I was never really interested in watching FX’s “American Horror Story” when it bowed three years ago. The series, which tackles a completely different storyline each year with some of the same cast, just seemed too decadent and disturbing. Yes, this coming from someone who will watch a show about zombies or vampires at every turn.
Well, all of that changed when I heard that the new season of “American Horry Story” would be about a coven of witches living in my hometown of New Orleans. And, what sealed the deal was that Angela Bassett - who should have 5 Oscars by now - would play the famed and feared voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.
The show aptly titled, “American Horror Story: Coven” is two-fold and the first episode (“Bitchraft”), debuting last Wednesday, sets the stage for the fantastic ride to come.
"Bitchcraft" opened in 18th century New Orleans during slavery with mean spirited slave owner, Madame Delphine LaLaurie, played by Kathy Bates - and from reports is actually based on a true story. Madame uses her slaves in brutal ways to maintain her youth. The scenes are call-out shocking as Madame tortures the slaves. But Laveau wreaks havoc on Bates’ plans that starts a battle between good vs. evil or is it evil vs. evil?
The other storyline follows four teen witches attending a school called “Miss Robichaux's Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies” in order to control their newfound and often brutal powers. But headmistress Cordelia - played by AHS regular Sarah Paulson - is sort of timid and worn out and tries to shield her young charges from the pain of being a witch. But when her mother Fionna Goode - played by another AHS vet Jessica Lange - shows up she shows them how it’s supposed to be done.
The young witches have an interesting mix of powers. The players are “American Horror Story” hot teen star Taissa Farmiga (yes, Vera’s sister) as a black widow, Gabourey Sidibe as a human voodoo doll, Jamie Brewer as a clairvoyant, and Emma Roberts as the new “Carrie” on the block.
Eventually, both worlds of the witches are brought into the present and I can’t wait to see how this is played out for the rest of the season. You certainly can’t beat the material – New Orleans past and present, the history of slavery, voodoo, witchcraft, generational battles, and so much more. WOW!
The acting is top-notch from Bassett, Bates and Lange, which is of course to be expected. The young witches’ storyline seems a little too contrived and an extension of a “Carrie” movie, but I’m sure the kinks will work themselves out in the end. The seeds have definitely been planted.
Make no mistake that the sex, violence, and language in “American Horror Story: Coven” is no joke and is not for the squeamish. It gets the much deserved rating of TV-MA. Check listings for showtimes.