TCA’s 2020: ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ Depicts a Women-Led World

Motherland
Motherland

I scream, you scream, we all scream for bad-ass women kicking ass!

When people first think of military-based shows, usually they’re immediate thoughts are of ones that are historical and usually have a cast of all-male characters. Freeform’s upcoming series called: Motherland: Fort Salem is practically the exact opposite of that. Add in the fact that they’re witches and you have one of the most unique premises for a show this writer has ever heard of!

Freeform presents the upcoming series as the following:

Set in an alternate, present-day America where witches ended their persecution 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the burgeoning U.S. government to fight for their country, Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women from basic training in combat magic into terrifying and thrilling early deployment. In this world, the traditional roles of gender and power are flipped, with women on the front lines fighting looming terrorist threats that are strikingly familiar to our world, but with supernatural tactics and weapons.

Over this past weekend at TCA’s Winter Press Tour, the creator, Eliot Laurence, and the cast were in attendance to talk more about the show and what we can expect from it, their magic system (or as they call it ‘work’), etc.

The first interesting fact we learned was that the idea and early drafts of this show started about nine years ago! From a book series, a movie, and finally as a television series, Eliot Laurence tried to find the perfect medium to tell this story. But after some time, he realized the way to truly tell this story was through television.

Witches Get Stuff Done.
Credit: Freeform

As featured in the trailers we’ve seen, the main enemy of the series is a group of mysterious people called the Spree. When asked if other villains/enemies will occur, given that it’s a military-based show, Laurence states, “For now it’s the Spree. but I’m not ruling out fighting with other nations. There are border conflicts and proxy wars that the U.S. is involved with in this timeline, but it’s mostly the Spree. That’s the big enemy.”

The first thing that caught this writer’s attention, was how they were portraying witches in such a unique way. This is obviously not going unnoticed by everyone else, and it’s apparent a lot of time and thought has been taken on this. “Everything in the show is kind of an homage to witch history,” says Laurence. “For example, the marks that the witches are born with that change when you have sex, is sort of a reclaiming of the marks that were used to indict and identify witches during the burning times.”

Even the way the characters use magic (the word is actually never stated in the show. Magic is deemed as “work”) is a unique concept. Instead of saying spells from a spell book or waving their arms every which way, it’s all done through various sounds. Laurence explained his way of thinking behind it: “I wanted to have this be fantasy through a science fictional lens. So, I wanted all of the magic to be based in kind of real stuff. So, instead of magical words you find in a spell book, it’s sounds and combinations of sounds and these very intricate frequencies that the witches are able to create.”

Just from looking at the cast and hearing what the show’s about, we’re very much aware that this is a female-dominated show. Even more so since the gender roles have basically been flipped. It’s women saving the world and on the frontlines, not men. They really have to work together to be strong as a single unit.  “I see in all our communities and media is women tearing down other women,” says Taylor Hickson (Raelle Collar). Which is exactly the opposite message from what this show is trying to convey. Even how the show is handling sexuality is more freeing and uncomplicated than most teen dramas. “For these young women, their sexuality is not something that complicates their lives or labels them in a certain way. It’s something that informs their very power, and it’s something that they’re able to employ to astonishing effect,” says Laurence.

Lastly, even how Freeform is marketing the show is exactly how they wanted it! “We’re actually screaming!” says Hickson. “So from the pentagrams and the flag and their faces and the fierceness and the boldness of what you guys are seeing with the marketing and the things that are still yet to come…we think it’s fantastic,” says executive producer Kevin Messick.

Motherland: Fort Salem premieres on Freeform on March 18th!

The newly released trailer can be seen below.

Source: Freeform Transcript