"It's really ironic, and kind of sad, that a show which condemns prejudice is so prejudiced against."

                  By Arfies


"It's Sexist!"

Why would Samantha, an all-powerful witch who could have almost anything she desired with just a twitch of her nose, choose to marry a man who forbade her to use her natural powers of witchcraft? That is a (good) question, which Endora brought up constantly. This is seen in # 91, Sam in the Moon:

"I can't see where I went wrong. I brought you up as a proper witch, taught you all the best incantations, and here you are, married to a mortal, doing the most menial tasks–a fallen woman."

And yet, Samantha was still content with being a then"typical housewife drudge." A satirical spin on '60s suburbia. The other witches and warlocks of the show thought this way of life was ridiculous- which was all right, since "mere mortals" judged the jet-set lives of the empowered to be pretty ridiculous themselves.

Endora always mocked "Durwood" about his existence and that mortal's desire to earn things by working for them- the "hard way." But when he received those things, it would just mean much more than it would have otherwise. Samantha recognized that. Emotional fulfillment was one of those things that couldn't simply be "zapped up." But it was something that she wanted badly enough to sacrifice her heritage for.

Even in the pilot episode, it's shown that Sam was the one who first made the choice not to use witchcraft in her marriage. Darrin didn't force it on his wife to begin with, but why did he agree with her on the decision and end up, at times, yelling, "I forbid you to use witchcraft in this house!"?

Possible reasons:

1. It scared him out of his wits. Who wouldn't be terrified of a spouse who could turn you into an artichoke if you even slightly annoyed them? If they had the power to make the world as you know it turn upside-down (literally)? Add this to the fact that Samantha didn't even tell Darrin that she was a witch until after they married–a huge part of her life kept secret from him, letting her future husband think that he knew all about the woman he was going to marry. Finding out this was not the case would be a shock to anyone.

2. Male ego. Perhaps Darrin viewed his wife's unlimited power as a threat to his masculinity and position as Head of Household in the pre-Women's Lib 1960s–and felt bad about it. Darrin says this himself in "A is for Aardvark" (a great example, along with being a great episode):

DARRIN: You know, I have been thinking. And I've come to a conclusion: I've been selfish, stupid, and unreasonable. And I want to ask your forgiveness.
SAM: I don't know what you're talking about.
DARRIN: Well, when we were married, you tried to fit your way into my scheme of life.
SAM: I love you- I want you to be happy.
DARRIN: But what did I want? I wanted you to give up everything that was natural to you- I said "No more witchcraft, give it up", that's what I said. Isn't that what I said?
SAM: Yes. But I understand.
DARRIN: That's because you kept an open mind. But not me. No. My mind was closed, just like a clamshell.  


DARRIN*: Why have I said to you, "No witchcraft! Don't help me. Don't help yourself. Why? I ask you why. Well, I'll tell you why: it was ego. If I couldn't do it, I didn't want you to do it. If I couldn't give something to you, I didn't want you to have it. Ego. Pure ego. Simple as that."

* This dialogue is cut from Hallmark's version.

3. He was afraid for Samantha's well-being. Especially with nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz always spying on the Stephens, convinced that "There's something funny going on in that house, and I'm going to find out what!" The what-if-the-authorities-DID-find-out dream sequences of "Sam in the Moon" and "I Confess" showed the very real dangers it would bring if that ever did happen. The very word "witch" even today sparks feelings of fear and hatred in some people (see the next topic :p). So much for "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" (although Darrin did love Sam– no matter what).

The Stephens Family Once the Secret is Revealed in #135

When Charlie Leach, P.I., does the spying in his episodes, Darrin pleads Sam to not use witchcraft- until Samantha mentions that Leach was around Tabitha and her carriage. The protective dad then changes his tone completely, telling Sam if Charlie Leach ever came around she and Tabitha again, do whatever would be necessary to keep the spy away.

No matter "witch" way it's looked at, the decision of "no witchcraft" was really more of a mutual agreement between the two of them. If Bewitched actually was sexist, Darrin would have forced his wife to zap up everything in the world for him, then demand a divorce. (That didn't happen). Samantha never would have questioned the mortal woman's strange role as Obedient Housewife. (She questioned it.) When the couple had a fight, Samantha would never have actually yelled at Darrin.(She did. *Gasp!*) And Endora would never have presented the common-sense view of the whole situation, known today as feminism. (Even if the witch mother's viewpoint involved turning her daughter's husband into an artichoke.)


