‘A Discovery of Witches’ Season 1 Review: The Next Generation of Women on TV is Here

A Discovery of Witches is the show that stole our hearts with it’s multi-faceted collection of witches, vampires, and demons. It’s the show that brought two unlikely creatures together and allowed them to fall in love. And it’s also the show that brushed off stereotypes and tropes to pave the way for the next generation of women on TV in the form of Diana Bishop.

Even though one season review isn’t enough to cover everything that we enjoyed about this show, we’re going to try! So join us in talking about what we loved, what we hated, and what we’d love to see more of in the future of Deborah Harkness’ epic series!

Overall Impression

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A Discovery of Witches is the quality female oriented and intersectional goodness that we deserve in all our lives. It’s timely, nuanced, and often leaves me feeling like I stumbled upon something truly magical and wonderful. And overall, if this is what I’m to get in season one, I can’t even imagine the love, drama, intrigue, fun, or action that is coming our way when A Discovery of Witches returns. But I’m ready!

What Worked

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Diana’s Everything

Diana is the kind of woman TV has taught me isn’t possible. The kind of woman who is brave, opinionated, vulnerable, dedicated, scared, smart, kind, and all these wonderfully complex things in one package. Diana is all of them and more. She’s not the love interest of some brave prince. Diana is a warrior, a companion, a confidant, a daughter, a lover, who saves the prince. Better yet, Diana saves her own damn self and shows us that women HAVE the power to change their fate if they wish to do so.

By far, my favorite thing about Diana is her compassion. This wasn’t her battle. Diana was just minding her own damn business when she found that special book that got all the creatures hot and bothered. And she could’ve just walked away. She could’ve given them the book and kept on living her life. But she chose not to. Diana decided that she would stand against bigotry and hate because they were wrong, dated, and the kind of behavior that she wouldn’t anyone to endure.

Diana is the kind of woman I aspire to be like. The kind of woman who is certain, kind, patient, and still manages to stumble and get back up because she’s not perfect and that’s ok. The kind of woman who welcomes help and is up for exploring her abilities even if that means starting from scratch. And the kind of woman who believes in people but also trusts in her ability to stop them if the situation arises.

Trust me, I can go on and on about Diana Bishop until the cows come home. But for now, I’ll wrap it up and say that I’m proud to have known, seen, and experienced Teresa Palmer’s epic Diana Bishop!

#Bishmont

I don’t think I’ve ever fallen so hard for a ship than I have with A Discovery of Witches #Bishmont. Maybe it’s my age. I’ve hit the big three zero and my appetites when it comes to romance have changed. Nowadays I’m looking for substance. No love triangles or will they/won’t they romances. I’m looking for people who choose to brave the world at each other’s side, that lift their partner up, and that respect the differences that each hold, because perfect is boring and OTP’s don’t have to be mirrors of each other to be together.

#Bishmont is all of that and more. They are the kind of endgame that get together during season one and then brave the world together for season to come. They are playful, romantic, and so in awe of each other. And that’s not say that #Bishmont is perfect. They’ve had their moments like when Matthew left the Clairmont Estate because Diana’s feelings for him were a bit overwhelming. What makes #Bishmont epic is that Matthew sought advice from a friend and came back to Diana as soon as he realized the truth of their love for each other. And it’s these imperfections, these little hiccups that make #Bishmont feel…well, real.

Strip away the witch, vampire, and demon drama, and you have two people who are perfect for each other and that we can’t wait to see more of when A Discovery of Witches graces us with more #Bishmont! Until then, a season rewatch is much needed to better capture some of the things missed the first, second, or third time around that I’ve watched this brilliant show.

The Female Gaze

I’ve mentioned this before and it deserves repeating until the female gaze isn’t such a surprising thing in the media we consume and a normality. A Discovery of Witches understands and implements the female gaze all over its work. The way that Diana, Matthew, Sarah, Ysabeau, and every other character on A Discovery of Witches, is one of respect and understanding, especially for the women. They are not sex objects meant to stuck in a cycle of sweeping breast shots or up the skirt takes. They are characters that are important to the overall story and who deserve the same respect men have always been given.

Talking about the female gaze, it doesn’t just benefit women, how they are perceived on A Discovery of Witches, or how we see ourselves in these female characters. The female gaze also benefits men. Creators who take the time to paint accurate and full pictures of women, do the same thing with their men, offering them opportunities to look past the macho or brooding hero. Matthew loves strongly, fights with his family, and actually has emotions that aren’t used to make him weak. He’s strong, just like Diana, because of the love he feels for those in his life.

