Although a bit campy at times, this British crime/history based show is extremely informative and entertaining. Suzannah Lipscomb is the historian who narrates the two-part television series. The witch trials investigated in this series are not the Salem witch trials in America we’re used to hearing about. These are the British witch trials that took place in the 17th century. I wasn’t very familiar with these witch trials and the truth behind them was extremely shocking. This series explores common myths about the origins of the trials and what the truths behind them really are.
I was skeptical of how authentic Witches would be because the opening that includes Suzaannah Lipscomb seemed a little too campy. Throughout the series, her over-the-top delivery at times is a bit eye rolling, but you shouldn’t let that deter you from watching this as there is a lot to learn from it.
One of the show’s most haunting moments is when a little girl tells the court that her entire family are witches. She goes into detail about how she has seen her mother’s spirit turn into a dog and how that dog tried to murder someone. Witches explores the conditions of that time that would have fueled a little girl to turn against her entire family. Much like the American witch trials, the British trials were also fueled by fear and paranoia.
The series explores how even King James helped to further the witch hunt, and describes how the king’s interest in being an investigator caused the witch trials to explode into a frenzy. The re-enactments are well acted and you can tell a lot of time and money was put into this series. The filthy, hostile and unpleasant living conditions of that period are felt from the very first moments of the show. Unlike period drama movies that have been done portraying centuries in the past, where characters appear too clean and well put together, this show transports you completely back in time where things were not so pleasant.
This two-part series is not for the faint of heart. There are graphic descriptions of how women were tortured, held in jail and burned alive or hung. As a horror fan, this show made me squirm. The actual depictions of violence were relatively tame, but when you really listen to the descriptions, what these innocent people had to endure, it is horrifying.
This series is short and only contains two episodes, with each episode being just 45-minutes each. It’s perfect for a quick and exciting binge watching session. The series is currently streaming on Netflix.
– Janiera Eldridge
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