Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Leave BEWITCHED alone

I made the mistake of watching THE HISTORY OF THE SITCOM Sunday night on CNN.  I’m like Charlie Brown with the football.  Every chapter pisses me off.  It’s not a history of an art form; it’s a condemnation of television for not being more inclusive.  It's taking TV to task for things it didn't do 50 years ago.  No matter what the topic they find a way to sledge hammer home that agenda.  Oliver Stone is more subtle.  

This week’s topic was “the outsider” in sitcoms.  And metaphorically space aliens were immigrants, and the Munsters were “that family” no one wanted to move to their neighborhood.   

At one point they turned their scorn towards BEWITCHED.  Darrin insisted that Samantha not use her magic.  The strong message that the producers were sending here, of course, is that men stifle women and prevent them from realizing their full potential.  Sneaky, those producers.  

Of course, at the time there were enough domestic sitcoms where the husband clearly didn’t want his wife to work and blatantly said so.  No metaphor was needed.  From I LOVE LUCY to THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and every DONNA REED SHOW in between, you had that scenario play out.  (OZZIE & HARRIET took things one step farther — neither Ozzie nor Harriet worked.)  

But how about this as an alternate reason why Darrin wanted Sam to not use her magic?  Without that element there is no show.  

If Sam can use her magic at will, where’s the conflict?  Any problem can be solved with a wiggle of the nose.  Darrin has a good reason for keeping her identity a secret.  It’s the same reason all superheroes have.  If word got out she was a witch who could perform magic there would be a line two miles long to her front door of people asking for help.  Any semblance of a normal life would be obliterated.  

Some women say they wish she used her powers more.  I wished Superman flew more and there was less Clark Kent.  But that's the necessary dynamic of the show. 

Oh, and someone having to hold back behavior that is very tempting is a recipe for comedy.  Remember comedy?  

They give Sam a mother who hates Darrin for this, which also is a springboard for conflict and comedy.  There have been many husband vs. mother-in-law shows, but this has the twist that the mother-in-law can turn him into a toad.  

BEWITCHED began as a spin on a romantic comedy.  It became silly and cartoonish, but we’re talking the original conception (back when the producers were “plotting their social injustice storyline”).   But if you go back to the pilot, Samanta herself withheld the information that she was a witch until Darrin had fallen in love with her.  Why?  Well, this is another point THE HISTORY OF THE SITCOM overlooked (because it goes against their theory): Samantha wanted Darrin to love her for who she was, not because she was a witch with magic powers.  So there was a part of Sam that was on board with not turning their Chevy into a Rolls Royce.  

Another point:  At the end of the day when did Samantha not do what she wanted to do?   And when did Darrin really put his foot down?  

The premise gave Elizabeth Montgomery a lot to play.  She had to harness her magic, find other solutions to problems (like real people do), and she was caught in the middle between her husband and her mother.  Keeping her identity secret was also a challenge.  Sam had to contend with Mrs. Kravitz, the nosy neighbor.  These dynamics all created laughs.  

Oh, and one other point that went by so quick I missed it, but THE HISTORY OF THE SITCOM equated Endora’s wardrobe to the drag culture.  But that’s what you get when the so-called experts are TV critics or authors of fan books.  The real experts — William Asher, Sol Saks, Danny Arnold, Elizabeth Montgomery — are sadly no longer with us.  I bet they’d give you a very different explanation for how BEWITCHED came to be and what it set out to achieve.  

But what do you expect from a history of sitcoms that claims that WHO'S THE BOSS? was a groundbreaking show? 

47 comments :

Tim Mooney said...


As a kid watching the reruns I always thought of the magic part of the show as Samantha’s family being “Old Money” eccentric kind of wealthy. The show still works that way. She wants to live like a “normal housewife” and he wants to rely on his own initiative to support his family.
Allmost the entire parts of the show like Endora’s distaste for suburban/mortal life, the secrecy, the crazy relatives and the looking down on from everyone in Sam’s former social circle still could be worked around by the writers if the Network ever said “lose the magic”
This I think, makes Bewitched more of a fit for History of the Sitcom’s episode on class warfare comedies.

Joel Keller said...

I think the oldest critics/journalists they talk to are Bill Carter (an EP of the series) and Alan Sepinwall. Almost everyone else looks like they're under 40, all giving a perspective of the time periods these sitcoms aired in through a 2021 lens. They're talking like historians, but no historians are needed when you can find people who actually lived during those times. Perhaps that was on purpose. But it's highly irritating.

