TV Review: Salem, Faking It and Penny Dreadful

Hello Readers!

 

So it’s been ridiculously long since I last posted an entry (for which I apologise profusely) but I was busy with other stuff, mainly school and exams, but with exam season almost over, I decided to write a post (because I really felt bad for not posting in so long) ūüė¶

So, over the past month (and a bit) we’ve seen the rise of a few new TV shows, which I’ve been watching. I personally have taken major interests in Salem (WGN), Faking It (MTV) and¬†Penny Dreadful (Showtime)¬†I’m really honestly not sure how many of you guys have been keeping up with any of these (if at all), but I’ll give a quick review for you guys so that maybe you’ll consider (or not) watching them! Also, be kinda warned for some spoilers, but they’ll be really generic – stuff you’ll find out in the first episodes!

 

Salem

There is something worse than a witch hunt. A witch.

~Mary Sibley

So I came across Salem via a friend who recommended it to me, knowing my love for Arthur Miller’s¬†The Crucible ¬†and my generic historical nerdiness. The show is about the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th Century. Now, it’s important that this show isn’t labelled as “historical” because it’s not something that would be found on the history channel. Yes, while it is a period piece and draws on information and names that would have been present at the time, it’s very much a work of fiction, and should be classed as a Fantasy/Thriller show, which I’ll explain below.

mary sibley

Janet Montgomery as Mary Sibley, the primary character of Salem.

So the thing I really love about this show is that it spins the idea of a Witch Trial on it’s head. We know that historically, the ‘witches’ were most likely innocents but what happens when it is the witches are running the witch hunt? See, Mary Sibley, a scorned-lover-turned-most-powerful-person-in-the-town is currently attempting to perform the rites of a Witches Sabbat and needs souls. Innocent souls which she can harvest by inadvertently starting a Witch Hunt. It’s extremely clever and has some amazing undertones on society at the time, including the Puritan dominance in life, the social structure of 1690’s Massachusetts – but also has some interesting ideas on women, sexuality and ‘love’. ¬†It becomes a Fantasy Show before a Historical Show purely because this show isn’t central of the trials, it’s central towards the activity of the witches. And it really makes me mad that people gave the show really low ratings due to “historical inaccuracies”, because I don’t think they fully understand the concept of the show.

Salem has a generally mixed cast of men and women, and I’m glad that Salem’s leading role is a woman. Mary Sibley is very much the person in charge of everything that happens in Salem, such as trade and business, without being explicitly told. I think this is a really interesting concept, because it shows that in some historical cases, women were very much the ones running the show, as opposed to men, who have been portrayed as leaders of communities in countless media outlets. Janet Montgomery’s facial expression and acting deserves a mention, too, as she portrays Mary so surrealistically, it’s as though Mary isn’t quite human, but so human it would be absurd to think otherwise.

The Show has been renewed for a second season, which I’m quite happy about, considering that the show did get mixed reviews so I was worried at one point that it wouldn’t be. I recommend this to any history-lovers, fantasy fanatics or if you’re into themes like the occult, witchcraft and the witch hunts. I’d recommend digression if you’re not a fan of macabre or horror, because there are points where this show does get a¬†little¬†bit creepy.


Faking It

She’s so two-dimensional she’s practically a character in “Glee”.

~Shane Harvey

Okay, so Faking It is a teen comedy about two girls, Amy and Karma who are trying desperately to ¬†become popular. Such a clich√© and when I first read that I was immediately put off. However, when the most popular kid in school, Shane, assumes that they are lesbians, and then outs them to the school, they suddenly surge in popularity, becoming the first lesbian couple of their school. Everything seems to be working out in their favour, because they are, just faking it (or are they?) ¬†Now, It’s a funny show, and it portrays homosexuality very positively – which is amazing, especially considering MTV’s huge platform to project ideas into kids’ heads, so I’m glad they are doing something that gives me faith in humanity.

040714fakingit

Rita Volk, Michael J Willett and Katie Stevens as Amy, Shane and Karma, the main protagonists of Faking It.

The show itself is quite funny, it’s not portraying the LGBT+ community negatively or stereotypically – most media portray lesbians in a very typecast way, so it’s good that MTV are trying to remove that stereotype, and I enjoy the humanistic approach to sexuality that they do have. I’m also extremely happy with Michael J Willett’s character, Shane. He never fails to leave me in fits of laughter, I love the characterisation and I’m extremely impressed with the show, especially considering the controversy it has sparked among the community in general.

Faking it has not yet been confirmed to be renewed for season two, and we’ve had six episodes out of eight – so it’s cutting pretty close, but the show has had predominantly positive reviews (save some anti-gay reviews and general complaining), so I’m hoping it’s renewed. In fact, I’m praying it gets renewed because the show has made me fall in love with Karma and Amy’s fake relationship so I’d really like a second season, MTV, thanks! In all seriousness, I strongly recommend the show, it’s funny, lighthearted and satirical; but it also embodies struggles that people face everyday. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to all audiences (except very young ones purely because of some sexual themes like threesomes and stuff, I don’t want an eleven year old to get the wrong idea), but yeah, I applaud MTV and all the cast and crew involved in this show.


 

Penny Dreadful

Do you believe there is a demimonde? A half-world between what we know, and what we fear?

~Vanessa Ives

Okay, so last but certainly not least, is Penny Dreadful. This is the latest and most recent of the three shows that I’m reviewing, with only three episodes aired so far. The show takes us to Victorian London, and it follows Sir Malcom, a wealthy aristocrat, Vanessa Ives, an elusive woman and Ethan Chandler, an American gunslinger joingin forces to find Sir Malcom’s daughter. The twist is that our favourite Victorian Literary characters make appearances too- Dr. Victor Frankenstain and Dorian Gray to name a couple. It’s mysterious, and dark and definitely very intriguing, though you must be patient with it at times.

pd

(From left to right) Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), Brona Croft (Billie Piper) and Sir Malcom (Timothy Dalton)

The thing I find is worth mentioning with this show is the cast. You’ve got Eva Green (Casino Royale, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Golden Compass¬†), Timothy Dalton (Licence to Kill, Hot Fuzz), Billie Piper (Doctor Who), Helen McRory (Harry Potter Series, Skyfall, Hugo) – a complete A-Lister of great actors and actresses which make up an amazing ensemble. The setting and costume also deserves a mention, as they capture the deadly beauty of Victorian London so well within the show- you’ve got the beautiful settings like the British Museum (which I recognised on sight, because I’m a nerd) juxtaposed with the shanties and the slums, which really does show how London looked like two completely different cities, depending on where you were born.

It’s too soon to suggest whether the show will be renewed for a second season, but from what I’ve watched, I think it’s an intelligent and captivating series, so I hope it gets renewed. I’d recommend viewer discretion due to blood, and also nudity, but if you’re a fan of the Victorian era (especially it’s literature) or you are interested¬†in monsters, seances and mythology, I would recommend this show to you.


 

So yeah, those were my mini-reviews on Faking It, Salem and Penny Dreadful. My questions to you though, are- do you watch any of these, and will you, now that I’ve given you my opinion?

 

Also before I close off, I want to just give a little mention towards Maya Angelou, a poet and activist who passed away this morning. She was a wonderful inspiration and her poetry was beautiful. Rest in Peace, Maya ♥

Love,

Suhail x

 

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2 thoughts on “TV Review: Salem, Faking It and Penny Dreadful

  1. OMG! Billie Piper! I did not recognize her until you said it was her. And I did not believe you until I looked closely at the facial features. Also:
    “The caged bird sings
    with fearful trill
    of the things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill
    for the caged bird
    sings of freedom”

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