In advance of the third season of FX’s horror anthology American Horror Story debuting tonight, co-creator Ryan Murphy talked at length about the new iteration. Subtitled Coven, this season takes place in New Orleans and pits witches young and old against their long-time rival voodoo practitioners. Like previous seasons, AHS:C is a thinly veiled allegory for real social issues like racism and discrimination; that’s all well and good, but the real selling point of the show is watching just how crazy it gets while seeing Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk’s reimaginings of real-life people. Hit the jump for more from Murphy on American Horror Story: Coven, which debuts tonight at 10pm ET on FX.
In an interview with THR, Murphy summed up the season as follows:
“It’s a meditation on race relations in this country. It really is an allegory for any minority group living in our country.”
Aside from what the story is about between the lines, the scripted pages center on a power struggle between not just witches and voodoo practitioners, but between the young and old members of each group. As Murphy puts it:
“I love the formula of the youth story with the veteran actress story … We researched a lot about the Salem witches and the girls back then. … We have a lot of Salem flashbacks throughout the year where these girls, who are students, learn about their ancestors, and we deal with that. And more people come in to the show — other witches — to that house, and they have very specific powers.”
Those powers come into play when selecting a new Supreme among witches:
“The great mystery of the season is which of the people you have met [in the premiere] is the Supreme. Who is going take Jessica Lange’s throne? The show also has a really great thriller aspect to it this year — you really don’t find out until episode 12 who that is.”
“I wanted to write something for them, a love story, but I wanted it to be different. She finished season one and went off to make the Sofia Coppola movie, and there was really no part for her last season. After Jessica and Sarah, she’s the one I called in first. [Evan and Taissa] love working together and Evan’s girlfriend [Roberts] is also working on the show, but I made that work. [AHS season one’s Violet and Kit] love story in some weird way is reincarnated in the myth of the show.”
Murphy also talked about the mother-daughter dynamic between Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson’s characters:
“I was always fascinated by the dynamic of the show Bewitched and thought, ‘What would really happen if Samantha listened to Endora and just went bat-shit dark crazy. There’s something that happens to her character around episode five that forces her to realize that her mother may be right [with how she approaches teaching]. They’re an odd mother-daughter relationship, and they really don’t like each other. Where Sarah starts and where Sarah ends up is completely the opposite of who she’s playing in that first episode.”
“They asked me to do that and I said no. With a show like this, sometimes I even debate doing this kind of stuff because I feel like I have a tendency to open my mouth too much and give too many spoilers away. I think I would just be ad nauseam. Maybe someday. This show, particularly, has a lot of secrets and things that kick in around episode five and after that I won’t be talking.”
Be sure to head over to THR for the full interview, in which Murphy talks about a possible spin-off and why the show moved to New Orleans. Looking ahead to season four, Murphy gave a teaser about when we’ll find out what the future of the show has in store:
“I thought it would be really cool with this show — and I might do it this year — that the finale airs and then I announce what next year’s show is by using some sort of visual thing. I think we’re going to try that this year because people would really love it. I loved last year laying in those clues. The last image of the season will be, ‘This is what you’re getting next year’ and we’ll announce the title.”
American Horror Story: Coven debuts on FX tonight at 10pm.