A quote like this could only come from talking about a show like American Horror Story.
“Last year we were a sweet little family drama — albeit in which we killed off the entire family.” So says writer/producer Tim Minear of the FX series that captivated audiences with its edgy mix of scares and sex (hel-lo, Rubber Man) that got people talking about what had just happened and what could possibly come next.
“This year couldn’t be more different,” Minear says. Oh, the creepiness will still be there, but instead of following the doomed Harmon family further into their afterlife within the walls of L.A.’s Murder House, viewers will be taken back in time and across the country to 1964 New England. Dubbed Asylum, this season — which begins Oct. 17 at 10pm, and has no common characters from Season 1 — unfolds at Briarcliff Manor, a house for the criminally insane. Minear says it’s a place where “everyone’s got a secret. And who’s crazier — the staff or the patients — is an open question. This year feels larger, more epic in scope. Anything can happen.”
Plot details are under wraps, but we do know that Jessica Lange returns in a lead role, playing the sadistic Sister Jude at Briarcliff, while other original cast members turning up include Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson. New this season are Adam Levine, James Cromwell, Chloë Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes, Clea Duvall and Jenna Dewan-Tatum.
In another departure, this season of AHS will feature no ghosts.
What will be in play is “the terror of being locked up, the fear of losing one’s mind,” Minear says. “Living human evil is often scarier than shadows in the closet. … There are things lurking in the shadows of Briarcliff, not all of them human.”
Regardless of how it turns out, this season of AHS will be memorable for bringing the anthology concept back to television, and on a much larger scale than has been tried before. Instead of a new story every week, a la The Twilight Zone, this is stretching a single story out to 12 or 13 episodes. Then doing it all over again every season.
That has made grabbing bigger-name talent easier, given the lack of a long time commitment, and has helped keep the creative staff refreshed, Minear says.
“Making an anthology series on this scale is hugely ambitious but it’s also extremely exciting and limitless in the types of stories we can tell,” he says. “The challenge is part of the fun in reinventing the show each season and putting our personal twist on all the ideas that terrify and thrill us. And as writers, it’s great to burn through a story, to not have to artificially tread water to keep something unresolved for five years.”
Whatever complaints one may have about AHS, no one can say it’s a tease. Bring on the crazy.
Photo: Credit: Michael Yarish/FX