Over the past few years, witches have truly come out of the cauldron. There’s a real coven in Bushwick, for example, and spell-casting workshops are offered right up there with reading series and comedy shows. If you happen to be a witch, no one’s going to burn you at the stake or claim they saw you with the devil. Your plight is totally relatable, after all — we all wish there was a spell that could lower our rent, or that nefarious cat-callers on the street could be silenced with a single flick of our wands. It’s safe to say that in 2016, being a witch has never been more… well, basic.
That’s exactly what Basic Witch, the new web series co-created by a coven (read: creative team) of women in Brooklyn, purports to explore. The series follows a witch named Penelope (played by actor Jessica Frey) along the treadmill of her daily routine, taking us through recognizably New York scenarios with a witchy touch. In just five sweetly condensed episodes of six minutes or less, Penelope contends with catcalling construction workers, an ignorant roommate, a male-dominated workplace and the trials of self-care. She even meets bae along the way.
And through all of this, Penelope never uses her powers. Save for a single “Abracadabra!” as she jimmies open the door of an apartment she’s showing — uttered so nonchalantly that we can’t even tell whether it’s magic or not — Penelope chooses to suffer through the humanity of each situation rather than controlling it with spells. And according to the series writers, Claire Rothrock and Ryann Weir, that’s exactly the point.
“I think we were all really inspired by Master of None and how delicately and humanely it deals with ‘otherness’ and identity politics,” Weir, 28, told Brokelyn. “Our main character is different from a lot of the people she interacts with — she’s a witch. But regardless of what people perceive that to mean, Penelope is navigating what it means to her.” (more…)