By Sydney Bucksbaum
January 17, 2020 at 04:05 PM EST
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Motherland: Fort Salem

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The persecution against witches is so 1692. In Motherland: Fort Salem, the witches are rising up for their much-deserved dominance and to smash the patriarchy. Literally.

Freeform‘s new supernatural drama reimagines history in a way that allows witches to take control of their fate for the first time. The feminist, action-packed series is 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 as the most competent and powerful soldiers ever. And now fans can get an even better look at the drama that is going to be your new obsession as it flips traditional gender roles and finally places witches in power in the just-released trailer above — which also reveals the premiere date for the highly-anticipated new series.

Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women from basic training in combat magic into terrifying and thrilling early deployment in a series that places women on the front lines fighting looming terrorist threats that are strikingly familiar to our world, but with supernatural tactics and weapons. Raelle (Taylor Hickson, Deadly Class) is a reluctant recruit with major authority issues and whose mother recently died in the line of duty. Tally (Jessica Sutton, The Kissing Booth) is a kind, strong-willed, and curious witch who enlisted despite her mother’s passionate disapproval. Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) is an unquestionably alpha, smart, driven, and courageous witch who hails from the upper echelons of military witch society and is excited to be joining the ranks of the witches’ army.

Meanwhile Amalia Holm plays Scylla, a playful yet dark and mischievous recruit who is not what she appears to be; Demetria McKinney plays Anacostia, a tough but wryly humorous drill sergeant whose chief concern is keeping the young recruits alive through basic training; and Lyne Renee recurs as General Sarah Alder, the highest-ranking officer in the Armed Forces and the only leader the witches have ever known.

At the 2020 Television Critics Assn. press tour on Friday, singer Milck kicked off the Motherland: Fort Salem panel by singing her haunting cover of “This Land Is Your Land” before creator/showrunner Eliot Laurence, executive producer Kevin Messick, and the cast revealed more exciting intel about the high-concept series that was first envisioned as a movie before it got new life as a series.

“It was a lot of reinvention, taking what was meant to be bad and making it such a positive and powerful thing for us to build up and create this world,” McKinney says. “It’s so powerful. We’re all harnessing power that has been taken away from us in a way by society. Sexuality, we use that for power. Everything has been flipped as far as the gender roles. It’s so cool to be part of something so innovative.”

“There’s a lot of stigma about witches and it’s nice to be able to fix that,” Sutton adds.

The idea of using female sexuality for power is one of the core tenets of this show’s alternate history. “We talked a lot about what female sexuality looks like in the absence of patriarchy,” Laurence says. “Their sexuality is not something that complicates their lives or labels them in any way. It informs their power.”

“It empowers us,” Williams adds.

Another big part of the series is how, for a show about powerful witches, the word “magic” isn’t heard. “We actually don’t use the word magic on the show at all,” Laurence reveals. “It’s called work because it’s hard and it costs.”

As for the events that make up the alternate history on the series — namely, the deal struck 300 years ago that put witches in power — Laurence explains that while “we’re not going to see a ton of Salem in season 1,” he does “have plans to bring that into the following season if we’re lucky enough to do one.”

The 10-episode first season of Motherland: Fort Salem — which is also executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay — is set to premiere Wednesday, March 18 at 9 p.m. on Freeform.

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Motherland: Fort Salem

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