Mike Barer said...

But the nosy neighbor was named Kravitz. What exactly were they saying?

Bob Waldman said...

Hi Ken,
Don't recall if I sent this to you before, but here's an antidote to History of the Sitcom that I produced and wrote for TV Land in 2003. Hope you enjoy.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rwvry2f88oi9m1g/TV%20Land%20Moguls.mp4?dl=0

Best,
Bob Waldman

Call Me Mike said...

This reminds me of when Barbara Eden gave an interview on cable news -- pretty sure it was CNN -- and the interviewer asked her to wiggle her nose. Oy, what a bunch of doorknobs, these people.

Stu Shostak said...

This is exactly why I have zero interest in watching this series. Today's so'called experts have no idea what the industry's REAL history is; they only know what they remember without doing any research. It's a sad, sad day when "Home Improvement" is considered classic television. As Lucille Ball once said..."forget the goddamn psycho-analysis. We were just trying to be funny!"

Philly Cinephile said...

“plotting their social injustice storyline”

Is that a direct quote from one of the participants in the episode?

The mind reels...

Stu Shostak said...

This is exactly why I have zero interest in watching this series. Today's so-called experts have no idea what the industry's REAL history is; they only know what they remember without doing any research. It's a sad, sad day when "Home Improvement" is considered classic television. As Lucille Ball once said..."forget the goddamn psycho-analysis. We were just trying to be funny!"

Masked Scheduler said...

I was interviewed for about four hours and, with the exception of one benign Chuckles the Clown comment, I didn't make the cut. I'm well over the 40 year limit.
Out of respect for Bill Carter I am holding my fire on how I feel about this show until it ends this Sunday but you are dead on with you criticism.
Stay tuned.

Darwin's Ghost said...

It's really depressing how identity politics dominates so much of today's discourse regarding culture and the arts. Art is by its very nature completely subjective, both in conception and reception. A story is told on its own merits by its creator or creators who are following instinct and something indefinable that makes it a story they need to tell.

You cannot and should not shoehorn in characters or themes arbitrarily for the purposes of inclusivity. It's not just insulting, it's creatively nonsensical. How exactly could you make something like Schindler's List or Dunkirk diverse and inclusive when they're about historical events? And yet, the Oscars' ridiculous new rules on diversity mean that Schindler's List or fictional films like LA Confidential or The Godfather could not get nominated now, let alone win.

And it's not as if this obsession with identity politics has seen a corresponding increase in quality. Most of the films and shows made with this mindset are thematically on the nose, creatively bankrupt, and artistically worthless. The classics of the 30s through to the early 00s are still watched because the people who made them put story first. Today's drivel will be forgotten because they're less about being artful and more about ticking boxes.

zapatty said...

Lord. please keep the SJW-types away from the Marx Brothers !

Jonathan Stark said...

So true, Ken. You nailed it This looking at older comedies with 2020 eyes is just ridiculous. I watch 'Holiday Inn' almost every Christmas and while the 'Abraham' number in blackface is cringeworthy, it is part of who we were then. "Bewitched' was part of who we were in the 60s and early 70s. We have grown a lot in that time but to look back on it with 2021 goggles makes no sense. I watched part of episode one of this series and turned it off. It was obviously written by people who have nothing to do with sitcoms. It's like asking TV comedy writers to write news copy. Now, a 'History of the 'Sitcom' written and produced by TV comedy writers? That I'd watch.

C. Gallagher said...

The hell with HISTORY OF THE SITCOM. If they want stupid, they need to give Bewitched some of that primo Mad Men style cultural analysis:

Not since Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence or Don Martin's Adventures of Captain Klutz have we seen a more culturally nuanced examination of an era, in this case the 1960's. Auteur Sol Saks presents us with Darren Stephens, a young advertising executive, who must face an endless succession of moral dilemmas engendered by the crass commercial demands of McMahon & Tate, his employer, and more specifically, the spineless Larry Tate, a character right out of Moliere by way of Mein Kampf. Tormented by the constant j'accuse of neighbor Gladys Kravitz, Darren is like a modern Sisyphus sentenced by the gods to a seeming eternity in the suburban Brigadoon of Morning Glory Circle. The almost unbearable angst is only relieved by the inscrutably wise Abner Kravitz, who sums up the entire period in one word: "Gladys!"

