American Horror Story returns for its third season on October 9th.
The anthology format has long been a benchmark in American entertainment. From the old days of radio shows like Suspense and Mystery House to the TV standards like The Twilight Zone and the classic Masterpiece Theater. While anthologies may not dominate the airwaves now, in 2011 the TV team of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk set out to bring the format back with American Horror Story, running in season long arcs rather then single episodes.
The duo’s (who also created Glee and worked together on Murphy’s Nip/Tuck) creation premiered on October 5th of 2011 and quickly became a ratings darling. The first season, titled American Horror Story: Murder House told the story of the Harmon family. Dylan McDermott starred as Ben, a man who had a bit of an issue not having sex with a student back in Boston. He and his wife, Vivien, played by Friday Night Lights‘ Connie Britton, move with their daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) to Los Angeles.
The family moves into a house with a spotted house and find themselves surrounded by a cast of very interesting and somewhat disturbing characters played by Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, and Frances Conroy. As the 12 episode season goes on, several recognizable faces join the cast including Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto. In addition to the high ratings, the show picked up additional accolades when Jessica Lange went home with not only an Emmy, but a Golden Globe as well for her performance in the first season.
Season two saw the return of many familiar faces like Lange, Peters, and Quinto plus numerous new cast members. This time around instead of a haunted house, the story takes place in side of an asylum for the criminally insane in 1964. Instead of an odd neighbor with an even odder backstory, in American Horror Story: Asylum Jessica Lange is Sister Jude who runs the aslylum along with Joseph Fiennes as Monsignor Timothy Howard and James Cromwell as Dr. Arthur Arden. Lily Rabe also returns, this time in an excellent turn as Sister Mary Eunice.
Of course no asylum story would be worth anything without the patients. American Horror Story: Aslylum had patients in spades. Everyone from Chloe Sevigny to Sarah Paulson to Lizzie Brochere, along with the returning Evan Peters. Adam Levine popped up, and Dylan McDermott even has a 5 episode appearance as your average neighborhood serial killer.
The storylines in Asylum run the gamut. You’ve got your Nazis, and your aliens, your “normal” killers, rapists, and other various atrocities. Anne Frank even makes an appearance at the Briarcliffe Mental Institution. One of the season’s highlights would be the addition of Ian McShane, perhaps most known for his role in HBO’s Deadwood, but just as beloved for the short lived but fantastic, Kings.
While season two might have set records with its premiere, the season finale saw a marked drop. Will the numbers return for the third season? Given its anthology style, tuning in to a new season is close to starting a brand new show, so in theory one would think those viewers who abandoned the show during (the superior) season two, might return for a new premiere.
American Horror Story: Coven takes us to yet another new time and place. Instead of a haunted house in Los Angeles or a mental asylum in the 1960s, for season three we head down to New Orleans and move between modern times and the 1830s.
Each season has had a general theme – the first being infidelity, the second being sanity, and rumor is this third season will be all about oppression. The form this story of oppression will take? That of a witch. Bring on the voodoo.
That’s right, this new season of AHS has been racking up quite an impressive list of female actors all to come aboard, and quite a few have been rumored to be taking on the role of witch. Once again returning are Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson. They will be joined by none other than Kathy Bates, Patti LuPone, Angela Basset, Emma Roberts, and Gabourey Sidebe. Amazingly enough, that’s just those listed as the “main cast”.
When you delve into supporting cast you find names like Leslie Jordan, Christine Ebersole, and the returning Denis O’Hare. Of course it isn’t listed, but when shooting in location in a city like New Orleans, the mysticism and overall feel of the place definitely plays a role.
As the October 9th premiere of American Horror Story: Coven draws close, FX has been kind enough to once again put out numerous teasers. Could these be part of the opening title sequence for this third season? Only time will tell. What we do know is that there is a definite creepiness involved.
While the first five were delightful, it is with this sixth teaser that we finally get a good look at the show’s stars, including the three ladies of the hour, Jessica Lange, Angela Basset, and Kathy Bates. Plus, Evan Peters and a blonde Sarah Paulson.
Can Ryan Murphy keep up the inventive and entertaining storylines for a third season in a row? Especially with an ever increasing workload? We’ve already talked about his new show, Open (which recently signed Fringe-alum Anna Torv to the cast), not to mention still working with Glee on Fox.
Murphy’s ability to maintain a freshness to the show isn’t the only concern. Also premiering this fall is a new show on HBO called True Detective. Starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, and incidentally the recently announced Open star, Michelle Monaghan. True Detective also takes place in New Orleans. True Blood may be ending, but there are plenty of shows ready and willing to move into The Crescent City.
So? Will you tune into a third season of American Horror Story? Does the idea of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s storytelling set in New Orleans with a talented cast of witches strike your fancy? Or are you tired of the anthology and looking for something new?
Sound off in the comments below!