Media Analysis Project

Media Analysis Project

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Media Analysis Project

Introduction

Charmed is a supernatural drama that was broadcasted on the WB network between 1998 and 2006. The show revolved around a trio of sisters who happened to be powerful witches destined to protect the world from evil forces (Charmed, 2014). Using this story, the show explored a range of themes such as the fight between good and evil, family ties, love and marriage, with the sisters being the focal point for all of the show’s issues. Charmed was popular throughout the six years it was broadcasted, regularly breaking viewership records within its network and time slot. Additionally, respected television magazines, such as TV Guide, have placed Charmed on lists of the best sci-fi and supernatural shows ever (Beeler, 2008). A critical analysis of the TV series using the six perspectives of visual analysis can reveal that the show was much more than an entertaining drama (Lester, 2014). Analyzing Charmed with the six perspectives for visual analysis reveal that the show used its setting in a supernatural world to analyze issues from the real world to which average people can relate.

Personal Perspective

The story in Charmed revolves around three powerful witch sisters who are destined to protect the world from evil beings. The sisters’ mystical background grants them different supernatural abilities that are only active if they are living together in their family home, The Halliwell Manor. In the beginning of the show, their grandmother has just died and the youngest sister, Phoebe, has returned home to be with her siblings. As she is going through the family’s belongings, she finds the Book of Shadows and reads an incantation that makes their abilities come to maturity. From this point onwards, the sisters spend their lives fighting different warlocks, demons, witches and other evil elements that threaten the world.

As I was watching Charmed, the key words that I came to associate with the show are family, sisters, magic, good and evil. I feel that the show’s events and story revolved primarily around these words with only a few exceptions. Each episode had a main villain that the sisters had to conquer using magic and this plot point normally saw the show take a good versus evil format. Additionally, the relevance of family was a key issue through the length of the show. Together the sisters were the most powerful witches in the world capable of vanquishing any enemy they came across. However, if the sisters became divided, they would be weak and vulnerable. Through this, the show emphasized the value and importance of family.

Besides the key words, the show could also be associated with San Francisco, marriage, friendship and adulthood. Though the show revolved around main themes such as family, aspects such as San Francisco and adulthood provided important subplots in Charmed. Additionally, some of the subtexts were tied in with the main themes. For instance, the sisters shared a strong bond through family and friendship. The city of San Francisco was also linked to the main themes as it provided the setting for the constant battles between good and evil that played out in Charmed.

One thing that I really liked about Charmed was that it was entertaining. The show followed a simple format of good people fighting evil forces and linked this theme with other issues that everybody can relate to such as friendship, love and family bonds. The fact that the show was one of the most watched during its time is testament to the popularity that it had when it was on air. Additionally, I liked the idea of a family that was made strong solely by its unity because it was something that I could understand from my own experiences.

 

 

Historical Perspective

Charmed started airing in 1998 and lasted eight years, ending in 2006 (Charmed, 2014). The show is set in modern day San Francisco. The presence of advanced technology such as cell phones and computers in the show emphasized the modern setting. Charmed used different styles in its show format in the first three seasons and the last five. In the earlier seasons, the sisters faced a new threat in each episode. Different episode were connected by subplots such as the relationships between the sisters and other people and within the siblings. Later seasons saw the show’s format change to see the sisters face one main villain for most of the year (Hammond & Mazdon, 2005). This new format was similar to that used in another supernatural drama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Beeler, 2008). Additionally, the show’s typology as a supernatural drama mirrored a wide range of similar television series that mixed magical themes with real life issues.

Technical Perspective

Charmed was shot on a set in Los Angeles, California. The television show was filmed using Panaflex Cameras and lenses from Panavision in full color and 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The sound in the TV series was in stereo (Charmed, 2014). Different angles and camera positions were used in the show’s action sequences and to capture the essence of the moment. Additionally, special effects were used throughout the show. Most of the show’s action sequences saw the sisters and their adversaries use magical abilities and this required the producers to use special effects to bring out the supernatural aspects of the scenes. The production quality of the show is good. The action scenes are edited properly, though sometimes the splicing within the scenes is noticeable. Other scenes that do not feature any action are filmed quite well with lighting that captures the moment and soundtracks that bring out the mood of the show.

