Okay, my kittens, it’s not going to sound like it, but I promise you from the bottom of my twisted heart, I really, really loved the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Coven. I hate stories about torture, people being burned alive, gang rape, and that most misogynistic of symbolic horror tropes, the deadly vagina dentata (or as my extremely clever baby sister, Alexandra Christian, described it in this incarnation, Black Magic Pussy). I hate stories where every woman is either a mealymouthed victim or a murdering bitch. I hate stories about the South where pretty much everybody native comes off as a f*cking crazy person. Coven; Episode One was oozing with all this nastiness like pus oozing out of a boil; by all rights, I should have hated it.
But I didn’t. Because the one doing the torturing was Kathy Bates, playing Delphine LaLaurie, a real life psychopathic southern belle who would make Annie Wilkes cry for her mama. And the girl who was burned alive by crazy Loo-Zee-Anna fundamentalists is gonna come back and kick ass. And the girl who was raped blows up a whole bus to get even. And that Black Magic Pussy is attached to a character with potential to be either a sensitive witness or an avenging angel,Ophelia or Medea or both, and I can’t even begin to predict which it will be.
And maybe that’s the point. So much of what we saw is so familiar, archetypal, plugged straight into my own Southern gothic woman’s sensibilities that I felt immediately at home, but nothing is how I would have written it. It’s like watching the story my evil twin would write on a steady diet of tabloids and absinthe. That bitch is crazy, but I gotta know what she’s gonna show me next.
Other goodies that make it all worthwhile:
Jessica Lange dancing to Iron Butterfly and firing off killer one-liners like Bette Davis run magically amok.
The gorgeous way everything is lit and framed and filmed, no matter how ugly the action.
Frances Conroy’s red hair and cigarette.
The feeling, for the moment at least, that everything means something, that everything has a point, that the story is going to hang together and make some kind of awful sense. Season 1 of AHS fell to tatters by the end, and I hear Season 2 was plagued with a swampy middle. But watching this first episode, I can still have faith.
Lex and I are live tweeting every episode (@LucyBlueCastle and @LexxxChristian), so by all means, come watch with us next week. In the meantime, what did y’all think?