1960s, ABC, acceptance, Agnes Moorehead, authenticity, barriers, Bewitched, civil rights, classic tv, comedy, different, Elizabeth Montgomery, equality, gender, identity, lgbt, marginalization, marriage equality, mixed marriages, popular culture, prejudice, racism, relationships, rhetoric, rhetoric in popular culture, sitcom, social commentary, social issues, social message, society, stereotypes, tolerance, truth, tv, understanding
Remembering, Elizabeth Montgomery, this week, who passed away on May 18, 1995, at the age of 62, from colorectal cancer. The late actress is best known for her role as, Samantha Stephens, on the long-running sitcom, Bewitched, which ran on ABC, from 1964-1972. The series ran for 8 seasons and is considered one of The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, according to TV Guide. It’s one my favorites, for sure. The lead character, Samantha, has spunk, in a time when it may not have been popular for a woman to behave that way. And she also happens to be a witch, who marries a mortal! Talk about scandal!! 😉 In the very first episode we see Samantha meet Advertising Executive, Darrin Stephens. The two fall in love, marry, and shortly thereafter, her identity, as a witch, is revealed to her new husband.
And that sets up the theme for the entire show. And what I love most about the series. Seeing a mixed marriage represented and despite being met by disapproval by other characters, especially Samantha’s mother, the couple forged ahead anyway. It’s why, I think, the show remains so memorable and why it remains so relevant all these years later. The subject of prejudice and racism and marriage equality are conversations we’re still having today. These are issues close to a lot of people’s hearts and it’s great to see them portrayed onscreen, through good story-telling, with humor and emotion, without being confrontational. The series did a great job exposing bias and demonstrated just how misguided society can be about people or groups they really know nothing about, other than what they might have been falsely led to believe. In Bewitched, witches could be used as a metaphor for any marginalized group within society. Replace witch with people of color, the LGBT community, or any other minority group and you’ll see what I mean.
Some of the classic episodes in the series that highlighted prejudice and negative stereotypes particularly well, were Season 1’s, “The Witches Are Out” and Season 7’s, “Sisters of The Heart.”
In this clip, we see Samantha and other witches trying to dispel the negative image of witches. I love the protest signs they come up with, “Witches Are People Too” and how they tell Darrin’s client, “We want the world to know you for who you really are.”
In this clip from “Sisters of the Heart,” we see Samantha and Darrin’s little girl, Tabitha, wanting to be sisters with her friend, regardless of the fact they are of a different skin color.
Bewitched, pilot episode. “I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha.” Darrin learns his wife is a witch. And Samantha accuses him of being prejudiced.
If you’d like to see more Bewitched and really see these issues tackled in a more complete way, the full series is available on Hulu or DVD.