American Horror Story: Boy Parts

Posted on October 17, 2013


Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange in FX’s American Horror Story: Coven


Ah, there’s the American Horror Story we know and love; the one that has us muttering “Oh, shit. There’s no way to critique this without looking like you Just Don’t Get It. Goddamn you, Ryan Murphy. Goddamn you to HELL.”

Or something.

Look, when you make a commitment to write about this show, eventually the conflict between “By any metric, this is bad writing. Raaaar.” and “Don’t sweat it. Just let this shit wash over you” arises and you wind up wondering which version of yourself is going to write the latest review. We’re going to attempt to split the difference. The more laid back sides of ourselves are willing to admit that even when a AHS season is all wrapped up, it’s hard to really come to terms with the story you were just told and figure out a way to talk about it. It’s near-impossible to do when you’re only two episodes into it so why bother trying? Someone asked Jessica Lange “Are you in charge here?” and she responded with “I’m in charge everywhere.” That alone makes the hour worth sitting through. Best not to think too much about the rest of it.

Except – and this is where the more uptight sides of our psyches rear their pointy little heads – this is a Ryan Murphy show dealing with themes of patriarchy and exploitation. Ryan Murphy, regardless of any of his other talents, has a bitchy gay man’s view of women, which means he almost never writes women characters with any nuance. Entertaining as hell, but not particularly like any real woman anyone knows. It’s drag writing. We point this out because with this episode, the story arcs are starting to form around the major characters – all women – and their needs and desires. And what do these women want? Eternal youth. A boy. A baby.

Oh, sure. There are the other AHS mainstays of characters of great (or indeterminate) evil plotting revenge, but right now, the story is moving along solely on those three desires: Beauty, Boy, Baby. That’s womanhood, according to Ryan Murphy. We wouldn’t care if this was some CW soap opera or something, but Murphy’s got the greatest ensemble of female actors on television all on tap for this season and this is what he’s decided is going to motivate them all. It’s disappointing.

But not a dealbreaker; let’s get that out of the way. We will always vehemently maintain that one simply has to let certain expectations go if you want to enjoy this show. So what if the actions of most of the characters don’t seem to make much sense right now? Stitching together a boy out of bodyparts in the morgue makes no sense at all for anyone involved, but who cares? It’s more important that Angela Bassett looks amazing in a turban. It’s more important that scenery gets chewed up and spit out in every single scene. It’s more important that you say at least once each episode “Oh. My. GOD.” as if you can’t help yourself. Because you can’t.

So yeah. We had some problems with the writing this week. Alert the media. We still loved the hell out of the hour.

Since this doesn’t lend itself to much in the way of analysis, we present bullet points instead.

  • Lily Rabe is the unsung treasure of the AHS ensemble. We’re loving Misty Day and we can’t wait until she and Fiona come face to face. Is she a good witch or a bad witch, though? She can’t be all bad. Her taste in music is great. Which leads us to…
  • If Stevie Nicks appears on this show playing herself as a White Witch, we are going to shit ourselves. We hope Ryan gets her to sing.
  • We have no idea where the FrankenKyle thing is going.
  • What are we saying? We have no idea where ANY Of this is going.
  • Interesting take on the competing histories of American witchcraft. Apparently, African-American witches all believe that Tituba is the mother of American witchcraft. We’re holding our breath regarding this direction. Murphy’s clearly going to tackle race in a big way, including the idea of competing racial histories. That’s pretty damn volatile a topic and we don’t have much hope that he’ll bring any nuance to it.
  • Discussion topic: Real people (mostly women) were executed in Salem and not because they were witches, but because ignorance, paranoia, religious mania and institutionalized misogyny ran rampant. Isn’t it a little on the offensive side of things that fictional stories around witchcraft inevitably start from the point that the Salem “witches” were actual witches? Doesn’t it do their memory a disservice? Isn’t it sort of like portraying Native Americans as brutal savages, preying on the white man?
  • Basic cable finally managed a sex scene weirder than anything on Game of Thrones. High fives all around, guys. Good job. Creepy as shit.





[Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX]

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  • RussellH88

    I’m still loving it. It’s a campy, ridiculous show and I love the high drag performances from all the cast members.

    There’s lots of fried chicken in this show though, right?

