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Chapter 2 - The American Horror Story Repertory Company

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2024

Richard J. Hand
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Mark O'Thomas
Affiliation:
University of Greenwich
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Summary

A Company Convenes

During the opening, pre-title sequence of ‘Apocalypse’, the US anthology television series American Horror Story (AHS)'s first episode of its eighth season (ironically titled ‘The End’), we see the world all but destroyed by nuclear missiles. Only a select few are able to sequester themselves to a secret underground bunker, Outpost 3, to live out their remaining days under a bizarre rulesbased system that is both demanding and terrifying. On the first evening of their stay, the occupants of Outpost 3 sit down to a Gothic-banquet-inspired dinner where a company of familiar faces is brought together in this eighth act of television horror. Looking around the dinner table, we see actor Sarah Paulson playing the role of Wilhemina Venable, matriarch of the bunker. Up to this point, Paulson had appeared in every season of AHS, each time playing a different character. Evan Peters is also there – playing Mr Gallant (also in his eighth season). Kathy Bates plays Miriam Mead (in her sixth season and sixth role). Adina Porter plays the role of Dinah Stevens and Billie Lourd plays Mallory (both in their fourth season at that time). Leslie Grossman takes on the role of Coco (her second season), while there are AHS newcomers Kyle Allen and Ash Santos playing Timothy and Emily, respectively, Jeffery Bowyer- Chapman and Chad James Buchanan as lovers Andre and Stu, and, most surprisingly of all perhaps, Hollywood veteran Joan Collins playing the role of Mr Gallant's grandmother, Evie Gallant.

While these actors inhabit their characters consistently and singularly within the world of ‘Apocalypse’, the AHS audience who has travelled through its different seasons and stories inevitably frame a perception of each character through the journey of previous roles, generating multifaceted linkages which themselves resonate with the linkages afforded by the richly woven narratological lines that run vertically through the seemingly discrete seasons in the anthology. It is within these matrices of intertextual weaving encompassing actor and character, and character and past-and-future characters, that the AHS company has evolved. And it is also one that carries with it an important legacy from American television that dates back to the early beginnings of serialized drama – one that engages with the social and the political in ways that signal its antecedents both formally and thematically.

Type
Chapter
Information
American Horror Story and Cult Television
Narratives, Histories and Discourses
, pp. 31 - 46
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

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