Image Source: Everett Collection
It's been over two years since The CW premiered its sequel series Charmed, and somehow, the casts of the original and the sequel are still butting heads. It all began on Oct. 12, with a video a fan posted to TikTok and Twitter taken from an Instagram Live with Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan. The two addressed a comment about their version of Charmed's removal from Netflix, which McGowan assumed was because of the streamer trying to "suppress" her voice and Combs claimed was probably done so fans would find the sequel series and not the "old people." McGowan added that the reboot "sucks," though she quickly admitted that she's never seen the show.
Right off the bat, this is an example of people being shady when they don't need to be. Netflix removed the 1998 series because NBCUniversal's Peacock struck a deal with ViacomCBS for the rights to stream the show way back in July. Netflix doesn't own the rights to the show, so it was inevitable that it would eventually have to leave the streamer. The idea that it has anything to do with a vendetta against McGowan or a desire to promote the sequel series is ridiculous; Netflix likes to make money and keep people streaming; it wouldn't take off the show if it knew people wanted to see it!
But combined with McGowan's claim that the show sucks, even if she's happy that people have jobs because of it, and Combs laughing at the hot take, it's obvious the two delighted at the chance to be catty toward the newer series. Neither actress has been supportive of the series in the past, and both have been vocal about how they feel toward the network's promotion for the show. This is just the latest in a line of offense aimed at the series. So it shouldn't be a surprise that the cast of the sequel decided to bite back.
Later that Monday, Sarah Jeffery responded to the video on Twitter, writing that she intended to let the women "shout into the abyss" but found it "pathetic" to see them act that way. "I truly hope they find happiness elsewhere, and not in the form of putting down other WOC," she added. "I would be embarrassed to behave this way."
2/2 I truly hope they find happiness elsewhere, and not in the form of putting down other WOC. I would be embarrassed to behave this way. Peace and love to y’all. https://t.co/MuyZCZjbCp— Sarah Jeffery (@sarahjeffery) October 13, 2020
Combs shot back on Twitter the next day, writing that people "speaking, excuse me typing, derogatory accusations of a person's character despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary because of a difference in opinions about a tv show is just plain wrong." She added that there were more important things in the world and then posted a deluge of retweets about the upcoming election as if she had been a fountain of information before that. (She had not been.)
Let's not blame the horse for escaping the barn when you're the one who opened that door.
I would have taken that a lot more seriously if Combs hadn't started the entire conversation with her shady Live in the first place. If there were more important things in the world, why even bring up the new Charmed? If we're so unable to care about more than one thing right now, she should have followed up that question with something more like, "Yes, Charmed is off Netflix, but you know what IS still on? This election." But she didn't, so let's not blame the horse for escaping the barn when you're the one who opened that door.
But that wasn't the end of it. McGowan decided to chime in with what has to be the most condescending, gaslighting, and white-feminist-personified response possible. On Oct. 15, the former actress posted a note to Jeffery on her Instagram Story, starting with, "Dear Sarah Jeffery, I honestly have no idea who you were til you tweeted. I have been too busy fighting monsters & fighting for a massive Cultural Reset to notice who's in the reboot."
Image Source: Instagram user rosemcgowan
If you can already feel the dread crawling its way into your throat, please know that it gets worse. McGowan went on, telling Jeffery that her "quibble" (which she told the younger actress to Google because apparently, she thinks young = idiot) is "about execs & producers & @wb network trading on years of my work & name in such a cynical & obvious way — a money grab to cash in on the Charmed name."
She added, "I do not care that they remade it, I have far bigger things I'm dealing with. I do not nor will I watch a show I disagree with on principle . . . Mediocrity rules there, not just sociopaths. There's no soul or heart in something made purely for profit whilst refusing to elevate and innovate. Reboots will always be the shadow, the originals will always be the sun. I wish you well."
She then signed it as "Rose McGowan, NYT bestselling author of Brave, creator of Planet 9, Cultural Resetter, Time Magazine's Person(s) of the Year & too many other things to list."
