The new series makes the phrase “black girl magic” a reality.
Despite leaving ABC behind for Netflix, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris was kind enough to give the network a pretty unique parting gift. Deadline recently reported that Barris sold the project Bewitched to ABC. The network has apparently been interested in re-making the classic 1960s series for quite a while, even attempting a sequel project back in 2014.
However, this will be more than just your basic classic television revival a la Will and Grace or the upcoming Murphy Brown — the completely rebooted Bewitched is coming with a few exciting surprises. According to Deadline:
In Bewitched, written by Barris and Taylor, Samantha, a hardworking black single mom who happens to be a witch, marries Darren, a white mortal who happens to be a bit of a slacker. They struggle to navigate their differences as she discovers that even when a black girl is literally magic, she’s still not as powerful as a decently tall white man with a full head of hair in America.
This new twist, incorporating themes surrounding race in America and the life of a blended family, makes this Bewitched redo stand above the rest. After relative failures like the 2005 film starring Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman, and an aborted reboot in development at CBS between 2011-2012, the series will be a welcome and inventive gift for fans of the classic.
The charming nature of Bewitched — with the hapless mortal husband learning to coexist with his spellbinding wife — is a fantastic foundation on which to lay a new show. By bouncing off of some of the original series’ plot aspects, ABC’s version of Bewitched could have a lot of potential to discuss important social issues. Samantha’s mother Endora, for example, was against her marriage to “Darrin” (the curious spelling of his name in the original series) as he was not magical. Perhaps the writers could find an opportunity here for a discussion about race and attitudes about interracial relationships which still exist today.
As mentioned in the synopsis, the show also plans on acknowledging the privilege white cis men hold in America. Despite Samantha’s powers, it sounds as if she will still come face to face with inequalities as compared to her white husband. Keeping the series topical and aware of such differences faced by its main characters, while still emanating the humor and charm of Bewitched, would be stupendous on the network’s part.
Almost every episode of Bewitched featured Samantha attempting to live life as a normal housewife, keeping her powers on the down low. This, per sitcom rules, would never work out and the resulting mishap would often involve “Darrin” falling under some unfortunate spell or two. The more Samantha would try and be normal, the more the situation (and the comedy) would spiral out of control.
In the new series, Darren is described as somewhat of a slacker while Samantha is hardworking, making it clear the dutiful housewife aspects will be thrown out of the window. As it’s no longer the 1960s, the emphasis on being a housewife has, in general, become severely outdated. The charm of magical mishaps in Samantha’s life will likely have to come from a different source. However, it’s safe to say we can expect the same magical fiascos as the original, with poor mortal Darren at the receiving end.
The original series ran for a total of eight seasons and gave American audiences a fun switch-up of typical family sitcoms. The new Bewitched is doing the same, this time enchanting modern audiences with an interracial couple serving as the variation from the norm. As for the magic powers and nose-twitches, those are always a plus.
Now that all the deals have been closed with the departing Kenya Barris, ABC has given a pilot production commitment to the new project. Barris is still set to executive produce Bewitched along with fellow Black-ish writer/producer Yamara Taylor.