Bewitching Samantha

As a child of the 1960s, living in the US, I grew up watching Bewitched on TV. In my formative years I saw this woman, Samantha, who was at once a complete ditz and thoroughly enchanting.

She could not solve even the simplest problem—despite having incredible magical powers—unless someone else told her what to do. She was desperately in love with a man who was even more idiotic than she (although the second of the two actors who played Darren Stevens reduced the moronic factor quite a bit).

Yet, I wasn't sure why, but I knew that I wanted one of those. The long, not-quite-blonde hair, the womanly curves, the face, the loving smile, the absolute loyalty and devotion to her husband against all criticism (and all common sense), that was the woman I wanted to marry someday.

I was too young to understand sexual attraction or to have any idea of the pleasure of loving a woman. But somewhere in my developing male brain, I knew that there was something really good about having a wife like her hang on your every word and throw herself into your arms at the end of a day.

If only she had a really brainy twin sister.

As a child, I liked girls, especially the smart ones who challenged my mind. They were great friends, much better than boys who were more into physical sports.

As I matured, I grew to understand what that mysterious quality about women—both the girls I knew who were becoming women, and the image of Samantha Stevens, etched in my mind as the definitive wife. I discovered why those soft, round parts of a woman were so desirable.

There were things that men could do with women like Samantha that went beyond fun and games. They had a magical power that far exceeded the mere ability to turn someone into a frog. They could give pure pleasure with a touch. They were designed for pleasure and longed to have pleasure taken from them, voluntarily or otherwise.

In addition to the Samantha women, there were the other ones—the ones I respected. The ones I liked. The ones I could play chess with and actually stand a chance of losing to. They knew things that I didn't. They had different interests that I could learn to enjoy with them.

In college, I met the one perfect woman. She was shaped like Samantha, with the womanly figure and the shoulder-length golden hair. She was warm and loving like Samantha, and she had a mind, and self-assurance greater than any girl or woman I had ever known.

She was a soul-mate.

It was a strange existence. I respected her, trusted her, admired her as a true equal and life partner, and yet, she had that starry-eyed. devoted, “bewitched” look and manner about her.

If I touched her face with my fingertips or ran my hand down her back, she would melt into my arms. She would look up at me and almost worship me.

She would lie back and beg me take her. She would do my bidding, fall to her knees and pleasure me, cook for me, darn my socks, embroider pillows for my family for Christmas. When we married, she insisted on taking my name.

This was very, very wrong.

I couldn't do that to a friend. I couldn't take advantage of someone that smart, that witty, that powerful, that capable of having her own career. It was like guzzling cheap wine from a rare golden goblet.

To bend a woman like that to my will, to put her on her back and take my pleasure from her, to have her fall to her knees before me because she was under my spell—that was a profane use of a pearl of great price.

Of course, I made love to her. Of course we shared the pleasures that married couples share. But I didn't take the privileges that are reserved to men. I didn't use the magic that would let me command her, dominate her, compel her obedience, even though it was so easy to do.

In fact, she gave some of my male privilege, despite my attempts to share the fruits with her. She wouldn't get on top of me when we made love. She pursued a career as a teacher—one that would allow her to work anywhere that my career would take me. She put my needs before hers, in ways that I didn't always see.

Then, one day, we were watching an episode of M*A*S*H. She looked at me, looked at Loretta Switt, and asked, “Is that why you always want me to wear my hair long and full?”

“Do I remind you of “Hot-Lips”?”

It wasn't an accusation, more of a search for insight.

I said no, but she saw something in my expression that said there was more to the story. In short order, I confessed that she reminded me of Samantha.

Rather than being insulted by a comparison to a subservient airhead, she was flattered. Samantha fit perfectly with her notion of a loving, devoted, beautiful wife, although I did warn her about the brainier twin sister variation.

Still, I wouldn't treat her the way I was tempted to. I didn't take advantage of her willingness to surrender to me or take direction from me. I could no more do that to her than I could enslave a good friend because he happened to be black.

But part of me really wanted to. It was a decedent fantasy to put Elle in her place, to take her whenever I wanted, regardless of her mood. I longed to put her over my knee and use my hand on her womanly form, make he beg for forgiveness for the pettiest offense.

There were a few things, a few temptations to which I succumbed. Sometimes she even made it necessary, teasing and resisting so that I would hold her down and claim her in a moment of frenzied excitement.

