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Witches on The Rise: Tv's Next Supernatural Escapsim
The bills are piling up, the jobs are few and far between, war and terrorism spreads across the world. Had enough? I thought so. The current atmosphere and conditions of the world creates a need for coping. This coping comes in the form of escapism. The luxury of the western world is that individuals don't have to escape into their own worlds, copious worlds are created for them. This is done through music, books, movies and most of all television. Television is the perfect medium for escapism. It's like a movie but can be drawn out week to week, allowing the escape from reality to exist at least once a week. There are many topics that take the form of escapism but one of the more popular ones of the past few years is the supernatural. The supernatural trend has swept the country, changing past views on particular supernatural beings while also following a unique trend. This trend begins with a redefinition of vampires, moves on to werewolves and now is moving on to witches. Below I will briefly go over these escapist trends of the supernatural, laying out the general map of the procession.
For centuries there have been stories and folklore about vampires. Most of these stories, like Dracula, expressed vampires as evil. When the new trend of vampire escapism began to emerge in media, it also began to change their image. Now vampires, like people are projected as good, bad and everything in between. Some of the earlier shifts in vampire perceptions came with the series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the movie trilogy "Blade". In both show and movie there is a vampire fighting for the "good side" against the bad vampires. This transition to a good vampire, one with a soul (Angel and Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and a half human, half vampire (Blade) really went agianst most of the lore of the vampires of the past.
As we moved into the new millennium, we moved deeper into the vampirical trance of supernatural espcapism. Soon vampires would be all over the place, from the movie theater to the television set. Starting with the huge movie series, based on books, Twilight. This series really jumped started the whole vampire craze. Like it's predecssers it also projected vampires as good and bad like humans, adding new depth to the blood sucking dead. Shorty after the first movie premiered a television series aired on HBO, also based on a book, called True Blood. This series follows a number of supernatural beings in the politics of a Louisiana town after vampires come out of the coffin to the world. Once again this series illustrates the various degrees of good and evil of vampires, while also introducing other beings for escapism. Shorty after this series was aired, another series appeared on The CW network, called The Vampire Diaries, which is more geared towards the teenage crowd. This show also follows a human/vampire love story like Twilight and True Blood, showing once again that vampires are like humans, some are bad and some are good. This new vampire craze really picked up steam in pop culture and it makes sense considering these shows arrived during the economic recession, offering a great escape of entertainment. However it wasn't the last supernatural trend!
Next on the supernatural escapist trend is werewolves! This began to take hold with the team Edward verses team Jacob cultural phenomenon of Twilight. It also introduced Jacob, a werewolf into cultural spotlight. At the same time werewolves were showing up in Twilight, True Blood's third season introduced werewolves into their series. In True Blood, like the vampires of the last few years there are good ones and bad ones. Then their was the introduction of a semi minor character in The Vampire Diaries who discovers he is a werewolf. Finally the most recent werewolf to enter the scene is MTV's television series remake of Teen Wolf. Majority of these new werewolf characters are seen in a more positive light. This is interesting because at the same time television seemed to be switching to werewolves, Hollywood tried to cash in with a remake of The Wolfman which ended up being a flop. Was it a flop because it followed the more traditional werewolf?
Witches Casting a New Spell
Now on to the present, in the summer of 2011 and looks like the fall of 2011, witches will be casting a spell as the next trend in the supernatural escapsim. It began with the introduction of a witch in The Vampire Diaries, who is a powerful good witch. Next we have the current season (4) of True Blood, where we have a number of witches and covens introduced. Although the plot is still unfolding, it seems to be a group of good witches as well as bad witches in the series. Now on to the news that sparked my interest on this supernatural trend. The CW network is releasing a new television series in the fall called The Secret Circle, which is about a high school drama surrounding a coven of witches. Is the trend growing? will witches be casting a spell on pop culture or will it peak with this series? Only time will tell.
Whether its vampires, werewolves, witches or any other supernatural element, what's really popular is the outlet of escapism that these stories create for people. So at the moment witches are on the rise as tv's next supernatural escapism.
2013 Witches of East End
Although The Secret Circle was cancelled after just one season, the CW's two big vampire shows, The Vampire Diaries (TVD) and The Originals (a spinoff of TVD) still have a large presence of witches in the story lines.
Now in fall 2013, the woman's focused network channel 'Lifetime' has started up a new show based on witches called 'Witches of East End'. The series has a Charmed-esque vibe but is definitely different then the 90's drama.
The new drama follows four witches who live cursed lives in the east coast town of East End. The mother is immortal, her sister has multiple lives and her two daughters only live to their late 20's before dying and being reborn again, never remembering the life they had before. There is also other supernatural enemies in East End including a shapeshifter and an immortal lawyer.
The show looks to have promise in filling the void of witch centric shows on the television at the moment. Only time will tell if Lifetime has cast the right spell on tv audiences!
are Faires on the Horizon?...update 2/11/12
In the very definition of a trend, they come, they go and they evolve. I see an evolution occurring once again in the the entertainment world. We seem to be still diving into supernatural escapism with Witches at the forefront but a branch of the fae (fairy) is breaking off. Now what is the fay? They are fairies. Now it's only a branch of the supernatural escapist tree but enough references to the supernatural beings have popped up over time that i thought it would be worth mentioning. The first time I heard the term fae was in True Blood in reference to one of the characters, a main character that is. Although the term is old I had never heard it before and soon found out it is just another name for Fairy. Although it is a crucial part of the plot in True Blood, it doesn't over take any one season like the witches did in season 4, this past summer (2011). If this was the only reference to fay on television it wouldn't be a trend, however a show recently premiered on the SyFy network called "Lost Girl" , which if you haven't guessed is about fae.
The show "Lost Girl" did just premier in the United States on January 16, 2012, however it is originally a Canadian show that is currently on it's third season on the Showcase Channel. This show focuses on a young woman named Bo, played by actress Anna Silk, who as strange abilities that she couldn't explain, that is until she discovers the hierarchy of fae. The audience learns much more in this show about the legends of fae (fairies) then they ever did from Tinker Bell. Both True Blood and Lost Girl reference a hierarchy to the fairy world, as well as the half breeds that are born from fairy/human relationships. In Lost Girl the audience dives even deeper then in True Blood to discover various types of fairy, including Succubus (a fairy that feeds off human energy), which Bo is. This new addition to the supernatural entities on television might not go as mainstream or crazy as the vampire, werewolves, and witches phases went but could be a significant branch on that same track to escapism. (P.S. of what I saw so far Lost Girl isn't too bad)