by: Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
At the peak of its eighth season, FX’s anthology series American Horror Story is still running strong. The show, which aired its first episode back in 2011, takes on a different sub-theme each season with a unique time period, location, and cast at each rendition.
This season, though, co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk opted to do something slightly different by crossing over characters from previous seasons. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Murphy has said of season eight, “It’s a very high concept. It’s a season unlike anything we’ve done because there’s a big hook to it.”
American Horror Story has provided viewers with instances of a connected universe before. For example, a character featured throughout Season Two, Asylum, was also extensively present two seasons later in Freak Show. Another character from Asylum, played by Sarah Paulson, was also included in an episode of American Horror Story last year. However, the way that this technique fits into the current season is much more central than it has been in the past.
Initial episodes of season eight focused on an entirely new concept. Taking place “eighteen months in the future,” and following the aftermath of a nuclear explosion that eradicated much of the world’s population, several survivors are provided shelter in an underground outpost. Much of the series’ returning actors, such as Evan Peters and Kathy Bates, were cast as new characters for these scenes. Paulson, who has been with American Horror Story since Season One, has played three different characters thus far, including her roles from the first and third seasons.
The character played by new cast member, Cody Fern, represents the link between the different seasons of American Horror Story that have been included in Apocalypse. Fern plays Michael Langdon, a direct link back to season one. Additionally, Murphy and Falchuk have included characters from Coven (season three), namely Emma Roberts and Gabourey Sidibe, among others. On the episode which aired Oct. 17, the plot shifted once again from season three to season one.
This transition also marked the return of American Horror Story’s most revered and respected cast member, Jessica Lange. Lange opted to leave after being involved with four seasons of the show. She won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in season one and was nominated for the three subsequent seasons as well. Fans have been eagerly anticipating her return since it was announced earlier this year. Bustle says, “…perhaps the most intriguing announcement surrounding the latest series was the news that fan-favourite Jessica Lange would be returning to the franchise.”
Crossing over between season one and three is a fitting technique for American Horror Story at this point in time because many fans have been watching the show since its first season. Although many of the characters change as new seasons premiere, much of the core cast is still the same, and this is something that viewers appreciate about the show. American Horror Story has already been renewed for a 9th, and 10th season, and continues to be one of FX’s most popular shows.