Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Bewitched"


At impressionable ages, we're affected by the culture around us. In my childhood, I was deeply affected by a television show called "Bewitched." It was hugely popular in the 1960's and later syndicated so you may have seen it. Have you?

The show is noteworthy for several reasons but what hit me was its surprising presentation of women. The show centers on a woman, Samantha, who is ostensibly a suburban housewife. Her character is contradictory -- on the outside, she looks like a traditionally feminine housewife but, in reality, she's a witch with potent powers (to move objects, cast spells, change people's minds). Samantha struggles to conceal her powers, especially from her husband, because displaying power was considered unfeminine back then. While her husband knows she's a witch, Samantha promised him to refrain from exercising her powers except in emergencies.

Thus, while Samantha is frequently in control of domestic situations, she pretends not to be. When aware of hidden realities, she pretends she's clueless. In essence, the scripts frequently plume the conundrum that women of that era faced -- how to reconcile their natural abilities with restrictive social expectations. Not insignificantly, Samantha uses a male nickname ("Sam") which hints at this.

I'm sure many kids, mostly girls but also me, learned about gender from this light-hearted comedy. How should women behave when they possess real power? Flaunt it? No. Display it openly? No. Use it for good without taking credit? Yes. There are important social lessons being taught by this show.

The first season (which is the best) is now on DVD and I've been re-watching it, this time with wiser eyes. In addition to the show's social dynamics, I'm reminded of how mesmerized I was at Samantha's extremely attractive femininity. Truthfully, I still am. Sam wears beautiful cocktail dresses (even when doing nothing at home), always has on false eyelashes and full makeup, and stands tall in high-heeled pumps. She's effortlessly gorgeous in a traditional way. And that effortlessness took hours of work by costume-designers and makeup-artists. I'm attaching some pictures below which demonstrate this.

Did you watch the show? What did you think of it?


 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

26 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I loved Bewitched!! And yes, she was so pretty!!!x

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  2. I adored Bewitched as a kid. And the clothes!

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. The clothes are why I'm re-watching it now!

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  3. I loved that show but it took this post to help me see the symbolism - women hiding and muting their powers. Wasn't Elizabeth Montgomery so beautiful too?

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    1. She was gorgeous. The message of the show is plain and repeated but when you're a kid, it's invisible. Looking at it as an adult is startling.

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  4. Oldie but goodie! I loved this show and you're right Samantha always let her husband Darren be the man of the house she never flaunted her actual power over him and things she did to 'help' him along. I would be watching this show with a whole new perspective now. Thanks for sharing!

    www.dressed2dnines.com

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  5. That and I Dream of Jeanie were two of my favorite shows growing up

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  6. Yeah. I didn't get the symbolism of a woman's secret power when I was a kid watching this but I loved it when Samantha secretly used her magic to do something awesome. We'd all like a little of that skill...not to mention her killer wardrobe!

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  7. Yes, I grew up watching it (reruns) in the seventies. Samantha was my idea of perfect womanhood and I wanted to be here, magic included. I also watched I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch, That Girl and Gilligan's Island. In the evenings I saw Mary Tyler Moore with my parents. It now sounds like I watched a lot of television but I really didn't. My watching was monitored and limited. I am not sure how much I was affected by these older versions of womanhood, which were already becoming outdated by the seventies. I did have a stay at home mother and I think that while I grew up expecting that I would go to university and have a career, I also think I believed I would give it up to stay home and be a wife and mother. It did not turn out that way, of course. I do remember feeling frustrated that Samantha went along with Darren's ridiculous notions and that she stifled who she really was, but I was also aware that she was more powerful than he was. It confused me a bit, I think. I couldn't understand why she had to do it. I would have been too young to comprehend that men might be threatened by female power. Great post, Ally! I could sit by a fire with a glass of wine and chat about this one for hours! xoxox

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  8. I loved that show :) Thanks for the memory!

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  9. Bewitched reruns were my fave growing up!

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  10. I haven't watched the show but I am intrigued now!

    -Kati

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  11. I was completely obsessed with Bewitched growing up. I absolutely loved it.I guess I never really thought about it too much until reading your post. You're so right about all of it. Samantha really was in charge, but always let Darren believe it was him...interesting...
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.com

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  12. I was obsessed with this show when I was a kid and also with I dream of Jeannie, I wanted to have those powers ! Oh and Samantha's mother was so funny, I loved her, LOL ! Kisses

    Fashion and Cookies - fashion and beauty blog

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  13. The show was even on TV in The Netherlands. And I loved it. Light hearted fun. And indeed princess dresses.
    Greetje

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  14. I loved this show. I'm seeing some of the themes with a new light after reading your take on it though. I might have to go and rewatch it myself.

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  15. I watched the show, but I believe they were reruns when I began watching it. It was definitely a creative and fun show. More shows need to be this way.

    Kia / KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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  16. I perfectly remember the show! It was Vita da Strega in Italy! And I loved Samanta: so nice and perfectly elegant ...

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  17. It was on reruns when I saw it, yes as I kid I thought it was great fun. I dream of Jeanie on the other hand. Hmmmm.

    Allie of ALLIENYC
    allienyc.com

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  18. Very interesting perspective. I used to watch this show all of the time late nights during the summer on Nick at Nite when I was young. However, being within the ages of 8-11, I didn't fully understand the show's cultural undertones. You raised a really interesting point that stuck with me...

    "In essence, the scripts frequently plume the conundrum that women of that era faced -- how to reconcile their natural abilities with restrictive social expectations."

    Will definitely need to watch some re-runs! Lucy on the other hand... I've got that one down! xx

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  19. I watched Bewitched as a kid. As an adult I realized all of those things you are talking about (they also crop up in that movie from the 50s "Bell, Book and Candle"). And as an adult I find I enjoy Endora the most, ha ha!!

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    1. She's great -- crazy eye-shadow and all.

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  20. Oh yes Ally ! I use to watch this show while growing up and absolutely loved it which is why when the Bewitched movie was made starring Nicole Kidman I did not even think of watching it - it could never top the original series.

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  21. Yes I watched it, yes, she was Fabulous and not your Ordinary run-of-the-mill Woman of her Era... much like my own Mom who was always Inspirational to me because she did Boheme' so well and before it was socially acceptable to be so different! The Show of my Childhood Era that most deeply affected me because I could Connect to it {and still do} was the Old Addams Family Series... Morticia was and still is my Idol, she and Gomez Shared a Relationship that was quite Sensual by the Standards of the time and that obvious Chemistry was missing in so many TV Unions where you couldn't even imagine they had intimacy in the relationship becoz everything was so sensored in those days! The Addams Household was more like the one I grew up in, Quirky and bold about being themselves despite public opinion... rebellious in a subtle way because frankly it was just their way of Being and not intentionally going against the grain of Society... they were just True to themselves and couldn't understand why anyone thought it odd. LOL ... Dawn... The Bohemian

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  22. Great post and look at one of the most iconic sitcoms of the 1960s. I grew up with reruns of this show and always preferred it to its TV peer, I Dream of Jeannie (nothing again IDOJ, I just feel like I can relate to Sam far more than I can Jeannie).

    ♥ Jessica

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  23. Oh my, I used to practice the nose wiggle she did! My that brings back memories. The clothes were fabulous even though I was a tomboy as a kid. It's amazing looking back at it now from adult eyes exactly as you've described.

    http://petitesilvervixen.blogspot.co.uk/

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