Heather’s TV Goodness All-Stars 2013: Witches of East End’s MÃ¤dchen Amick
Full disclosure: I’ve had a mega girl crush on MÃ¤dchen Amick for years (sidebar: we’re almost exactly the same age) going all the way back to Twin Peaks. She generally plays “no bullsh-t” women, and I love that. In the days since Twin Peaks, she’s worked steadily on television, and she comes around in the occasional Lifetime movie (Lies and Deception, opposite Andrew Walker, is one of my guilty pleasures that I’ll pretty much stop and watch anytime it’s on). So, when she popped up in the regular cast roster for Lifetime’s Witches of East End, my interest in the show climbed considerably. But I still came to it late and discovered it via a binge watch last month.
Amick is always good, but as Aunt Wendy, it’s like something inside her has been unleashed and she’s having a ball as an immortal witch who revives every time she’s been killed–until she realizes with some surprise that she’s finally arrived at her ninth life. But it doesn’t slow her down. She’s the wild child sister to Joanna, and because her curse is to bear no children, she’s been free to do all the things and live the life her sister couldn’t.
Amick usually plays someone darker or a bit troubled or maybe even the villain, but here she’s playful, sexy, and wickedly funny, and when she reconciles with Joanna and meets this particular incarnation of her nieces, it’s a brand new playground as she gets to teach the girls everything that’s been held back from them about being witches, most importantly how very cool it is to have these powers.
Part of the role means Amick’s frequently naked or near-naked because her alter is a cat, and when she changes back to Wendy, she’s sometimes caught out in the world in the altogether, so there’s a level of physical inhibition that has also informed the emotional inhibition of the character, and Amick’s portrayal of her. Wendy has no limits, and Amick’s joy at playing her is obvious, and infectious.
We do get to see some glimmers of the darkness, too. In “Snake Eyes,” when Wendy is infected by a talisman she’s been warned against, Joanna tries to find a spell to get her out of it. Wendy rages at her and finally hits the nerve that’s been her sister’s curse to bear in every incarnation–her daughters always die before they’re out of their 20s. Amick is chilling as Wendy rails at Joanna and baits her that the clock is ticking on the girls. The eerie way she seethes “tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock” at her sister is chilling. And then her heartbreaking remorse later is just another shade of a complex role.
I’m so glad Amick is on board. The show’s tone is inconsistent from week to week, as it’s sometimes campy, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes sad, but Amick makes it appointment TV for me because she’s nails a torrent of emotions–she’s funny, she’s frightening, she’s sexy, she’s protective, she’s determined–and convincing all the way down the line. That’s why she’s one of my 2013 TV Goodness All-Stars.
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