    • tereliz

      Considering you can get fried chicken in every gas station from here to Alabama, I don’t think there’s nearly enough. 🙂

      • RussellH88

        I would sacrifice goats to eat fried chicken with Jessica Lange.

        • JDreesen

          oooh, or chickens even!

          wait, right? or…are you allowed to eat sacrifices? my penchant for being efficient has left me unaware of today’s coven policies.

      • Scoobydrew

        best fried chick in New Orleans is at a gas station on Rampart

    • Jeremy Thomas Porta

      It’s set in New Orleans. It’s like saying, “Oh, there are lots of bagels and kale in New York.”

  • epenthesis

    If Ryan Murphy isn’t begging Stevie Nicks on a daily basis to appear as herself, he’s not the gay I thought he was.

    This episode just delivered and delivered and delivered. It was almost worth waiting until 1 am (when I got a torrent to download because Time Warner NYC shat the bed again).

  • tereliz

    I, too, was searching for some deeper meaning to this episode, and turned to an EW interview with Murphy. BIG MISTAKE.

    Imma just leave y’all with two words to remind you how nuanced Murphy is when it comes to issues of race: CORNROW CITY.


  • Rand Ortega

    Wow. But at least Murphy’s ballsy enough to tackle such topics (Dontcha love how the minority showrunners like Rhimes & Murphy–gay drama showrunners: minorities, they’re usually relegated to comedy– are the 1’s who are digging deep?). I don’t see “Blue Bloods” or “The Blacklist” going near anything like this. My brain’s sweating just reading this review.

  • Sobaika

    Assorted thoughts:

    This was the show that made a surviving Anne Frank plausible for a minute. They don’t give a shit about what can be seen as offensive. Also in the premiere, Taissa’s voiceover specifically said that the women killed in Salem weren’t witches, just blameless women. So I guess there’s that.

    The dialogue throughout the ‘hammer and nail’ exchange between Lange and Basset was borderline cringeworthy. I get the parallels between our history and the roots of witchcraft in America but come on. Heavyhanded much? And sort of ugly considering this conversation happens right as we hit every black American stereotype in under three minutes. Let’s play some loud music and dance! Look, the weaves are burning! Someone save the weaves!!!!

    Of course Bates dropped the N word. It’s both realistic and disappointing that they went there, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

    And still a thoroughly delicious hour of television. I didn’t want it to be over.

    • martha

      Yeah, I felt the same way about the stereotypical BS. Parts of this show are delicious but those cringeworthy parts really distract.

    • tereliz

      Definitely some cringeworthy moments and lots of heavy-handed handling of themes (at least, if you can consider “leaning-in” a theme. The modern-day witch wants it all—power, youth, mancandy, rugrats—but can she really HAVE IT ALL?), and I’m left confused on many fronts, particularly as to how well the supremes and the voodoo queens have gotten along through the decades in such close quarters.

      Unless the only queen has EVER BEEN Marie L—who still a hairdresser after all this time? The occupation as a way to get rich clients to tell her all their secrets and beg her for her help makes sense to be updated if she’s working in some schmancy Garden District salon, not out in the Nint’ Ward. There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense to me, actually, and I don’t think it’s because I don’t “get it”.

      But am I going to stop watching? Hell no. 😉

      • Sobaika

        Seriously! You’re telling me Angela has the ability to give everlasting life and she’s spending her time at a place called (ugh) Cornrow City?

        • Nicole

          Why not? She may want to stay within her own community and help those the most in need out. Plus working in a hair salon gives her access to one of the most essential personal concerns associated with voodoo: hair.

          Just because she’s living in the Ninth Ward doesn’t mean she isn’t sitting on a stash of money.

          • tereliz

            Totally agreed with your observation about the hair, in fact that is one of the things I like the most about the show is that the witchcraft is very closely tied to bodily fluids— saliva, blood, hair—just as the practice of hoodoo is.

            And I don’t dispute that she would want to stay within her community and help out those in need—or that she’s sitting on piles of cash—it’s just that it is a very insular community. Which does make sense if she’s trying to hide her existence/immortality. But that just raises more questions for me, so I guess that’s why I’m so dissatisfied with the set-up so far.

          • Nicole

            I wonder if she’s even trying to hide. I wonder if her existence is an open secret within the community especially in a community that has a history or myth (depending on who you ask) of being tied to voodoo (and in some instances hoodoo).

