The magical community -and newly minted witches in particular- can be a dreary bunch when it comes to fantasy films or television.
“That’s not how magic happens! That spell wouldn’t work! There’s no such thing as thaaaaaat!”
As previously mentioned, my father is a doctor. I remember when ER first appeared on Australian screens he would scoff. “That’s not at all how doctors do their job.”
Yeah. Because it’s television. I knew that and I was thirteen.
Which brings me to my favourite dreary magical shriek when watching literally anything: “Witches aren’t like that, really.”
Except they kinda are.
Anywhere else in the world apart from our little corner of it, witches get shit done by any means necessary. They lie, they poison, they abort, they curse, they make pacts. That terrifying old woman in the hut at the end of the village was terrifying for a reason… whatever word the locals used to describe her.
(Obvious caveat: not saying Wiccans are like this… some of my best friends… blah blah blah…. finish off this disclaimer yourselves. Shouldn’t have to say it. Not like anyone has a monopoly on the word ‘witch’. We all know this. And so on.)
And so it was that the first episode of Camelot had me hopeful.
I have always preferred villains. My mother the psychonaut tells a story of when I was very small and He-Man was what we kids all watched. At least, everyone else did. I watched Skeletor. I had the action figures, the back pack, everything. He was so much cooler, with his skull face and cowl and purple theme and scary magic staff.
Much better than some whiny, effete dilettante whose best friend was his cat and who kept a closeted secret from his parents; that he snuck out at night in tiny, fur-trimmed briefs to hang around grown men with moustaches. (Pause to enjoy the irony.)
Anyway, my mother the psychonaut can recount the exact moment I first realised Skeletor was the bad guy. The episode had ended and, once again, Skeletor had lost. I was sitting on the couch, I looked at the TV, I looked down at my action figure, I looked back at the TV… and burst into tears.
I’m nothing if not loyal, Skeletor and I remained tight. We still tight. *poorlyexecutedwhiteguyheartfistbumpthing*
Back to Camelot, where the first episode appeared to live up to my stringent villanous yardstick: If the bad guy rocks, I’ll watch the show.
And she did!
Did my eyes deceive me? Had someone finally rescued Morgan Le Fay from the interminable “seventies woman power” prison that Marion Zimmer Bradley had trapped her in? The one that’s like a nine million page version of The Vagina Monologues set at a Renaissance fair? (Before you leap to her defense and say it’s a feminist book I humbly submit to the court her treatment of Gwenivere as whore and Igraine as moron. That’s not sisterhood. That’s lonely girls tearing down less intelligent or prettier ones. Which at best would qualify it as a modern feminist book written thirty years too early.)
No, this Morgan was proper Ren-fem. Why should her younger half brother inherit the throne? Because he was a man?! She was packed off as a kid because she had lady parts?? Oh fuck that. She was back now and was going to fuck with their shit. It wasn’t revenge, it was something much rarer and much more dangerous: a woman with ambition. (Also it was a little bit of revenge.)
I was in love.
She tried reason, she tried magic, she tried political marriages and then she tried war… it was magical target selection of the best kind. Nothing was going to stop her from getting her just goal.
This was a witch I could get behind. At first I was briefly annoyed that they had written my favourite Arthurian character (Morgause) into Morgan but hey… it’s a collection of myths, it’s not canonical law.
But the annoyance didn’t last for long. This Morgan couldn’t put a foot wrong in my eyes and by the end of the first episode, with her husband dead I was almost salivating at the prospect of what she might do now that she was a wealthy, powerful widow and not some unhinged, spare, minor royal. Could this be the TV witch I have waited for since Skeletor?
No. No it could not.
Because the next episode was a confusing mix of poisoning-but-not-poisoning, imprisonment for no reason, Merlin shouting a lot (somebody needs to tell Joseph Fiennes that acting is more than playing the exact same role but louder this time). She had no proper motive or seemed to have forgotten it, the whole thing was a mess.
Or so I thought until I watched the third episode. Which. Was. Ass. Now she was all sick and fainting everywhere? That’s what annoyed me about that Castle Greyskull bitch so much! Harden up! It’s only magic.
When the credits rolled my partner and I sat on the couch for a moment before I said “I’m out.” He immediately followed with “me too”.
So that’s why I’m not watching anymore Camelot. Not because the magic is crap, not because it’s “unfaithful” to the myths (like that’s even possible), not for any dreary occult community reasons… but simply because I have cried enough tears over villains who deserve to win but don’t.
And also because Arthur is appalling. Seriously, what’s with his face? It looks like a rat pushed through a straw.