Look, I wanted to like Charmed. I am a big fan of the original, but I came into the reboot with an open mind and an open heart, because they promised me diversity, and as much as I thought the original was a hella feminist that was groundbreaking for its time, it was indeed lacking in diversity.
And it’s 2018. Diversity is not just good, it’s necessary. I’m tired of having to bend over backwards to relate to characters whose experiences are not mine. Let someone else bend a little.
So I was more than willing to give it a chance. In fact, I was excited. Hell, I remained excited EVEN after some questionable ageist comments about the old Charmed stars and early attempts to present this show as the feminist version of the original – like the old one wasn’t. And my reasoning was this: They had an all latinx cast that they touted everywhere they went, including at San Diego Comic Con, where I personally asked a question about diversity that Jenny Snyder Urman answered by deflecting and making it seem like the three sisters were indeed played by latinx actresses.
I had no reason to doubt then, though. And so I was thrilled about the show. The more I think about it, the sadder it makes me how much I had to ignore to be thrilled, but that’s often the thing with being a minority: you’re so used to getting nothing than even imperfect representation feels like a win.
And so I watched this show’s Pilot and recognized the issues with it – pacing, a little too on the nose – but decided, with unbridled optimism, that the show had nowhere to go but up. I would support it, no matter what, because they were telling stories about my people, about my history. They deserved a chance to get better, at least.
This is around the time reality intruded, in the form of confirmation. Only one of the actresses they’d cast to play a trio of latinx witches was actually latinx. The other two identified themselves as African-American, not latinx.
And I know what you’re going to say, you’re going to say that’s still three WOC! You should still support it. It’s what you wanted, diversity!
I’m here to call bullshit on that.
First, because you – whoever you are – don’t get to tell me what I should or shouldn’t support, and you especially don’t get to tell me that I need to get over the fact that Charmed not only didn’t care to cast latinx women to play latinx characters, but recognizing how problematic that was, they chose to obscure the truth for as long as possible.
Second, because minorities are not interchangeable. I know nothing of the experiences of someone who identifies as African-American, and I wouldn’t expect them to understand what it means to be latinx, so to be told hey, you got minorities, so who cares which minorities is not just disrespectful, it’s insulting.
Maybe, if the show hadn’t lied to be from the beginning, maybe if the promo had touted this is a WOC-led reboot, with one latinx sister, then I would have been fine with the way they handled it. One latinx witch is still more than we usually get. But not only did the show lie to me, it then tried to gaslight me.
But I won’t be gaslighted into believing latinx stories are not worth being told, and I will not accept the crumbs Charmed insists on giving me – a few words in Spanish, a Puerto Rican flag on the wall – as real diversity.
Not when I have watched One Day At A Time, and Vida, not when even a show like Brooklyn 99, which doesn’t center around the latinx community, can give me a more truthful representation of what it feels like to be latinx than a show that supposedly was meant to center around three latinx witches.
I deserve more than this poor attempt at placating me, especially after the show’s marketing was based on lies.
I deserve to be seen, and for stories centered on people like me to actually be told through the lenses of people who understand the struggle, and the idiosyncrasies inherent to our identity.
And I deserve to see myself represented in actors who identify as part of the latinx community.
I’m not asking for too much. I’m asking for the bare minimum, and Charmed couldn’t even give it that. That’s why I won’t be reviewing the show going forward. I continue on the search for shows that actually get me, and I will not stop believing that’s possible.
But Charmed isn’t that show, and it will never be. So it’s time for a clean break. For my sake, and for theirs.
Charmed airs Sundays at 9/8c on the CW.