As a HUGE fan of the late great Anne Rice and her works, I am beyond disappointed in AMC’s newest adaptation series, “The Mayfair Witches.” Based on Rice’s Mayfair trilogy (which later tied into the Vampire Chronicles), the show LOOSELY follows main character Rowan Mayfair (Alexandra Daddario) and the family ghost, Lasher (Jack Huston). From there, all pretense at following the source material goes away.
I’m going to apologize in advance for being so angry in this review, but I feel the showrunners/writers owe ME an apology for what I had to sit through. Just go read the books. You’ll probably enjoy them more.
The script is inexcusably bad. I cannot stress this enough. Even with a source material purist (me) understanding the need to update, adapt, pivot, there are dialog and character choices I just cannot abide.
Within the first 7 minutes, there’s a “Dune” reference. Which, normally, I would be THRILLED with, but it’s inclusion is like a slap in the face for women who are fans of the seminal work of science fiction. “The slow blade penetrates the shield,” Rowan says. “Where did you hear that,” her female surgeon colleague asks. “Some guy in a bar,” Rowan responds, making it a fucking joke. A JOKE, because she couldn’t POSSIBLY know and/or quote “Dune.” It obviously had to have come from one of her roughneck lovers. [That was sarcasm, by the way, because I am one of the biggest Dune fans you’re going to encounter.]
Yes, I understand we’re establishing Rowan’s “otherness,” her struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated field. But that isn’t a core problem for the book’s heroine at all. It’s as if the decision makers thought audiences wouldn’t buy into Rowan the accomplished and respected surgeon at the get-go. And instead, manufactured additional ‘drama’ that didn’t need to be there.
Just let the characters BE the characters, and trust in the roadmap already laid out. The books have remained a staple of macabre reading for a reason.
Where Are Aaron and Michael?!
Other than Rowan and Lasher, the two most important characters in the book, Aaron and Michael, are…gone. Not just gone, but, strangely also morphed into one new character? It’s like if you morphed Han Solo and Obi Wan Kenobi into one brand new character in “Star Wars” for some reason. It’s THAT kind of impactful choice. The change makes no sense. At all.
The Amalgam of Cortland
Cortland, like Carlotta, is supposed to be in his 80s at this point in the story. Not some outrageous caricature of “southern or gay” we see in Harry Hamlin‘s portrayal. It’s like he’s the worst parts of Oncle Julian, with some aspects of Aaron Lightner, and a mere whisper of Cortland’s actual personality?
If so many changes needed to happen, why not just make something else? Why even pretend to call it “The Mayfair Witches?”
One of Anne Rice’s big fears about adapting this series was audiences not taking the story about “crazy women” (her words, not mine) seriously. True, the entire saga is rife with all sorts of problems- incest, rape, the usual- but couldn’t a tried and true head writer make it work? From what I’ve seen so far, the answer is a huge resounding no.
“The Mayfair Witches” airs on AMC, and AMC+. Watch at your own risk.
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