American Horror Story has taken audiences by storm with seven successful seasons and an upcoming eighth season that promises to bring back the reason so many fell for the chilling show: Jessica Lange.
American Horror Story’s massive success can be mostly attributed to the show’s stylistic approach. The show’s creators and writers clearly favor realism, each episode, regardless of the season, functions almost like a short film that employs many of the same genre conventions that full-length horror films do. That is not to say American Horror Story is conventional; such a claim would be a tragic simplification of the ingenious writing, cinematography, and performances that have won the show such acclaim.
Making each season stand alone instead of functioning as different of chapters in one sequential storyline was a brilliant idea, one that surely kept viewers coming back for more, as every season brings with it delicious anticipation for the new thematic. The makers of American Horror Story have never failed to satisfy audiences with their choice of thematic, Murder House (S1), Asylum (S2), Coven (S3), Freak Show (S4), Hotel (S5), Roanoke (S6), and Cult (S7) provided an enticing context upon which to build a terrifying storyline. However, the franchise seemed to lose its characteristic essence and feel after season four, Freak Show. The creators of American Horror Story seemed to catch onto this, what could be considered a shift in the franchise, and are looking to resurrect the original aura of the show in season eight, Apocalypse.
American Horror Story season eight, Apocalypse, promises to reinvigorate the franchise bringing back many of the fan favorites that were believed to be long gone, specifically those featured in Murder House and Coven. One of the newest promos for the new season even describes it as a season where “Murder House . . . Coven . . . Collide.”
Jessica Lange, Taissa Farminga, and Dylan McDermott promise to be back on September 12 to inject viewers with the American Horror Story mania that captivated audiences in 2011.
Thus, even if seasons five, six, and seven weren’t exactly what American Horror Story fans expected and were used to, season eight promises to bring what was lacking back. Despite the possible disappointments viewers encountered in seasons five through seven, here are some of the main reasons season eight deserves a chance.
The returning cast members (including, but not limited to Jessica Lange, Taissa Farminga, Emma Roberts)
American Horror Story is bringing back its most iconic star: Jessica Lange. Her performances as Constance Langdon, Sister Jude Martin, Fiona Goode, and Elsa Mars are the main reason many American Horror Story fans even became so in the first place. Her performances in American Horror Story are all unique yet characteristically strong. Each of Lange’s characters exist apart from the other but are connected to the rest by their common “badassery.” Her string of morally questionable characters truly seemed to be the face of the American Horror Story franchise, thus the brilliance of bringing her back for the reinvigoration of the show.
Taissa Farmiga, who only made an appearance in seasons one (Murder House), three (Coven), and six (Roanoke) is also back. Though not one of the most prevalent favorites, Farmiga has proven her horror acting chops in not just American Horror Story, but in other successful projects such as The Final Girls (2015). Though her characters in American Horror Story are quite obviously the same, at least in terms of personality, we can surely look forward to finding out whether or not American Horror Story’s creators decided to continue the type cast or deviate from the formula. If they want to get back to basics, it would make sense for Farminga to adopt the same character she did in Coven and Murder House, but if they want to both reinvigorate the franchise and add a new dimension to it, it would be nice to bring back the American Horror Story veteran in a role that is completely distinct from those she played in Murder House and Coven.
Emma Roberts was introduced into American Horror Story in season three Coven; her performance as Madison Montgomery even arguably inspired the character of Chanel Oberlin from Scream Queens, which has the same creators as American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. While making a brief appearance in season 7 (E8), Cult, Roberts only ever had a principal role in Coven; Apocalypse might change that with the reintroduction of Madison. Not only is Madison’s character a draw for younger audiences with her arrogant millennial sauciness, but also represents one of America’s true horror stories: the mean girl.
The promising collision between past seasons
In addition to the trailer’s claim that Apocalypse will be the lovechild of Murder House and Coven, there’s also creator Ryan Murphy’s announcement earlier this year which according to Variety’s Ariana Brockington stated, “We’re sort of getting back to the ‘Asylum,’ ‘Coven’ feeling. That’s the tone of it.” In reading different sites, such as Thrillist, Vulture, and Digital Spy, opinions on how American Horror Story’s seasons rank in comparison to one another, it became very clear that Murder House and Asylum are the most popular. Though which season occupies first place differs from list to list, Murder House and Asylum always seem to make the top two. Consequently, it makes sense to draw from both seasons for the eighth season. Conversely, Coven never seems to make the top three. So, why draw from it for season eight? In addition to Coven having the same “feel” as the seasons that came before it, it brilliantly introduced a layer of comedy that added another dimension to the show; that is not to say there weren’t comedic instances in seasons one and two, only that the comedy in season three is a different, more distinct kind of comedy that largely results from the mean-girl dynamic of the collection of teenage girls at Miss Robichaux’s Academy. I seems comedy will have an explicit presence in season eight as well, as earlier in the year Murphy also mentioned loyal cast member Even Peters will be taking on a comedic role as a hairstylist (Brockington).
Plus, there's Billy Eichner to look forward to.
Favorite characters are returning and at least one actor is taking on multiple roles
Jessica Lange will be returning as her character in Murder House (S1), Constance Langdon. Emma Roberts will be resurrecting Madison Montgomery from Coven (S3); a fun surprise considering she was murdered twice in season three and the second time stuck. As rightfully excited most are for the return of Lange, it’s Sarah Paulson we should really be excited about. Paulson will be playing not one, but three characters, two of which are from previous season. Paulson is set up to play medium Billie Dean Howard from Murder House, Cordelia Goode from Coven, and a new character named Venable. Surely, the wildly talented Paulson will step up to the challenge and flex her acting muscles successfully bringing these characters to life. Of course, hair, makeup, and costuming will play a large part in differentiating the characters, but it will really be up to Paulson to make viewers forget that it’s the same person playing all three roles.
Ultimately, your taste is your own. I’m certain many people disagree that the best of American Horror Story came early on and faded toward the end; in fact, I would say the entire series is fantastic, it’s really a matter of preference. Either way, this season seems like it’s going to be not just a killer one, but also one of the best with its end-of-world theme and mashup of seasons and characters. We will find out in less than 48 hours.