Sitcoms experienced their triumph in the 1960s, countless classics are still reference points and punchlines at the same time. From quirky families and undercover agents to talking farm animals, it was all fair game, but two attempts to blend the supernatural with the homely stand above the rest: Sol Sak‘s Enchanted (1964-1972) and Sydney Sheldon‘s i dream of jeannie (1965-1970). With concepts as interchangeable as the storylines, replete with copy-and-paste characters in central and supporting roles, these two stalwarts of the decade had more in common than most. For all the similarities, however, there was staying power thanks to a premise with built-in conflict: class and family barriers.
“Betwitched” and “I Dream of Genie” are startlingly similar
Both Enchanted and I dream of genius were produced by Screen Gems for ABC and NBC respectively. Both depict blondes, magic and the problems that arise when the other tries to fit into mainstream society. Swap a witch for a genie, blonde and long-legged Elizabeth Montgomery for blond and tactile Barbara Ed, Dick York to the Larry Hagmanand an ad executive with an astronaut and you have jeannieis set up. However, Enchanted is considered the more mature of the two, and for good reason: a show that reflects the audience’s prejudices (unconscious or otherwise) as well as their beliefs about race, politics, and assumptions about “good” families will be debunked as outdated or downright wrong , all under the guise of a light-hearted sitcom. Furthermore, beneath the surface, a constant and inevitable class struggle simmers, with Samantha (Montgomery) and her ilk at the top of the food chain while mere mortals, particularly her husband Darren “Durwood” Stephens (York/ sargent) become the pawns. This hierarchy is the core of Endoras (Agnes Moorehead) Dislike of Darren, whom she considers unworthy of her daughter and her powers. For audiences, the purity of their love is unquestionable – husband and wife have an understanding: no magic, just pure, suburban normality. This is a common goal that has never been achieved, thanks to constant family interference and the occasional threat of real-world exploitation. A class conflict, magic and intrusion is an ongoing reality that flows into every episode, and one that does not escape any of the protagonists, who insist on cooking, cleaning, working and traveling in a mortal fashion, much to the disgust of Samanthas Family who raised her better.
“I Dream of Genie” is the sexier production of the two
Jeannie (Eden), on the other hand, is a servant. She has no ambitions other than to please her master, Tony Nelson (Hagman), although she is prone to destructive fits of jealousy around women who might catch his eye. “Master” Nelson isn’t quite so adamant about keeping his leggy lodger’s powers in check, but by the rules of comedy, her tendency to cause trouble is annoying. i dream of jeannie does not have the same allegorical social ladder battles as Enchanted, because most of the conflict is borne by Jeannie trying to interfere (often for the better, occasionally as a ‘lesson’) and ultimately just trying to please Nelson. For his part, Nelson’s goal is to hide her powers but not control them like smaller men might in the real world. But without an Endora-esque to remind Jeannie of her status (submissive in this case), or a husband/master/landlord/whatever they are to become apoplectic with their use of magic, there’s not much of it Drama to build upon. It’s not about saving a marriage or promoting diversity or anything other than a hot and submissive chick being, well, hot and submissive. Of course there are mini-battles and moments of suspense, but blink and you’ll miss it if you will. Besides what jeannie It lacks in stakes and “lessons” which it makes up for in costumes and colors. There’s no doubt that it’s by far the sexiest production of the two.
On that note, Samantha and Darren love a good hickey. Most episodes end with an eye roll from the latter, followed by a mutually appreciated kiss or two. In other words, these kids like each other and are clearly characters fighting together in the good fight for the same goal: to maintain a strong and supportive marriage despite their different upbringings. Conversely, Jeannie skips the two-way street by throwing her arms around Larry Hagman (good job if you can get it) and aggressively planting kisses on his face while he tosses, pushes her away, or just lets her get her out of the system . In other words, it’s male fantasy – a woman in seductive attire throwing herself at the guy, take it or leave it. Considering his heyday Barbara Eden, I’d suggest the latter, but old Larry needs a few seasons to see that.
But while it’s not a show that’s helping to fuel a wave of feminism, what it lacks in politics it makes up for with some quirky supporting characters. Take Major Roger Healey (Bill daily), Nelson’s colleague, sidekick, and confidant. Being privy to Jeannie’s powers, Healey begins with an urge to use her magic for personal gain, but soon realizes that the wish-granting deal, if orchestrated by Jeannie, will be more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, the guy is only human and regularly promotes the benefits of knowing an expert in the art of magic. Of course, there are those who suspect something is amiss at Casa Nelson, especially with his constant and wacky companion, so dodging prying eyes takes up most of the airtime. Nelson’s supervisor, Dr. Bellows (Hayden Rorke) and his wife, the OG Karen, Amanda (Emaline Heinrich), arightWe’re always sniffing around, which leads to lots of wide eyes and convoluted excuses. Bewitched has more than a few workplace nuisances: Samantha’s extended family provides enough drama for an entire series, with the aforementioned wolf in wolf’s clothing, Endora, the prankster Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde) and Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), who can barely perform a card trick, let alone use her powers adequately. In the mortal realm, the series benefits from Darren himself, who becomes disgusted at the sight of all things wands and sorcery, his boss Larry Tate (David White), which would elevate his status with some magical shortcuts, and the quintessence of the Yenta, Mrs. Pearce (Gladys Kravtiz) who knows something unusual is going on at the neighbor’s house and spends her days peering through the curtains to prove it.
Who comes on top?
If you’re looking for a group of weirdos that would be a pleasure to have for dinner, i dream of jeannie undoubtedly wins. Jeannie is sexy, clearly warm, and eager to please (so she’d probably do the dishes). Plus, you get the lovable Roger and the eye-pleasing Nelson to discuss all things NASA. But when it comes to craftsmanship Enchanted contains the built-in tensions of ’60s suburbia, of happy shenanigans and benevolent witchcraft. Instead of a story about a woman’s quest to be the apple of her guy’s eye (and for that guy to keep it under wraps), Enchanted offers a meeting of equals, a discussion of class and allusions to an ever-changing society in which the Stepford wife’s pristine lawns give way to a new breed of woman and a slowly mingling community. And there’s Endora, who brings the chaos but also the kaftans. If that’s not reason enough for first place, I don’t know what is.
https://collider.com/i-dream-of-jeannie-bewitched-sitcoms-compared/ I Dream of Jeannie vs Bewitch, Which Witch Remains Supreme?