Interesting bit of trivia: Darren's wife is a witch.

Greg Ehrbar said...

The sad thing about this documentary is that it goes out into the world and lots of people see it as fact and it makes an impact on the impression on the work of so many people and so many fine creations. There used to be tributes, but that doesn't get viewers. It has to have an angle, and that angle--for anything "old" especially--is negative. It should be noted that it's a not career boost for the documentarists to attach themselves to the potentially "problematic" nor the dead people who can't do them favors, but it's best for them to praise anyone around today who can give assist them up the ladder. So it's not all about caring, it's about business, survival and ambition.

"Bewitched" summed the premise up beautifully in the episode "'A' is for Aardvark" in which Darrin was given limited powers and decided to change all his restrictions on Samantha. In this masterpiece, we saw how shallow a life with no anticipation, no joy of a job well done and perhaps just an instant memory of a fake experience could be. Funny, but that's kind of where we are now -- instant gratification, an award-based, lottery-minded society where leisure and reward are entitlements and not necessarily earned. That's really where "Bewitched" is dated.

Samantha cries uncontrollably at the end when Darrin gives her an inexpensive gift because it came from the heart. What a scene. And it was directed by GASP! woman, the great Ida Lupino. One of the pioneers.

One of the reasons the "Bewitched" movie missed the mark was because Nora Ephron said in her commentary that she thought that Darrin was threatened by a woman more powerful than he was. She also mentioned that Uncle Arthur was always showing up in the mirror. Clearly she didn't watch many episodes, much less the one I just described.

The challenge with analyzing TV is that it takes time to really study a series. You should watch ALL THE EPISODES to see how the characters evolved, and even contradicted themselves, not just a few. This documentary is not the only instance in which this is not done.

Buttermilk Sky said...

CASABLANCA (1942) the story of a powerful man who demands sex from desperate women in return for exit visas.

Well, GONE WITH THE WIND now carries a disclaimer. It's a matter of time.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

BEWITCHED was before my time, even in syndication. I did watch the first season with my wife few years ago, and we both agreed it was a sharp and funny satirical comedy about married suburban life and class anxiety. And that's about it. No need to alert the social justice police.

We thought that the first season said just about what the show had to say overall. Of course, I do know that the show became a cartoon, essentially a kiddie show, in later years. Not gonna subject myself to that.

Not flog the topic, but many shows only need a one season run. I would argue that MORK AND MINDY started out the same way, albeit with the genders reversed, that was smart at the beginning and then just turned into crap. I wish there was a better way for actors and writers to just move on from shows that have run their course, and not be stuck with contractual obligations to keep a dead shark going.

stephen catron said...

No offense, but I didn't feel there was a single laugh from Bewitched except when Paul Lynde was on.

Necco said...

FX has a documentary series called "Pride" this season. It covers the LGBTQ community, decade by decade. As a gay man, I find it odd, that every episode concentrates on the trans population, to a large extent. I turn sixty next year, and remember the early 80s quite well. Only one other gay friend made it out alive. Think "Angels in America," etc. Some documentarians just cover what they want, how they want. Selling something, with a "new take." It's annoying as hell.

Dave H said...

It's a tough topic because a lot of old shows have not aged well and it's hard to ignore. Where I live we have a TV oldies channel and with at least half of them there are warnings before they air because of outdated views and portrayals. And a lot of things are cringeworthy. When I was a kid I thought Three's Company was funny. But you look at it now and it's such a stupid, sexist, homophobic show. And people loved it at the time. Almost every old show I watch you will find something where you think that would not be acceptable today.

But on the other hand you can dig too deep looking for offensive things that were not the intention. Quentin Tarantino was interviewed about complaints that there were no black characters in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. And he said the movie was 3 days in the life of these characters and they didn't bump into Jim Brown in those 3 days. lol Or why did Margot Robbie have so few lines and he pointed out that she was alone most of the time. Would they have prefered she talked to her dog so she could have more lines.


Jim S said...

Tim Mooney, you are my hero.
I've argued the same point many times in conversations one has in college when putting an English major spin on everything. I believe the first time was when we were talking about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" tv special and one guy mentioned that it's an interesting show when viewed through the lens of a Marxist-Leninist point of view.

