When the reboot of Charmed was announced, I was skeptical of what an updated version of the beloved witch drama could bring to the table. However, in its first season alone, the show has given us impressive episodes dedicated to female mythical creatures such as succubuses, sirens, and actual manic pixie dream girls. In the episode “Switches & Stones” the creature in question is Medusa (Morgan Taylor Campbell), who has been turning students on the college campus to stone.
The Elders want to kill Medusa, as they would any other demon, but Macy (Madeleine Mantock) does some research and discovers Medusa was actually a witch, just like them. After being raped by Poseidon, Medusa was turned into a monster by a jealous Athena. “How is that fair – she’s the victim?” Macy asks.
Also, it turns out that Medusa isn’t picking her victims at random. She was accidentally summoned by a victim of revenge porn. The Charmed Ones discover the first statue was the taker of the images, with those who are sharing them also being targeted.
Unlike typical Greek mythology, this Medusa is attacking those who turn away from her gaze – people who are too afraid to look at her and accept they are part of the problem. Rather than go along with the Elders’ plan of killing Medusa, Macy tells her she sees her, that she knows she was “cursed to cover up the crime of a powerful man”, and that she can let go, which Medusa does.
Episodes like this demonstrate that ancient and seemingly irrelevant myths and fantasies can still be used to reflect real issues that are affecting women today. The tendency to victim blame, to slut shame, and to only see the flaws in those drawing attention to the issue is a real thing, and as Mel (Melonie Diaz) points out: “If we don’t do anything, we’re all complicit.”
It’s refreshing to see Charmed not rehashing the same storylines from the original run, but instead combining fantasy with contemporary themes and real issues. Medusa, “the patron demon of the slut-shamed,” is an excellent vehicle to show that angry women need to be listened to and not ignored.
Charmed is available to stream on Amazon, The CW, Google Play, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube. Follow Charmed on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and on the series’s website, and follow Claudia Yarmy on Twitter.