          • tereliz

            I’d think everyone in her neighborhood knows—or suspects—exactly who she is.

          • Sobaika

            We need a Laveau backstory, stat. I also want more of Gabby Sidibe and Jamie Brewer.

        • muzan-e

          Oh, for me that’s absolutely the loud question howling at the heart of all this. There are two queens in this story, two absolute lions, and one of them’s crippled by her fear of letting go

          But what of the other one? That’s the story I’m most looking forward to seeing. There’s too much bitterness lurking there for it to have been a conscious, wholehearted choice; too much resentment. Something’s gone wrong, unless it’s just a matter of being gifted with marvelous talents that simply have no practical worth in the modern world.

        • ovarB

          If you view it from the perspective of Jessica Lange seeking out beauty (and subsequently never aging and or dying) then it is perfect sense to place Angela Basset’s character to be residing in a house serving up beauty.
          I have nothing to support the notion of the term “cornrow city.”

        • Darren Nesbitt

          If I never aged I would not be come a billionaire and be known to the world because my secret would be out and I would be put in a laboratory somewhere. I think Laveau keeps a low profile on purpose. But I’m confused as to how she can live in the same place. Taking a note from the vampire book, why doesn’t she move around the map some? The families of the 9th ward MUST know who she is and how old she is.

    • boweryboy

      I don’t recall Bates using the N-word, but then again it was late and I was half asleep. If so, it’s definitely realistic but I don’t see how it’s disappointing if they’re going for that level of realism.

      It’s like what TLo said way back when they were reviewing the first season: the “horror” of this show isn’t limited to the bump-in-the-night variety. It also exposes many things some Americans consider “horror” such as homosexuality, rape, mental illness and, in this case, race relations (and the use of the N-word).

      I’m curious to see how Murphy will tackle race relations. So far it isn’t promising (all that fried chicken) but it sure as hell is entertaining.

      • Sobaika

        Right before Basset shows Bates her dead family, she’s called a _____ bitch.

        And I find it disappointing specifically because the show is giving me Not Great vibes in terms of handling race and gender. It feels sort of like shock value. An orgy with snakes and some provocative language to boot. Basically, it’s a complicated word and I have complicated feelings about a fictionalized version of a truly despicable figure throwing it around when I have no reason to believe the writers will explore the genuinely horrific nature of what they’re sensationalizing. I get how others will feel differently.

        • boweryboy

          I dunno. Isn’t the point of the show – to some degree – is to make us feel uncomfortable about what we’re viewing? I think that’s where the “horror” lies. I mean, the bread and butter of this show is it’s shock value.

          I’m playing devil’s advocate here (because as a black gay man I agree about the complexity of that word), but this isn’t the first time “a fictionalized version of a truly despicable figure” has used that word with no exploration of “the genuinely horrific nature of what they’re sensationalizing.”

          Personally, it’s just a matter of how I approach that, and I how I choose to react to it. It’s different for everyone.

          • Sobaika

            Sure. We’re not far apart on this. I just have little faith in Ryan Murphy – he loves provocation which I’ve always appreciated, but rarely follows suit with exploration.

        • Jeremy Thomas Porta

          Should they have bowdlerized the history of New Orleans ala modern editions of Huckleberry Finn? There’s already been plenty of horror coming from this woman. She had people tortured in her attic, but it’s her use of the n-word that offends and confuses you?

          • You need to learn how to talk about this show without getting so argumentative with people. At least, you need to do it if you want to continue posting here.

          • Jeremy Thomas Porta

            There’s a difference in being argumentative and expressing a difference in opinion.

          • I know. In my opinion, you’re straddling that line.

          • Mike Hall

            The only thing I found offensive was the moderator’s attempt to stifle valid critical discussion. Perhaps I missed a row of comments in other articles which were off-topic or otherwise were not appropriate but I think its entirely valid to bring up that saying a slur might be fair game in a world where extreme violence is par for the course. I don’t think there’s anything argumentative about it and I don’t appreciate you trying to bowdlerize and censor the conversation, Tom and Lorenzo, into sunshine and rainbows.

      • Darren Nesbitt

        Yeah I don’t want them to be cheesy and use “slave” every other word, when in reality if an evil 1800s Madame had a black person in her way she wouldn’t say “move slave”.

