PaleyFest 2012 – American Horror Story

Seeing a cast for a favorite show live for the first time can always be a little nerve-wracking. There is nothing more disappointing in the world of television for me than when your idea of how amazing a group of talent are is shattered when in reality they’re nothing like what you expect. Especially if the chemistry you see on screen isn’t reflected in reality, and one or all of the group are either horrible people, or at the very least you can tell they don’t get along. So when you get a cast on stage and you can tell from the moment they sit down that they’re really like a big family, the sigh of relief is instantaneous.

Britton, McDermott and LangeThe American Horror Story cast, I am happy to tell you, did not disappoint. Right away you could see that even though they were all thrown together quickly, and maybe a little haphazardly, they all genuinely do get along with each other and their Co-creators/Writers, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Well, except maybe for Frances Conroy (Moira O’Hara), but I think that was more about her just being a kind of awkward person, as opposed to not liking the people she works with. Along with Conroy, Murphy and Falchuk the panel consisted of Dante DiLoreto (Executive Producer), Connie Britton (Vivien Harmon), Dylan McDermott (Ben Harmon), Jessica Lange (Constance Langdon), Sarah Paulson (Billie Dean Howard), and Alexandra Breckenridge (Young Moira). Between talk of the first series and hints for the second, the cast traded teasing comments and jibes about Dylan McDermott’s constant nudity on the show, Murphy’s “seduction” of Lange to entice her to the show, and even welcomed a Constance cross-dressing cosplayer in the audience.

But of course, the show itself was key. As such a new and innovative television program, it caught you from the beginning and though the writers tried to answer as many of the questions as they asked, there will inevitably be some clues left hanging, which is the beauty of having events like PaleyFest to address them. Murphy confessed to being a big fan of the opening credits sequence (he is apparently someone who takes great joy in a well developed credit sequence). Murphy apparently went to the team behind the credits for the film Seven, and the entire sequence was meant to be a hint at things to come in the first series, with only one clue not leading to anything as a storyline was dropped. The plan is to follow the same model next year, so I know we’ll all be watching that sequence carefully for clues come October.

PaleyFest 2012

Paulson & Conroy

Speaking of clues, Paulson told The Hollywood Reporter on the Red Carpet that there was a clue to the next series in something she said during the penultimate episode of Season 1, “Birth” (which also happens to be the episode they screened prior to the panel). When asked if it was something to do with the comment about the house having a paramagnetic grip, something like a battery drawing negative energy to it, and if that had something to do with the energy many people say Psychiatric hospitals (which happens to be the setting for season 2) or Prisons have, Paulson merely told the reporter that they might be getting warm.

That would seem to fit into the clues given by Murphy and Falchuk about the second season setting. They’ve assured that there will likely always be a supernatural element to the series, but that it will not always take the same form. For instance, Murphy thinks it unlikely that they’ll revisit the ghost inhabiting the building they were killed in, though he did use the word “haunting” when discussing the second season. Whether he meant it in a general sense of a negative energy haunting the location, or an actual ghost haunting is unclear, though we’d bet the former. Then again, anyone who knows Glee and Murphy’s past declarations about the show will tell you that Ryan Murphy is a lying liar who lies.

PaleyFest 2012

Murphy & Falchuk

Speaking of Glee, Falchuk stated he thought that having both shows running at the same time, so that often they were literally on either show every other day, was a benefit to their process; that it allowed them to go from such a happy environment (Glee, but has he actually seen that show lately? I wouldn’t call it happy) to a dark and twisted environment (AMH, though I think you could argue that he’s talking about Glee again here). In fact, when asked how he thought working on both projects at the same time affected Glee, Falchuk stated plainly that he thought it was a benefit to the show. It took everything in my power not to stand up and tell him I beg to differ. The pair also addressed whether or not they’d ever consider using any of the Glee cast on the show, and have vowed they would not do so, feeling that they need to keep the two very separate from each other. At least there’s one thing we agree on.

However, the real revelations from the panel were the news that not only would Jessica Lange be returning to the show, but joining her would be Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and Lily Rabe. But there’s a catch: not one of the actors will be playing their previous roles, not even Lange. Each actor will be taking on a role completely different from the role they played in season 1, and Lange will be this season’s star. So even though the first season left off with what felt like a fairly major cliffhanger in the form of the demon baby, we may never see the end of that story. Murphy doesn’t rule it out completely, stating that with a show like theirs that intends to reinvent itself every year, anything could happen. Especially considering there is an entire story planned out for Constance’s long lost fourth child, and the duo believe that Constance is an intriguing enough character that she could carry an entire season herself. But at present there are no plans to return to the story.

In some ways, it felt like the audience left with more questions than answers. But one thing is for sure: Season 2, which starts filming in July and will hit FX sometime in October, will undoubtedly be another thrilling ride.