Charmed: This old vs. new feud is internalized misogyny

Can the old and new Charmed casts just stop already?

Reboot fever is completely out of control, and there’s nowhere that’s more obvious than with Charmed on The CW. It seems like, from the moment the Charmed reboot was announced, there’s been nothing but drama. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

So, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane before getting into the latest witchy drama. The original Charmed aired on The WB from 1998 to 2006. Originally, it starred Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and Shannen Doherty as the Halliwell sisters. But, thanks to some behind-the-scenes drama (really, has this series been cursed by The Power of Three since the beginning?), Doherty exited.

Instead of the three Ps being Piper, Phoebe, and Prue, Charmed was now all about Piper, Phoebe, and Paige. Paige, of course, was played by Rose McGowan. At the time, since the series was really all about girl power and sisterhood, it was considered pretty revolutionary and met the benchmark for late ’90s and early ’00s feminism. (See also: Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, whose “feminism” just doesn’t hold up in 2020.)


LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 1: (from left to right) Actresses Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs celebrate the WB’s “Charmed” 150th episode cake cutting on the set at Paramount Studios on February 1, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Neither Charmed cast is feminist when all they do is tear each other down

When news of the Charmed reboot first hit in early 2018, it was met with the expected mixture of reactions. Some folks were ready to get witchy again; others were afraid their childhoods would be destroyed if the new series didn’t do well. Then, of course, there were the “why do we need this” and “ok, whatever” reactions.

Outside of those issues, it shouldn’t have been a very dramatic announcement. But it was. Why? As quoted in Entertainment Weekly, the Charmed reboot synopsis was as follows:

This fierce, funny, feminist reboot of the original series centers on three sisters in a college town who discover they are witches. Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy, and maintaining familial bonds, a witch’s work is never done.

So. About that. In a now-infamous tweet, an original Charmed One took issue with the subtle implication that the series she starred on hadn’t been feminist enough. People who had grown up with the Halliwell sisters did, too.

This created some ridiculous back-and-forth, most of which isn’t even worth getting into…Especially since there’s a bunch of petty bickering yet again. As if 2020 hasn’t brought us enough problems.

When Netflix removed the 1998 Charmed from its library, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs implied it was all done as a way to promote the reboot at the expense of the original series. McGowan is also heard saying, “but it sucks” in a video where she and her costar complain about their erasure.

Of course, one of the stars of the Charmed reboot, Sarah Jeffery, had to share her thoughts on the matter. Words used included “sad and quite frankly pathetic,” which were followed by obvious subtweeting. She even retweeted something about the drama—which, of course, supported her by insulting the women who paved the way.

Shannen Doherty chimed in to support Jeffery, not Combs—as a surprise to no one. And, of course, this isn’t even a full rundown. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But to use Sarah Jeffery’s own words, here’s what’s actually “sad and quite frankly pathetic” about this entire Charmed rivalry: All of it.

Let’s be a little bit more clear. There have been countless actors who have played Batman and Spiderman. There is an upcoming Saved By the Bell reboot at Peacock that will feature totally new characters. Horror franchises are constantly rebooted and/or given multiple sequels. The list goes on and on.

But do you ever see those stars bickering like this? Do fans and the media perpetuate meaningless drama between the actors?

No, they don’t.

Sure, we can all talk about our favorite Batman. Fans, especially mega-fans, bicker amongst themselves all the time about who played the character best. But nothing is on the level of what has been going on with Charmed from the very beginning.


Charmed — “The Replacement” — Image Number: CMD118b_0367.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Melonie Diaz as Mel, Madeleine Mantock as Macy and Sarah Jeffery as Maggie — Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

This fighting over Charmed only happens with so-called “feminist” shows

This isn’t even about supposed professionals being immature. Instead, the ongoing bitterness and enmity between the original Charmed stars and the Charmed reboot’s leading ladies is about one thing and one thing only: Women are taught we have to compete with each other like this. You can’t have one feminist (even ’90s white feminist) series and another both have the same name and basic concept.

It’s unthinkable because society says so. Sorry, folks, two similar shows that center women have to compete—and only one can be worth consuming. That’s just the rule.

All that’s being accomplished right now is women tearing each other down to establish themselves, and everyone involved should be ashamed. The Halliwell sisters’ story was a big deal in 1998, but it wasn’t perfect.

Similarly, the Charmed reboot has its problems (like claiming to be Latinx representation and not even casting Latinx people in those roles). But nobody at that series is out to get Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan’s version. If they are, it’s because of a systematic problem with not being able to hold space for too many things deemed “feminist” in this world.

Fight against that, witches past and present. This need to prove your worth by attacking another’s is what’s really “sad and quite frankly pathetic.” Apologize, lift each other up—or, at the very least, ignore each other—and move on.

Please. This is exhausting.

Are you sick of the Charmed drama, too, or is it part of the fun? Share your thoughts!