Now, having realized that she wants, desires and needs to be a “taken” wife, to be the genius twin-sister of my childhood crush, I have relented.

I sometimes adopt that chiding tone that Dick Sergeant used when she got carried away. I encourage her to throw herself at me as she loves to do. I bend her over, lie her back, compel her, melt her with a touch, overrule her for erotic effect, and even correct her with an occasional swat as she passes me.

If I had any doubts as to her willingness to fill this role, they would be dispelled by the fact that she learned to wiggle her nose at me, and mastered that way of saying “Well??” that is one of my earliest memories of something oddly-erotic in a wife.

She also promises to fetch me a riding-crop if she ever cuts her hair too short.

I still feel guilty when “using” my best and most respected friend to satisfy my most base desires. But this degreed and lettered friend—this certified genius who has more than earned my admiration—is still a woman.

She is designed and built to my specific requirements, avowed to my life-long obedience, and takes great pleasure in arching herself to my pleasure.

She even serves me peanut-butter sandwiches on her great-aunt's best china.


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I am amazed. I loved 'Bewitched' when I was a child, but I never saw Samantha as a subservient airhead. I thought Darren was a pain in the neck, but even though Samantha paid lip-service to her subservience to him, she always ended up doing what she wanted. Forbidden by the pompous Darren to use magic, nevertheless she always did. And it generally turned out all right in the end.

I hated Darren and never understood what she saw in him (I still don't) but I was always glad that again and again she got around his ban on using magic. Although nominally subservient, she always did her own thing in the end.


Living a life the way it should be

I remember the show too.

Samantha was for me a woman who tried to live a life she
thought it should be without really knowing it.

Her mother was a bad example of a eccentric character. She treated her husband as the head of the household because she wanted normality in her life and makes this work with all she could.

In some way she has something of a woman who lives in a domestic discipline relationship because of her own will without have to.

Seems attractive to me too.


The Two Darrens

To understand both Samantha and the world in which she lived, we need to differentiate between the two incarnations of Darren (her husband), played by Dick York and later by Dick Sergeant.

...I never saw Samantha as a subservient airhead. I thought Darren was a pain in the neck, but even though Samantha paid lip-service to her subservience to him, she always ended up doing what she wanted. Forbidden by the pompous Darren to use magic, nevertheless she always did. And it generally turned out all right in the end.

This is an apt description of the second (Dick Sergeant) Darren. He was definitely pompous, forbade Samantha to use magic and was a darker character in general than the "York" Darren.

In the early years of the series, the "York" Darren was even more dopey than Samantha, making her look wiser by comparison—but only by comparison.

With Sergeant's Darren, Samantha became less dopey and more manipulative. Likely it was an adjustment by both Elizabeth Montgomery and the show's writers, first trying to have Samantha "duck under" York, then later changing to a more subtle kind of subservience, or even a feigned subservience.

Sergeant's Darren was someone who could be resisted, someone whom it was fair to out-wit, because he had some strength and seemed to be generally aware of his surroundings. He went so far as to be dismissive of Endora (Samantha's mother) at times.

York's character was so weak and so dim-witted that Samantha would have appeared cruel if she had reasoned intelligently with him or used any kind of strength of character to get her way.

Still, in both cases, it seemed like she (Montgomery) was "toning down" or even "dumbing down" in order to avoid upstaging Darren.

As for keeping things secret, there was a York-years episode where Darren suggests that they just go public. Let everyone know she's a witch and be done with it. Samantha waits until he is asleep and creates a dream—a nightmare—of what things would be like if the public ever found out.

When he awakens, he has seen the error of his ways and has decided that they should keep the secret after all. It was one of the few episodes of the York years in which we saw Samantha actually dominate the situation—albeit from behind the curtain of a dream.

The consequences of revealing the secret were so dire that she was forced to take matters into her own hands and directly manipulate her husband with her magic, rather than following his lead and merely offering suggestions along the way.

To me, that episode made it seem that, from the beginning, he was "requiring" her to keep a secret which she knew she had to keep. They were maintaining the all-important subservience of wife to husband by his being the "bad guy". (In fact, "making her do that which she knows she needs to do," was one of the earliest forms of taking in hand that I adopted with my wife).

I think, even at a young age, I saw her subservience to him not quite as a facade, but as an acceptance of "the way things were" between men and women. She had to prop up her inept husband-leader in order to make it possible to be subservient to him.

