Why American Horror Story is a Series Women Can Get Behind
“AHS is a series that everyone should be able to get behind, because in every series there is someone to identify with.”
Words by Amy Gibson
Everyone knows that when you are watching a horror, the first step is to suspend any of your rational thought processes before you can immerse yourself fully into the dark depths of the fictional world that is horror. Then there’s step two, which is a step I struggle with, but seems necessary to be able to sit through any sort of horror. This step is to ignore any of the gender equality debates that burn deep inside. Now please, correct me if I am wrong, but rarely have I seen a horror where the female is not a victim. If she isn’t, then she’s an antagonist with mental health issues, but never our heroine. Many films, particularly supernatural, follow a simple formula; a couple (or family) move into a new house for a fresh start, the woman immediately notices something is wrong, no one ever believes her and she starts to think she is crazy and then begins to act accordingly. Eventually she is believed but it’s too late, someone gets possessed and, inevitably, people die. Then everyone wishes they believed the woman all along as some sort of moral catharsis. Have you noticed, the spirit is usually female too? Unable to rest because of some mistreatment in a previous life, unable to let go and find peace, she must terrorise our protagonists first and more often than not, this mistreatment relates to being a mother.
Although, the typical formula can provide good viewing, I was relieved a few years ago when I discovered American Horror Story. The first series follows the template discussed above with a few twists and turns along the way, but beyond that, it rewrites horror history. Although there are a lot of victims and antagonists, it doesn’t seem to matter if they are a woman, disabled, LGBTQ, or from an ethnic minority because there are so many strong representations of all groups. Can we take a minute *spoiler alerts ahead* to talk about how incredible the Countess (Lady Gaga) was in Hotel? Or how our hearts were broken after the death of Addie (Jamie Brewer) in Murder House? Or how Ivy and Ally (Sarah Paulson and Alison Pill) were some sort of strange couple goals in Cult? Or how fierce Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) was in Coven? Or actually just the season of Coven full stop.
AHS is known for the incredible female actresses at the heart of each season. Think Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates or Sarah Paulson, with the latter two seeming to take on more powerful roles as the murderous heads of a post-apocalyptic society. As you can see, AHS is a series that everyone should be able to get behind, because in every series there is someone to identify with. There’s always going to be victims in horror, but it doesn’t always have to be a woman. AHS re-writes the horror genre rule book and represents all kinds of people with different types of strength. It’s extreme, and these characters are not necessarily role-models, but they’re not at all weak or crazy either. If you want to watch horror without having to ignore your misgivings about equality then AHS has my vote, all day, every day.