Salem is an American supernatural fiction drama television series created by Brannon Braga and Adam Simon. The series originally aired on WGN America starting in April of last year. It is the first originally scripted television series to be distributed by WGN America. The series, which stars Janet Montgomery and Shane West as witch and Captain respectively, is inspired by the real Salem witch trials in the 17th century. WGN America ordered a second, 13-episode season in May last year, with the second season to premiere early this year.
Salem is a fictional story based on the infamous Salem witch trials in the 17th century in colonial Massachusetts. Because the American government, at the time, was ruled by Puritan leaders, the Salem witch trials became a prominent and violent aspect of American history. The series focuses primarily on many of the more philosophical questions that have come to light years after the fact. Were the Puritans right in their actions against these alleged witches? Were those who were accused of being witches and subsequently burned at the stake innocent? Salem looks to answer these questions, focusing on the powerful figures that controlled the daily lives of the Salem people, but were not at all as they appeared.
Historically speaking, Salem was ruled by Puritan leaders. The people’s lives were constantly and closely scrutinized. It was in the best interest of the people to avoid offending the puritanical way of life. The word witch seemed an easy and appropriate curse hurled at someone who behaved abnormally, and ultimately resulted in the hysteria that was the Salem witch trials.
The premiere of Salem attracted 1.5 million viewers during its season premiere, with an estimated 650,000 of them being in the 18-34 age bracket. The show earned the prestige of being the network’s most-watch television show in the last seven years.
Overall, the first season of Salem has received generally mixed reviews. The series has received a score of 50 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 16 critical reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season received a score of 54% based on 26 critical reviews, with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10, as recorded on the website. The site’s critical consensus was that, “While the horror scenes are well-executed, Salem lacks enough substance to sustain even a guilty-pleasure interest.” Despite these mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, WGN America renewed the series for a second season scheduled to air in early April of this year.
The second season of Salem picks up where the first season left off, with Janet Montgomery’s character Mary Sibley preparing to launch an all-out witch war against the non-witches of Salem. A teaser trailer for the upcoming series depicts Mary sitting atop of thorny throne, dozens of dead bodies strewn carelessly at her feet. Her witch companions lurk in the darkness, emerging with the sleepy-drunk eyes of those preparing for a bloody, gruesome battle.