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Siempre Bruja, the new Netflix series about a Colombian slave (and witch) promised a lot of thrilling stuff: A story centered on an Afro-Colombian woman, time-traveling, juicy drama, and, duh, witches.
But when some Twitter users discovered that the main character, Carmen, was going back in time to save her white, slave-owning lover, it was just too much.
Siempre Bruja, or Always a Witch in English, is based on the 2015 novel Yo, Bruja, by Isidora Chacon. Carmen, the main character, lands in the present day to avoid being burnt at the stake; while she’s still alive, she’s completely lost in the 21st century.
But even the pull of a Spanish-language drama about witches, with Afro-Latinx representation, wasn’t enough for some. Many Twitter users who had been excited about the series expressed boredom—or horror—over the trope of an Afro-Colombian slave with magical powers working so hard to save the son of the man who enslaved her.
“Watching Siempre Bruja Me: what?! they’re giving her a white, slaveholding boo who she makes eyes at while literally on the auction block?? Charlie: Kaitlyn, this is a Netflix and Columbian [sic] state tv-produced telenovela why are you expecting this to do better?”
Watching Siempre Bruja— Kaitlyn Greenidge (@surlybassey) February 2, 2019
Me: what?! they're giving her a white, slaveholding boo who she makes eyes at while literally on the auction block??
Charlie: Kaitlyn, this is a Netflix and Columbian state tv-produced telenovela why are you expecting this to do better?
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 --
watching siempre bruja and this is wild y’all pic.twitter.com/o9JB2Rbvcf— Aminatou Sow (@aminatou) February 2, 2019
I was so excited about Siempre bruja but apparently the plot is about her being in love w/a — pic.twitter.com/b1Ckgj8xgQ— cara bernard (@caraberny) February 2, 2019
Girl if you don't cast a spell or do some cord cutting and forget this slave owning man! Be FREE. 😭🤯 #siemprebruja— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) February 2, 2019
Watching #SiempreBruja and I see exactly why a lot of this was kept out of promo. I don't even feel comfortable with this plot. Y'all love making slaves fall in love with their masters. And y'all knew EXACTLY what y'all were doing not putting any of that in the trailers. pic.twitter.com/5AtSXDc82v— N O V A (@_inthenova) February 2, 2019
Other users discussed the complexity of identity in South America, and Colombia specifically.
As much as I’m having the same eye roll reaction - Latin American culture is riddled with Stockholm syndrome... in an ironic way it’s pretty accurate... corny yes ... unfortunately the norm for anything Latin American tho— Katriel € Sarfati (@NerdGoneRogue_) February 2, 2019
A promising premise, but a troubling romantic plot. Perhaps a second season, if it comes, will offer a more woke romance.
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Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.