    • Jeremy Thomas Porta

      Those weaves were real hair, the girls working there said so. Real human wigs are very expensive. Also, wouldn’t you jump up to put out a fire no matter what was burning? That’s not even considering that that salon was full of extremely flammable substances (like the aerosol Marie was spraying moments beforehand).

      Also, some of the actual salons in New Orleans are named things like The Weave Factor, Golden-Afrik, Anointed Handz, Beauty on de Bayou, and Afritude. If anything, Cornrow City is too prosaic.

  • JDreesen

    i have never seen this show.

    [waiting patiently for the laughter, name calling, and/or chair throwing to run its course]

    and now all i want to do is watch every single episode of this show that exists.

    naturally, my point is you guys should use bullet points more often.

    • muzan-e

      Hah! Those were my husband’s exact words, after last week’s premiere. He wasn’t much fond of the first season, and I couldn’t handle the second, which was caution enough for him (I’m the horror fan in the family). But he insisted on watching the premiere with me, due to Angela by-god Basset, and spent the hour afterwards bewailing the fact that he’d have to wait a whole new week for more.

      While admitting that it’s rather ruined him on True Blood forever. *g*

  • MilaXX

    Earlier this week one of your colleagues, Mo Ryan wrote about shows that are successful despite pretty incredible plots. She called them bonkersawesome. While I don’t think she was including AHS in that since she was talking about this season’s new shows, I do fee like AHS falls under that group. It works because regardless of the uneven writing and muddy plots, AHS goes for it balls to the walls. The actors commit to their characters and the shows visuals are bound to make your mouth fall open at least once a season. I’ve learned not to over think this show, just strap in and enjoy the ride.
    Gotta admit though, I really wanna see Stevie Nicks show up.

    • muzan-e

      “…AHS goes for it balls to the walls.”

      Amen. I’m hard-pressed to think of a genre that benefits more from that than horror does. Even if the writing frays sometimes (and oh, it did this episode) there’s still the capacity to horrify, awe, outrage .. and I appreciate their understanding that these things can be done without using boobs and gore and taboo as a crutch. God knows that there’s all of those present, but their use is always so deliberate.

      They create with absolute conviction, they slow down for no-one, and they expect their audience to keep up or run away: there’s no middle ground here. Loving it.

    • Exactly this Ms. Mila.
      This is my first season to watch and I knew what I was getting myself into, but have still been blown away. To me, this is shut off the brain, lose yourself in the performances, and enjoy the absurdity, kind of situation. I don’t sip it, I shoot it back and savor the burn.

    • I’m guessing Sleepy Hollow was included on that list? It’s the very definition of bonkersawesome so far!

      • MilaXX

        Yes it was.

  • Angela_the_Librarian

    I’m not sure where the Franken-Zombie boyfriend story is going to go either, but I think it will somehow end up related to the witch conceiving a child via the dark arts. In both story lines you have witches using their powers to bring forth life, and both will likely have screwed up consequences. I think aging and mortality are bigger themes than just obsession with beauty. True, Jessica Lange’s character is obsessed with looking young, but I also think she greatly fears death. It makes me wonder if she’s suffering from cancer or some other potentially-life ending witch disease that is making her so frantic to find an immortality elixir.

    • Madam Von Sassypants

      I somehow gathered that the baby making scenes were in the past. The husband dude just shows up all of a sudden. Is she remembering this? There is no mention of him at all prior, and he doesn’t interact with anyone of the house. Oh! Maybe husband is a ghost?

      • Angela_the_Librarian

        You’re right that he seemed to just appear in the story. I thought maybe she had a house away from the school maybe? With this series a ghost husband wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibility, but they already did a “ghost dad” story during season 1.
        ETA: They tend to have a title card with the date and location whenever they show scenes from the past (like when they showed Gabourey Sidibe’s back story and the put up a “Detroit, 2012” card). However, it wouldn’t surprise me if this device wasn’t used consistently)

        • Jeremy Thomas Porta

          I thought it was a flashback at first too, because it seemed to come out of nowhere. However, on watching it a second time I noticed she’s wearing the same outfit, earrings and all, in all of the scenes. So unless she has a uniform she never changes out of, it must have been in the present.

