A magical tale that could have done with more magic
It would take many pages to comprehensively explain what is good (and bad) about Bewitched, so I’ll try to keep this brief, and apologies for the points I don’t touch on. First off, the influence Bewitched has had on popular culture cannot be ignored, it was a significantly popular and influential work, and not just in regards to the magical girl and magical girlfriend genres. It was certainly not the first supernatural sitcom, but it was one which popularised it, taking it in a new direction and many later shows took cues from it, even into the 2000’s. Values dissonance can cover about half the complaints. As for the rest, people tend to forget that Bewitched was in part meant to satirise many of the deeply conservative attitudes portrayed in the show, i.e. Darrin being the personification of conformity, his opinion of witches and Endora’s contempt for ‘mere mortals’ and other characterisations give alarmingly realistic parallels with sexism, racism, homophobia and snobbery. Moral guardians of the time would have likely stopped the show making the satire more obvious. Well, that, and the fact that any Aesop learned would be forgotten about by the next episode (continuity was never this show’s strong point). Overall, bewitched is a great show that could have gone further but unfortunately did not. The writers exhausted their originality by around seasons 4-5. Character development was fairly alien to them (flanderization wasn’t though), and they had basically given up trying by the start of season 8. A shame, considering the many exiting things they could have done with a premise such as this.
Bewitched: A brilliant comedy no matter what the era.
I have been recently watching episodes of Bewitched and I can honestly say it is hilarious even today. Elizabeth Montgomery's portrayal of Samantha Stevens is very charming. Despite the Values Dissonance of the 1960's, it is not quite as offensive as it is sometimes accused of. The entire point of the series was showing a witch living life in a mortal world, and in 1960's America, that meant the man as the breadwinner and the woman as the housewife. Also, as stated on main page, Darrin's hatred of witchcraft was not merely the result of bigotry. Darrin was actually KILLED by Maurice through witchcraft. However, Samantha did persuade her father to bring him back to life. It is probably safe to say that this left a very bad taste in his mouth concerning magic. Not to mention the fact that Darrin was often the victim of Samantha's relatives magical powers. The strongest point, though, is Darrin did stay faithful to Samantha. This charm, and devotion of the two main characters is by far one of best things of the series.
Imagine if a Dursley married a Weasley.
Lets face it, Bewitched is the runner up in the Reactionary Fantasy race, following closely behind I Dream Of Jeanie. And while Samatha never had to call her husband "master" over and over it still is unnerving to see a bright intelligent woman tip-toe around her husband because he doesn't like her magical heritage. Unfortunate Implications abound ranging from racism to misogyny. Darrin whoever he is gets creepier and creepier every time I watch. He constantly threatens Samantha and later on Tabitha whenever they use witchcraft and tries to isolate them from her side of the family because he disapproves of their lifestyle. He also tries to keep her away from his business meetings because he is ashamed of her. Is he really that insecure in his manhood that he has to make sure his wife is totally powerless? And how many times could have something be simply resolved by magic if he had just let her in the first place? All this get filtered through Alternate Character Interpretation s in my head and results in me cheering for Samatha's family who seem to be hell bent on saving her from an abusive and suffocating relationship. He father once actually pointed this out What The Hell Hero style and suddenly became my favorite character. I know it was a very different time and everything but this show makes me sick to my stomach when I watch it. We may not have come very far in terms of gender equality but personally I am so grateful to be born a generation or two after this sort of TV was made.