When producer Ryan Murphy created American Horror Story, the worlds of horror and queerness fully collided on the small screen in all of their blood-soaked glory.
From the bisexual love affairs of Hotel to the powerhouse role of Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) in Asylum, Murphy’s trademark show has been unmistakably queer from the get-go, bringing us a variety of three-dimensional characters who aren’t solely defined by their sexuality.
Now that he’s toppled even more barriers with the trans-inclusive cast of Pose on FX, the openly gay producer is busy working on the upcoming Coven/Murder House crossover, which could very well turn out to be the queerest season of American Horror Story yet.
On the surface, Murder House was the most heteronormative season out of the show’s entire run so far, but once you take a closer look through the curtains, it’s easy to see how this first chapter actually laid the foundation for a queer aesthetic that would come to the fore in later installments.
The most notable queer characters in Murder House were Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick (Teddy Sears), a gay couple who spent half of their time fighting on screen before a twinky psycho called Tate (Evan Peters) murdered them both while wearing an S&M rubber suit. That in itself wasn’t particularly progressive, but what came to define the season as a whole was the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning performance from Jessica Lange that struck a chord with queer audiences worldwide.
Channeling the evil camp of iconic Hollywood characters like Norma Desmond and Baby Jane, Lange’s role as Constance Langdon quickly positioned her as the main draw of the show, particularly among those who enjoy identifying with older matriarchs who refuse to take anyone’s shit. Lange would go on to perfect this archetype over the following three seasons, most notably in the third installment, Coven, which is arguably the queerest chapter of American Horror Story so far, despite the comparable lack of openly gay characters.
With names like Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), and Misty Day (Lily Rabe), the cast of Coven sounded like contestants vying for a spot on the next season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and they each possessed the sickening personality to match. Of course, none of them compared to Lange’s own fierce diva, Fiona Goode, whose unhealthy obsession with eternal youth mirrored the gay community’s own damaging obsession with body image. Goode further reflected the queer experience by passing down occult secrets to her chosen family, just like drag queens teaching their daughters about the art of tucking.
In a season that opened with an episode titled “Bitchcraft,” Coven actively avoided subtlety in favor of savage takedowns and deliciously evil dialogue that rivaled even the most vicious John Waters character. Between this flamboyance and the show’s obsession with both Stevie Nicks and gratuitous male nudity, Coven was custom built to be enjoyed by the gay community. With that in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised if the upcoming Coven/Murder House crossover turns out to be the queerest season yet of American Horror Story, especially if Langdon appears with the antichrist in tow.
Even if Lange doesn’t return in either the role of Fiona Goode or Constance Langdon, Murphy has proven recently with his work on Pose and AHS: Cult that his desire to reflect real-world politics is stronger than ever before and a crossover featuring the Coven witches would be the perfect vehicle to continue telling stories in this vein.
After all, Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies has always been a safe haven for outsiders of the witchy variety, something which a number of LGBTQ viewers will personally long for. The witches even “outed” themselves at the end of Coven, so it’s clear that their future will hinge on how the outside world accepts them. It’s likely then that this thinly veiled metaphor for the LGBTQ experience will become a focal point of Season 8, dramatizing the struggles that are still common today in Trump’s America.
Aside from how the crossover will unite characters from both Coven and Murder House, little has been revealed yet regarding plot specifics for Season 8. However, with a cast that includes gay icon Joan Collins and LGBTQ stalwarts such as Sarah Paulson, Billy Eichner and Cheyenne Jackson, it’s safe to say that Season 8 will continue to champion the “other” in all its forms, perhaps even more than any other season to date.
Let’s just hope that Ryan Murphy does right by us and brings back the supreme gay icon that is Jessica Lange. If he doesn’t, then the famed producer will soon be embroiled in a feud of his very own with the fans who made American Horror Story a hit in the first place.