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Dec. posting meme day 2

Today's question from [personal profile] dine: which is your favourite character from an old TV show, and why?

Ha ha ha ha. I mean, I'm so fucking old that I can't remember half the TV shows I loved when I was a kid. I suppose the easiest answer would be Spock, but I honestly don't think that happened until a bit later, when I was thinking in terms of characterization and tropes and all that metatextual stuff that I didn't examine for a long time. And I'm gonna cut off at the mid-'70s for the definition of old here, because I just don't want to include things like The Professionals and other major fandoms the came after I found media fandom as a lifestyle choice.

I think if I had to pick one, and I don't go for the obvious Star Trek choices because that's the show that's come down through history as THE old TV show for everything, it might be Samantha from Bewitched. I always thought Elizabeth Montgomery was just the shit and I thought she was so cool in a sophisticated, actressy way, I suppose, and I wanted to be like her so much. And a lot of that image was probably due to the Samantha character--she was married to an idiot who patronized her and didn't want her to be what she really was, and my little proto-feminist heart identified with that so much; I was outraged on her behalf and the words feminism and women's lib had never even been uttered outside of intellectual and academic circles at that point in history. She was willing to sacrifice and only use her magic when she had to because she loved a mortal guy, and I love a good love story, but I never once understood why anyone would love Darrin. Either actor who played him--he was a perfect example of white male patriarchal entitlement, and it spread its oily hooks into her mother, who was this delicious agent of chaos, and Serena, who was an even bigger, more delish agent of chaos. Because she looked like Samantha and was also played by super cool Elizabeth Montgomery! He was constantly at war with them, they knew he was beneath Sam, and I just…I was so awed by that.

I actually hate villians and agents of chaos, but the fact that I confusingly loved Endora and Serena meant, I think, that I appreciated Sam's calm and capability and common sense even more. I'm sure that had a lot to do with the person I became as I grew up--my friends called me Mom because I was usually the only one who had any fucking common sense, but I was deceptively responsible and "good" and hid really well the fact that I was always coming up with plans and schemes that were totally forbidden and getting my friends into situations they could be in serious trouble for and just generally being a Naughty Girl. Samantha and Endora and Serena were role models without me even understanding they were. I also thought that whole advertising world, parties and swinging midcentury modern lifestyle was pretty cool, though I often couldn't grok why, when she could twitch her nose and be anywhere she wanted to be doing anything she wanted to, Samantha chose to be a housewife. It's such a perfect encapsulation of that post-war life, isn't it? Women stayed home and made babies and tended house, they wanted us to believe that was the only way the world worked, and they lauded the profession of advertising, selling us stuff we didn't need to become a consumerist culture and Darrin's boss being obsessed with profit--and there was this woman who could transcend all that yet chose not to because reasons. It was frustrating, even if I couldn't understand why, but also really fascinating and subversive.

I loved the witchcraft-wielding people around her because they were chic and wild and entertaining and flamboyant and Samantha, while exasperated by them all, clearly loved them. If it had been even halfway true to what women really are like and not some patriarchal white guy view of what women are supposed to be, Samantha would never have given up being with them, because they were so fucking fun. Even though I didn't know what a gay person was--and no one in my life believed they did, either, back then--I recognized that Uncle Arthur was not what he seemed, not "average" in the way most men I knew were, and Dr. Bombay, her dad, Maurice, all those people were just…they were the societal shifts that were happening in the mid to late '60s and '70s, right there on my TV. Sam was young and hip even though she married a square who demanded she not be herself, she was surrounded by these insane people, she was smart and collected and had special powers…damn, I just adored Samantha Stephens.

Also, the coolest of credits.

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Comments

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killabeez
Dec. 18th, 2016 01:53 am (UTC)
Aw, now you made me all nostalgic for that show. I never really thought about why I loved it so much, but yes, this! Actually, Buffy and Samantha have some things in common, and I never thought about that, either.

Samantha also had really fun clothes.
gwyn_r
Dec. 20th, 2016 05:56 am (UTC)
she was the best--and yeah, I always wanted to have her kicky style. At least, the casual one at home, not necessarily the wifely party presentation.
daria234
Dec. 18th, 2016 05:30 am (UTC)
I loved Samantha SO MUCH when I was a kid. Badass indeed :)
gwyn_r
Dec. 20th, 2016 05:56 am (UTC)
I know, right? So formative.
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