Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bewitched Versus I Dream of Jeannie

As a kid, my friends and I would discuss which power we'd rather have - Jeannie's or Sam's.

"Bewitched" ran from 64 to 72. Yeah, pretty long, huh? Samantha, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, was a witch who was newly married and trying ever so hard not to let her quirky witchy relatives and her nose-twitching spell ways from her husband and others.

"I Dream of Jeannie" ran from 65 to 70. Jeannie, played by Barbara Eden, was a 2000-year-old genie from a bottle that was found by an astronaut and now sworn to do his bidding in the most fumbling of ways.

I liked both concepts as a kid. Most of my friend wanted to be a genie because it seemed like unlimited capabilities, but being the logic-minded one, I had to point out that Jeannie had to do magic for her master. Sam, however, could do spells for any reason she desired or for anyone. I also liked that Sam was surrounded by a quirky and oddly talented family too. It gave her a whole culture that poor Jeannie out of her element in Cocoa Beach, Florida, was missing.

Admittedly, Jeannie did have that swell bottle to live inside of that was all padded and comfy, but at any time, Tony could decide to cork her up. He seemed more annoyed with her presence whereas Darren was in love with Sam (he just tolerated her relatives). Genies grant wishes, can't really do things for selfish reasons. That's a pretty cool concept, except you live for whoever is your master. 

Jeannie was a servant. Sam was a wife. But, in most ways, they really were playing the same roles of supporting their mans' careers and wanting to make their lives easier. The men, in both cases, seemed to tolerate the shenanigans and even at times find them endearing, but all they really wanted was to just be normal and neither woman could allow for that, given their unusual talents. In that aspect, the women were kept safe by men who would not use them for greedy means, but who also didn't really understand or appreciate how extraordinary they were. Both women had to adapt to the man's world and that did not mean having magical elements. They had to fit into a structure that did not support or encourage their talents. 

When you look at it, it would seem that being a genie or witch was not a good thing, but an aberration, not a true calling, but a cross they must bear. 

Is it better to be Jeannie or Sam? I guess my vote would be Sam just because she wasn't an indentured slave, living in "sin" with her master, having no power in the relationship/decision making and having to live in a bottle. Still, her situation wasn't much of a step up when you think about it.

So, which one would you have rather been?

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