American Horror Story | Film and TV | Kathy Bates | Ryan Murphy | Television

'American Horror Story: Coven' Makes Its Bewitching Debut

Coven_lange

As wildly uneven as his creations may be, Ryan Murphy's television work is always provocative. Whether it's the musical phenomenon Glee or the twisted tales he spun on Nip/Tuck (or even the progressive -- though overly preachy -- The New Normal), all of Murphy's TV projects have managed to spur some conversation. American Horror Story, which returns tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX, is no exception.

In addition to serving up some serious scares in its haunted house-themed first season, the show leverages an interesting anthology format, enabling big-name actors (including Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and Zachary Quinto) to commit to self-contained seasons. Sure, last season's Asylum ran a bit off the rails with the aliens and the heavy-handed commentary on the church, but when the show was firing on all cylinders (like when Sarah Paulson's Lana took center stage) it was the most thrilling hour on television.

The third iteration, titled American Horror Story: Coven, debuts tonight, and it's poised to be the most exciting yet.

Find out why, AFTER THE JUMP …

 

The Cast Is Incredible
This will be Jessica Lange's third go-round at the center of a Horror Story chapter, and it must be costing FX a fortune to digitally remove all her teeth marks from the scenery. A gifted actress, Lange is given full permission (and seemingly encouragement) to rev up the camp on her characters to full-blown Dunaway (or Gershon) levels. Season one's salty faded actress Constance Langdon was much more fun than her season two character, the suffering Sister Jude. Luckily, in Coven, her character is the glamorous Fiona and feels a lot closer to Constance. This time she'll share the spotlight with powerhouse AHS-newcomers Academy Award-winner Kathy Bates and Academy Award-nominee Angela Bassett. Additionally, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe and Patti LuPone will make their Horror Story debut alongside returning players Paulson, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Jamie Brewer, Denis O'Hare, Francis Conroy and Lily Rabe.

 

The Story Plays To The Show's Strengths
As the title suggests, we're dealing with witchcraft. Lange is the Head Witch In Charge, and her daughter, Cordelia (Paulson), runs a school for young witch girls, including Sidibe, Roberts and Farmiga. Feminism and mother-daughter relationships are said to be major themes. If previous seasons are any indication, Murphy does his best when he shines the spotlight on his female leads, which is the reason to get excited about all these witchy women.

 

There's a Fresh Look and Feel
Early reviews of the premiere have said this is "the best -- and most accessible (read: least weird) -- first episode of AHS's three seasons." Even Murphy has said this is his favorite (and most fun) season so far. Part of that could be attributed to the New Orleans setting, but it's more likely a product of the writers recognizing how audiences respond when there's a little humor in its scary stories.

 

Some of the Scares Are Real
This season, AHS is taking inspiration from real-life horror stories. Bates' character, Delphine LaLaurie was a socialite who became infamous for her torture of slaves in the early 1800s. LaLaurie's horrific treatment of her slaves was discovered by locals when her New Orleans mansion caught fire and bystanders found mutilated slaves inside. Meanwhile Bassett's Marie Laveau was a legendary Voodoo priestess who rose to prominence in New Orleans.

Are you planning to tune into Coven? Don't miss our weekly Towleroad recaps!

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Comments

  1. This show has given me a whole new love for Jessica Lange. She is brilliant.

    Posted by: JWL | Oct 9, 2013 9:50:50 AM


  2. Can't wait, AHS is so brilliant, mainly because of Jessica Lange, and now LuPone is there too in six episodes. Funny how Ryan Murphy is able to create something so exciting as AHS and boring as Glee.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Oct 9, 2013 9:58:56 AM


  3. I thought the brilliant Leslie Jordan also was joining the cast this season? No mention? Talk about camp! Love him.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Oct 9, 2013 10:11:26 AM


  4. Leslie is in several episodes this season in a smaller roll. If you like his Facebook page you'll find some interesting pictures of how he spent his downtime in New Orleans. For those of you who know New Orleans I'll just say Corner Pocket.

    Posted by: RayJacksonMS | Oct 9, 2013 11:13:29 AM


  5. Leslie is in several episodes this season in a smaller roll. If you like his Facebook page you'll find some interesting pictures of how he spent his downtime in New Orleans. For those of you who know New Orleans, I'll just say Corner Pocket.

    Posted by: RayJacksonMS | Oct 9, 2013 11:13:31 AM


  6. its all about PRECIOUS bitches!!!

    Posted by: mattsy | Oct 9, 2013 1:19:42 PM


  7. Asylum was a mess (nazis, aliens, possessions, experiments, bad Santa, etc, etc). Lana and Thredson's story was the only one that actually worked and was engaging. Their characters (along with Judy and Kit in second place) saved the season. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster. Coven looks lighter and more cohesive. It certainly feels more appealing. I'm excited. But I will deeply miss Zachary Quinto. I'm still hoping he will eventually join the cast just like Dylan Mcdermott did last season.

    Posted by: Adaiah | Oct 9, 2013 4:48:48 PM


  8. There was way too much nonsense going on last year, but I was moved by how Kit and Judy's stories ended, and Lana's was terrific. The anthology format works well for AHS; we don't have to spend time watching them clean up their messes (like Revenge is trying to do this year). I'm very psyched about Coven and just hope they don't err on the side of too little batshit craziness. Nah, that's possible for them.

    Posted by: pdaku | Oct 9, 2013 5:12:53 PM


  9. I meant that's not possible for them.

    Posted by: pdaku | Oct 9, 2013 5:14:05 PM


  10. 2 words, Angela Bassett! I've never watched the show but now I have to. Beauty, intensity & oozing sexual magnetism that has had me praying to be straight. We know that will never happen and like I have a change of meeting her.

    Posted by: Injera | Oct 9, 2013 11:41:25 PM


  11. Love this show. So happy it's back.

    Posted by: FFS | Oct 10, 2013 1:42:49 AM


  12. Amazing cast/great stylized sets...but a bit too bloody for me ..I saw Hitchcock a couple nights ago & he put allot of thought and perversion into his movies without the need for blood..a drop here and there..fascinating backdrop story to Psycho.. Loved Anthony/Helen /Toni Collete

    Posted by: Tony C | Oct 10, 2013 2:00:16 AM


  13. >For those of you who know New Orleans, I'll just say Corner Pocket. <

    Oh dear lord! LOL! He would fit right in!

    Posted by: nola fred | Oct 10, 2013 3:41:36 AM


  14. "but when the show was firing on all cylinders (like when Sarah Paulson's Lana took center stage) it was the most thrilling hour on television."

    The Lana story had a lot of great moments, but her last SEVERAL episodes were obvious and pointless. The real magic of the show was always about the dichotomy of Sister Jude's character. THAT was the real horror story.

    Posted by: Robert | Oct 10, 2013 6:48:22 PM


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