GOOD WITCHES NEED LOVE, TOO!
an essay in
BenBella Smart Pop Series
From Cole's downfall
and Phoebe's somewhat questionable fashion sense to the power of three
in history and literature and a magical tourist's guide to the Halliwells's
hometown of San Francisco, this clever, lighthearted essay collection
offers a fun and funny look at the world of the WB hit series Charmed.
Edited by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Crusie, these accessible
and entertaining essays apply the wit and insight of one of today's leading
romance authors to the stylish, occasionally campy fan favorite known
for its scandalous outfits, revolving door of love interests, and the
magical mayhem of three otherwise normal sisters who must fight against
evil as they deal with the challenges of everyday life.
Whether a witch by reputation or through inherited powers,
every girl deserves a little love.
It could be argued, in fact, that witches
need all they can get, maybe even more than most women considering
the constant uncertainty
in their lives—uncertainty that is about more than filling a social
calendar or hitting upcoming sample sales or making ends meet or balancing
overtime with aerobics.
Seriously, what woman wouldn’t
want a strong, supportive man to turn to at the end of a long day spent
battling warlocks and sorcerers,
demons and ghosts?
Picture it. An intimate wine and candlelight dinner (or
even burgers and fries by flashlight) over which to discuss the latest
auction house acquisition or exclusive catering booking or shape shifter
annihilation. Follow that with a nice back rub or foot massage before
cuddling up to a big male body and letting him, like Calgon, take you
Mmm-mmm-mmm. All the stuff that makes
romance fiction romance fiction. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy
in the romance genre’s current climate, the story arc is just as
likely to be girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl wins boy.
Having written romance now for a dozen plus years and followed
the shifts in what the market will bear as well as what readers expect
in a contemporary heroine, the Halliwell sisters have for me been the
perfect example of single female twenty-somethings seeking. Well, minus
their magical powers.
Whether struggling to find their place in the world, working
to balance a demanding career with a personal life, or learning to accept
the weight of their family heritage, Prue, Piper, and Phoebe are no exception
to the age old quest of a woman seeking a mate.
Neither were the writers of Charmed
shy in their employment of the romance genre’s conventions, tenets, and clichés
when crafting the show’s first season. Watching the original twenty-two
episodes again, I was struck anew at how each sister exhibited characteristics
of a female protagonist seeking love, companionship, intimacy, and that
Jerry Maguire completion—yet how each was drawn as an individual,
approaching the dating game from a perspective unique to her own personality,
her desires, and her preferences when it came to the opposite sex.
That individuality, in fact, lent itself
to plot lines and continuing story arcs that encompassed the broad
spectrum of romance
as a genre, from mainstream women’s fiction, to chick lit, and
almost—just almost—to the traditional romance novel with
its happy ending. Yet charmed ones or not, the sisters figured out quite
quickly that their powers were good, as Prue said, “for everything
but our love lives”.
So, why in those early days (pre Piper
and Leo, pre Prue’s
death, pre Paige’s appearance) did things continually go wrong
on the Halliwells’ road to romance? Were their failures to find—or
accept—true love based solely on wrong choices in men? Were the
sisters themselves simply not ready for what came their way? Or did their
magical powers create an obstacle too big for romance to overcome?