So, if there’s one thing you take away from this show, let it be this. Women have been given an opportunity behind the scenes on A Discovery of Witches to paint a story that respects all those on screen because we’ve become so used to being disrespected as women and don’t want anyone to suffer a similar fate. Not men. Not women. Not vampires or demons. We want respect across the board and the female gaze understands that.

What Didn’t Work

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Peter Knox

I never felt threatened by Peter Knox. Not for one second. And that kind of made every threat or every moment with him on screen, kind of bland. That’s not to say that the actor didn’t do a great job. He killed it. What I’m saying is that Diana, Matthew, and the rest of the gang, were doing such an amazing job where I knew they would succeed, that I wasn’t even worried about Peter. And unlike Satu, his disappearance would change a lot in the A Discovery of Witches world. He started all this trouble with his lust for power and hate for anyone or anything that isn’t a witch. Sucks for him that Diana will play a part in ending his reign. Just you wait.

What We Wanted to See More Of

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The Sex

Like most people, I learned a lot about sex from the media I consumed. It was movies and TV that taught me that sex was about passion, moaning, and writhing bodies where the man always hits the big O and the woman magically does at the exact moment the man does. Basically, I learned a lot of bullshit about what sex WAS or IS. It’s shows like A Discovery of Witches that are here to enlighten and educate.

Sex can be fun. Sex can be sweet. Sex can be about the guy getting you off and cuddling you cuz he gets as much pleasure seeing you unravel because of his touch as you do. Sex can have laughter and teasing. And sex can be anything you want it to be because not everyone goes for hot fucking that looks like it’s straight out of a porno. Sex can be like what Diana and Matthew have together.

Additionally, A Discovery of Witches has basically come around to debunk all the stupid sexist shit that has been around when it comes to a woman’s pleasure. Diana’s desires aren’t made to paint her like a slut or a hussy. She knows what she wants, is allowed to go after it, and respects her partner from here to the stars because she loves. And seeing it on screen, the relationship between #Bishmont and the sexy times they share together, is proof that sex is an intimate thing that we can have on our own terms, no matter what you’ve learned from sexist movies or TV shows.

More Family Interactions

Everytime Diana and Matthew met up with each other’s families, it felt more like a blending than a collide. Sure, they’re vampires, witches, and demons, but they are the future. They’re not like the Congregation or Peter Knox. Diana and Matthew’s family & friends are coming together as one because they believe in kindness, acceptance, and a blending of the creatures if those creatures want to.

I loved watching Diana meet Matthew’s vampire mom and the place he calls home. I loved watching Matthew being introduced to Diana’s watchful, clever, and kind aunts. I even loved when Matthew’s coworkers/family came over to Sarah & Emily’s house with demons in tow. Why? Because the Congregation had taught them that such unity wasn’t possible and yet here it is.

For season 2 & 3, I want to see how Sarah and Ysabeau get along. They are both headstrong women who will do anything to save their children’s lives. Now that they’re on the same side of things, their chances of succeeding will increase. Also, they’ll have more chances to get to know each other and work through some of the wounds of the past that have attributed to the slight prejudices against each other. (Because they aren’t perfect and that’s ok.) I just want to see more of the interactions we’ve had in season one, but cranked to 11 when our favs return and don’t have Diana and Matthew as a buffer between them.

It’s going to lead to some interesting times!

Sarah and Emily

The past year or so has seen an influx of queer representation on TV. But like the years before it, a lot of the queer stuff on TV is for young gays. The media we consume makes it seem like that is all there is and that when you hit a certain age, your story doesn’t matter anymore. Because that’s what TV does, it shows importance through its stories. And the older LGBT community is one that we haven’t seen enough representation for.

That’s where A Discovery of Witches comes in with Sarah and Emily. We don’t just see who these women are in relation to Diana, the female lead. We get to see a Sarah and Emily that are a couple in love and committed to each other. Even seeing Sarah and Emily sleeping together or coming home with groceries and pink pussy hats, matters. All of it does. This is proof, evidence, that our LGBT stories continue past our 30’s and that we matter. We remain gay and just keep being ourselves as our hair turns grey. And that’s a beautiful thing that I can’t wait to see more of!

What We Wanted to See Less Of

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Satu

I did not care for Satu. At all. Seriously, the only time I cared for her is when she kidnapped Diana. And all I cared about was kicking Satu’s ass for what she did to our queen bee Diana. She just…wasn’t hitting the mark for me and I couldn’t understand her importance in the grand scheme of everything on A Discovery of Witches. Seriously, I think Satu could disappear from this show and it wouldn’t make much difference.

