Totally Charmed

From Cole’s downfall and Phoebe’s somewhat questionable fashion sense to the power of three in history and literature and a magical tourist’s guide to the Halliwells’s hometown of San Francisco, this clever, lighthearted essay collection offers a fun and funny look at the world of the WB hit series Charmed.

Edited by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Crusie, these accessible and entertaining essays apply the wit and insight of one of today’s leading romance authors to the stylish, occasionally campy fan favorite known for its scandalous outfits, revolving door of love interests, and the magical mayhem of three otherwise normal sisters who must fight against evil as they deal with the challenges of everyday life.

“I found myself enjoying these deep, analytical explorations of a show I rarely watched. The hypotheses made and the arguments supporting them are interesting, and often quite fun. (“Charmed” fans must, by the show’s very nature, have a good sense of humor, and that comes through in many of these essays.)” — Tom K., Amazon reviewer

Whether a witch by reputation or through inherited powers, every girl deserves a little love.

It could be argued, in fact, that witches need all they can get, maybe even more than most women considering the constant uncertainty in their lives—uncertainty that is about more than filling a social calendar or hitting upcoming sample sales or making ends meet or balancing overtime with aerobics.

Seriously, what woman wouldn’t want a strong, supportive man to turn to at the end of a long day spent battling warlocks and sorcerers, demons and ghosts?

Picture it. An intimate wine and candlelight dinner (or even burgers and fries by flashlight) over which to discuss the latest auction house acquisition or exclusive catering booking or shape shifter annihilation. Follow that with a nice back rub or foot massage before cuddling up to a big male body and letting him, like Calgon, take you away.

Mmm-mmm-mmm. All the stuff that makes romance fiction romance fiction. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl—though, in the romance genre’s current climate, the story arc is just as likely to be girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl wins boy.

Having written romance now for a dozen plus years and followed the shifts in what the market will bear as well as what readers expect in a contemporary heroine, the Halliwell sisters have for me been the perfect example of single female twenty-somethings seeking. Well, minus their magical powers.

Whether struggling to find their place in the world, working to balance a demanding career with a personal life, or learning to accept the weight of their family heritage, Prue, Piper, and Phoebe are no exception to the age old quest of a woman seeking a mate.

Neither were the writers of Charmed shy in their employment of the romance genre’s conventions, tenets, and clichés when crafting the show’s first season. Watching the original twenty-two episodes again, I was struck anew at how each sister exhibited characteristics of a female protagonist seeking love, companionship, intimacy, and that Jerry Maguire completion—yet how each was drawn as an individual, approaching the dating game from a perspective unique to her own personality, her desires, and her preferences when it came to the opposite sex.

That individuality, in fact, lent itself to plot lines and continuing story arcs that encompassed the broad spectrum of romance as a genre, from mainstream women’s fiction, to chick lit, and almost—just almost—to the traditional romance novel with its happy ending. Yet charmed ones or not, the sisters figured out quite quickly that their powers were good, as Prue said, “for everything but our love lives”.

So, why in those early days (pre Piper and Leo, pre Prue’s death, pre Paige’s appearance) did things continually go wrong on the Halliwells’ road to romance? Were their failures to find—or accept—true love based solely on wrong choices in men? Were the sisters themselves simply not ready for what came their way? Or did their magical powers create an obstacle too big for romance to overcome?