In an age where reality TV has become a huge part of today’s media landscape, the genre has become a subject of both fascination and derision. No matter how anyone feels about it, one thing is certain: it brings in big ratings and revenue for the networks that televise them. One of the biggest is Bravo’s REAL HOUSEWIVES series, where the lives, pleasures and conflicts of modern, upper class women are on full display.

While many TV shows and movies like THE TRUMAN SHOW, ED TV and the popular web series dating show spoof BURNING LOVE have taken a humorous and often probing look at reality TV, the new 3 episode series REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALEM 1692 places the much maligned genre in a unique setting that far predates even the tube itself, with a concept that’s just as distinctive – what if reality TV existed during the tense, uncertain days of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 Massachusetts? If it did, what would viewers think of the women portrayed?

The series, which premiered on September 13th (Friday the 13th, of all days) was written, created by, and starring Linda Goetz (BRILLIG) as Elizabeth Proctor, one of three women whose lives – and relationships – have been affected by the trial in many ways. Currently structured as a “reunion” show a la the types that follow a full season of a given reality series, REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALEM 1692 features Stephen Cooper as Rev. Hale, who assumes the Andy Cohen role as the “host” of the reunion (which takes up the first 2 episodes). The cast also features Judy Maggs as Ann Putnam, and Kate Shire as Abigail Williams.

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALEM 1692 was inspired by both her interest in the historical aspects of the Salem Witch Trials, as well as her time spent researching the background of her role in a production of the acclaimed Arthur Miller play THE CRUCIBLE. Originally set to be a short film, Goetz immediately saw parallels between the sensational nature of reality TV, and that of the frenzy surrounding the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. “I found the feuding, suspicion and accusations that took place during the witch trials very similar to what was being shown on reality TV. It struck me that history is kind of like gossip finally aged. I thought (about) what would have it been like to hear what we know as historical facts in a setting that thrives on drama, hype and media attention. What if we knew these women of 1692, today? How much would the media play a role in the hysteria of the witch trials? It seemed a perfect match to me,” she says.

The show’s cast was comprised of New England based actors, and the production process for the show’s three episodes was a memorable experience for all involved. “I had a great cast who was able to play with what I was going for and a wonderful, crazy videographer and editor. Putting all of it together was more fun than I could have imagined,” Goetz says. Even though there are only three episodes scheduled, she hopes to expand its overall episodic structure. “We have three episodes that are basically like a reunion show. My hope is to have a whole season so you can see how each character got to where they were, and how and why they don’t like or do like each other,” she says.

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALEM 1692 boils down to one major theme – it’s all about what happens, in Goetz’s words, “when Puritans stop being polite and start being real.” Her biggest goal for the show is this: “I would love to show how the petty feuding and gossip and back stabbing (so much of what we watch on reality TV) brings about the witchcraft hysteria.”