      • boweryboy

        I think it was a flashback. Maybe I’m making this up, but didn’t they establish she was pregnant in the first episode?

        • Angela_the_Librarian

          The only scenes I remember her being in last week were introducing the students to the school, and the scene she had with her mother. I don’t recall her being pregnant coming up in either scene, but my memory might be fuzzy 🙂

  • hughman

    1. Stevie Nicks. YAASSSSS, MOTHER QUEEN. Twirling and twirling and making alligators dance.
    2. Angela Bassett. Love has EVERYTHING to do with it.
    3. Jessica Lange. The gun, the hammer and the knife. I was ded.

  • bobman59

    “I couldn’t toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you.” I am so drawn to Miss Lange right now. I’m giddy and I can’t help myself. Did she actually call Kathy Bates Miss Pittypat?

    • tereliz

      Jessica Lange gets all the good lines, doesn’t she?

  • InLaLaLand04

    This is the first season of this show that I have watched. I’m already obsessed. I did the whole “Oh. My. God. ” sprinkled with some ” I’m actually terrified of what they are going to do next. ” multiple times. Misty Day is tops for me. Sick of Zoe and Madison. LOVED the tension between Marie and Fiona. I won’t even attempt to analyze this. I’m just going to savor it!

  • SassieCassy

    last night i was going between feeling nauseous and screaming “yessss honey” at my tv

  • Madam Von Sassypants

    I too was questioning the whole FrankenKyle scene. The motives were murky, and the interactions between Taissa and Emma’s characters fell pretty flat. However I adorrrrrred the scenes of Jessica vs. Angela and Jessica vs. Kathy.

    This is going camp a little TOO early in my eyes (preview for next week: Madame LaLaurie dresses up as a MAID! Antics ensue!), and is coming up a little short in the horror factor. Like everyone else though, I still plan on watching the hell out of it.

    Also, something we haven’t addressed yet: THE FREAKING MINOTAUR. What the…?!

    • Madam Von Sassypants

      Replying to myself as I further contemplate the minotaur. Madame LaLaurie just put the bull’s head on the slave back in the day, right? Presumably she has no witchy powers– her power is being a horrible, torturous slave owner. So how/why did the slave actually TURN INTO a minotaur?

      • Sobaika

        I’m not sure about her not having witchy powers – wasn’t she using blood from her slaves to look all fresh?

        And the real LaLaurie was accused of weird experiments on her slaves. I’m guess the bull’s head was sewn onto his head at some point instead of just placed there.

        • Madam Von Sassypants

          Then I guess the question is why Marie Laveau didn’t have it removed when she rescued him and, eventually, gave him eternal life. You don’t see him with the bull’s head in the scene where Laveau and the slaves confront LaLaurie.

          • tereliz


          • SassieCassy

            wait. cut his real head off? and replaced it with the bulls head like with a needle and thread?

            ok so maybe marie couldnt fix his head but even if you love the guy WHY would you give him eternal life like that? with a BULLS head!!!

          • Maybe I missed something, but I got the impression it was the Bull she was most devastated about losing in the fist episode. Again, in this episode, the bull is who she seems to love, not the man whose body it is on.

          • SassieCassy

            whoa really? bull love was not what i got from that. when the guy was all ‘i belong to someone else’ i took it to mean he was marie’s boo

          • Ah, I did not hear that. Most of that scene I was picking through my eyes, I must not have been listening well either. It was more from the caress she gave the bull’s head that I noticed. Maybe I’m putting crazy where there is already plenty enough of it.

          • maybe she’s into bulls. anyways…i’m surprised ryan didn’t just go there and show us the sewing of the bulls head to his shoulders.

          • TLJezebel

            Maybe he was hung like a bull, or is it horse? Whatever.

        • i too thought she might be doing some witchy experiments, at least.

  • Yeah, I don’t get all the references to Salem, either.

    • well, they did say in the first epi that the girls who burned in salem weren’t witches. because the real witches were smart enough to get out of dodge when the burning started. i had an ancestor who died in prison somewhere in new england while awaiting trial for witchcraft. her name was mary rebecca white. maybe someday i’ll have the time to find out more about that.

      • Cool. I don’t know of any ancestors who were executed for witchcraft, but I’m sure some of them were…

  • muzan-e

    This episode lost me ten dollars: I was so damn certain that her husband wasn’t going to survive their rite, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been so glad to lose a bet.