"It Is the Work of SATAN! All Involved Must Suffer Eternal Damnation!!!"

Good Lord. (And that is meant wholeheartedly.)

Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, various fairy tales, and yes, Bewitched, are among the entertainment entities sometimes accused by conservative religious groups for "promoting Satanism." Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, Samantha was NOT an evil witch. Her powers, when used, were really for the greater good. Real witches, as in practitioners of Wicca, believe this. Wicca is a nature-based religion, not even believing in the Christian invention of "the devil", much less worshiping him (despite what some ignorant conservatives may want to think) . The Wiccan motto (with some variations on it) is as follows:

'An it harm none, do as ye will.' In other words, it is forbidden to use witchcraft for evil purposes. For an in-depth look at the history of witches, Wiccan or otherwise, click here.

Being a witch was not even a religion on the show, but a birthright. And Samantha was definitely NOT against Christians or anyone else's beliefs. In fact, in "Love is Blind", she was in a church for Kermit and Gertrude's wedding. For more information on this topic of "diSPELLing" and how the show certainly didn't "speak Satan's tongue," read the chapter "This Witch for Hire, on Fire" in Herbie J. Pilato's book, Bewitched Forever.

Ronald G. Lapp, in a Bewitched message board post, brought up some VERY good points found in pages 155-156 of The Secret Life of a Satanist by Blanche Barton. It's revealed that Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, HATED Bewitched. Lapp's response:

If Bewitched was a recruiting poster for Satanism, wouldn't Anton LaVey LOVE the show? After all, Satanism made him very rich, and Bewitched, if it was pro-Satan, would have only made him richer.

Some closed-minded conservatives still don't care, despite all of the points made, and always seem to quote the exact same Biblical passage from Deuteronomy 18:10-12, with "occult" words bolded for effect (not by the author of this essay.):

"There shall not be found among you anyone who . . . practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord..."

They always, for some reason, seem to leave out the beginning of Deuteronomy 18:10, which is:

"For example, any Israeli who presents his child to be burned to death as a sacrifice to heathen gods must be killed."

So basically the Bible is saying to the Israelis, "don't practice evil magic," which makes perfect sense. But when twisted and taken out of context (as with any quote, from the Bible or otherwise) can come to mean anything- even that a kind, loving, understanding woman who has brought happiness to all must suddenly be condemned to Hell. . . .just because she happens to be a [good] witch. Not because God said so; but because people who are convinced that they alone are right, that anyone who thinks differently than them, even in the slightest, are wrong; are the ones who said that.

Some final words to this topic by the insightful Ronald G. Lapp, talking about these closed-minded people, who are really missing out on a great piece of classic Americana:

Their minds are made up. I know. I have been attacked by the same group. I just ask them how many wars has Bewitched caused, how many people have been tortured in the TV show's name, how many children have been killed because of the show? If they're honest, which most of them are not, the answer is none. Now I tell them how many people were killed in their religion's name, how many wars have been caused by their religion, etc. Usually you'll find that the reason they hate Bewitched is because it promotes the strongest faith of them all . . . . LOVE!




"They Drink Too Much on That Show!"

It may seem that anywhere on Bewitched, there would be either Larry Tate throwing back a martini or Darrin saying, "Make it a double, Sam!" The amount of "alcohol" consumed on the show (it wasn't actually real . . . most of the time. . . .) has driven some parents to forbid their children from even watching the classic series. There are no known cases, if any, of people who have become alcoholics by watching Bewitched.

Many shows, movies, and books from years past featured social drinking. It was an accepted part of life in that era. For example, the author's grandpa was an executive in the 1960s, and "entertaining" was serving drinks. A sign of the times.

Nowadays, out of "political correctedness", this custom is no longer shown on television as much- in hopes of reducing the number of youths driven to drink. In fact, the #1 cause of that is Influence of Peers and Family–NOT television.

Drunkenness, whether Darrin, Larry, or, well, the Drunk has it, is portrayed as not being too much fun. Not only do they look (and feel) strange, but they also end up seeing some pretty weird things (whether or not those things were real, they wouldn't know.) It could always be blamed on the alcohol.

Promoting it? A-hah! A-hah! A-hah! A-hah. . . .nothing. Hiccup.

*Another interesting note: Americans drank the most during Prohibition.


"What's With All the Dumb Cast Changes?"

