(Television Without Pity) — When "Ringer" debuted earlier this week, it was clear that the show doesn't exactly fit The CW's brand. It's targeted at grown-up viewers and features some actual grown-up actors, with only one spoiled-rotten teen in sight. It also lacked several other key elements that we've come to expect from The CW. Fortunately for the network, their other scripted series debuting this week, "The Secret Circle," is pretty much the most CW-ish show we've ever seen. Here's why:
Supernatural Creatures and Mythology
Like "Supernatural" and "The Vampire Diaries," the network thrives when there are imaginary beasties in the mix. In the case of "Secret Circle," it's witches (both male and female) who have a long history to slowly reveal over the course of the season.
Based on a Teen Book Series
Both "Gossip Girl" and "Vampire Diaries" managed to take some serialized source material, snag the key plot points, and then run with it. Looks like "SC," which is based on books by "Vampire Diaries" author L.J. Smith, aims to do the same.
Features Former CW Stars
The CW is totally into recycling; it goes with its pretty green logo. They do it best when they take has-beens from the network's previous series (or from The WB and UPN) and have them set down roots on a new show. Recent examples include "Gilmore Girls" alum Jared Padalecki, who moved to "Supernatural;" Paul Wesley, who transitioned from "Everwood" to "Vampire Diaries;" and Penn Badgley, who went from "Bedford Diaries" to "Gossip Girl." Now "Secret Circle" takes last season's CW casualties Britt Robertson ("Life Unexpected") and Gale Harold ("Hellcats") and gives them a new home.
[Photos: Meet the 'Secret Circle' Cast]
Very Pretty Young People
We hardly need examples here -- just look at any photos of the stars of "Gossip Girl," "Supernatural," "90210" or "The Vampire Diaries" and you'll see the trend immediately. They are all remarkably attractive, in model-pretty ways, and not afraid to show it.
Notable Adult Actors (Who are Often Written Off)
"Nikita" has Melinda Clarke and Xander Berkeley, "90210" had Lori Loughlin and Rob Estes, and "SC" has the aforementioned Gale Harold along with Natasha Henstridge. Harold and Henstridge shouldn't get too comfy, though, because adults on CW shows are often extraneous. Who needs parents once the kids get to college?
There's got to be a love triangle, or some sort of love obstacle. On "Gossip Girl," we have Serena/Vanessa/Dan and Chuck/Blair/Their Issues. On "TVD," there's Elena/Stefan/Damon. And now on "Secret Circle" we get Cassie/Adam/Diana. Shippers... get ready.
Missing or Dead Parents
As we mentioned, adults often get in the way on The CW, so how handy is it that Cassie's mother is killed off in a fire in the first few minutes of the "Secret Circle" pilot? Almost as convenient as Bart Bass keeling over, or Nikita's dad being murdered, or Elena's parents dying in a car crash.
These shows are nothing if not aspirational for teens looking to update their wardrobe. Who wouldn't want headbands like Blair Waldorf's or slutty dresses like Naomi's or leather leggings like Nikita's? On "Secret Circle," everyone's dressed in the latest casual trendy (you know, like they just stepped out of an Aeropostale catalog) with their hair perfectly done all the time despite the rainy weather (sometimes witch-induced) in Washington State.
Blond vs. Brunette
In a show about teens, having a blond and brunette pair of frenemies is practically a prerequisite. They either love or hate each other -- sometimes both simultaneously -- and their "friendships" wax and wane as the mood (or juicy plotlines) strike. There's Serena/Blair, Elena/Caroline, Naomi/Adriana, and now Faye/Cassie.
Odd Small Town
The WB boasted the quirky residents of Stars Hollow, Sunnydale, and Everwood, and thanks to The CW, we've lately been obsessed with all things Mystic Falls. Likewise, "Secret Circle" is set in the weird and disturbing locale of Chance Harbor. It's enough to make us nostalgic for Capeside.
Get a sneak peek at "The Secret Circle" right here:
"The Secret Circle" premieres Thursday, 9/15 at 9pm ET on The CW.
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