The reason I’ve been so quiet is that I have been sick as a dog. Sore throat, headaches, cough, sinusitis, an attempt at a lung infection, general exhaustion, high levels of whininess, not much processing power. Sorry ’bout that.
So I’ve been doing what I usually do when I am stupid-sick: watch bad TV. In this case, bad TV means Charmed the late-nineties-through-early-oughts Aaron Spelling-produced hour-long dramedy about three sisters in San Francisco who suddenly discover that they are Real Live Witches With Powers, and that furthermore they are Extra-Special Witches With Extra-Special Powers called The Charmed Ones (just like that, with Pronounced Capitals). Shannen Dougherty and Alyssa Milano star alongside someone I’d never heard of before and haven’t since, although she’s not bad, really, and I guess she’s a regular in something reasonably popular now that I just pay no attention to. Holly Marie Combs, in Pretty Little Liars currently.
(Look, before somebody rushes in to tell me what a good show Charmed really is, let me tell you: I don’t like Buffy, either. In fact, Buffy is usually the bad TV I watch when I’m stupid sick, because it’s the only way I can bear to watch most of the series. I started watching it when I was sick because most of my friends love it, and I figured I should at least have some idea of what they were talking about. But this time around, Netflix had all of Charmed, so I thought I’d try something new. If you like it, that’s awesome. I think it’s awful, mostly, with occasional moments of funny or awesome.)
Aside from having bad special effects, crappy writing (especially the comedy bits), mediocre-at-best acting, and an actually kinda decent premise, this show exemplifies the incredibly bad portrayal of Wicca that was so popular at the time. The Craft at least had Wiccan consultants on staff to feed them bits of actual ritual to dress up their nonsense, but Charmed, like Buffy and other shows, just threw in the word “Wicca” occasionally when they felt like they’d been overusing “witch” or “witchcraft.” Which, y’know, irritates me a lot, as a (Hellenic-eclectic solitary) Wiccan. More irritating still is the use of names out of non-Christian mythologies apparently drawn out of a hat at random and applied to things: An evil witch named Tuatha,* a demon named Hecate,** and, horrifyingly, a blonde-haired blue-eyed very very Northern European evil sorceress named Kali.***
But I have to say, there is one thing I have got to give Charmed credit for. They have done something that Michelle Obama, Dr. Oz, Meme Roth, Jillian Michael, and a whole bunch of others would just loooooooove to do: They have completely eliminated fat people from the world.
No, really. I’m serious. I have not seen a fat-and-jolly neighbor, a fat-and-sassy friend, a fat-and-pathetic victim to be saved, a fat-and-greedy villain of the week, or indeed even a fat bystander in the background. No fat rich people selling things at Prue’s auction house, no fat people eating at Piper’s restaurant or dancing at Piper’s club, and certainly no fat friends of pretty youngest sister Phoebe, who doesn’t work and is sensitive about it, but who does study Tae Bo so she can kick evil’s ass.****
OK, I haven’t exactly seen all of it yet. I’m only in season 2, and there are eight of the damned things,***** so it may be that I just haven’t gotten to the portrayals of fat people that I’m certain will be every bit as sensitive and nuanced as its portrayals of neopagans and non-Christian gods. But so far, there are simply no fat people in all of San Francisco, according to this show. It’s amazing.
I’m still pretty sick and miserable and stupid (yeah, yeah, cue the laugh track, I’m always stupid, thanks), which you might be able to tell by the stream-of-consciousness style here and the excessive footnotery, so don’t expect much more from me for a while.
*Irish Gaelic for “people,” as found in Tuatha de Danaan, the Peoples of the Goddess Danu, the fifth race to invade Ireland, very likely pre-Christian deities, often called fairies or elves. Not a proper name.
**Greek goddess of crossroads, thresholds, and, yes, witches. And my own personal matron goddess, so I get a little tired of seeing her name used for demons and other evil things.
***Hindu goddess, one of the major ones. Still actively worshipped by close to a billion people worldwide. Not white, by any means — her name means “black one,” and that’s generally exactly how she’s portrayed. Really, seriously insulting to a whole lot of people out there. Fail.
****OK, I actually like that bit. That she studies martial arts (no, not just Tae Bo, although I’m not sure what she’s actually studying) so she can kick ass, I mean. She got sick of not having a power that she could smack people around with, so she went out and learned to smack people around with fists and feet. That’s pro-active, and I’m all for it.
*****I am not at all sure I can watch all of this show. I seem to be getting my brain back, and I will quickly run out of patience with it if that happens. I’m already skipping episodes that look too horrible, like the one where Dougherty gets turned into a man by a spell, and it’s played for laughs, and ick. But I kinda have to give it props for being the longest-running hour-long tv drama with an all-female main cast. And it was created by a woman. It’s just a shame it sucks so much.