For a few crazed moments after the end of last night's finale for American Horror Story: Coven, I started thinking about spinoff potential. With Zoe, Queenie, and newly Supreme Cordelia looking down at a room of new teenage witches, you can imagine an entertaining future for these characters—a future that might look like a supernatural high-school comedy, Glee at Hogwarts.
But then I remembered—that was what Coven was supposed to be in the first place.
The third edition of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s nutso miniseries project started off so promisingly. After juxtaposing real-life horrors and slasher-film clichés for the previous seasons, American Horror Story traveled to a New Orleans secret school where modern-day witches hone their powers and defend against persecution from wider society. Serious themes and sick happenings were still in the mix, but the overriding pop-culture reference wasn’t scary movies—it was school-set film and TV, from John Hughes’s oeuvre to Mean Girls.
Which, at first, seemed brilliant. One of the best, most daring parts of Season One was the plot line about the ghost of a school shooter, who himself was haunted by the ghosts of his victims—essentially, the Breakfast Club in zombie makeup. The lunchroom cruelty we’d laughed at in countless on-screen depictions of campus hijinks was suddenly connected to the lunchroom cruelty we’d recoiled from countless times in on-screen news coverage of campus tragedies. It was the definition of disturbing.