Who: “American Horror Story” currently airs on cable TV, specifically on FX, Wednesdays at 10:00 PM.
What: “American Horror Story,” a horror drama from creator Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) that tells a new horror story each season while featuring recurring actors and ensemble players. This season is subtitled “Coven” and centers on witchcraft.
When: The Season 3 premiere aired on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, on FX at 10:00 PM.
Where: Each season focuses on a different locale. This season, the action is set largely in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Why: I was originally convinced to watch American Horror Story by friends. I caught up in the first season, which was truly a creepy, scary affair, and I was glad to have taken the advice of my friends, even though horror is not my preferred genre. The show is well written and lives up to its name. The second season, “Asylum,” was disturbing and horrifying but not necessarily frightening. This third season may bring back a little of both qualities.
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
The conceit of American Horror Story renders this program one of the most original and engrossing offerings on television at present. Though Ryan Murphy is not famous for consistency and follow-through with respect to his vehicles, AHS has proven the exception because each new season offers a completely new story, the only commonality between seasons being some of the players, including the divine Jessica Lange, who plays ambiguously crazy in must-watch manners throughout each season.
Thus, though she played a tragic Southern belle in season 1 and a disgraced nun in season 2, this year, she plays the “Supreme” witch and mother of Sarah Paulson’s headmistress of a boarding school housing witches with defined powers, including season 1’s Taissa Farmiga. We learn in this premiere that Farmiga’s character, Zoe, is cursed to cause aneurysms to any male with which she has sexual intercourse. She is sent to the boarding school, which also houses the girl who played Precious, to learn to control her abilities. In the meantime, Jessica Lange’s character is searching for non-magical aids to keep herself young and decides to infiltrate the school, despite her strained relationship with her daughter. In addition, Zoe meets Evan Peters’ frat boy named Ian, to whom she is instantly drawn, at a party where another of the boarding school students is gang raped, for which she seeks revenge by telekinetically flipping their party bus and killing all but two, including presumably Ian. We also learn that New Orleans houses the not-so-dead corpse of a witch played by Kathy Bates, who tortured slaves for pleasure and to obtain blood by which to keep herself young, until she was poisoned by another witch played by Angela Bassett, the lover of one of the slaves in question. Also, season 2’s Lily Rabe reappears as a witch who can resurrect the dead – though she was allegedly burned at the stake by her biblically-oriented brethren…for now.
This new season of AHS has all of the right elements, including the reemergence of the esoteric Frances Conroy, who played the maid in season 1 and the angel of death in season 2. Because the story is all new, the only thing to do is watch to see where it all goes. The good news is that this season’s arc is potentially much more focused and less viscerally insane than season 2’s Asylum was, which hopefully is a product of choices made by the writers/producers. The insanity of season 2’s plot, while juxtaposed with the whole Asylum motif, also stopped making sense after a time. Coven promises to go to new lengths to disturb and dishearten its audience while, at the same, maintaining the focus, strangeness, and scares of the far more effective season 1.
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) If Kathy Bates’ witch is alive, is Angela Bassett’s? Let’s hope so!
2) Are Taissa Farmiga and Evan Peters a thing in real life? If not, they should be.
3) Is Jessica Lange’s character good or evil? She’s narcissistic and a terrible mother, sure, but what’s her endgame?
4) Is the “sex curse” Zoe’s only power? That would suck.
5) What’s up, Precious?
6) Lily Rabe’s character has got to be alive; If she can bring other things back to life, she probably doesn’t die, or stay dead, too long herself.
7) Where is this all going to go? Since the story started over again…
8) Is Zachary Quinto going to show up any time soon? Or did he need a break after the whole serial killer/psychologist thing?
American Horror Story is firing on all cylinders because each new season and story refreshes the creative energy, while the consistency of using the same actors in different ways provides some continuity for the loyal viewer. This season has promise – the mystery and spooks are there for the enjoyment of all. Just remember: it’s for mature audiences only.
American Horror Story was automatically ordered for a full season of thirteen episodes, as it is one of FX’s highest rated offerings. If the ratings hold as they have in the past, it will be renewed for next season with nary a blink or hesitation. And it’s a safe bet the ratings will hold.