When Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, both huge fans of the horror genre, set out to write the new series “American Horror Story” for FX, it made sense that the creators of “Glee” and “Nip/Tuck” weren’t going to do a show with just blood, gore, and creepy children. There had to be something more at stake.
“I always had loved, as Brad had, the horror genre. So it just was a natural for me,” said Murphy to reporters on Thursday. The pair conducted a conference call to talk about the new show, which debuts on October 5 at 10 p.m. ET.
In addition to their jonesing to do something dark after the “Glee” experience, Murphy said the pair “had this idea, but before even the horror genre idea, we wanted to do a show about infidelity and the breakup of a marriage. So we just sort of put it into the world of horror, which we both have loved.”
Here are 5 things to know about “American Horror Story”:
1. Who are these people and why do they move to this house? Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott play Vivian and Ben Harmon, a Boston-based couple who move to Los Angeles with their daughter Violet [Taissa Farmiga] after Vivian suffers a miscarriage and finds that Ben is coping with the tragedy by sleeping with one of his psychiatry students. They’re told right away that the house has a checkered history, and they get creeped out by their neighbor Constance [Jessica Lange] and her developmentally-disabled daughter, as well as the maid Moira, who Vivian sees as an odd-but-competent older woman [Frances Conroy], but Ben sees as a tempting vixen [Alexandra Breckenridge]. Add in Tate [Evan Peters], a misguided teenage patient of Ben’s, and a few other surprises — like a certain rubber suit — and the creepiness increases tenfold.
2. Why do they stay in the house? Falchuk says that the episodes will give reasons for them to leave and reasons for them to stay, but they’re making sure the characters make their decisions in a believable way. “The reality is if you look at the situations they’re put in [during] those first two episodes, they have no reason to think the house is haunted,” he said. “They have reason to think they’ve had a run of pretty bad luck, but I don’t think they have any reason to think that there’s something supernatural going on.”
3. The horror won’t only come from outside forces. The first two episodes contain plenty of weirdness and just enough blood to satisfy anyone but the most hardcore slasher-flick fan. But Murphy feels that most of the scary stuff on the show will be of the character-driven variety. “We think a lot about it. We talk about how much to show and what not to show. 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.” Murphy talked about a moment in the second episode that’s more “‘Fatal Attraction’ scary,” which is something they seem to want to go for more often than not.
“The scares, to me, like I said, are 10 seconds, 20 seconds of every show,” he said later in the conference call. “The rest is just hopefully emotional storytelling.”
4. The house itself is a character. Many of the episodes will start with flashbacks to some horrific event that happened in the house during the past, which, of course, will be tied to the present-day goings-on. “I think every town has a ‘murder house,’” Murphy said. “I certainly had one when I was growing up. Brad had one in his town. There is a very dark, deep mystery that we need to get to the bottom of this season about what happened in that house and why does it attract this stuff.”
Part of that mystery will be shown in the title sequence, with pictures showing clues into the house’s history. “If you watch that, by the last episode of the season, you will know why every one of those images was in there,” Murphy said.
5. The “Glee” kids love the show… and are scared of it. The two couldn’t-be-more-opposite series are on adjoining Fox studio soundstages and the writing staffs share offices, which allows Murphy and Falchuk to easily bounce between shows. That gives the cast of the FOX musical hit easy access into the dark world of “AHS.” “They love the show. They’re obsessed with the show,” Murphy said. “They go over and visit and touch the gross special effects and prosthetics. But many of them reported that they didn’t sleep after they watched it.” Murphy even talked about Lea Michele and Chris Colfer seeing the infamous Rubber Man. Talk about a photo we’d like to see…