    Meantime, Emma Roberts continues to channel Sarah Michelle Gellar by way of “Cruel Intentions” and I’m probably in the minority of folks who love it. *g* But she disappointed me this week: the princess got her hands dirty, meddling amongst corpses, and did not spare even a single moment to fastidiously wipe the ick from her cuticles afterwards.

    Petty complaint, I know. But she’s a petty sort of girl.

    • Madam Von Sassypants

      Yeah, they decide to leave the morgue REALLY SUDDENLY yet also VERY CASUALLY. It was so odd.

      • muzan-e

        She picked up her handbag with those hands. Her handbag, without a moment’s second thoughts. No. You are a princess, girl: you throw that shit away, and buy a new one tomorrow.

    • NinjaCate

      I am CONVINCED that the hubby will not last the season. I don’t know when or how, but he gon’ DIE! I really am enjoying Emma’s performance though. She is delightfully bitchy and I love it.

  • TLJezebel

    Damn, that chicken looked delicious. I absolutely love this show!

  • boweryboy

    “Bitch, I will eat you!” I couldn’t stop laughing at that.

  • Ramon Figueroa

    I loved when Jessica Lange called Bates Pitty Pat. Such a great throwaway line. And I can’t wait for Pitty Pat as a maid having to deal with Gabourey Sidibe. Especially after Pitty Pat conked her in the head.

  • I think they missed a chance to flesh out Roberts’ character more when they just had her be *that* unaffected by all those corpses (for which she was directly responsible).

  • ShaoLinKitten

    I found the Stevie Nicks reference very self-conscious. Murphy obviously was inspired by Ms. Nicks when he came up with Misty Day and decided to make the reference overt. I found it kind of heavy-handed, and I love Stevie Nicks.

  • KingCrazy

    “I loved my girls, even the ugly one.”


  • Matthew Vella

    I think its youth specifically, more than beauty that Lange’s characters after. She doesnt want to age and lose her abilities, so I think of it as more of an issue of power than looks. When the doctor in the first episode suggests ‘something cosmetic’, she says that what she wants is a shot of vitality.

    • ShaoLinKitten

      Right, because by any standard, Jessica Lange is beautiful just as she is. She said that she wanted vitality. I also think she wants to live forever because she is madly in love with her power and can’t bear to lose it, esp. when she finds all the other witches around her so incompetent.

    • Jeremy Thomas Porta

      Yes, exactly. I think her ultimate motivation is actually preserving her clan. That’s why she came to New Orleans. I think her obsession with youth and life is less about being beautiful and more about preserving her power as the Supreme. From reading Ryan’s interviews I know she’s going to kill one of the girls whom she thinks will be the Supreme who would replace her. I guess I just disagree that the women’s motivations are shallow or stereotypical.

  • i ‘ve only just now watched last week’s epi. when she did the guy in the hospital, did anybody else scream out “SHE FUCKED HIS BRAINS OUT!”?

    • GinAndPopcorn

      I did!

  • marlie

    I loved it. I watched last night’s ep with the bf, and I had to keep telling him “It’s not *supposed* to make sense. It’s batshit crazy, and it’s supposed to be that way!”

  • Jeremy Thomas Porta

    No no no, remember the opening narration? The real witches in Salem weren’t killed. The ones who died were innocent girls and women.

    • Tituba is a historical figure from the Salem witch trials. And there were, historically, no “real witches in Salem.” That’s our point.

      • Jeremy Thomas Porta

        Well obviously, but I don’t think the writers are disrespecting the historical event by saying that the women killed (the first person to die in the Salem trials was actually a man) were real witches. They’re inserting their own fictional history and interweaving it with the real historical narrative.

        • “What kind of point is that?”

          The kind that gets you all pissy, apparently.

  • angie

    The show’s Tituba reference as a vodoo practitioner has been explored in literature, notably in Maryse Conde’s I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem. Although her african/afrocaribeean or native american origins have been debated, the fact that she is the sole ethnic minority (not from the puritan establishment) part of the Salem witch trials allows writers to explore racial politics/tension that have existed and continue to pervail n the US.

