to believe in family magic; both in the most literal way of the term – with the transmission of powers from one generation to another, and often addressed especially to women – and in a more metaphorical sense – the relationship between the sisters. I think it somehow pushed us to believe in the strength of our ancestors, but also to reconsider our personal family dynamics. Because it is healthy and normal sometimes to take it out on your sister or brother, but it is the complicity of this bond that really creates magic.
And then, well… the Book of Shadows! What effect would it have had if the object capable of linking the three powers of the sisters had been a paint, an amulet, or a pheasant feather? It certainly would not have aroused the same sense of mystery, with those arcane writings, the designs of demons and dark spells.
Halliwell for life
Let’s move on to the actresses who lived the experience of these protagonists firsthand. Some rumors at the time claimed that Alyssa Milano (interpreter of Phoebe) had taken her role as a witch, to try to produce some spells even off the set, with not very satisfactory results so much to heart, that she then had to resort to some psychotherapy sessions to continue supporting the part and separate fiction from real life. This speaks volumes about how much the show hit not only the audience but also the cast itself; somehow the magic was really in the air.
The disappearance of Prue (played by actress Shannen Doherty, which we will see later in Beverly Hills 90210) was a serious blow for many fans of the series. But she was substituted very well by her half-sister Paige (Rose McGowan who -and this is a bit of gossip – had a fling with singer Marilyn Manson), her absence fades, well-compensated by the arrival of this young troublemaker.
In a still immature landscape, less inclined to take a position than it is today, Charmed already stood out for its female imprint.
These young actresses who play independent women, united by such a special bond that bewitches millions of people, were feminists without even knowing it. Their characters were looking for a place in the world, and they conquered it without giving up on difficulties. Witty and tenacious, beautiful and resolute, they gave the world a taste of powerful femininity. They had the courage to dress to feel beautiful, without censoring themselves in front of a bigoted society; these girls had the strength to say no; they had the ardour to chase their dreams; and faced Evil with their heads held high, without however closing their feelings in a box.
They were themselves, and I believe this was the greatest magic of the whole show.
A real Old but Gold
22 years after the release of the first episode, there is still a certain magic in the air. Charmed remains and will remain for several years, a milestone in the world of TV series. Many will try, but I doubt that they will be able to match the excellent work done in the 178 episodes of this show.
I like to think that one day, when I will be retired and chewing on lemon candies from the morning to the night, I will go back to watching this series to find again that familiar air of witchcraft that has made my youth more sparkling.
Meanwhile, I leave you with a quote from Piper, in the hope that it will inspire you, with a look always to the future to better remember the past:
“We should write everything down. Everything that happened, everything we want future generations to know… So that we can pass it down.”