Ethical Perspective

Ethical guidelines within the context of a TV show dictate a many issues regarding the ideal content that a television series should have, as well as the methods that should be used when making it. Watson and Arp (2012) claim that there are two connections between pop culture elements such as television shows and ethics. Firstly, pop culture is in a unique position to make ethics more accessible. This means that media such as movies and television series can be instruments of projecting ethical ideas and principles to people. Secondly, Watson and Arp (2012) state that pop culture can affect ethics by raising questions that people need to tackle. The makers of the show, Charmed, exercised social responsibility in the making of the show. There were no ethical problems throughout the length of the show such as copyright infringement and defamation. The producers and writers respected everybody’s rights inside and outside Charmed.

The makers were also able to make an entertaining show filled with action, drama and references to witchcraft without making the show a bad influence or excessively violent. The makers of the show were not empathetic with some of the themes in Charmed. The producers presented the battle between good and evil in a realistic manner. The sisters were on the good side and they won almost all of their battles against their adversaries. The sisters’ dominance over the evil forces in the show could equate to the producers’ personal reflection of how good people should always triumph over wickedness. The show’s predominant theme of good against evil also fits in with ethical requirements as the malevolent beings were always antagonized. This way the producers presented the ethical issues in a way that would have had a positive influence on the viewers without causing any harm.

 

 

Cultural Perspective

The symbolism in Charmed came out through the battles that the sisters had with evil beings and the strength that the siblings had from being a close-knit family. The sisters’ recurrent altercations with different evil creatures are in some ways symbolic of the real life battles between good and bad people. In the show, the good side constantly has the upper hand as the sisters repel attacks against them repeatedly. However, some instances see the sisters on the losing end, with a good example being the end of the third season when the oldest sibling, Prue, was killed (Beeler, 2008). The close union that the Halliwell siblings have in the show is symbolic of the importance of family ties in our lives. In Charmed, the three sisters are the most powerful witches in existence. However, their strength only works when they are together. Any disunity between them would make each one of them weak and vulnerable. This situation alludes to the importance of family in our lives, with the makers of Charmed appearing to suggest that a person’s kin makes them stronger and better suited at dealing with life’s struggles.

The show’s representation of family ideals and life in San Francisco gave a general positive outlook on current cultural values. The Halliwell’s from Charmed were a close-knit family living in modern day San Francisco. The way that they dealt with issues affecting each other reflects well on modern families. Additionally, the Halliwell’s constantly used modern technology to their advantage. This way, the show seemed to imply that the current technological way of life has many benefits to it.

Critical Perspective

Dissecting the show using the six perspectives for visual analysis made me realize that Charmed was much more than an entertaining supernatural drama. Underneath the main theme of good battling evil, the show gave its viewers a deep look into the importance of family and the struggles of adulthood among other things. The show’s setting in San Francisco made it possible for the makers to present the sisters’ struggles within the context of a large modern metropolis. This meant that the sisters had to go through other problems as they tried to protect the world such as media attention, police interest and interferences from the normal parts of their lives. One key part of the show’s plot was the importance of family, as the Halliwell sisters had to stay together to ensure that they remained strong enough to fight off their enemies. This aspect made family an important subplot of the show, inadvertently sending a message to Charmed’s viewers on the value of family.

Conclusion

            Charmed was one of the most popular American television series of its time and with good reason. The show was entertaining and gripping as it covered a mainly supernatural theme with subtexts relating to issues that the average person can understand. A six-perspective analysis of Charmed reveals that the issues and themes in the show were complex. Even though the plot revolved mainly around the magical aspects, the closeness of the Halliwell siblings and other issues surrounding their lives provided important subplots for the television show. This way the show looks at issues that the average viewer can relate to and provides meaningful insight to these subjects.

 

References

Beeler, K. (2008). Seers, Witches and Psychics on Screen: An Analysis of Women Visionary Characters in Recent Television and Film. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.

Charmed (2014). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0158552/?ref_=ttloc_loc_tt.

Hammond, M., & Mazdon, L. (2005). The contemporary television series. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.

Lester, P. M. (2014). Visual communication: Images with messages. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Watson, J. C., & Arp, R. (2012). What’s Good on TV: Understanding Ethics Through Television. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

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