Roth: Rebooting a series with a “feminist” twist

Megan Roth’s bi-weekly column examining pop culture and all things nerdy

We currently live in the world of reboots. And no, I don’t mean the Canadian animated T.V. show “Reboot”, though I do remember it being awesome.

What I actually mean is a large amount of pop culture we consume is a reboot or redesign of an earlier version of the show or movie.

This is a time-tested idea machine. However, it seems like now more than ever, Hollywood is coming up with less new ideas and instead, retooling an old idea for the modern audience.

I’m generally absolutely fine with a good reboot. Though that is more because of the ever present Nostalgia Monster that lives within me. You know the Monster I speak of. It’s the same one that has me drinking chocolate milk and watching cartoons on Saturday morning.

When I hear about a new reboot I honestly get a little excited, especially if it is a reboot of something that I loved from childhood or as a young adult.

But, what really bothers me is rebooting a show or movie specifically to pacify one sect of the audience. Or trying to change it in some way to make this very vocal audience group happy.

I’m not talking about the awful remake of “Ghostbusters” – that has a bunch of issues that I will tackle at a later date. Instead I’m talking about the news a favourite non-cartoon show of mine has been scheduled for a reboot.

Recently, the CW announced “Charmed” will be rebooted for the modern world. For those who have never seen the show, basically it is about three magical sisters who fight evil everyday.

What has got my hackles raised is the news the show will be “rewritten with a feminist twist.”

The problem with this is “Charmed” is one of the most feminist shows of my time, second only to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

The CW is calling the new reboot, which just cast the first sister for the pilot, “fierce, funny and feminist.” The official synopsis even mentions taking down the patriarchy.

“Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy, and maintaining familial bonds, a witch’s work is never done,” the network’s official description reads.

What I loved about the show was the sister’s relationships with each other and how, while definitely present, their individual love stories were secondary to the family relationship and overall girl power.

Each of the main characters is driven by their family and their own personal goals. The “patriarchy” never particularly stood a chance.

For example; Piper, one of the three – or later four – sisters is a chef who stands up to her awful male boss because he is treating her awfully. Later in the show, Piper along with her sisters, buy a night club and successfully run it, despite many male characters telling them to give up.

And even later in the series, the sisters go against the wishes of “The Council” – an angelic group of predominately men who decide what they should do. They didn’t agree with the decision of the The Council and went with what they believed was right, which saved the lives of many humans.

The so called patriarchy was a non-issue in the show.

That isn’t even mentioning how comfortable the characters are with themselves, and their sexuality. The way they dressed and acted, while not always appropriate for 10-year-old me to be watching, was true to themselves without having to justify it to the male characters.

If you want to make the argument that a lot of time in the show is spent on their love lives, with male partners, I would agree. But like I said earlier, those were secondary story lines.

I truly believe the same would, and will, be done in the reboot regardless of sexuality. It was announced a few days ago the first newly cast sister will be a lesbian. Cool, but I don’t think adding a gay character is creating a feminist story line.

It adds diversity to a cast, which I will admit is needed. But it doesn’t really change anything.

Even with a homosexual relationship(s), there will still be a large amount of time spent in the show on the sisters’ love lives. This is simply because, just watching the trio defeat evil again and again gets boring without seeing how fighting otherworldly crime affects their lives and relationships.

It’s part of good storytelling and keeps the audience engaged.

When the news broke about the reboot’s new take on the story, Holly Marie Combs – star of the original show – was not happy.

In a tweet after the announcement Combs said, “Guess we forgot to do that the first go around.”

Adding the word feminist takes away from the work of the original, who set a pretty good precedent without having to be called feminist.

If the story sticks to the sisters fighting evil and relying on each other while being true to whoever they are, then it will be feminist. The only reason to actively market this reboot as feminist is to capitalize on a small sect of the audience.

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