Witches casting a spell over Hollywood

Posted at 12:39 PM, Oct 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-09 15:27:05-04

By Henry Hanks

(CNN) — Sorry, Edward Cullen. Catch you later, Damon Salvatore. And all of you Walkers can take a hike.

After several years of success with vampires, zombies and (to a lesser extent) werewolves, Hollywood now can’t seem to get enough of witches.

Lifetime debuted its high-profile series “Witches of East End” on Sunday night, and tonight comes the premiere of the third season of “American Horror Story,” also focusing on witchcraft, subtitled “Coven.”

On the big screen this year, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz bewitched James Franco in the smash hit movie “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

Even the CW’s much-hyped “Vampire Diaries” spinoff, “The Originals,” focuses on spell-casters in a big way.

And this is all taking place while there is a Halloween season surge in popularity for Disney’s “Hocus Pocus,” celebrating its 20th anniversary.

What’s behind this interest in witchcraft on the big and small screens, right as we approach the 50th anniversary of “Bewitched,” no less?

“Witchy women with magical mysterious powers suggest a wealth of storylines,” said TV critic Ed Bark.

“And since ‘Bewitched,’ witches have seldom been entirely out of the TV mix. It also helps, of course, if you’re a comely, voluptuous witch. Haggard Wicked Witches from the old-school ‘Wizard of Oz’ mold need not apply.”

Bark recalled a line from “Witches of East End”: “You only have one superpower, and it’s your breasts.”

Allison Keene of the Hollywood Reporter noted that Hollywood’s modern witches all tend to be uniformly attractive as well.

“The current female witches on TV (there are no high-profile male wizards or warlocks, like a Harry Potter figure) are also really sexy,” she said.

“So, maybe they’re a kind of gendered response to the suave, seductive male vampire figure. Or maybe it’s just cyclical, and all of the childhood fans of ‘Hocus Pocus,’ ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ and ‘Charmed’ are writing for TV now!”

Keene thinks it’s a positive trend overall.

“Vampires, zombies and werewolves have all gotten so much attention lately, I think we’re definitely reaching a saturation point,” she said.

“The featured supernatural characters on those shows are usually men, too (not exclusively, but overwhelmingly). These new witch characters are giving women more power and agency to control their destinies, instead of just being objects of desire in need of saving, which is a nice change.”

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