The symbolism of the red nose, Santa is the crushing force of capital, the elf who wants to be a dentist is the proletariat fighting back, etc.

But at the end of the day, the show was about half an hour and meant to make people laugh. I watched it as a boy, so no problem with that. There should be shows for kids out there on network TV, especially in the old days when there weren't entire cable networks aimed at kids.

I hadn't watched the show for many years and saw it recently on one of the micro cable channels that show sitcoms from 40, 50 and 60 years ago. A lot of the jokes hold up and it was cleverer than I remembered. No Mary Tyler Moore, but why would an 8-year-old boy watch that show?

And I do remember a show in its last year about race. Tabitha had a black friend and that upset the neighbors. Something like that. I don't remember the details, but it's a sitcom for kids. Lighten up Francis.

MikeN said...

What do you expect when colleges have spent decades teaching students to look at things through a lens of race and sex and class?
This is being extended to primary education now, under the supposedly not being taught critical race theory.

Call Me Mike said...

It's also worth remembering that Bewitched, like I Dream of Jeannie, is the classic pairing of a free-spirited woman and a stuffy man. I mean, how many times have we seen this? It's a formula for comedy as old as Bringing Up Baby and probably goes back further than that.

And there's a good reason it keeps getting used. It works.

Leighton said...

Interesting "Bewitched" fact. The famous house (1164 Morning Glory Circle)exterior at Warner Bros Ranch (formerly Screen Gems/Columbia) is a "reverse copy" of an actual home utilized in the original 1959 "Gidget" film. In the 60s, the TV series "Gidget," with Sally Field, filmed exteriors at a home next door to "Bewitched." One episode even used the Stephens studio living room set - at the same time! Odd.

One more fun fact. If you want to see "The Brady Bunch" living room/kitchen studio set go up in flames, watch the 1975 horror film, "Bug." (Both Paramount. The series had ended the year before. "The Brady Bunch [Variety] Hour" would arise briefly in 1976/77, but with a different home interior, rather than rebuild the set.)

cliobc said...

The problem isn't identity politics, or CRT or SJW or whatever buzzword the rightwing has weaponized now. The problem is all of these 'hey I'm a good guy' white guy producers/directors/Matt Damons who don't think they need to do anything more than dress up whatever projects they were already working on with their half-assed and paperthin deep (mis)understanding of the real issues/concerns underlying those buzzwords.

Philly Cinephile said...

Leighton, the Brady Bunch house was also used in episodes of MANNIX and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (both of which were also Paramount productions). I'm guessing that back in the day, there was little overlap of the audiences for BB and the two dramas, so it went unnoticed. Seen today, the use of the BB house gives those episodes an unintended subtext.

Jeff Boice said...

Too bad. I'm half tempted to watch the episode just to see if it is as bad as Ken says it is.

Its true that Elizabeth Montgomery, William Asher, and Danny Arnold aren't with us anymore. But they did give interviews. And if one were inspired to sit down and do research, you can find articles which quote from those interviews. Such as this one:

https://www.harpiesbizarre.com/vintage-witch2watch.htm

However that apparently does not make for riveting television.

Cheryl Marks said...

What should we expect from the folks that sum things up with "OK Boomer"

blogward said...

Masterly takedown.

RobW said...

One of the episodes ( not sure what the pointless "theme" was ) spent much time devoted to Norman Lear and his shows ALL IN THE FAMILY and SANFORD & SON. Nobody can deny Lear's talent and impact on the industry, but it was inexcusable that a show called HISTORY OF THE SITCOM
completely ignored the fact that both shows were British shows that Lear imported and rejigged for North American audiences. Seems to me that would be an interesting fact to someone wanting to learn something about the history of sitcoms.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Concerning superheros with "secret identities" - I have always supposed there was a sinister, dirty-fighting, reason - that one could take down the superhero by going after his friends, lovers, families.

If Superman is outed as Clark Kent, Lois Lane is in BIG TROUBLE with Lex Luthor.

Some on GoodReads - mostly in their twenties - "criticize" old-school authors who don't share their 2020 sensibilities. I try to help with a view from the forties, fifties, sixties - but one never knows if a "horse will drink."

Alan Gollom said...

I stopped watching the series after the first episode. It's not history. It's revisionist history.

Roger Owen Green said...

