Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy at the 2010 Golden Globes
One of the most highly anticipated new shows of the season is Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story, premiering on FX this Wednesday. Having seen the first two episodes, I am of two minds, Norman Bates-style. The Norman side of me wonders how the general viewing public is going to take to a show as dark, violent, sexy, gory, and husky-sized crazypants as this one. And the Mother side of me thinks, “Sonny, hand me my wig and open the motel for business, because it’s time to PARTY!”
Seriously, folks – this show is major bananas.
As you may know by now, Horror Story tells the tale of Ben and Viv Harmon (Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton), who move with their daughter Violet (Taissa Farmigia) into a haunted house after a miscarriage and an affair have torn their family apart. I had the chance recently to speakwith Murphy and Falchuck (along with a few other writers) and although they were tight-lipped about the thriller series’ plot, they did have a few things to share about tackling horror for the first time, keeping gay characters part of the mix, and what they hope to see their friends dress as for Halloween this year (hint: he’s got a rubber suit and is very flexible).
ON DOING A HORROR SHOW…
Ryan Murphy: “I just always like to do the opposite of what I’ve done
before. I went from Nip/Tuck to Glee,
so it made sense that I wanted to do something challenging and dark.
And I always had loved, as Brad had, the horror genre. So it just
was a natural for me. And plus, we had this idea, but before we
had the – even the horror genre idea, we wanted to do a show about infidelity
and the breakup of a marriage. That’s something that we had been talking
about. So we just sort of put it into the world of horror, which
we both have loved.”
Brad Falchuk: “And the idea of putting something like that on TV was very intriguing to us, and also finding some – a different angle on it. And the angle we were looking at again was looking at it through the prism of this marriage falling apart.”
ON WHAT THEY BRING TO THE GENRE…
BF: “In the case of the horror genre, your main goal is to scare people. You want people to be a little bit off balance afterwards. You want people to have their friends sleep over that night. And you want to deliver iconic images that stay with people. So you want to be able to deliver that hockey mask or that pediatrician or that – or obstetrician or whatever it is that makes people remember, ’Oh, that’s … the iconic scare that, just thinking about it … gives me the willies a little bit.'”
RM: “And also, we’re very excited that so many people we know already are going as Rubber Man for Halloween. And that’s, like, the greatest compliment ever.”
ON BEING A GAY HORROR WRITER…
RM: “I never really think about that. I don’t think that the show has, yet anyway, the gay – well, we actually do in episode 3. Zach Quinto plays a great gay character. You know, I never think about that. I never think about I’m trying to do a straight story or a gay story. I’m just trying to do a story and trying to write characters that are interesting. I mean, I do feel an obligation to have gay, lesbian, transgender roles in the work. I don’t think that this show is like Nip/Tuck or Glee in that they’re written in the same way. But certainly they’re there. I don’t know. I think that this is a nontraditional family, and I think most households are now. So I think that it’s relatable, if that makes any sense.”
ON HORROR VS. TORTURE PORN…
RM: “I think there are a lot of great horror movies now. It seems like in the last couple years, that genre has become, I think, known for more violent — you know, a lot of critics have labeled it sort of torture porn. And I don’t — this is the opposite of that. I think this is — I keep saying in a weird way that it has a — it’s a great horror story for women to watch because it is so emotional and it’s about female issues. And, you know, we are very aware of making sure that women — I mean, look, it’s a horror show, so you have scares and violence. But we’ve been careful not to make it The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know. Also, with the caliber of actors. Connie Britton and Jessica Lange and Dylan wouldn’t let us do that anyway. And we talk a lot about it. We think a lot about it. We talk about how much to show and what not to show. And I think a lot of the scares in the show happen off the screen, which I think is just as interesting and scary. And I think a lot of the scares happen around the topic of infidelity.”
ON THE HOUSE’S PAST AND THE SHOW’S FUTURE…
RM: “We have a plan. I think before we started writing this season, we knew exactly how it ended … For example, we’re writing right now episode 7, which is all about the Denis O’Hare Burn Man character. And it’s about his true backstory and what he does and who he had relationships with. We kind of knew that already when we shot his scenes in the pilot. So we just really carefully – we had a great group of people, and we – I don’t know. We really mapped that out … Do most people who are working on season 2 of a show know exactly what season 10 is about? I don’t think they do. I think they may have an idea about the theme of their series or maybe who will live and who will die. But I mean, one of the things that I think is great about this show is we’re also open to surprises in the writers’ room, which is really a lot of fun, because you want to be scared yourself when you’re writing it. I mean, I am, which is great. “
I’m going to be recapping the show each week right here on AfterElton. And, having seen the first two episodes already, let me tell ya – I’m gonna have my hands full … OF INTESTINES!!