Netflix's 'Siempre Bruja’ is being criticised for its controversial slave romance storyline
5 February 2019, 16:42
Netflix viewers are calling out the problematic love story at the heart of the Spanish language drama 'Siempre Bruja' aka 'Always A Witch'.
The highly anticipated Spanish language drama Siempre Bruja (Always A Witch) dropped on Netflix at the beginning of February and fans have expressed concern over one of its major plot points. In Siempre Bruja, Carmen, an afro-latina witch, is sent forward in time after being burnt at the stake in the 1600s.
The element that has fans feeling uneasy is Carmen's relationship with her slave master's son, Cristobal, and her illogical desire return to life as a slave, despite being a free woman in the modern world.
Warning spoilers ahead:
At the beginning of episode 1, fans are introduced to Carmen who is shown being sold on a slave auction block. After sharing a flirtatious gaze, Cristobal convinces his father to buy Carmen so he can be with her.
When they are caught together, Carmen is sentenced to death and Cristobal is shot. While awaiting her death sentence, Carmen agrees to be sent to the future with the help of a powerful wizard and does so with the express hope that she will be able to return to a time where Cristobal is still alive and they are together.
Any relationship that begins with someone being bought and sold feels problematic and the internet has major thoughts about Siempre Bruja.
It's hard for a lot of people to fathom Carmen doing all this to return to slavery.
So in netflix series Siempre bruja, the woman is sent in the future where she is not a slave anymore but only thinks of going back to slavery time to save her white slave owner boyfriend?🤣 nonsense #siemprebruja— Nzinga Bandida (@VoodooPussy69) February 1, 2019
The idea that slavery would be something anyone would choose to return to shows a fundamental misrepresentation of an institution whose harmful effects can still be felt today.
Many thought there was a missed opportunity with Siempre Bruja.
Netflix: So we got this cool new show called #SiempreBruja— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) February 2, 2019
Me: Okay I'm in
Netflix: It's about an enslaved black woman who time-travels to the present but wants to go back to the past because she's in love with the son of the man who purchased her --
Many people hadn't realised that Carmen's mission would revolve around her voluntarily sending herself back into slavery. Funnily enough, the story of a witch sent to the present could have actually worked well without anchoring Carmen to the son of a slave owner.
And, of course, the timing was... not ideal.
Black History Month? Really? We're doing this during Black History Month?
However, there were some people who were willing to give the show a chance despite these plot points.
Cristobal isn’t a slave master, he’s the son of one. Anyways the show is great and it’s a more original concept than is usually written for dark skin women so let’s not get it cancelled #SiempreBruja #AlwaysAWitch pic.twitter.com/KlDFGjoVR9— C. (@dayadream_) February 2, 2019
Truthfully, Siempre Bruja has a strong lead, a fascinating overall premise, and a global audience that was ready to support the representation of an afro-latina witch. Unfortunately, there is very little that is empowering in 2019 about the portrayal of a woman dying to return to slavery because of a man.