Generally, I agree that one can't use 21st-century mores on 20th century TV and movies. But I must say that the February segment of Holiday Inn was OMG offensive, at least to a chunk of the population contemporaneously.

JoeyH said...

You are right on the nose about this docu-series. I'm still watching because I'm enjoying some of the clips, but most of the commentary is just stupid.

Mike Doran said...

A couple of late thoughts on CNN's docu-sermon on sitcoms:

- When Gilligan's Island was still the favorite whipping-boy among TV crickets, its regular cast members (with one exception) were its fiercest defenders.
And none more so than Jim Backus, who once found himself having to defend the Island from some stuck-up snoots on a panel show.
Asked point-blank why he would do something like Gilligan's, Backus roared "Because it was a DAMN FUNNY SHOW, that's why!!!"
(On other shows, Alan Hale was far more amiable, but the sentiment was the same.)

- In a similar vein, when Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch did The Ghost Busters, Saturday morning slapstick for kids, they engaged Bob Burns and his gorilla suit as sidekick.
Early in the production, Burns was holding back a bit, in deference to Tucker and Storch.
The two vets called a pause, and asked Burns what was the matter.
Burns explained that he was concerned about upstaging his elders - and that's when Tuck took charge:
"Is that it? Listen, I'm too old for that shit, and Larry's too dumb!"
(Storch is at Tuck's side, nodding in agreement.)
Tuck continued:
"We're here to get LAUGHS! Any time you see a spot, go for it! We'll back you up!"
(Unconfirmed, but I'm guessing that when they got back on camera, Storch might have said "Who says I'm dumb?")

- A few weeks back, I mentioned an episode of My Mother The Car - the fifth show of the series, titled "Burned At The Steak"; I suggested (as a challenge) that you all might look at it on YouTube, and comment on what you see there.
That challenge still holds.
Give it a shot, OK?

stephen catron said...

Another thing stuck me as I thought about this Bewitched posting.
You are in a position to create your own show about the history of sit-coms. Why not do one as you feel it should be done?

Mike McCann said...

The evaluation of Bewitched is skewed by judging a 1960s series by 2020s standards. It was a "fantasy com" that much like My Favorite Martian, sought to integrate a non-human with more talents than mere mortals into present-day society, while allowing occasional use of their other-worldly talents.

As played by both Dick's, Darrin loved, make that ADORED Samantha. He wasn't harming her or diminishing her. She was -- like many immigrants -- forced to adapt to the norms of mid '60s America. And the casting and development of Endorra was BRILLIANT. The BEST Mother-in-Law in sitcom history. There was nothing subtle about the disconnect between Darrin and Endorra, they hated each other, but had to accept the presence of each other in Samantha's life.

There was -- especially in the series few seasons -- some parallels between the Stephenses and the Petries of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Both families lived in the New York suburbs, both husbands worked in the media (Rob as a writer, Darrin as an ad-man; who knows maybe an client of Darrin's ran their ads on The Alan Brady Show??) both featured gorgeous, energetic and vivacious wives who were clearly as talented and creative as their husbands.

The '60s were a decade when women didn't always have to work, if the husband earned a middle class salary. My mom didn't work, neither did my mother-in-law (they both retired from the workforce when they became parents).

The documentary crew was reading the wrong tea leaves -- Samantha (and Laura) had joie-de-vive. They weren't held back or down by their husbands. They had fun, often at their wonky husbands' expense. These series were light and cheerful, not downbeat and depressing.

If the documentarians could not see the difference between the worlds of Bewitched, Married: With Children and The Connors, it's their fault, not ours.



Wendy M. Grossman said...

RobW: Yes, particularly WHO'S THE BOSS. I think they mentioned the British origin of ALL IN THE FAMILY, but also I think the latter changed more in adaptation. In the original, TIL DEATH DO US PART, Alf Garnett (Eric Sykes) was a *type*. Everyone had seen a guy just like Alf airing his ancient views at length at their local pub, and everyone who knew someone like him took great pleasure in watching Alf's wife (Dandy Nichols) puncture his vanity.

ALL IN THE FAMILY exploited divisions that didn't exist in the UK when TIL DEATH was first written - the Vietnam war, the beginnings of women's lib, civil rights, and so on. Archie Bunkier was a type, sure, but he wasn't the guy down the pub who you laughed at and forgot about when you went home, he was your father or your uncle who profoundly disapproved of your refusal to follow his idea of legitimate life choices. It was a much more personal show, I think (at a time when "the personal is political").

wg

mcdufferton said...