    As for the show, I enjoy the show’s interpretation of the racial politics and voodoo embodied by the Marie Laveau character. In the scene with the character played by Jessica Lange, the Marie Laveau character makes references how afro-caribbean people brought magic/voodoo to America brings into relief their political disenfranchisement and Jessica Lange character’s comments (the queen of magic works in a sqalid business in lower 9th) further highlights their descendants continued disenfranchisement and low socio economic position in the US. In short, if the show further explores these race and class themes through a historical lens, with less emphasis on the campy/kitsch horror elements, it would make it much worthwhile.

  • Chevalle

    I still think your critique about women wanting “eternal youth” is a surface observation that fails to understand the true motivation behind Fiona’s search for immortality, but I want rehash the reasons why since I already posted that last week. Likewise is the “I want a boy” observation. You don’t talk about Zoe’s guilt. That’s her motivation for doing the resurrection spell. Not lust.

    It’s not about beauty. It’s about power. It’s not about a boy. It’s about guilt. It’s not about a baby, it’s about a family. I don’t think the show’s themes are disappointing if you truly invest brainpower in thinking about them.

    Other points you mentioned:

    Tituba is not the mother of American witchcraft. She just married the two traditions together. The American witches have witchcraft in their genetics.

    The show established in episode one that Salem didn’t have to do with real witches. They kept their heads down. The witch trials happened, sure, and the women who burned were not witches. “The real witches were careful and crafty. They got the hell out of Dodge” said Zoe in episode 1.

    • Disagree on your first two points; didn’t say that Tituba is the mother of American witchcraft, just that the African-American characters see her that way, and the fact that you use the term “The real witches” when talking about Salem is EXACTLY my point.

      • Jeremy Thomas Porta

        I don’t think anyone believes there were actual “real witches” in Salem, but we’re talking about the universe of the tv show, wherein apparently there were. If you mean that the show suggesting there were “real witches” in Salem is what is offensive, then why is it also not offensive to suggest that voodoo in New Orleans is “real”? I’m just wondering because it seems inconsistent.

        • I don’t think anyone believes it either. That’s not the point. The Salem witch trials were a particularly shameful moment in early American history in which a couple dozen people were executed or died in prison due to false accusations. It’s the tragedy of Salem that makes it a somewhat dubious jumping-off point for stories about fictional witches. New Orleans has more than its share of tragedy in its past, but executing people due to witchcraft isn’t really one of them.

          There is a common trope in modern witch stories (including this one) that holds that the Salem witch trials were, in effect, correct but misguided; i.e., there really were witches, but the wrong people got killed for it. There is also a common story trope of casting Tituba, a slave and absolutely the least politically and culturally powerful person in the entire true story, as a “real” witch as well and even as some sort of “mastermind,” when the truth was, a bunch of hysterical white girls pointed their fingers at an enslaved woman of color and that was enough to imprison her and start off a wave of accusations and executions.

          It’s one thing to say someone like George Washington was a Grand High Wizard or something; it’s quite another to say that people wrongfully accused and imprisoned for witchcraft were secretly witches (i.e., Tituba) or that the pursuit and execution of innocent people for witchcraft wasn’t such a bad idea, because there really were witches in the community.

          • Jeremy Thomas Porta

            Okay, when you lay it like that I can get behind what you’re saying. However, I would say that unless we are talking exclusively about evil witches it would still be immoral to hang them. I was at no point implying that witch trials were “correct.” I would also add misogyny and greed to that list of evils. I remember several of the women were widows who were killed more or less so that the people running the show could obtain their property.

        • tereliz

          First of all, voodoo is a religion. It is as real as any religion gets. Witchcraft is an excuse to condemn any forward thinking or idiosyncratic woman to death. THAT is the difference.

          • Jeremy Thomas Porta

            And Louisiana voodoo is a commercialized tourist attraction that commodifies the faith of a historically oppressed underclass. Vodou treated as a religion is not what has been presented (at least so far) in the show.

  • lchopalong

    I’m thankful for this episode. The first 10 minutes of the last one still play behind my eyelids before I’m finally able to sleep at night. I don’t think I’ve had anything stick with me like that in a while. It’s nice to have the creep factor mixed in with some humor. I probably won’t watch any of the episodes without reading a recap, though, just to make sure there isn’t more of that. I skipped Asylum, and I don’t think Horror House had anything quite like that.

