Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Witchy Women

Despite my better judgment, I am enjoying the shit out of “American Horror Story: Coven” so far this season. Like, really, I look forward to this insane locomotive of witchy-bitchy magnificence each week. It’s so unexpected because when “American Horror Story” first premiered two seasons ago I was like – No. All of the no. I’m a legendary chicken and have watched most horror movies from behind a pillow and if no pillow is available with my hands over my eyes.

Now I realize saying I like “American Horror Story: Coven” will make some folks angry. There are so many things not right about this show. Among them are Ryan Murphy’s depictions of women, Ryan Murphy’s depiction of a gang rape and Ryan Murphy’s depiction of the torture of (literally) faceless slaves.

If you want to get very angry at me because I continue to watch a Ryan Murphy show, that is your right. And if you want to get very angry at me because I continue to watch a show that featured a voyeuristic rape and graphic torture, that is your right. If you want to get very angry at me because I continue to watch a show that believes women’s main motivations are youth, boys and babies, that is your right. Also, one of the witches “powers” is she that has an honest-to-goodness killer vagina. I mean Jesus fucking Christ. I find so much of this show horrifically, horrifically problematic. I am not saying you should continue (or even start) to watch this show because of these problems. I am just saying why I choose to continue tune in. Those reasons are multi-fold. But if I had to enumerate them that would be 1) Jessica Lange, 2) Angela Bassett, 3) Kathy Bates, 4) Sarah Paulson and 5) Lily Rabe.

This is hands down the most impressive cast of female stars working together on TV today. There are certainly other shows with ridiculously talented and amazing actresses on TV. But I don’t think there is another show with the sheer volume of ridiculously talented and amazing actresses working together in one ensemble on the air right now.

And we have not even gotten to the younger generation which includes Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe and Jamie Brewer. Oh, on, and I am waiting impatiently for the return of Frances Conroy.

These women are good. They are damn good. Getting to watch them act together is an absolute treat. That the material does not always live up to their talent is a damn shame. That the material sometimes is outrageously below them is an absolute crime. But what they do with the material they have is nothing short of miraculous.

But what “American Horror Story” Coven” gets right, it absolutely nails. There is real venom and humor and darkness and – believe it or not - campy fun in these stories. For all of its copious issues, this is also still almost exclusively a show about female power. And that, that’s something.

As always, I am in it for the ladies. And these ladies cast a damn fine spell. (Sorry, I had to. It’s a show about witches, people.)


Anonymous said...

Hey Francis Conroy appeared in epi 1 as the strange woman who escorted Zoe to the school gate and then disappeared. Serious makeup!

Carmen SanDiego said...

I am having fun with this show and, surprisingly, also look forward to it every week.
I wonder if being problematic but nailing what they do right is a characteristic of every Ryan Murphy show...
The Autostraddle Recap it to die for

Anonymous said...

I stepped off during 'Asylum' - couldn't tolerate the really over the top brutality and subjugation of women - but this one is different and I dig it. Also, pretty funny in places. Mostly it's the ROCK STAR cast.

Anonymous said...

I didn't really like the story of Coven. Apart from all the reasons you listed that are problematic, it was also just too all over the place, story-telling wise. But just like you, I kept tuning in for the Ladies. Their talent magically kept drawing me in.
Also, and this is really why I felt the need to comment on this old post, Ryan Murphy commented on Misty Day as thinking of her as asexual. Which is just the greatest thing ever, because there are hardly any (confirmed) ace characters out there. And I reeaaaally adored Lily's character (and the Foxxay ship :)) , so that's why, despite everything, Coven will always hold a special place in my heart. Any way, thanks Snarker, for always keeping me in the loop with pop culture & more!