Anticipating American Horror Story: Coven

Roy Ward

When Roy was 7 a girl tied him to a tree and tried to set him on fire. He now lives in Leeds with his boyfriend. These facts may be connected. Vada's Deputy Editor, he loves pop culture in all its forms, plus feminism; drag queens and Nigella Lawson. Find him on Twitter @badlydrawnroy.

I bloody love American Horror StoryAs far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the best things on TV at the moment. An anthology series, each season of the show operates as a stand-alone story, but sharing a lot of the same cast, similar themes, and a inspiring a similar level of terror. The upcoming third season, subtitled Coven, has spent the last few weeks teasing fans with a series of short trailers, featuring a haunting rendition of “The House of the Rising Sun”, hinting at this season’s New Orleans setting; witch burnings and voodoo priestesses.

Earlier this week, they stopped tormenting us with the barest hints of plot and released a proper trailer – ‘Initiation’. It looks amazing. The only response I could muster was an unintelligible scream of joy.

It’s cryptic, it’s atmospheric, there’s some kind of weird albino minotaur thing, and masked witches on stilts. It’s fabulous. Enjoy.

So what the hell is going on? Well, first of all we can see that many AHS regulars are back – the incomparable Jessica Lange, creepy manchild Evan Peters, as well as Lily Rabe, Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy and Sarah Paulson, who rocks my world. But we’ve also been given our first peek at new cast members Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Precious‘s Gabourey Sidibe. We also know that this season is going to feature Leslie Jordan, Christine Ebersole and Broadway diva Patti LuPone. Did you hear that? That was the sound of a million gays gasping. Basically, the cast this season looks incredible. The only downside is that lovely homosexual Zachary Quinto doesn’t appear to be making a return – although I would not be even slightly surprised if he were to pop up halfway through the season, a la Dylan McDermott in Asylum.

What else do we know? FX have released the following plot overview, and it sounds like classic AHS. 

“American Horror Story: Coven tells the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America. Over 300 years have passed since the turbulent days of the Salem witch trials and those who managed to escape are now facing extinction. Mysterious attacks have been escalating against their kind and young girls are being sent away to a special school in New Orleans to learn how to protect themselves. Wrapped up in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), who is harboring a terrifying secret of her own. Alarmed by the recent aggression, Fiona (Jessica Lange), the long-absent Supreme, sweeps back into town, determined to protect the Coven and hell-bent on decimating anyone who gets in her way.”

We also know that both Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett are playing characters based on real historical figures – Delphine LaLaurie and Marie Leveau, respectively. Bates’ character was a wealthy socialite who killed and tortured slaves in 19th century Louisiana (fun fact – Nicholas Cage now owns her mansion), and Bassett is playing a fictionalised version of a famous Creole Voodoo priestess.  At a recent press conference, creator Ryan Murphy reported that Coven  “really is about the witches of Salem pitted against voodoo witches. It’s been a centuries-long feud and it’s up to Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett to mend the fence. The witches are really sort of a great allegory and metaphor for any minority group that has been persecuted and has had to go underground and, finally, is like, ‘You know what? Dammit, no. We’re fighting back,’ so that’s what they do.”

Witches, voodoo, feminism and racial oppression, all dealt with in classic, unflinching Ryan Murphy style? I can’t fricking wait.

American Horror Story: Coven will receive its UK premiere on FOX on Tuesday October 29th at 10pm.

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