Ghosts of Fandoms Past: The Secret Circle

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Flashback to 2011, when the CW — presumably inspired by the success of The Vampire Diaries’ first season and a half — orders another adaptation of an L.J. Smith teen fantasy series centered on supernatural events in a small town populated by angsty high schoolers and suspicious adults. This time, the protagonists are witches, out to investigate the legacy their parents’ circle left them while dodging attacks from demons and witch hunters. The show has a promising start as the highest-rated new series on the network, and the third-highest show overall, but the CW ultimately chooses to end its run in 2012 after the first season comes to a close.

The Secret Circle’s always been a show I feel compelled to rewatch from time to time ever since its cancellation, and it’s for a reason that might sound a little weird. I love several characters and I do think the show has its strong points, but as a whole it’s wildly uneven and painfully cliché at times. Depending on the episode, I’ll veer back and forth between total glee and unimpressed glares. The pacing leaves a lot to be desired, and the less said about the abundance of love triangles the better. (This is a lie. I’ll come back to the love triangles later.) And yet: there was and is so much potential in this short-lived show that I wish we could have seen what would happen next. Certain relationships are fascinating and deserving of more screen time. It’s such a mixed bag as a series, and that’s what makes me interested in analyzing it. So: let’s check out what worked, what could have been better, and where things might have gone had the show a chance to continue.

The Good:

The Bad:

The Future?

The Secret Circle ended on an ominous semi-cliffhanger, with Diana leaving the group, both Cassie and Adam being tempted towards darkness, and more Balcoin children heading to town. Executive producer Andrew Miller has previously revealed season two plans that I think sounds pretty intriguing; the contrast between Diana and Cassie was one of the coolest parts of the show, particularly since it initially seemed like Cassie would be the moral one while Diana would develop the potential to snap. I would’ve loved to see their newfound half-sibling relationship continue, particularly considering how Blackwell’s other kids would affect them. I’ve probably made my position on “good guy” Jake clear by now, but evil Adam sounds like it could have been solid if they’d committed fully to it. I’m of two minds about Faye’s ongoing quest for power; that need would have always been a fundamental part of her character, but season one drove the idea into the ground after awhile, and the writers would’ve needed to take it in a different direction than the previous “Faye tries to get more magic, something goes terribly wrong, the circle fights with her about it” formula. Honestly, I would have adored a season that delved into why Faye was so reckless and desperate for more. There was genuine potential for her to really shine. All of these characters could have gone in incredibly compelling directions, and despite my back-and-forth feelings on the first season, I’m still sad about The Secret Circle being cut off. So it goes.

(One thing I am glad to have sidestepped, though: poor Melissa getting put through the ringer of yet another bad relationship. This way, I can just imagine she settled down with Faye and Diana and a couple of cats. Witches need familiars, right?)

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