The show must go on, for whatever reason. The (in)famous "Darrin Switch" is most remembered for completely changing the looks, attitude, and actor of the male lead with no explanation. (It was all part of an elaborate spell cast on the male descendants of Grover the Morph by wood nymphs and- oh, never mind, just pop over to Fan Fiction). But for the real reasons behind the changes in the cast, here's a quickie guide:

Dick York (1964-1969) to Dick Sargent (1969-1972) as Darrin Stephens

REASON: York suffered a back injury which left him with an addiction to painkillers. It was a tough decision, but it was clear that he couldn't work anymore without feeling immense pain.

Alice Pearce (1964-1966) to Sandra Gould (1966-1971) as Gladys Kravitz

REASON: Pearce passed away from cancer in 1966. As for Gould not appearing in 1972, it was because the Kravitzes were never seen in the last season of the show.

Irene Vernon (1964-1966) to Kasey Rogers (1966-1972) as Louise Tate

REASON: Vernon left to pursue a career in real estate.

Robert F. Simon (Beginning in 1964) to Roy Roberts (Beginning in 1967) as Frank Stephens

REASON: If one actor wasn't available at the time, the studio would use the other actor.

More cast changes with many different actors and actresses in the same role (such as those for Darrin's secretary, Betty) happened as well. Different sets of twins were employed to play the little Stephens children, but it eventually settled down to Erin & Diane Murphy (mostly Erin) as Tabitha Stephens and David & Greg Lawrence as Adam Stephens.

No matter who was switched, it was always determined that each role played was key to the series (therefore, shouldn't be done away with). In that sense, Bewitched could really be viewed as two different, yet similar, shows (Or four. . . or six . . . or eight. . .)


"Every Episode has the Exact Same Plot!"

Endora casts a spell on Darrin, mayhem ensues, and Samantha has to explain that it was all part of a brilliant ad campaign. That's all Bewitched is, right? Wrong! Here's a chart showing which episodes did indeed have this "exact same plot":

Season Total Eps. Eps. w/ This Percentage
1 36 0 0
2 38 1-#43 2.6%
3 33 0 0%
4 33 2-#110 and #112 6.1%
5 30 2- #146 and #153 6.7%
6 29 3- #s 183, 187, and 199 10.3%
7 28 3-#s 210, 220, and 227 10.7%
8 26 0 0%
ALL 254 11 4.3%

A measly 4.3% of the episodes turn out to have the "exact same plot"–a far cry from ALL of them!

If variations were to be put on this "formula", of course there would be more episodes on the list, especially in the later years. But think about it–EVERY SHOW ON THE AIR can be put into a "formula" if it's generalized enough!


"It's Another Typical Stupid '60s Sitcom!"

WHAT?! Just because it started a fad of "weird" situation comedies then? Bewitched easily raised above its competition (and imitators) as a show of quality, sophistication, and endurance (It lasted longer than any other show of its genre: for 8 years–that's long for any sitcom!)

While other domestic comedies of its time had a perfect little neighborhood, with perfect little people, who got into cute un-perfect little predicaments, but resolved them all in a perfect little half-hour, Bewitched didn't (although it was a half-hour). It put all of this perfect little suburban TV world into a satire as looked at by another culture- so different from our own, but alike in the way they relate to each other. . . like real people. They're just unreal by our standards, that's all.

The Typical Suburban Morning on Morning Glory Circle

Years before TV sitcoms became "realistic", this series could address issues such as prejudice, racism, wealth, finding true happiness, and married couples who sleep in the same bed on TV (How scandalous!)

All of that was acceptable because Bewitched was, and still is, after all, a fantasy–but one that can still spark controversy (hence the need for this essay).

It still influences people today (though not submissive women, Satanists, alcoholics, cynics, and so forth.)

And hey, remember this: It's 'just' a sitcom. Imagine that!




    • All of you who have posted your thoughts on these issues on the Harpies Bizarre message board. Thank you!
    • Pilato, Herbie J. Bewitched Forever: The Immortal Companion to Television's Most Magical Supernatural Situation Comedy. 2nd edition. Irving, TX: Summit Publishing Group, 2001.
    • Lapp, Ronald G. "Re: I'm not a Satanist." http://www.bewitched.net/wwwboard/1476.shtml May 12, 1999. and "Re: I'm not a Satanist." http://www.bewitched.net/wwwboard/1521.shtml May 19, 1999.
    • "Which Witch is Which?" http://wintersteel.homestead.com/files/JamesArticles/Which_Witch_is_Which.htm.