“Witches of East End”: Come for the magic, stay for the campiness

By EDEN LITTRELL ’14

Sports and Wellness Editor

From “American Horror Story: Coven” to NBC’s rumored reboot of “Charmed,” it seems like witches have captured the hearts of television viewers—or at least television executives. Lifetime’s new fall show “Witches of East End,” based on Melissa de Cruz’s novel of the same name and centering on a family of witches, continues this witchy trend. Although the trailers, featuring actors gazing into the middle distance, seem melodramatic to the point of farce, “Witches of East End” is actually an enjoyable way to spend an hour.

The show revolves around Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond) and her adult daughters, Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and Ingrid (Rachel Boston). Joanna, an immortal, has been cursed with ceaseless motherhood over the centuries, doomed to lose her daughters only to have them be reborn time and again. This time around she has decided to keep her daughters’ powers a secret from them. Inevitably Joanna fails, and the first episode sees Freya and Ingrid rediscovering their powers just as a powerful enemy bent on killing the Beauchamps arrives.

The critical reception of “Witches” has been positive, but not overwhelmingly so, as the 68 percent Rotten Tomatoes score shows. For a show that gleefully borrows from soap opera, even that rating is an impressive feat. Part of its charm is that it deliberately leaves the serious television world of other Sunday shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Homeland” behind, and is so campy that it would be worthy of an eye roll if it were anything other than intentional.

The high points are many, including Joanna’s similarly long-lived sister, Wendy (Mädchen Amick). Amick is the standout among the cast so far, delivering ridiculous lines with panache and bringing fun to otherwise cliché scenes, allowing them to reach their true cheesy potential. Other highlights include the strong sisterly bond between Ingrid and Freya, and intriguing flashbacks to Joanna’s past.

One weakness is the love triangle between Freya, her fiancé and his brother, which, despite being populated by ridiculously good-looking people, slows the pace of the rest of the story. In contrast, Ingrid’s friends and love interest are much more compelling, perhaps because they’re given more to do than smolder at each other.

“Witches of East End” offers a handful of family drama, a pinch of magic and a dusting of romance with a side of cheese. Tune in on Lifetime, Sundays at 10:00 p.m.

Eden is a senior who does not have, nor desire, a twitter. She can frequently be seen at the KSC harassing hardworking coaches for quotes and training for the zombie apocalypse.

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