The CW’s “Charmed” reboot sparked controversy almost as soon as it was announced last January.
Unlike the host of other revivals in today’s TV landscape—“Will and Grace,” “Murphy Brown,” “Veronica Mars” — the original cast isn’t involved and it doesn’t have their blessing. Quite the opposite.
“I know the show is a big part of their identity, I’m not exactly sure why some of them are not happy,” says Melonie Diaz, 34, who stars in the reboot as middle sister Mel Vera.
When the network proclaimed the new “Charmed” would add a “feminist” angle, Holly Marie Combs, who starred in the original WB series (1998-2006) as Piper Halliwell, tweeted “Guess we forgot to do that the first go around. Hmph.” Shannen Doherty (Prue) tweeted a similar sentiment.
‘I’m thankful to them … We don’t want a fight.’
“I wish they would have come to us and we would have been involved since the beginning,” Alyssa Milano, who played Phoebe, told “Entertainment Tonight.”
“I’m thankful to them and I hope they can be part of our show,” Diaz says. “We’re really open to it. We don’t want a fight.”
The original “Charmed” had a strong following, drawing 7.7 million viewers for its pilot alone. With a whopping 178 episodes, it was the network’s second-longest running drama (after “7th Heaven”). It was also the longest running hour-long drama with exclusively female leads until “Desperate Housewives” claimed that title in 2012.
Premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. and helmed by the creators of “Jane the Virgin” (Jessica O’Toole, Amy Rardin, and Jennie Snyder Urman), the new “Charmed” has the same basic plot as the original: three sisters (Diaz, Madeleine Mantock and Sarah Jeffery) discover that they’re witches and ascend into their powers to protect the world from evil—all while balancing dating and college.
But that’s where the similarities end.
The sisters are a mixture of Latina and Afro-Caribbean. Diaz’s character Mel is lesbian, and their last name is “Vera” instead of “Halliwell.” The setting is a fictional Michigan college town instead of the original’s San Francisco, while oldest sister Macy (Mantock) doesn’t enter the family until later. They also all have “M” names instead of “P” names.
“Jennie [Snyder Urman] did a show that was groundbreaking that people really responded to,” says Diaz, referring to “Jane the Virgin.”
“She felt so moved and empowered by that, she felt like she couldn’t go backwards. As a woman of color, I feel like we’re not the minority anymore. And entertainment and television and film really should reflect that.
“I think she takes it seriously and wants her shows to be representative of all people and be really inclusive.”
Diaz stresses that regardless of their sentiments, the reboot’s sense of inclusiveness extends to the original cast members.
“We would love to have them be on our show,” she says. “I think people would lose their minds, in a good way.
“That would be incredible if we could have that happen.”