Mad about TV: Spells like trouble

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Old 26-May-2011
Mad about TV: Spells like trouble

UNP ImageGuys with fangs are so last year. This autumn, witches are taking over.

You'll find them on True Blood, where Sookie will face down a coven this season. They'll be casting spells on their fellow high school students in the The Secret Circle, a drama from The Vampire Diaries creator Kevin Williamson.

A particularly wicked one shows up in Once Upon a Time to place a curse on the town of Storybrook. Plus, with the mystery Grimm riffing on various fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel's friend with the black pointy hat might soon join the others.

So where did all the soft-hearted, sharp-toothed Edward Cullens go? Since women generally watch more television than men, the US networks are greenlighting more female-skewing shows for autumn, including ensemble dramas lead by female characters (Pan Am, The Playboy Club, and Good Christian Belles) to comedies anchored by actresses (Christina Applegate's Up All Night, Whitney Cummings' Whitney and Zoey Deschanel's The New Girl).

Double threat

And viewers seem to like bad girls best: 2 Broke Girls, starring an insult-slinging Kat Dennings, tested better than any comedy or drama in CBS history, and two of the season's most highly anticipated shows, Good Christian Belles and Apartment 23, originally had titles that featured a word that rhymes with witch. For networks seeking female viewers and mean girl heroines, witches offer the perfect double threat.

Plus, for advertisers seeking younger viewers, there's that whole built-in audience of goth girls, who'll no doubt love to watch The Secret Circle hero Thomas Dekker or as some might call him, the Man-Witch. Teenage girls have always loved witches during the '90s, they flocked to Charmed, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, The Craft and Winona Ryder's version of The Crucible and it's easy to see why: Those stories verify the feeling that high school is filled with total monsters, that popular girls are casting spells on their hangers-on, that if some pale, creepy kid with long fingernails gets close to you, you'll just die.

Still, while witches are somewhat timeless (there's a reason each one is, like, 10 billion years old), they also seem particularly attractive to a generation of girls drawn to the tough-minded, self-sufficient heroines like Katniss of the book and coming film The Hunger Games or the arrow-slinging killer in Hanna.

At a time when parents have their kids under constant supervision, through Facebook and FourSquare and cellphone check-ins, The Secret Circle offers a world in which rather than being hyper-managed by parents and teachers, young women can literally control everything around them with the only counsel coming from a book of spells. It's no accident that right before the heroine of The Secret Circle discovers that she's a witch, her mother dies, leaving her to make her own decisions.

Los Angeles Times

Old 26-May-2011
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