Let it be known that I really dislike Lifetime. I still think of it as Lifetime: Television for Women all these years after the network dropped that irritating, condescending tagline. Even though the tagline was gone, the sappy drama and TV movies about real life personal struggle remained. The network continued to serve up garbage programming that embodied the worst cliches about “what women want” from television.
I also hate what Lifetime has done to Project Runway.
All of this baggage came with me into Witches of East End. It wasn’t my idea to watch it; that all came from John, who’s interest was peaked by Madchen Amick’s involvement. I started watching it over Facebook, then closed my laptop about ten minutes in to watch for real.
The verdict? I’m cautiously optimistic.
It’s Lifetime, so naturally there’s a love triangle established in the first five minutes. In those same five minutes, a mother-daughter-sister dynamic is also established, along with class tension, unrequited love, and a supernatural threat. And Freya, one of the main characters, makes out with her fiancee’s brother in the bathroom at her engagement party.
That was a pretty busy five minutes. And Show didn’t let up afterwards.
What really took me in was Show’s approach to the titular witches. There’s Joanna (Julia Ormond) and her sister, Wendy (Madchen Amick), who are centuries old witches with their own personal curses. Both can die and come back, but Wendy’s curse limits her to nine lives.
Joanna’s curse is pretty horrifying: immortality with endless motherhood. For centuries, she’s given birth to the same two daughters, Freya and Ingrid, over and over again. She raises them, teaches them magic, then watches them die, usually violently. Then, as soon as they’re buried, Joanna is pregnant with them again.
Freya and Ingrid never remember their past lives and, this time, Joanna has decided to raise them as normal girls. Freya has become a superstitious, shiftless bartender while Ingrid is a skeptic, mousy librarian.
But, there’s trouble because there’s always trouble. And Freya and Ingrid are finding out for the first time in this life that they’re witches. While their mom is getting arrested for a murder committed by a vengeful shapeshifter. The arresting officer? Ingrid’s love interest. You know, just to throw an extra drama bone into the mix.
I kind of hated myself for how much I liked Witches of East End. It had its ridiculous moments, which were tempered by a few surprising moments and some clever writing. I try it again next week and see what happens.
It’s Lifetime, though, and it could all go to hell next week.