WGN’s “Salem”: Witchy is the New Black
Witches are all the rage on TV, with “The Witches of East End” on Lifetime and FX’s big hit, “American Horror Story: Coven.” And now WGN is getting into the original series game with their own twist on those magical women of lore with “Salem.” But this version is a bit different than what we’ve seen so far with the modern day soap operas of those predecessors.
Campy vs. Creepy
“The Witches of East End” plays out in a modern day setting, and “Coven” bounces between two different time periods, but is set primarily in the present, unlike “Salem.” But more importantly, each show has its own vibe, with “Coven” becoming more campy as the season wore on. WIth acting divas like Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates, the temptation to go that route is understandable, but the creepiness of the WGN series is a welcome departure for those who may have been disappointed by the emphasis on humor over horror in “Coven.”
Country vs. City
The latest TV installment of witches plays up more of the natural elements of witchery, with rituals in the woods, toads and magical ointments. “Coven” witches seem to just conjure most of their magical powers out of thin air, despite the apothecary of herbs in the greenhouse. And they enjoy the finer side of life in the urban setting of New Orleans: a stylishly-white mansion that looks like it’s right off the pages of “Architectural Digest” and closets full of couture fashion.
Chic vs. Eek!
Where “Coven” was all about glam, “Salem” takes a more modest approach to fashion, and isn’t afraid to get ugly — very ugly. A possessed girl has a shaved head, rotten teeth and a face cage. Definitely not the chic of Fiona (Lange) or Marie Laveau (Bassett), or any of the coven girls. And the main witch in “Salem” — Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) — reflects a very ugly hag in the mirror, so witches are not runway ready over at WGN. And it’s fair to say they aren’t wearing the latest styles from the Versace of the era.
If you’re looking for campy fun and modern day twists to the traditional witch in “Salem,” you’ve made a wrong turn. The series is dark, creepy and thrives on the darker aspects of paganism and witchcraft. With the debut of “Salem,” it’s a whole new season of the witch on Sundays at 10 p.m. EST.
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Photo credit: WGN America
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