If you're anything like me, your immediate reaction to this obnoxiousness is something similar to this:
Image Source: Giphy
There are levels to the rudeness in this response, and despite McGowan's belief that she's not being racist, she is. First, both McGowan and Combs talk down to Jeffery as if she's a child who's spoken against her betters, rather than a grown woman responding to their disrespect of her and her cast's work. Combs is quick to call ageism when Charmed appeared with three younger stars, but both she and McGowan are pulling the same bit with Jeffery and treating her like she's not their peer. Newsflash, she absolutely is. They're all actresses with work under their belt, and just because two of them are older doesn't mean they have any authority to speak to Jeffery with such flippancy. That includes treating her like she's dumb.
To say that the sequel refuses to "elevate" means that McGowan doesn't see the stories of Mel, Macy, and Maggie as having value.
Second, the narrative that the newer Charmed is "profiting" off the "hard work" of the previous iteration without adding anything "innovative" to it is where the racism comes in! The 2018 Charmed is all about diverse representation and what magic means when used by witches of color in the LGBTQ+ community, dealing with mental health, parental abandonment, and a score of other complex struggles. That's practically a foreign concept to primetime TV, especially when compared to a show from 1998.
The show introduces different kinds of magic from various cultures, and it addresses facets of identity that McGowan and Combs's Charmed could never. It's for a new generation of viewers who are looking to relate to these characters. It's for women who never thought they'd see someone like them, someone different, have a place in such a huge fandom. It's for people to discover that there isn't just one face to this kind of world and that there are so many different traditions, cultures, and ways to explore it. It's a new story. To say that the sequel refuses to "elevate" means that McGowan doesn't see the stories of Mel (Melonie Diaz), Macy (Madeleine Mantock), and Maggie (Jeffery) as important, needed, or having value. That isn't me reading too much into her comments, it's what she wrote.
Image Source: Everett Collection
I've discussed the original Charmed's lack of representation for anyone who didn't look like its main cast before, but I'll say it again: when compared to shows from the last five years, the original Charmed proves to be lacking in a number of ways. It's like Sex and the City for witches: it has dated views on feminism, relationships, and the world in general. Yes, the series was ahead of its time when it premiered, but it was also very much of its time, which we are no longer part of.
Sure, the new Charmed's use of the name was to cash in on fans of the original tuning in. And the first two seasons struggled with trying to establish their own story while paying homage and being respectful to the original. But that doesn't mean it sucked, and it definitely doesn't deserve to be put down continuously by actors who didn't even want to dive back into that world. Jeffery was completely in the right to call out McGowan and Combs for being petty again when they have no reason to be. If they're so busy being adults and caring about everything else but this, why can't they keep their comments civil?
Nobody needed to approach the original cast when they began developing the new series because their version of the show ended in 2006.
Let me be perfectly blunt: McGowan, Combs, Alyssa Milano, and Shannen Doherty (who has been unproblematic regarding the sequel and remains so because she's living her life like a true adult) are not owed anything by the cast and crew of the sequel series. They did not create the concept of the show, nor did they create it themselves. They were actors and, at most, producers. Aside from the title and basic premise, these are not the same shows. Nobody needed to approach the original cast when they began developing the new series because their version of the show ended in 2006. Maybe they could have, if they hadn't completely shot it down from the beginning, but they didn't need to. The original series finale featured the sisters defeating the Big Bad and flashing forward to their future families, which is everything they wanted from the beginning of the series. The new series does not follow that finale. So what would McGowan, Combs, or Milano have to say about being Black or Latina witches in 2018? What new information about being feminists could they tell production, headed by women, that they already don't know? What did they have to contribute to the new series?!
That sense of entitlement is the exact problem with McGowan and Combs. It's not about unnecessary remakes and creating shows off other ideas for profit, because Charmed itself was created to jump off the popularity of films like Practical Magic and The Craft. They're just upset that their "hard work" is the jumping-off point for something newer that they have no part in. Things get remade to tell new stories all the time, and the new series is nothing like the old one. It's high time that people like McGowan, Combs, and all the "fans" praising their behavior got over that. You don't have to watch the new series if you don't want to or don't like it, but either way, you have no right to belittle the people who work on it, especially when they haven't done anything to provoke you.
Most importantly, I'd love to know what changed McGowan's tune after May 2018.