In the lead up to season 8 of FX’s anthology series American Horror Story, showrunner Ryan Murphy has been dropping breadcrumbs to give us clues about what the season will be about.
According to Deadline, Murphy revealed at a recent pre-Emmys voting event in Los Angeles that this upcoming season will be set in the future — specifically 18 months from today. We also know that AHS veterans Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and Evan Peters will be back, and Peters will have a more lighthearted role as a hairdresser, after seven seasons of playing roles like a killer ghost, a killer cult leader, a killer hotel owner, and an alien abductee. Murphy also revealed that “three of the leads are indeed minorities,” after actress Adina Porter (who appeared in Roanoke and Cult) asked him about it during the same pre-Emmys event. Here’s hoping that Angela Bassett, who has appeared in every AHS season since Coven and also directed episodes of Roanoke and Cult, will be on board.
It has also been revealed that the legendary actress Joan Collins will also be joining this season, and she will play Peters’ grandmother. Collins is one of the few true divas of acting left that can fill the hole left by Jessica Lange, who exited the series after Freak Show. And this casting decision continues Murphy’s tradition of specifically hiring older, legendary actresses in his work, making him one of the very few showrunners or directors in Hollywood to do so.
Apparently, 20th Century Fox registered the subtitle American Horror Story: Radioactive, ostensibly for the coming season, but so far Murphy has demurred when it comes to confirming if that will indeed be the title. And in another interesting note, Murphy revealed in a 2017 Instagram post that each season of AHS corresponds to one of the nine circles of hell as outlined in Dante’s Inferno:
While it is arguable that every season of American Horror Story tackles violence and lust — and indeed, every show Ryan Murphy has ever had a hand in creating — those issues have been tied in to larger themes, such as the evils of racism (Coven), the failures of the mental healthcare system (Asylum), and the danger of unqualified, charismatic leaders rising to power (Cult). But violence and lust haven’t been focal points in and of themselves.
Murphy has said that this season will return to the more fantastical elements of the show. Here’s what I, for one, would like to see: given the possible subtitle, this season will focus on violence and be set in a post-apocalyptic 2020 where some kind of virus or environmental disaster has started to alter people’s DNA for better or for worse.
There are two possibilities Murphy could explore, if he follows that course:
1. This disaster has led to the zombie apocalypse, and one family is fighting for survival. Zombies are one fantastical element Murphy has yet to explore after dealing with the likes of ghosts, vampires, aliens, and witches — and he said at that event that he would be returning to the “fantastical” this season. Imagine Joan Collins in a gorgeous, floor-length gown a la her Dynasty days while on the hunt for brains or Kathy Bates as a zombie slayer, mowing them down with a shotgun left and right.
2. This disaster has resulted in people with genetic mutations that leave them with enhanced abilities that on the surface seem fun but are actually terrifying and cause all kinds of chaos and destruction. Could Peters and Collins share similar abilities? Will they have a grandson-grandmother face-off? Think of it as far more twisted and dark Marvel origin story — less Spider-Man and more Jessica Jones.
Given the dark ending of season 7, I also wonder if Murphy will throw in callbacks to the new world order set forth by Ally (Paulson) and if that could relate to what might happen in season 8. Given that Murphy has a history of tying all of his seasons of American Horror Story together in some tangential way (for example, the real estate broker who sold the Murder House in season 1 shows up again in Roanoke, selling yet another haunted house), I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of Ally’s green cloak or Kai’s cult.
Season 8 starts taping June 16 and while there is no official release date yet, it has been slated for release later in 2018. Murphy has said before that he doesn’t “want blood with my Christmas ornaments” so it sounds like it could air around September or October this year.
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