‘black-ish’ creator Kenya Barris is set to develop another sitcom for ABC, but unlike his established hit, his next project is a reboot of a classic series– ‘Bewitched’. While ‘black-ish’ is a typical sitcom on the surface, it has received acclaim for not backing down from controversial issues, particularly those impacting African Americans in modern day American society. It appears that Barris is also potentially courting controversy with ‘Betwitched’ which will update its premise by featuring an interracial blended family.
The original ‘Bewitched’ aired from 1964-1972 and featured a witch, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) who was married to a mortal man, Darrin (originally Dick York, later Dick Sargent). At Darrin’s insistence, Samantha was forbidden from using her powers– activated when she twitched her nose– for fear of the neighbors discovering her secret. The cast also included David White as Darrin’s boss and Agnes Moorehead as Samantha’s vampy mother, Endora. In its first season, ‘Bewitched’ was the #1 rated sitcom on television and the #2 TV show overall, behind ‘Bonanza’. It was a big deal when Montgomery became pregnant in real life, but writers added that to the show and in the second season, Samantha gave birth to a daughter Tabatha (later spelled Tabitha) who, as she got older, also developed magical powers. Montgomery became pregnant again, and as a result, the Stephenses welcomed a son, Adam, who also possessed magical powers.
In the new remake, Samantha will actually be an African American single mother when she meets Caucasian mortal Darrin. The original series was already a lighthearted analog for mixed-marriage, with a witch married to a mortal. Of course back then, it was more likely to compare the show to couples who were of different religions or national origins. Whereas the new Samantha is a hardworking mother, Darrin is a slacker. “They struggle to navigate their differences as she discovers that even when a black girl is literally magic, she’s still not as powerful as a decently tall white man with a full head of hair in America.”
Barris is developing the show with Yamara Taylor, who is a writer and former executive story editor on ‘black-ish’. Taylor previously wrote for ‘The Boondocks’ and ‘Instant Mom’.
‘Bewitched’ was adapted into a feature film in 2005, starring Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman, but it was a commercial flop. ABC actively tried to develop a ‘Bewitched’ reboot in 2014, but that failed to materialize. Before that, both NBC and CBS had also sought to revive the classic series. Obviously, those never happened either. ABC bought Barris’ ‘Bewitched’ concept one day before his four-year contract with the network expired. (He has since signed a development deal with Netflix.)
Are you a fan of the original sitcom? Are you intrigued to see a modern spin?