    Also, I understand that the Minotaur was her lover, but isn’t keeping him around like that just about as cruel as it being done to him at the first place?

    • SassieCassy

      right??? she must really love him and be super selfish bc DAMN

  • Jeremy Thomas Porta

    It seemed to me that Lily Rabe’s character was pregnant. That’s interesting.

  • I confess that this is the first season I watch, so I can’t compare with the past, but I’m liking it!
    I won’t be surprised if some of the topics touched in the show won’t get any other reference, despite how good or interesting that could be, because of what I observed about Murphy’s writing in other shows (cough*Glee*cough).

    I think the N word was dropped to stir controversy, even tough it would make sense in the historical sense and carachter-wise (LaLaurie is presented as a racist sadistic bitch/witch after all). They seem to be setting up a conflict between to witchcraft traditions that is both cultural and racial. It has good potential, but it would be so easy to squander, we will see…

    The Jessica Lange/Angela Baset scene was GLORIOUS. No scenery left unchewed, but it was so fun to watch. T&Lo said somewhere in the discussion that Jessica Lange makes all her lines good, and I agree with that, I am adoring every single scene she is in. Angela Basset is very disquieting in her portrayal of Marie Laveau, I think the Supreme is in for a rougher ride than she expects (tackling someone that seems to be immortal and eternally young, that knows how to brew an immortality potion and uses it as punishment does not seem a good idea).

    The FrankenKyle storiline is just beginning, so who knows if it will be good or bad. But I’m loving Emma Roberts bitchiness, while I’m already fed up with Taissa Farmiga’s character (just to clarify: she is doing a good job as an actress, is the character itself that I don’t like very much). I also need more Gabourey Sibide and Jamie Brewer, and more, more, more Lily Rabe (it is just me or there were some sexual vibes between Misty and Zoe?).

  • Sarah Winningham

    It especially bothers me that in the premiere they stated that the actual historical victims of the Salem Witch Trials were innocent and now they’ve changed that to, ‘except Tituba, because she was sooo exotic.’ What is more gross is that there is a pilot in development called Salem, that makes all of the victims out to be actual witches.

    Unrelated- Is every season of this show going to have an evil pregnancy storyline?

    • jeeplibby02

      Is every season of this show going to have a rape?

  • Terrie_S

    There’s something downright Freudian about a show written by a gay man which includes a woman who literally kills men by having sex with them.

  • Is no one talking about how Angela Bassett is essentially Darcelle Wynne in the present day scenes? (Which is the BEST thing ever.)

  • VioletFem

    On the last point, the first episode of season 3 featured one of the characters referenced the salem witch trials and she mentioned that none of the people that were killed during the Salem witch trials were actually witches but that the real witches managed to go unnoticed.

    • There were no real witches at Salem.

      • VioletFem

        Yeah, I am aware of that. I was just pointing out that this was another instance in which the writers of this show are incorporating a fictional story line with real life events. Similar to how they are having the the characters Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie interacting on the show, even though never actually interacted in real life. My previous post was recounting the voice-over by Zoe Benson (Taisssa Farmiga) in which she referenced the Salem witch trials.

  • e jerry powell

    I calls him Fran-Ken-doll-stein.

    Also, Catholics started burning European witches in, what, the fifteenth century? Way before Salem.

  • julnyes

    TLo: What are we saying? We have no idea where ANY Of this is going.

    Yes, that is my main take away from this show, I have fully given up trying to figure anything out and just hang on for the ride.

  • Lynn

    You nailed the Ryan Murphy issue to the wall. Thank you. And yes, it’s oddly not a deal breaker. We still tune in so religiously we probably should bring communion loaves and grape juice.

  • PeaceBang

    When I read about the central conceit of the show (Salem witches were real, and in competition with New Orleans witches), the scholar/historian in me groaned a deep, very irritated groan. Then I watched the first two episodes and hooted with laughter and delight at the scenes with Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. Hugely enjoying all of it, and it’s “wicked creepy” as we say around here (a mere 10 minute car ride to Salem).

  • Lea Setegn

    THANK YOU for putting words to what bothered me throughout this entire episode. These women care about boys, babies and youth? What a waste. I’ll still keep watching, but the plot reveals dimmed some of my excitement about the coven theme.