Some Quick Thoughts on The Failures of American Horror Story: Coven

American Horror Story: Coven had no idea what it wanted to be. A modern-day witch soap opera with a rich mythology? A parable of race relations in Post-Katrina New Orleans? An ode to the feminine mystique? A metaphor for the gay experience? A redemption tale? Coven would be one thing for a couple of episodes and then completely change gears. The first two seasons of American Horror Story threw a bunch of plots in the air in the first six or seven episodes and then used their back halves to fit all of the disparate pieces together into something resembling a cohesive narrative; both, more or less, succeeded. Coven, on the other hand, introduced a lot of threads and themes only to get bored of them one by one. So much of the first half of the season foreshadowed some fast approaching war, one that threatened the very survival of this coven. First, it was Angela Basset and her voodoo practitioners. Then, it was Jessica Lange, the vengeful outgoing Supreme. Then, it was witch hunters! Witch hunters with suits and ties and conference tables! But there never was any war. Coven squandered all of its narratives on moments: burning Frances Conroy at the stake—twice; Taissa Farmiga fighting zombies with chainsaws; Angela Basset slithering around and gobbling down scenery; black men and women being shot down while, upstairs, Kathy Bates’s decapitated head cries along to “Free At Last”.
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