Also, I couldn’t understand her. What were her motivations? Why was she so gung ho about siding with Peter Knox? And why was she crying so much? Like, I understand bursting out into tears randomly. A commercial about paper made me cry a couple weeks ago. But I couldn’t understand what was bringing Satu to tears. Did she also see this commercial? I don’t know, just wasn’t connecting with the character or what the actress was bringing to the table.

P.S. Here’s that video about paper that made me CRY!

Bigots aka Basically All the Assholes Who Call Matthew an “It”

Every scene with Peter Knox and Gillian was a test of my patience. They were bigots, through and through, that were using fear to progress their agenda. Peter Knox wanted absolute power amongst all the creatures. And Gillian, despite claiming to be Diana’s friend, was a poser who was just jealous of Diana. So fucking jealous that she sided with Knox and disregarded Matthew as an “it.” At the end of the day, and when this show goes to black at the end of season 1, the real monsters are the ones who use fear to control, separate, and conquer. The real monsters are Peter Knox and Gillian.

Favorite Episodes

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Episode 1×03
Why I Loved It: Everyone, including Peter Knox’ bigoted witches, got a taste of how powerful Diana Bishop truly is AND IT WAS BRILLIANT! From the special effects to Diana’s power pose when she let her witch wind free, she was a powerhouse of magic. Also, loved this episode for the fact that Matthew was there for Diana. He came running when she needed and held her as she reigned her powers in. When everything had calmed down a bit, he gave her a choice and a safe haven if she wanted. Just to clarify, Diana CHOSE to go with Matthew because she knew she could trust him. It wasn’t because she was SUDDENLY in love with Matthew. It’s because she made a logical choice for her safety and those that she cared for. That choice and the knowledge that she could make it, matters in 2019, especially with the #MeToo movement and the next coming of the women’s liberation movement is here.

Episode 1×07
Why I Loved It: Diana came home to her aunts, Sarah and Emily, in search of answers and got more than she bargained for when the house showed them all a home movie of what really happened to Diana’s powers. Seriously, the house blew past a seasons worth of drama and I love it! This episode also saw Matthew clashing, interacting, and getting to know Diana’s family. Too often, romantic partners on TV don’t spend time with each others family. It’s like, if they’re saving the world, they have to be alone and can’t have anyone to fall back on. And that’s just bullshit. Diana and Matthew have people there for them and that distinction in a world of orphan heroes with no one by their side, matters.

Least Favorite Episodes

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No real “least favorite episodes.” A Discovery of Witches is way too amazing for a whole episode being bad. Just any moment, any second with creatures who think vampires as less, are my least favorite.

Season Finale Impression

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I’d like to start off this season finale impression by saying that every time I see this BAMF version I want to scream! Not in fright, never for Diana, but in absolute joy and awe! THIS BAD ASS went all Avatar the Last Airbender and channeled her inner fire nation as a means of snatching our wigs and leaving us speechless. Seriously, I want to sit down and write like 5 pages at how bad ass Diana Bishop was during this scene and everything that came after. But then we’d be here for agesssss. I’ll save this bad ass analysis of Diana for later.

The season finale was the culmination of everything we’ve experienced during the season. Family and friends have come together to support Diana and Matthew. #Bishmont has gained a better understanding of who they are and what they mean to each other. And we’re left with a feeling of satisfaction and confidence because we’ve seen these people succeed throughout season 1 because of their unity. Same thing is going to happen when A Discovery of Witches returns for season 2!

Next Season Speculation

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As I haven’t read the books yet (I’ve bought the book, the audiobook, and the ebook because overkill is a thing with me) my next season speculation is based on season one. Peter Knox, Gillian, and Satu are going to be a pain in the butt. No surprise about that one because you can’t keep bigots like that down. Diana’s family is going to be chilling out at the Clairmont estate, trying to figure out what the Congregation is up to next. With their collective minds all together, you know that they’re going to end up being one step ahead of them. Which, WOOOOOOOOO!

Diana and Matthew, well, they’re going to be hopping through time at each other’s side. That’s the one certainty, the one thing I know above everything else. Diana and Matthew will start their work on why Peter Knox is lusting so hard after Diana’s powers, what is happening to creatures in general, and the bond they share since they’re practically creature married. Either way, whatever comes my way, I’m ready. A Discovery of Witches season one was smart, funny, sexy, complicated, heartbreaking, and sorts of good that I can’t wait to see more of in season 2!

What were your thoughts of season 1 of A Discovery of Witches? Let us know in the comments section below!

A Discovery of Witches is now available on Sundance NOW and Shudder.

Lyra

Editor, Writer, Supreme Mugwump

Lyra enjoys loud mouthed, damaged characters, with a penchant for rescuing people and drinking their sorrows away. When she isn’t splurging on Netflix shows she’s not so quietly ranting about Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural!