Known primarily for her work in vampire lore and fiction, the late Anne Rice also delved into witchcraft via her Lives of the Mayfair Witches novel trilogy from the early 1990’s. Her work had been the subject of film adaptations in the past with varying degrees of success and author frustration.
And now, following the success of last year’s Interview with a Vampire Series, AMC+ is following it up with Mayfair Witches, another TV adaptation which involved Anne Rice as an executive producer before her passing in 2021. We’re only one episode in, but Mayfair Witches has already cast quite the spell of mystery, intrigue, and interesting characters and ideas!
Past and Present
Opening in New Orleans, we’re introduced to a middle aged and catatonic woman named Deirdre. Throughout the episode, we learn more about her tragic backstory via flashback, all of which connects to the present and our main character Rowan Fielding (Alexandra Daddario). Fielding is a surgeon trying to rise to the top, but kept down by people like her egotistical and pompous chief of surgery.
As she attempts to navigate her terminally ill mother and setbacks in both her professional and dating life, she accidentally stumbles upon a seemingly horrific ability. When frustrated with someone, she can literally will their organs to rupture and kill them. It’s the kind of thing that sounds cathartic and amazing if we’re being sarcastic and satirical, but in practice is pretty horrific and riddled with guilt.
All the while, Rowan has no idea that she’s part of a much larger world of magic and witchcraft. In a strange way, the series goes from Grey’s Anatomy to American Horror Story in the span of only about 20 minutes and that’s not at all a bad thing. Given the series’ subject matter, it’s bound to draw comparisons to AHS: Coven and The Secret Circle, but it feels much more mature than either, and it really shows that this source material is much older than the pretenders.
It may be similar in style and tone to some of the other witchcraft related media coming out of the CW, FX, and Netflix, its story is far more rich given its source material and it very much shows. It’s honestly refreshing to see a story like this without the normal teenage baggage. Not that there’s anything wrong with the YA subgenre and coming of age stories about teenagers, it just feels like when we’re dealing with this particular subgenre, most of the characters aren’t mature adults navigating complex issues.
The Morality of Magic
Part of what made this such an intriguing series premiere was the world building. We get a glimpse of this “agency” of magic and understand that there’s a whole world the public is unaware of. Those who know about magic are incredibly determined to ensure that it’s not being used, most likely because of how dangerous Rowan’s ability seems to be.
Plus there’s a fascinating timeless quality to the series. Obviously they were written 30 years ago, but the scenes with Rowan take place in modern day (as evidenced by smartphones). But everything with Deirdre could easily be any time in the 20th century given the style of dress. When you factor in the mathematics of certain characters’ age, it would have been set sometime in the 80s, but the style of dress feels more like the 30s.
While we can’t speak for those familiar with the books, it was an incredibly intriguing premiere to new viewers. Deirdre’s story is both tragic and poignant, and while Rowan does feel a bit arrogant at times, this is often a sign of a flawed protagonist who’s about to discover a world they never knew. Point is,
it’ll keep us all coming back for more!
What did you think of the series premiere of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches? What do you hope to see next week? Let us know in the comments!