“American Horror Story: Coven” premiered Wednesday night on FX at 10 p.m. with “Bitchcraft”.
“Coven” is installment three of the anthology series created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Each season of “American Horror Story” is a self-contained miniseries with new characters, storylines and themes. Yet what has remained constant throughout the series is its willingness to tackle difficult, sometimes ignored subjects, and its effectiveness of using the horror genre to illuminate the ugliness of our culture and history.
“Coven” welcomes back some beloved alum, including award winners Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, who have played significant roles in each season of the series. But it also introduces some exciting new members to the “American Horror Story” family; most significantly, the renowned Kathy Bates as Madame LaLaurie and Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau.
The plot of “Coven” is centered in modern New Orleans on Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a special school run by Cordelia Foxx (Paulson) for young women who also happen to be witches. The purpose of the school is to teach its pupils how to control their “gifts” and to protect themselves against increasing attacks directed toward witches.
Lange plays Fiona Goode, who is mother to Foxx, the Supreme (most powerful witch of the generation), and hell bent on discovering the key to immortality. Goode returns to the school and discovers that LaLaurie, a nineteenth century socialite known for torturing and murdering slaves, is still alive, most likely at the hands of voodoo practitioner Laveau. Thus are the seeds planted in Goode’s mind that Laveau may be the ticket to immortality.
Yet it was not the witchcraft or voodoo that stood out in “Bitchcraft” but rather the tackling of a sensitive and very real problem today: Rape of young women, and more specifically, gang rape. While attending a fraternity party, Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) is drugged and raped by several guys, who videotape the event, calling to mind the horrible events of Steubenville. The scene shows these young women are vulnerable in today's society not only because they are witches, but also because they are female. But "Coven" turns the tables when fellow witch Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) avenges the wrong done to Montgomery by killing one of the perpetrators with her special skill: She can kill a man by having sex with him. Although this affliction is no doubt a curse, it also is extremely powerful, especially in today's culture when women still fall prey to sexual violence at the hands of heinous men.
Watch “American Horror Story: Coven” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.