Alright, Wanderers, if there are two things I love in this world (apart from fandom in general and you lovely people), those things are London, and magic. And this issue I get to review a TV series that features both heavily. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to ITV’s Switch.
Switch follows the everyday life of a four-woman coven, collectively known as the Witches of Camden. Besides practicing magic, with varying degrees of success, the girls also have all the usual trials and tribulations of being young adults to deal with. For example, Stella (Lacey Turner) has an intense full-time job to contend with, Hannah (Hannah Tointon) has been travelling and is reluctant to settle down, Jude (Nina Toussaint-White) is trying to break into the fashion industry, and Grace (Phoebe Fox) just wants to keep everything together on a manageable level.
If you’re interested in magic, or practice yourself, the show is a really good watch. The writers have clearly done their research, and the attention to detail pays off. That said, the magic itself isn’t the focus of the series, however obviously it forms the basis of the show. By that, I mean that the show isn’t about magic as such; it doesn’t put magic on a pedestal and make everything revolve around it. Instead, magic is just something that happens – performing a spell occurs with all the pomp and ceremony of picking up the phone to order a pizza, and the Solstice festival is treated more or less the way Christmas would be in a soap (except without the messy character deaths).
No, Switch isn’t about magic so much as the people who practice it – and, of course, their friends. But it’s not a hard-hitting exposé of the way modern witches often find themselves covering up their religion (it also doesn’t perpetuate sacrificing-of-goats stereotypes, which is refreshing) – it’s a light-hearted romp through, well, growing up, really. The girls fall in and out of crushes, beds, rivalries and bars and it’s a genuine pleasure to be carried along with them. The characters are very easy to relate to – and here I am talking to anyone who’s ever forgotten where their house keys are or had one of those days where everything is just going wrong – and the strength of their friendship makes me smile.
Actually, I watched this for the first time with a group of friends I’m very close to, and we couldn’t stop laughing for most of the first episode as familiar things cropped up – from “He’s just like our mate Aaron” to “The character’s actually called Aaron!” and with a particularly entertaining pause as someone’s mum called – just as Grace answered the phone to her own mum onscreen. OK, so maybe you’re not going to have quite that level of self-recognition, but oh boy are these characters believable – and I say that in full awareness of the fact that their answer to most problems is to do a quick spell (or ‘switch’ as they call it).
We often hear that there’s not enough variety in the depiction of women on TV these days – the old tropes are somewhat overused, like a scriptwriter’s safety net – but Switch doesn’t have that problem. From the girls themselves, to their mums and their bosses and even the rival coven of Kensington, there are a wealth of complex, layered, strongly-written females throughout the show. It’s definitely a girl-power boost should you ever need one. And, since it’s set in Camden, there are some beautiful shots of one of London’s more eccentric boroughs for those of you who get excited about that sort of thing.
Sadly, Switch wasn’t recommissioned after its first series – which I think is a terrible shame – but the six episodes that did air are brilliant, warm and funny, not to mention a sweet alternative to shows set in high schools or university dorms. There were definitely plenty of threads in the first series that could be carried through to a second, easily, so if anyone involved in making that decision were to suddenly have a change of heart I’d be glad to see it. All in all, it’s a beautiful, authentic-feeling little show and if you can find a way to check it out, I highly recommend it.
I’d give this show 4 out of 5 – it’s quite tame if you’re looking for a supernatural show but a welcome change if you’re looking for more of a slice-of-life sort of thing.
Eleanor Musgrove (would really like a second series, please?)
The Editor would like to advise that Switch may not be suitable for younger viewers due to adult themes.