Hello all, and welcome to a non-Sunday surprise special post. Sometimes I’m struck by how little the media makes of us who practice witchcraft, or how much they attribute to us; alternatively, I might be impressed. This is not one of those times.
I recently watched a Netflix series called Good Witch tout of curiosity; it was produced by Whizbang Films in association with ITC studios and Hallmark. From what I understand, it was preceded by a series of made-for-TV-movies by the same name, starring the same actress, Catherine Bell, which, full disclaimer: I haven’t watched.
The series focuses on Bell’s character, Cassie Nightingale, who is a newly-widowed woman with a teenage daughter named Bailee, and lives in ‘Grey House’ with her daughter and father-in-law in a town called Middleton. She also runs a shop named ‘Bell, Book, and Candle’. New neighbors in the form of James Denton’s character Sam Radford, a new doctor, and his son Nick played by Rhys Matthew Bond. The skeptical doctor is initially at odds with Cassie, who is an herbalist and seems to have helped many people in town with her teas and medicines. However, he finds himself a little off balance as things seem to happen around Cassie; she opens stuck doors with a touch, seems to know things before they happen, and plays at nudging destiny on its course.
I appreciate that herbalism gets more than its due in this series, but it isn’t preachy or anti-pharma (though decidedly anti-caffeine). It’s implied that Cassie urges people who come to her for help to seek medical treatment, which is responsible. In a non-witchy way, I appreciate the characters and the drama, sometimes (It gets a bit…weird when we’re having heart-felt moments in the first episode with characters I haven’t seen before). Nick’s struggle with his divorced parents and finding a place for himself in Middleton when he came from New York was engaging. I also really enjoyed Abigail, played by Sarah Power, who often helped things along by ‘stirring the pot’. Cassie’s shop, Bell Book and Candle, is probably a place I would go to to find myself something witchy, were I to live in a town that didn’t already have a metaphysical shop. Maybe Cassie has actual books on witchcraft she keeps in the back. Who knows.
The thing that bothered me about this series the whole way through, though, is that Cassie could easily be read as an exceptionally lucky herbalist with powers of premonition. I’m not of the opinion that just having clairvoyance makes you a witch. After all, I lived for years experiencing dreams of the future and never called myself one. No one ever outright states that she’s a witch, or actually magical, or anything. I kept thinking there was going to be a scene in which Cassie was revealed to be practicing magic, or hell, even reading tarot or something, but it never comes. I enjoyed the series for what it was, but I can’t help but be a little bit disappointed, because I was expecting something more. Not that there’s a shortage of acceptably witchy media out there, but it would have been nice to have a very down-to-Earth witch with a passion for plant magic and doing the simple act of helping people. I felt like that might demystify some of us non-fictional witches, and open up perceptions of what witchcraft can be.