Q&A: Executive Producer Brannon Braga talks “SALEM”


From the first scene on, WGN America’s SALEM proved itself a force of horror to be reckoned with, offering shocking violence, explicit sexuality and top tier drama. And yet despite the limits of television that SALEM tested over the course of its first season, the show also had some much more fascinating elements on display, including an amazing sense of scope and a genuine interest in depicting the multiple facets of the dark arts. And with the second season premiering next week, one only knows how much darker and intense the series intends to go from here. Luckily, FANGORIA was able to catch up with executive producer and co-creator of SALEM, Brannon Braga, about what to expect from the upcoming season as well what new type of witchcraft will storm into town…

FANGORIA: Considering so many characters have transformed from whence they started, what’s the biggest difference from the first season to the second season in terms of tone?

BRANNON BRAGA: That’s a good question. Tonally, we want to continue the things that worked. You mentioned transformation, and SALEM is a show about transformation. The characters will continue to transform this year and hopefully, that’ll be interesting for the audience.

But in terms of the differences tonally, we wanted to make sure SALEM was scarier this year than last year. We wanted to intensify the show, and I think we figured out the promise of the show, which should be to scare the shit out of you every week.

FANGORIA: Even with all the freedom WGN America provides the show, has there ever been anything content-wise that even you and Adam [Simon] feel would be going too far?

BRAGA: No; actually, WGN America pushes us because they like the shock value and it makes noise for them. We have a broadcast standards guy, who watches the show and gives us notes, and he’s a little nervous fellow. But I think SALEM is working at its best when we are doing things that you’re not sure if you can show, like if I go, “Can we show that on TV? It’s never been seen.” So if it’s never been seen, that is SALEM at its best.

FANGORIA: SALEM has explored a lot of different avenues in terms of the depiction of the dark arts, and in regards to that, was there anything new that you were excited to do for the second season?

BRAGA: Oh yes. Mary and her Essex witches practice what we call “woods magic,” and that usually has to do with things you can find in the woods, like animals or fire. The new villain on the show, played by Lucy Lawless, and her people are water witches, so they manipulate water, so there’s a whole new kind of magic that we’re introducing this year.

FANGORIA: With the first season now available on streaming and digital media platforms, are you excited that new fans will have the chance to discover and catch up to the show in as little time as the day of the premiere?

BRAGA: I hope that happens. I hope exactly what you said happens. [laughs] It’s hard to say nowadays because when you see a show on Netflix, sometimes it’s hard to tell where the show came from since there’s so many Netflix Originals out there today. So I’m hoping they know that isn’t the case, and that they’ll show up to WGN America on April 5th to watch the show.

SALEM returns on WGN America on Sunday, April 5th at 10 p.m. EST. You can currently catch up with the first season on Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant and Amazon DVD on-demand. Stay tuned here at FANGORIA.com for more interviews from the set of SALEM!

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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