The clouds swirling around the second season of FX’s American Horror Story are starting to clear up, allowing fans to look into the crystal ball. Before Season 1 ended, co-creator Ryan Murphy hinted that the new season would bring back Jessica Lange to star. Lange would go on to win a Golden Globe for her performance as the politically incorrect nosy neighbor Constance. Murphy also dropped seeds that the setting would relocate to the East Coast, a place hinted at in the Season 1’s penultimate episode, “Birth.” Murphy spoke Wednesday at a panel in North Hollywood at the TV Academy, promoting AHS and revealed more concrete details.
The Second Season “is set on the East Coast at an institution for the criminally insane that is run by Jessica,” Murphy said. The Hollywood Reporter reports that the table conversation in “Birth” shared by Constance, her medium friend, Billie Dean and Violet about how the house is like a battery that feeds off of the negative energy given off those who enter the house. An asylum or prison was thought of by the press early on as a potential Season 2 location. Now it’s been confirmed.
Murphy continued to say. “It’s a completely different world and has nothing to do with Season 1; there’s not a mention of Season 1,” and then added this, “The second season is set in a completely different time period.” As viewers were preparing for last season’s final episodes, they were wondering how the deaths of the lead stars (Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott) would factor into the new season but Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk surprised everyone when they rolled out that the series is an anthology set where each season would be about new characters, new settings, new hauntings and yes, a new mysterious intro sequence.
Murphy has also said in the past that there will be a historical angle to their horror and the second season will retain that. American Horror Story took an interesting spin when a handful of real murder cases made their way into the story including Elizabeth Short AKA “The Black Dahlia,” the mystery around Sal Mineo’s death, and the Richard Speck sorority murders. In other words, start brushing up on your criminally-insane history.
Other things that have been revealed about Season 2 in recent months.
• Murphy wants to keep a supernatural element to the series but not in the same way its featured in other shows. Don’t assume the rule established in Season 1 (those who were murdered in the house haunted the house) will apply in Season 2. He also enforces a “no werewolves and no vampires” rule.
• In addition to Lange, Zachary Quinto (Chad), Evan Peters (Tate), Lily Rabe (Nora Montgomery), and Sara Paulson (Billie Dean) will return but will play completely different characters than those from Season 1. When thinking opposite, think about the types of personalities each displayed. Peters could play a meek and weak individual, too passive to act out on his desires. Rabe could play a woman who isn’t as helpless and is more in the foreground instead of someone who pulled her husband’s strings. Additionally, Paulson could also step away from the sidelines and be heavily involved with the main story. The possibilities are quite endless.
• French actress Lizzie Brocheré has been cast as a Season 2 regular. Whether she will play an ally or adversary of Lange’s may be determined next week when producers present their shows to the network.
• Quinto may or may not play one of the criminal insane.
• Maroon 5 frontman and one of the judges on NBC’s flagship musical talent show, The Voice, Adam Levine will be joining the cast as a sexy, gritty character who is one half of a couple called “The Lovers.”
• More actors from Season 1 could appear as new characters so don’t rule out Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Alexandra Breckenridge, Frances Conroy, Kate Mara, Denis O’Hare and the actors who played Constance’s children just yet.
• Speaking of Constance’s children, her fourth unnamed child was never explored and Murphy said at Paley Fest that they do want to address that at some point. How? See my guess below.
My Theory So Far
So what can we gather from this as it pertains to setting revealed? I am convinced that the setting will be in North Carolina referring to the Roanoke Lost Colony story that Billie Dean spoke of in Season 1 and it is consistent with Murphy’s East Coast designation. Now, these are all guesses, but educated guesses. The history of slavery, the civil war, plantation houses, and the colonizing of the United States could all be mined for Season 2 especially if this is a period piece, as well as the horrors that have taken place in asylums and mental institutions.
Lange will play a different character but I’m guessing she’ll retain some of that bite and impoliteness that she showcased in Season 1. It did help win her a Golden Globe amongst other awards after all, and Constance was one of the most exciting characters on television in recent years. I can’t imagine she’d play such a departure from Constance especially if she’s running an insane asylum. She’ll need to be tough, make hard decisions, and not be liked by those admitted. If she is the recurring “main” character of the anthology, perhaps she is the one constant– it’d be a nice play on her character name, wouldn’t it? Now Constance grew up in Virginia, not North Carolina but the states are neighbors and would create similar backgrounds to two supposedly different characters.
There are at least five historical asylums in North Carolina including Applachian Hall in Asheville, Broughton Hospital, Goldsboro State Hospital which later became Cherry Hospital, Dorothea Dix Hospital, and the Western North Carolina Sanitorium. A composite institution inspired by these could house any type of patient whether they are criminals, mentally insane, or if the time period is far enough back, social pariahs due to affliction, those with genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome, or those who are mentally breaking down in upper age.
Constance was the “leader” of her own band of misfits, using one of her words to describe her family, as they were all imperfect–Tate being the most–with his inclination to kill people. I’d personally love to see Jamie Brewer (Adelaide) and Sam Kinsey (Beauregard) return in some way, Brewer especially, and this could be one way as people were often misplaced in these types of facilities purely because they weren’t accepted by society. This could also be a way to bring in the story of the fourth unnamed child that was unexplored in Season 1. He or she could be one of the admitted, one of the people Lange’s new character is “in charge of.”
There are stories always coming out of people who were wrongly placed in these types of institutions for a variety of reasons – for example, sicknesses such as allergies that were not understood at the time and went wrongly diagnosed. Allow me to explore another one, say someone was exhibiting migraine headaches could simply need some dental work, not a lobotomy. But that was what was done, as seen by the events that inspired Shutter Island and the questionable psychiatric methods in the 1950s. Check out the extras of that blu-ray/DVD, it’s real scary stuff.
Some interesting tidbits about these North Carolina institutions I found were that Appalachian Hall was used as a hotel at one time and Cherry Hospital was a segregated institution up until 1965. It was originally established in 1880 as the “Asylum for Colored Insane”. The Dorothy Dix Hospital was also established in the 19th century; Now, could this be the time period for Season 2, or the 1950’s when trans-orbital lobotomies were being carried out? I’m thinking the latter due to the lack of civil rights by minorities added to the experimental practices of modern medicine and the psychiatry industries at the time could make for lots of material. Further flashbacks would be fair game of course. I also guessed North Carolina because it has a long list of haunted stories and locations to draw from and that’s what Murphy and Falchuk like to do. They also want to keep viewers guessing and a little discomfort and shock value never hurt.
I could be way off base, but the guessing is part of the fun of American Horror Story. I speculated all of this off of what little has been shared and information revealed in the coming weeks could change my theory completely. What theories can you come up with? Which actor besides Jessica Lange are you most interested in seeing in Season 2? Share your thoughts below.