Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-wg55d Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-22T00:19:50.002Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chapter 6 - ‘We’re more than just pins and dolls and seeing the future in chicken parts’: Channelling and Challenging Voodoo Stereotypes In ‘Coven’ And ‘Apocalypse’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2024

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

Summary

Set in a post-apocalyptic world ensuing from a power struggle between the selfproclaimed Antichrist Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) in season one's ‘Murder House’ (2011) and the witches in season three's ‘Coven’ (2013), ‘Apocalypse’ (2018) is, to date, the odd season out in the American Horror Story universe. Even though some characters have appeared in multiple seasons, the crossover in ‘Apocalypse’ proposes a new approach to the anthology. Popularized by classical series such as The Twilight Zone (Serling, CBS 1959–64), the anthology series format consists of a series of unrelated episodes which, however, rely on the same genre or generic conventions (the horror genre and the fantastic in the case of The Twilight Zone) (Jowett 2017, 9). Before ‘Apocalypse’ aired, AHS concluded each season's storyline with its finale, even though characters from previous seasons sometimes made significant appearances, such as the human Voodoo doll from ‘Coven’ in Queenie's cameo in ‘Hotel’ (FX, 2015). Yet ‘Apocalypse’ directly reprises elements and storylines from ‘Murder House’, ‘Coven’ and ‘Hotel’.

Among the returning characters is New Orleans’ legendary Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). Based on a historical figure, Laveau was introduced in ‘Coven’, a season which tackles racism through the parallel set up between slavery in the Southern states and the rivalry between white witches and black Voodoo practitioners in the early 2010s (Toulza 2020, 243–60). Characterized by the codes of classic Voodoo zombie films, which tend to simplify this syncretic religion and resort to sensationalistic images that exacerbate its Otherness, Laveau first appears to be an antagonist to the witches in ‘Coven’. Inscribed in what Jason Mittell labels ‘character elaboration’ – a ‘model of change [which] exploits the serial form to gradually reveal aspects of a character over time so that these facets of the character feel new to the audience’ (Mittell 2015, 136) – Marie's character development reveals both her identity and magic to be far more complex than first meets the eye. On the one hand, Laveau can be the antagonist US society has shaped her to be. On the other hand, she becomes a helper in ‘Apocalypse’, while Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter), who has replaced her after her death, sides with the Antichrist. Voodoo's development in ‘Apocalypse’ ultimately strikes as a way for the producers to bring back actress Angela Bassett for fan-pleasing purposes, while Laveau and Stevens’ presence only re-centres whiteness as the norm (Dyer 1997).

Type
Chapter
Information
American Horror Story and Cult Television
Narratives, Histories and Discourses
, pp. 95 - 108
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×