COVEN: American Horror Story’s witchy new season

COVEN: American Horror Story’s witchy new season September 14, 2013

By now you’ve certainly heard that the third season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY is subtitled COVEN and will be set in both Salem, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Louisiana. As last season’s ASYLUM was set further back in time than the first season, this third season goes back nearly three hundred years in its quest to fill an hour of primetime with more sex, gore, violence and perversion than we’re generally used to seeing.

And I, for one, can’t wait.

The first “teaser trailer” has been released, and it makes October 9th seem way too far away…

AHS seems to be the show that its creator Ryan Murphy was born to do: NIP/TUCK, the drama about two plastic surgeons, was edgy, sexy and beautiful to look at, but its near-constant settings in operating rooms, doctor’s offices and neat-as-a-pin luxury residences in Miami (and later, Los Angeles) often felt somewhat cold, even with all that blood spurting everywhere. GLEE, of course, was aimed at a younger demographic but some of the absurd humor seen in NIP/TUCK was played up to the point of absurdity and silliness, and because people tended to burst into song and dance numbers at any given time, it all kinda worked.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY takes the more extreme elements of NIP/TUCK (violence, sociopathic and psychotic behavior, and plenty of hot sex) with the playful strangeness of GLEE, as well as the effective, artful use of music employed by both shows, but adds some elements neither of them had: a delicious effort to scare its viewers on a supernatural level, and a stunning, often dizzying production design that works on a deep level of suggestion and psychic resonance.

Sometimes the most horrific occurrences of the show are barely hinted at, shown for a fraction of a second, while others are lingered over with excruciating slowness and detail (consider the torture scenes involving the young doctor and the journalist from ASYLUM, or the first season’s portrayal of generations of domestic violence in that grand California mansion).

One particularly effective trope has been the use of actors in multiple roles, some of them with story arcs spanning decades, suggesting a haunted connection among inhabitants of these creepy places. Jessica Lange as a protective, murdering suburban mother, and then as a strict but sensuous nun, allows this world class actress to really show her stuff, and to be able to see such great performances on television is a real treat. This third season will add additional fine actresses like Angela Bassett (as Salem’s Tituba, perhaps?) and Kathy Bates.

And now: witches!!!

The preview images are erotic, even lurid, and hint at a powerfully-conceived story ahead. I have a feeling that, visually at least, this will be unlike any portrayal of the North American witch trials ever created for the screen. The tendency for television to become more and more cinematic signals an exciting time ahead for supernatural and horror-based storytelling.

Like I said: I can’t wait.

(Images provided by the Hollywood Reporter website)




For more on American Horror Story: COVEN from Patheos writers, check out the show’s topic page on the Patheos Entertainment channel.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • lilithdorsey

    I’m curious about this New Orleans Voodoo hook. I’m already planning a visual protest/salute where I dress down (not up) and stab myself with large pins like in their new ad.

  • JasonMankey

    Ugh! This is going to be awful and will probably set Modern Witchcraft back another ten years. Nothing good will come of this for the Pagan Community.

    • Colleen Richards

      It is only a show , others would believe the worst with out seeing this, so it is their stupidity that makes them so unbelievable!!!

    • PegAloi

      Hard to say without seeing it. If no other media portrayal has “set modern witchcraft back” by any number of years, how will this be any different? The witch archetype is one that’s been around a long time, it is compelling and appealing for many reasons, and this show will be exploring yet another treatment of it. It’s not, as far as I know, portraying modern witchcraft, so I don’t see why it will necessarily negatively affect the pagan community.

  • Stacey H. Springall

    I have to agree with Jason. There is already a negative stereotype associated with being a pagan, wiccan or a witch and shows like these will do nothing but perpetuate that ignorance.

  • capriciouswitch

    I somewhat agree however since I’m a big fan of the American Horror series, I plan on watching it anyways. Most of the American Horror Story audience are quite open to the fact of ghosts, aliens, curses, and other strange phenomenon. It’s a bit cheesy, gory, but overall entertaining. I’m sure most ignorant or haters aren’t going to watch something like that in the first place. To be honest it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. I think we’ll see a mixture of the good and bad usage of magic in a very Hollywood way of course. I don’t know I think it’ll have that Skeleton Key vibe.

  • Colleen Richards

    Looking forward to seeing, no matter what others say and think!