Lifetime has been getting into the supernatural and fantasy business lately with Witches of East End and A Midsummer's Nightmare. The latest genre offering is Sea Change, based on the young adult novel by Aimee Friedman. Are the Seawalkers in Sea Change real? The story draws from a few different legends, but they're only really real if you believe.
According to the official Lifetime description, Sea Change is about a teenage girl who moves to a "seemingly idyllic island" to be with her estranged mother after her father, and finds herself involved in a love triangle, as all supernatural heroines must. That's not all. "When Miranda learns about the Seawalkers, who, according to local legend, are half human and half sea creature, she begins to believe that they could be real. As she uncovers more about her family’s past, Miranda makes a startling discovery about her own connections to the Seawalkers."
Miranda is almost certainly a reference to the heroine in Shakespeare's The Tempest, which takes place on an island, but what exactly are these creatures?
The island in Sea Change is called Selkie, and there's a Siren Beach on the island where Miranda first meets Leo. Now, selkies are a Celtic legend. They're kind of like were-seals. It's a specific creature. According to legend, Selkies shed their seal skin to walk on land and even when someone (usually a man looking to capture a wife, ugh) steals the skin, the Selkie cannot shake that connection to the sea. You might be familiar with this mythical creature from The Secret Of Roan Inish, Shadowhunters, and the animated film Song of the Sea.
However, the Seawalkers in Sea Change are more like merpeople, perhaps. Take a look at the image above, from a preview clip on Lifetime. They definitely have scales and fins, which cuddly seals do not, and very good hair.
They also appear to be dangerous, according to that same trailer. At least, that's what the people on Selkie believe. Are they monsters? Are they passionate and misunderstood? That's probably what Miranda will discover over the course of the series. Not all mermaids are innocent collectors of thingamobobs just looking for good boys who love dogs to kiss them. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire taught us that much.
As for Sea Change, it seems like "Siren Beach" may be the better clue as to what inspired the Seawalkers. Sirens come from Greek mythology. They are beautiful seaside-dwelling creatures that lured sailers to their doom with song. In The Odyssey, they are one of Odysseus' early successes when he manages to escape their call. Originally sirens were said to be half-bird, but the siren legend and the mermaid legend has meshed over the years.
It all boils down to stories about women being dangerous temptresses whose seductive natures will ruin men unless they're super careful or controlling. The trope has sexist origins, but has thankfully softened over the years into something more empowering for women, thanks in part to Ariel in The Little Mermaid and events like the yearly Mermaid Parade on Coney Island.
That also makes the fact that Sea Change has a female protagonist and a potentially supernatural male love interest all the more interesting, because it's usually a lady in the water and a man who is drawn to her.
The local legend was made up for Sea Change, but is definitely inspired by various sea creatures and legends that we know and love already. The Seawalkers in the Lifetime series may be killers or keepers, but they're definitely building on a familiar lore. People still think mermaids are real, so it's no surprise that stories like this continue to enchant us — and maybe you just have to travel to Selkie Island to find out for yourself.