Catching Up With American Horror Story Coven

Catching Up With American Horror Story Coven January 29, 2014

Well I’m glad that’s over. I know a lot of you enjoyed American Horror Story: Coven, but this monstrosity should have been put down weeks ago. For the last six or seven episodes it’s meandered and floundered around; a show in search of an identity. Not all of it was horrible, but now that we are at the end it’s obvious that Coven was nothing but a muddled mess.

There was a story somewhere in Coven, but sadly it was never fleshed out. All season the show zig-zagged from plot line to plot line, never stopping long enough to truly build up the stakes at any one stop. Coven had so much potential and would have actually been worth my time if it could have stuck to something for more than eight minutes. Any one of the following story-lines could have been developed into something interesting enough to carry twelve or so episodes.

The Witches vs. Marie Laveau Didn’t it feel like this was where the show was headed when it first started? You had Laveau and her Minotaur ready to go toe to toe with the complete bad-assery of Jessica Lange. Sadly the “Voodoo Practitioners” of Laveau were never fleshed out and what little conflict there was between the two groups was sporadic, and when it was there the stakes always felt small.

The Witch Hunters The idea of a giant multinational corporation hunting witches over an age-old vendetta is a good one, on Coven it was over before it started. The multinational big-bad was so inept that the witches and Marie Laveau managed to kill off all of its high muckity-mucks in just two episodes. How these hunters were ever considered a threat is beyond me.

Witch School! Some of my favorite scenes of Coven were the flashbacks to when Miss Robichaux’s Academy was actually like an academy. I don’t recall a single moment when this season’s witches actually learned anything at the Academy. Miss Robichaux’s always felt more like a hotel than a school. I didn’t want Harry Potter 2.0 but there was a story in those walls.

I expect season to season television shows to lose their way from time to time, I don’t expect that to happen when a show is essentially a glorified mini-series. Telling a story is more than just saying “Witches! Dress ’em in black. Show!” Coven never felt like it had a reason for being beyond “Witches!” I’m sure some of you will disagree with me. “It was about getting a new Supreme!” “It was about the relationship of Cordelia and Fiona.” Whatever, none of that was ever really fleshed out until it was too late.

Part of the show’s problem was that there were just too many ingredients in the stew. Did we really need Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie? Don’t get me wrong, Bates was great, but what was the purpose of the character? Think about it, if you removed the character from the show would we have really missed anything? It’s not like she was some essential lynch-pin propping the whole thing up. It just didn’t work. (I though American Horror Story suffered for similar reasons in Season One, just way too many characters.) Even worse than LaLaurie was the “Axe Man,” who seemed completely unnecessary. You’ve got Jessica Lange, Angela Basset, Gabourey Sidibe, and Sarah Paulson and you need to dilute that cast? Completely nonsensical.

By the end of the season I was offended too, not really for Modern Witchcraft, but for Voodoo and Papa Legba. It’s one thing to use the word “witch” in a shitty way (no one ever said the word “Wicca” thank gods), but to drag Voodoo through the mud like that? Marie Laveau was a real person, and a revered one (I love her, both versions) and this show has her sacrificing babies? If you aren’t offended by that you should be. Angela Basset built a strong character on the show, and to have her snatching babies on a yearly basis was completely unnecessary. (Seriously a show just about Laveau as an avenging angel fighting racists would have been better than what we ended up getting.)

And then we get to Papa Legba . . . . Hey, let’s turn Papa Legba into a Voodoo version of the Devil! I don’t practice Voodoo but I have friends who do, and I’ve also been to a few rituals over the years. To see one of the loa disrespected in such a way . . . . . I literally shook with anger while watching those scenes. While I raged, my wife just smiled sweetly and said to me “You know he’s going to make them pay for that right?” I’ll admit that made me feel a little better.

One more thing, what’s up with the use of the word “coven” in AHS? A coven is a group of people who love and care about each other. It’s not a word to be thrown around randomly, and it certainly shouldn’t be used by a group of young ladies mostly obsessed with hurting each other. At least the performances were generally strong, it’s a shame they forget to tell a coherent story.

(One more thing, I know a lot of you loved the Stevie Nicks cameo, and I’ll admit to the first one being kind of cool, but tonight’s? It was so awful that it made me laugh.)

Up Next: Salem on WGN, which looks absolutely awful. Thank the gods for the NHL and NBA Playoffs.

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