Bewitched was not an allegory for the stifling of women's "power"--even white women's "power"--at that time in American society. Darrin was the polar opposite of commanding/domineering. And that whole allegory doesn't track in all the ways Ken mentioned: Darrin falling in love with Sam before knowing she had any "powers," etc., etc.

Bewitched has looong been regarded as a show about a white All-American suburban man marrying an "Other" (Jewish, etc. undesirable) and marrying into that "Other's" family (ethnic, different, weird, exotic). Frantically, nervously trying to keep the neighbors or the boss or the government or anyone from finding out about his societally unacceptable/illegal transgression of falling in love with a woman he thought was "a safe one of his own kind" but who turned out to be an "Other," is the whole tension of the show. Played for comedy. Light, funny, comedy. But still a blatant an allegory of its time.

Rick Whelan said...

I think Bewitched was a hit because Ms. Montgomery was hotter than a pepper sprout and imaginations went wild over what her magic could do for Darrin behind closed doors. Full disclosure ... that's why I watched it.

BillS said...

Alf Garnett (the British model for Archie Bunker) was played by Warren Mitchell not Eric Sykes.

In “The Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy”, its British author has nine US shows in his top twenty sitcoms. I suppose an American version would have twenty US shows.

Bill O said...

Bewitched was the gay friendliest show of its era. Its witches/warlocks gay analogues. Played mostly by gay actors.

Kendall Rivers said...

@Dave H The problem isn't the "outdated" views of the shows it's the idiotic and oversensitive looking at things now. Btw, Three's Company is still funny and still popular so apparently it being a "sexist, stupid and homophobic" show doesn't mean anything to everyone who still watches it. Heck, it's a staple on the Logo channel for goodness sake, you know... the "Gay" channel so apparently they don't see it that way. Don't let the BS going on today dictate your enjoyment of things from the past because if you do then don't watch anything before 2020 because it'll "offend" you.

Kendall Rivers said...

I'm disappointed because the last episode I watched which was the one about Friends I actually thought was an improvement and that the rest would be improved but alas I was naive because I wanted to believe they actually got it. I don't know who they had produce this thing but they need to get Tom Hanks and Sean Hayes back and make a "reboot" of this mess asap! I want proper and respectful tributes to the iconic sitcoms that made television what it was. And for pete's sake get more people who were actually involved in making these shows not a bunch of random critics that nobody knows of or care about.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

BillS: Yes, you're perfectly right. I meant to check that before hitting submit, and forgot. At one time or another, I saw both live on stage! (Ken, maybe sometime we should all compare our actors' life lists - criterion being having seen them on stage acting in a show.)

wg

JoeyH said...

Now I’m being told that The Flintstones is a satire on consumerism. Sheeesh

Bradchaz said...

Totally agree! I noticed the same thing when I started watching, so I stopped watching.

Aldrius said...

I'm not sure how the documentary actually presents it, but Bewitched absolutely was partly an allegory about a small-minded, simple man holding back his tremendously capable wife.

"Help, help don't save me" (an episode written by Danny Arnold) all but spells it out. Darrin is sensitive to his wife's abilities and feels insecure that she has ideas or skills that could outshine his. Endora all but tells Samantha that Darrin will NEVER able to accept that she has her own intelligence and her own mind.

In the end, the conclusion is basically Samantha tricks Darrin into taking her idea, and he leaves thinking it was his idea. And Samantha tells Endora that she's cool with Darrin thinking it was his idea, because their marriage is more important to her.

Bewitched sort of gets lost in the reeds a bit, because in it's later years outside of the odd story it absolutely was just a goofy show about a witch and magic and hijinks about magic spells and ghosts and george washington popping in.

But the first season was absolutely trying to say something about the role of women, the capability/capacity of men in handling a woman's power and how people got along knowing this. It's extremely subtle and subversive, but I feel safe saying it's there.

And yes there were other social justice elements to the show. Picketing for representation of witches, the whole idea of them being a mixed marriage. Bewitched was a lot more than just any one thing. And it's certainly something I think Danny Arnold was aware of, especially considering how Barney Miller was written. (Which was even *more* ahead of it's time than Bewitched.)