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Series / Witches of East End

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Witches Of East End is a 2013 Feminist Fantasy / Supernatural drama series on the Lifetime Network based on the book of the same name by Melissa De La Cruz.

Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond) is your average middle-aged art teacher, a single mother with two grown daughters, Ingrid (Rachel Boston) and Freya (Jenna Dewan). Except that she is immortal, her estranged sister Wendy (Mädchen Amick) can turn into a cat and has nine lives, and Ingrid and Freya have died and been reborn multiple times over the past few centuries – and all four of them are secretly witches.

After growing tired of constantly seeing her daughters be killed by their own magic, Joanna has decided to raise Ingrid and Freya without knowledge of their witchcraft to hopefully see them live past 30 this time. But when a shapeshifter who looks exactly like Joanna targets their whole family, Wendy convinces her that they can't hide Ingrid and Freya's heritage from them anymore.

This series provides examples of:

  • As You Know: In the very first episode, Ingrid informs Freya that she's engaged to Dash, and Joanna gives Wendy a detailed explanation of how her curse and the girls' Born-Again Immortality works.
  • Bath Suicide: Attempted by Joanna in Season 2.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Gardner brothers and the Beauchamp sisters themselves. It could be argued that both generations of Beauchamp sisters qualify.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Having even a tan skintone will not work out well for a character in this show.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Various characters at various times.
  • Burn the Witch!: In some of Joanna's flashbacks, it's shown that her daughters were burned as witches in earlier eras.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Frederick is usually beaten up, incapacitated, tortured, paralysed, and beaten up again.
  • Cats Are Magic: The black cat in the first episode has a neat trick...
  • Clear My Name: The shapeshifter manages to frame Joanna for the murder of a man by killing him in front of his wife while looking like Joanna. It's up to Joanna and Harrison to try to prove that Joanna didn't do it.
  • Coffin Contraband: As an immortal witch who needs to switch identities every few decades so people don't notice that she doesn't age, Joanna fakes the death of her old identity and then moves to a new city to start fresh. When she moves back to a town where she used to live a century earlier, she digs up the empty grave and stores an emergency stash of money in the coffin. Later on she also uses the grave to store a cursed painting.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ingrid and Freya's father isn't mentioned until S01E08, when it's stated he's been gone for over a century, making this an extreme case. Due to their Born-Again Immortality Ingrid and Freya have never seen him before in their present lives, nor in most of their past ones going back centuries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ingrid is bitter with him over this, although Freya warms up more quickly. It's somewhat different because Joanna asked him to leave, and thus he's upset that she told his daughters he'd abandoned them.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Eva uses a Love Potion on Killian so she can have sex with him as much as possible in order to have a baby, yet when everything is out in the open her death scene is rendered as a poignant moment where the audience is meant to sympathize with her - both Freya and Killian himself are visibly moved, and he shows no emotional trauma from the abuse. The indignation of the other characters (and of Killian himself, since in his own message to himself he says "most importantly, you love Freya") seems to stem from Eva coercing Killian's love and taking him from Freya, with no mention of forced sex.
    • Ingrid's trance state with the Mandragora. This results in horror and a mini-breakdown for Ingrid, but the rest of the cast utter 'oh noes' more akin to 'what a shame' than as if she had suffered a terrible ordeal. She herself insists she enjoyed it, adding to her general confusion.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Magic isn't "free", it has to come from somewhere. When Ingrid casts a spell to bring a loved one back to life, she learns that at some point in the future she will lose someone she loves.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Applies to all sets of sibling protagonists.
    • For Joanna and Wendy, usually played straight, Joanna being the responsible one to Wendy. However, they switch roles when it comes to the portal key, with Joanna wanting to keep it and Wendy wanting to destroy it.
    • For Freya and Ingrid, librarian Ingrid is the responsible one and bartender Freya the foolish one. After discovering they are witches, however, Ingrid becomes the foolish one by being very impulsive with magic, casting spells without warning or asking for help, and frequently having it backfire. Whereas Freya is much more reluctant to use her magic – a very responsible decision, considering how naive they are about it.
    • For Dash and Killian, Dash is presented as the responsible one, 'going to med school and being there for Mom' while Killian travels the world and can't settle down. Similarly to Ingrid and Freya, they switch sides after getting their powers back.
  • Geometric Magic: Pentagrams and other forms and symbols are part of successfully practicing witchcraft.
