WGN America Produces First Scripted TV Show, Salem

The series is a dark take on the 17th century Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts.

And just when you thought the supernatural couldn’t grind its way into television any more than it already has.

WGN America ordered its first-ever scripted series called Salem, an original drama that follows the infamous Salem Witch Trials that happened in 17th century Massachusetts. But here’s a plot twist: in this TV version, which is of course based on true historical events, the witches are real.

According to the show’s detailed synopsis, “it explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and centers on Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), the beautiful, ruthless but vulnerable wife of an ancient, ailing but very wealthy Salem town Selectman.” The cast includes Seth Gabel (who narrates the trailer), Shane West (yes, from A Walk to Remember), Ashley Madekwe, Xander Berkeley, Tamzin Merchant, and Elise Eberle.

What’s really causing a huge uproar is the creators’ distorted portrayal of the witch trials. Essentially, WGN is exploiting one of the most shameful periods of injustice in American history by depicting it as sexy and dark, like another E.L. James novel. Of course, according to Deadline, the executive producers rebutted this argument in a Q&A. According to the EPs, Salem in no way “belittles the terrible social issues” from 17th century America, but instead is a “retelling, an alternate history.” OK then.

Based on the few trailers and clips WGN has released, Salem doesn’t look like one of those angsty vampy shows that your high-schooler would DVR. Instead, it looks very much like it caters to the adult crowd with sex, blood, and Satanism. In other words, this one’s for the True Blood crowd, not the Teen Wolfers.

Salem premieres on WGN America on April 20, 2014. To view more exclusive clips and teaser trailers leading up to the premiere, visit SalemWGNA’s YouTube page.