Spellbound is what you would get if Hulu and Disney got married. This show is reminiscent of the many Disney teen dramas about following a path to your dream and being divided between two desirable and equally essential choices. The series follows a 15-year-old Cece from the US who has just moved to Paris to learn at a prestigious ballet school. As is expected of Americans, she’s incapable of sticking to the rules and is a fish out of water who creates her own channels. But, soon she learns that she’s going to be shipped back when the school has picked too many students. In the middle of this chaos, she’s been told that she’s actually a Wizen (a fancy, possible attempt at Gen-Zing “Witches”). Cece is tasked with saving the world, but she just wants to be a great dancer, what will she choose, and will she have help on her way?
Spellbound is definitely not the most magical or fantastical teen media out there, but it’s still very amusing. When it comes to the dancing, the show definitely doesn’t focus on it but there are some nice choreographies and fun routines that the students do. Cece is like Emily (yes, the same one), but juvenile and a little less obnoxious. The two sidekick Wizens are definitely the most enjoyable characters on the show, followed by Cece’s Aunt Ginger. Of course, we’ve got love triangles, jealousy, rivalry, you know the works. All the kids do a great job with the material they’ve been given and they’re very cute to watch, especially when they’re all smiles while dancing. The pacing is decent and while the story runs a little thin and mostly the magical stuff is all surface level, there’s a lot of meaning for Cece and her friends in the magic which is really great for kids to learn from. Cece’s quest to become the Wise One is a slow process and there’s a lot for her to learn on the way.
The dangerous evil group known as the Mystiqs are out to get Cece and the Wizens and everything depends on her. There’s a lot of fun to be had with Spellbound, and the purple elements of witchcraft are adorable. While sometimes it looks like the buildings have been overly color-corrected, the magic stuff looks decent enough to make a youngling excited. In class, Cece is judged by her teacher brutally because her style is more free-flowing than the technical work at the new school. This forces her to focus on technique, but at the same time, when she shows her strengths she’s appreciated too. In a very positive manner, the show is quite encouraging to those who may be struggling to find their footing in conformity. The show consists of all the elements that make school life exciting. All 13 episodes are streaming at once on Hulu and with the short run time of 20-25 mins, it’s extremely captivating and bingeable. Given that the story is divided into two parts, people will be waiting for the exciting second part to come out soon.
Do I feel like I wish I had this show when I was younger? Maybe not, but do I think today’s teens will enjoy this? Probably. There are some things that feel slapped on and clearly indicate that the adults who wrote this show may not know how teenagers today behave, but there are other bits that are a good representation, so all in all, it’s a decent enough show. It’s unfortunate that these shows can’t use any good, out-there music because of copyright issues, but that would really boost the impact of the dance sequences. I do wish the show had more dancing, not in the sense that they skimped on the dancing, because in 20 minutes, there’s only so much you can do, but that it could have been a bigger focus. I can understand that the time is a big limitation and that the show is actually a fantasy with all the magic of course.
Spellbound is definitely no Wizards Of Waverly Place or Sabrina The Teenage Witch, but it uses elements of today to make a show that is a good and quick watch after a tough day at school that is encouraging and simultaneously thrilling. Spellbound can be a family watch that is just the right amount of cheesy. There’s no whole new world to be explored or a fancy plot twist that will keep you spellbound (I had to!), but there’s certainly enough to justify a quick weekend watch.
As in any of these witchy shows, there are friends that will keep the protagonist grounded, a love interest who is definitely evil, a best friend who will always do right by them, sidekicks who may steal the show whenever they’re on screen, and adults who show up to ruin things occasionally. Spellbound as a show is very kid-friendly which is excellent and I would totally put it on if I have nothing to do with my young cousins because it’s a great starting point for discussion.
Hailey Romain is good as the protagonist and has much potential to do better work in the future. It’s a shame that unlike the other witch-craft shows of the past we don’t get to see some exceptional fashion because magic and style always seem to go hand in hand from time immemorial. Still, Aunt Ginger’s unique and eccentric looks are quite fun all the same. Since we’ve only seen Spellbound part 1, there’s a lot more left to watch, but it is possible to carry this plotline forward with new adventures for Cece and her Wizen friends. The show has no profanity, no sexual content and some smoke for scary scenes that most kids should be able to handle. I give Spellbound 3.5 out of 5 stars.