  • Hot Witch: Within the boundaries of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, most of the main cast.
  • Identical Grandson: In the first episode, Ingrid is seriously weirded out on finding a photo of one of her earlier, much earlier, incarnations. This is before we the audience know the truth, so we don't know what the hell's going on before the photo is destroyed.
  • Immortality: It's unclear whether or not all witches are immortal or if Wendy and Joanna have been specifically cursed to be immortal: Ingrid tells Dash that witches live much longer and age differently than other people, but the King specifically says he wants them to "live long and suffer" when he curses them. Their immortality certainly works differently than just not dying. Joanna has Nigh-Invulnerability, Wendy has Resurrective Immortality, and the girls have Born-Again Immortality.
  • Mage Species: Witchcraft is genetic. More precisely, all witches are not human, but are really from another world, namely Asgard.
  • Masquerade: The very first thing Ingrid and Freya learn about being a witch is that they must never tell anyone about it.
  • Language of Magic: Just speaking words in Latin will make things happen if someone has magic powers. Old Norse is said to be the older language of magic, with all magic coming from Asgard, though how does that works with all the "newer" magic in Latin is anyone's guess.
  • Mind Rape: Wendy essentially destroys Maura's mind as a side effect of the memory spell cast on her, resulting in her being institutionalized for terrifying delusions.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Archibald's courtesan wears a dress cut to the navel, cementing his status as a satanist/occultist in the 19th century. The big ol' orgy he's throwing when we meet him helps, too.
  • Noodle Incident: There are several mentions or brief flashes to past experiences of Joanna and her family which are only vaguely explained:
    • There's a sequence in S01E03 where Joanna pulls a flask, a gun, and a hammer out of a box, and then flashes back to the enemies she defeated using each of them without context as to who those people are.
    • Wendy mentions in passing how she once died by being eaten by an alligator. And once from syphilis.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Julia Ormond's native English accent comes out frequently.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: They can touch people who can see them (aka witches), they can affect electricity, and if they stick around on Earth for too long they'll remain stuck there.
  • Phantom-Zone Picture: One of Freya's ex-boyfriends from a past life is trapped in a painting. He escapes in S01E01 and tries to do the same to Freya, but is eventually trapped in another painting. And apparently he's not the only person the witches got rid of that way.
  • Post-Coital Collapse: In the pilot, we cut to a sweaty and breathless Dash as he rolls off of Freya in bed after they have their "goodbye sex" before he leaves the country to be a Doctor Without Borders, both carefully wrapped in a Modesty Bedsheet. He even comments on how good she is at her goodbyes, which is her way of trying to convince him to stay.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The guy trapped in the painting in the first episode goes on one against Freya when he gets out.
  • Satellite Character: In the first season, both the Gardiner brothers only have scenes and dialogue related to Freya. The second season tries to give them their own storylines, with varying success.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: The reason why Wendy ends up naked a couple of times when she turns into a cat and back into her human form again.
  • Shirtless Scene: Freddie Prinze Jr. gets one in the fourth episode. Wendy spends a moment Eating the Eye Candy before deciding that, no, she's not going to leave so soon. Both Gardner brothers and Frederick get their share throughout the series.
  • Skepticism Failure: Ingrid spends the first episode declaring herself a "rational skeptic" who doesn't believe in witchcraft, until of course she's then proven completely wrong.
  • Spooky Painting. A guy in a painting suddenly starts to move. See Phantom-Zone Picture above.
  • Stalker Shrine: As shown is S01E03, the shapeshifter has one filled with pictures of Joanna.
  • Tarot Troubles: The witches lay the cards a couple of times to find out various information, with the biggest importance placed on Freya's "Trickster and Emperor" spread, showing her being torn between the two brothers, of whom one - represented by "the trickster" - will be her destroyer and the other - the Emperor - is her soulmate. Unfortunately, there is no "trickster" Tarot card, though going by the function, the Magician, the Fool, or possibly even the Devil would work. The two cards are also shown to have a clear meaning, one positive and one negative.
  • Unwanted Harem: Joanna seems to have admirers popping up all the time, but she's unwilling to get involved with anyone.
  • Unwanted Revival: In S01E02 Ingrid doesn't know yet that Wendy will come back to life a few hours after being stabbed to death by the shapeshifter, and uses a spell to resurrect her. Wendy is less than pleased about it and informs Ingrid that sooner or later she'll have to pay the price by losing someone she loves.
  • The Weird Sisters: The book and the show revolve around a family of witches constituted by Joanna Beauchamp and her two grown-up daughters Ingrid and Freya. The show introduces a fourth witch, Wendy Beauchamp, who is Joanna's estranged sister.