Of all the ’60s-era TV shows, it’s hard to think of one that translates less well to the 21-century than I Dream of Jeannie. Sure, the story of a subservient female genie who wears skimpy clothes, lives in a bottle, grants her boyfriend’s every wish and calls him “Master” was a huge hit in its time. But now it’s difficult to see how any remake could be anything but a feminist nightmare. Not that that has kept Hollywood from trying.
The long-stalled I Dream of Jeannie big-screen adaptation is apparently back on again. The project has been in the works for years with everyone from Jessica Alba to Lindsay Lohan considered to star. Concepts from the writers of National Treasure and Mulan and the director of Bend It Like Beckham have all fell through. But now, according to The Los Angeles Times, producers have decided to go with New York playwright and United States of Tara scribe Sheila Callaghan.
And that means all of a sudden I am interested in a remake of a horribly sexist ’60s rehash. Callaghan wrote this week’s excellent United State of Tara episode “Doin’ Time.” The episode was sharply written and included the season’s the most memorable so far when Pammy told Max his wife “tastes like rain. Sometimes kiwi fruit. And once, she tasted like a penny.”
Callaghan has been called a “post-feminist punk” writer whose plays include Dead City (a retelling of James Joyce‘s Ulysses), Lascivious Something (Reagan-era romance set around winemaking) and That Pretty Pretty; Or, the Rape Play (which Callaghan’s website describes as “Guns, gals, Jello wrestling, war, and lots and lots of profanity”). Well, all right then — now you’ve got my attention.
The one thing they should keep from the original is the theme song — that was admittedly damn catchy. Still how Callaghan will turn a story about an astronaut who keeps his girlfriend locked away in a bottle and releases her to do his bidding into something watchable is another story. But I’m willing to give her a chance — perhaps she could even work in some Jello again.
So what do you think? Great idea? Terrible idea? Who should star?