American Horror Story: Coven, FX Network's latest iteration of the hit anthology series, this time set in the world of New Orleans witches, is, quite simply, the gayest horror/fantasy genre show ever made. What's funny is, if you're not gay, or don't have any close gay friends or family members, you might watch this show and not ever even realize it. After all, unlike the past two seasons of the show, American Horror Story: Murder House, or American Horror Story: Asylum, both which had prominent lesbian and gay characters, this season only has one small part for a gay role.
So if the show barely has any gay characters, just what makes it so gay? How about everything. While this season might not have a prominent LGBT character (yet) it is seriously overflowing with queer sensibilities, humor and references. Openly gay creator Ryan Murphy's other show, Glee, the one about musical theater and gay bullying, has nothin' on this show when it comes to gayness. American Horror Story: Coven is gayer than the entire LoGo Networks and Project Runway combined, and here are but ten reasons why.
1. All The Fierce Divas
Historically speaking, since time immemorial, gay men have always loved their strong female divas. In the music world, we've long been supporters of icons who are so fabulous and famous, we refer to them without even needing last names (Barbra, Judy) or they are simply are so fabulous they don't even have last names (Cher, Madonna, Gaga) Diva worship is just a part of gay culture, whether one likes it or not.
It's not just music divas we love, though; ask any gay male between the ages of 25 and 50, give or take, who their favorite actresses are, and you're not going to get the standard answers of the likes of box office favorites like Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz or Sandra Bullock (although she was amazing in Gravity). No, we'll likely name actresses who have portrayed strong women who faced adversity with strength and poise, like Jessica Lange when she played troubled starlet Frances Farmer in Frances, or country singer Patsy Cline in Sweet Dreams. Just as beloved by many a gay man is Angela Bassett, mostly for her Academy Award nominated turn as Tina Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It.
American Horror Story: Coven is a showcase for powerhouse acting divas, many of whom have been pushed out of mainstream Hollywood fare, since for the most part, unless you are Meryl Streep, once you reach a certain age you are stuck playing "the mom" or "the boss" in every movie. (Even the minor parts on this show are filled with legendary Broadway divas like Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersol.) All of these women are way too fierce to be stuck playing Channing Tatum's mom in some stupid romantic comedy, and Coven gives them the juicy goods to sink their teeth into.
And while I don't wish to presume to speak for my lesbian sisters, they've simply gotta be loving a show where 90% of the principal cast are strong women, and storylines mostly revolve around their relationships with each other and the world at large, and not "which boy do I pick? The hot male vampire or the other hot vampire? Or maybe the hot male werewolf?" Bad or good, the women on Coven all have agency, and mostly have bigger fish to fry than "how do I make this boy like me?"
2. Delightfully Bitchy Dialogue
The writing on American Horror Story: Coven isn't usually what one might call "good" in any traditional sense. If you're looking for the nuance and layered subtlety of dialogue seen on shows like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones or something, where people say one thing, but subtextually they really mean something else, well...you just might wanna look elsewhere. Coven just doesn't do subtext, they just do text, in big, bold bitchy letters. The first episode of this season was called "Bitchcraft," after all. So yeah...not subtle.
Coven puts everything out on Front Street: the characters have no filter, and usually what comes out of their mouths are things no real human being would ever say. Unless those human beings happened to be drag queens. Seriously, this is a show where Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, when questioned about the (SPOILERS) possible death of her classmate Madison Montgomery, says "Madison Montgomery is a stone cold bitch who loves hard drinking, big dicks, and trouble. If she's dead its probably because she got wasted and offered the grim reaper a hand job or something." And she says it all with a straight face. I heart this show.
3. The Younger Witches Are Almost All Outcasts
Of the four students who make up the class of Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, three are hardly what you'd call "insiders". You've got Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), a somewhat mousy girl whose power causes instant death to anyone she has sex with (think the X-Men's Rogue, but taken to the next level. In fact, the whole "Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies" thing is all kind of a knock off of the X-Men's Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, really.) Then there's Queenie, a rather large African-American girl played by Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe, who is a human voodoo doll. And finally there's Nan, a young psychic with Down's Syndrome. With the exception of Emma Roberts' thinly veiled take on Lindsay Lohan named "Madison Montgomery," none of the main girls are like the perfectly chiseled, beautiful model types who make up the casts of seemingly every teen supernatural drama on the CW network.
Which is another reason why LGBT fans are so drawn to it. If you look at the genre properties that LGBT fans are most often into, things like the previously mentioned X-Men or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they are usually about a group of outcasts trying to get by in a world that rejects them. American Horror Story: Coven is but the latest addition to that long list. Until the world changes in how it usually treats us, we are always gonna side with the misfits and the underdogs.
4. All the John Waters References
Since its first season, American Horror Story has been like a virtual buffet of references to famous horror movies of the past. As much as I love the show, the horror movie fan in me cringes just a bit whenever someone talks to me about how "original" the show is. American Horror Story can almost be summed up as "what horror movies does creator Ryan Murphy like?," because the references to old horror movies are usually that obvious and on-the-nose. But in a way, that's been part of the fun: watching Murphy and company take all these references to classic horror and spin them into a serialized, over-the-top soap opera.
But this season, it's not just old horror movies they are referencing, but we've had at least three references so far to movies from the oeuvre of gay cult filmmaker John Waters. Spaulding the butler (Dennis O'Hare), ever faithful to his beloved mistress Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), secretly plays dress up in the attic with what appear to be Fiona's old clothes. This is a direct nod to John Water's Pink Flamingos, where Connie Marble's butler Channing also liked to play dress up in her clothes in secret. Speaking of Connie Marble, the character of Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) with her bright red hair, sixties cat glasses and penchant for losing her shit and screaming when things don't go her way, seems to be another homage to Pink Flamingos. Finally, poor Cordelia got acid thrown in her face in a recent episode, which just makes me think of what happened to poor Divine in Female Trouble. Ryan Murphy seems to be such a Waters fanboy, I can only imagine if Water's main star Divine had lived, he'd have a staring role on the show this season.
5. These Shoes
These glittery fuck-me-pumps, worn by Madison Montgomery, and later Madison Montgomery's corpse rolled up in the carpet, are like, super-mega fierce.