Of course, the propping-up might not have been a machination by Samantha. It may simply have been that weak writing and acting created a caricature of a couple rather than a portrayal with real depth.

But at the time, my ability to see the difference between the character's facade and the actor's facade, was limited by my six-to-eight-year-old's understanding of adult relationships and acting techniques.

Bewitched was one of the earliest opportunities for me to see the inner workings of a husband-wife relationship. The real adults in my world concealed such things behind the standard facade of "not discussing things in front of the children".

As with many first-impressions, it had a lasting impact on my developing understanding of the differences and relationships between adult men and women.

Yes, that's a scary thought—that a very silly, contrived sit-com would have such a profound effect on my development. But that was due, in large part, to the vacuum created by my parents' and other adults' unwillingness to let me see the real thing.

Nor were my parents unique in that regard. Most parents don't let their young children see them relate to each other. Children have to figure out adult relationships, either by gleaning snippets from occasional lapses in the facade, or through the literature and theater of the day.

On the other hand, perhaps it isn't so scary after all. If I had seen more of the coldness and distance of my parents' relationship at such a young age, it might have formed my understanding of marriage. Thank goodness that did not happen.

While Samantha and her two Darrens had their faults, she clearly loved her husband. He, too, whether incompetent or overbearing, demonstrated a real warmth toward her and showed the effect that a woman's charm and love has on a man.

I would not have learned any of that from observing my parents. Perhaps children are better off, in general, learning about relationships from some source other than the particular couple who produced them. Perhaps portraits of love between a man and woman are best painted by professionals—even those who paint for the low art-form of television.

After all, I was able to accept the validity of the love between husband and wife, while rejecting the moronic behavior as some kind of comedic artifact. Unfortunately, it took a very long time for me to figure out that the asymmetry of their marriage—the wife's acceptance of her husband's leadership—was actually a good and positive thing, if done well.

I consigned that kind of relationship to the bygone era of my parents' generation—but I would have done so even if I had seen it in real couples of their age.

As for the two Darrens, their examples as husbands really didn't have as much of an impact on me as Samantha's wife-example did. I simply didn't like them, and did like her. I didn't want to be either of those two men, but I did want to have someone like her.

Or, more accurately, I wanted a woman of great power who would give her love and herself to me. Without really understanding what it was, I wanted that quality of willing surrender, based not on some requirement of society nor lack of strength, but based on an inner desire to be taken.

And I think there is one thing on which most can agree: neither of the two Darrens deserved such a woman.

The difference in the Darrens

I find it interesting to see the male take on this show, CarlF. I too grew up watching it and wondered at the interaction of the couple. They were so different from my own ultraconservative parents, I admit to being jealous. I wanted parents like that! But I have a different take on the two Darrens. The York Darren was a product of the early 60’s male, facing the emerging Peace movement and the beginning of the Feminist attitudes. The Sergeant Darren was reflecting the fact of the Feminist. The writers tried to keep up with the current politics and attitudes of their day. It was a fascinating show in that Samantha was so conservative yet her mother was such a rabid Feminist. She had to deal with the dynamics of a working husband, growing children, and bizarre family (come to think of it, sounds a lot like my own!). It was fun to watch her deal with the daily disasters caused by these characters and I think we all agree she did so with quiet dignity and humor. She was someone many of we women of that time looked up to also. She was what I wanted for myself and in many ways I am. It is good to know that she affected the male of our species equally.


Sorry Darrin

I've just been watching some reruns of Bewitched, and I'm sorry now that I said I hated Darrin. I actually think he's quite sweet. He's a bit hopeless, but obviously totally devoted to Samantha, and even willing to go to great lengths to restore her magic powers when she loses them (in the series 2 episode about the black Peruvian rose).

Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York are actually quite delightful together (though I still don't see them as the slightest bit a Taken In Hand couple). I was quite shocked to read that after he left Bewitched due to ill health, Dick York fell on hard times and ended up cleaning houses for a living. Very sad. He could have done with some of Samantha's magic.


Sounds like she WAS thinking of her own pleasure

Being on top SUCKS. It is the ultimate servant-submissive thing to do... the woman does all the work and gets none of the pleasure. Good for her for standing up for herself and saying no to what is an amazingly uncomfortable sexual position for most women. Being on top is NOT empowering.

And maybe she liked teaching. It's unfortunate you don't think it is a valuable job, but neither does the rest of society so why should you.

Frankly, I find you rather sexist and your assumptions of what makes a woman powerful rather trite.