Motherland: Fort Salem Is Great (If You Like Worldbuilding)

This is probably a shortcoming of my own media consumption, but I haven’t tended to like witch stuff, which was why I was reluctant to try this show for so long. Somehow the vibe never quite fits for me. But Motherland: Fort Salem took me by surprise. It didn’t work in every way, and it has some of the hallmarks of a Freeform show (some overacting and general silliness), but this is in no way a negative post intended to dissect things. I’m kind of tired of that mood in media consumption, to be honest. (Not that I haven’t contributed to it in the past. But we can all try to be better than we were yesterday, right?)

The real strength of this show lies in its worldbuilding. If you’re interested in that, and can overlook some of the other stuff, this show is definitely for you. Like, I can’t recommend it enough for how cool this world is. You have to see it and judge for yourself. 

Some highlights:

  • An intro sequence with fantastic music and tons of little worldbuilding details. It gave me chills all the way through the end of season one.
  • An intriguing Big Bad. What are their motives? Who are they really?
  • Such cool twists on our world and history, the biggest being a matriarchal system. The resulting cultural changes are handled really well, and frankly, it’s just dope to see.
  • Accepted witchcraft, and more than that: military witches!
  • Wardrobe choices in a world that has female gaze instead of male.
  • Alternate US geography. I’m always a sucker for it.
  • A magic system based on sound. It’s amazingly creative.
  • Religion and ceremonies rooted in witchy paganism.
  • The treatment of marriage. It’s a five year contract, and no one seems super worried about monogamy. Not something you see a lot!
  • A positive representation of female sexuality. It’s weird that this is so uncommon, but seeing a woman have a threesome and not have something terrible happen to her afterwards warmed my heart. It’s a low bar, but here we are, because of systemic sexism.
  • Speaking of sexism, it was amazing to see a female character who was extremely confident yet vulnerable. Like, you know, a human would be. Arrogance is often represented as a positive male trait, but as with sexuality, women tend to be “punished” for it in media. Motherland: Fort Salem does a great job of letting Abigail be vocally self-assured, as plenty of women are, without demonizing her.
  • The show touches on topics like the realities of war, individual disillusionment, and the destruction and lies you see even on the “good” side of a conflict (or at least the side you’re supposed to sympathize with). It’s nuanced and interesting, and I want to see where it’s going.
  • I have no idea what’s up with General Alder, and I need to know more about her and the stable of elderly ladies that keep her immortal.
  • One of the main romances is lesbian. Get it!

In sum

Motherland: Fort Salem is doing a lot of interesting things, it’s very cool, and you should try it. (It’s streaming on Hulu.)

And if you do try it, let me know what you think in the comments below!

One thought on “Motherland: Fort Salem Is Great (If You Like Worldbuilding)

  1. I adore the mycelium as our afterlife ‘location’. Having The Elements playing a major role is true to every society prior to our time. Fascinating, encouraging, uplifting and oh, so entertaining. General Alder is very much human, a soldier, a leader and yet altruistic. Her connection to the ‘mushroom’ is wonderfully clever and gives insight into who the ‘enemy’ might actually be.

    Totally hooked. Allow yourself to bite this bait, too. Thank you, Rebecca, for this suggestion!


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