FX’s horror anthology series American Horror Story was renewed for a fourth season just a few episodes into the Coven storyline (i.e. Season 3), and there’s been much speculation since then as to where the series might go next. After exploring a haunted house, a mental asylum and a coven of witches, the scope for spooky settings still remains pretty limitless.
Star Jessica Lange has said that she will leave American Horror Story after the show’s fourth season, which only makes it all the more important that the writers come up with something special for her final bow. Co-creator Ryan Murphy has said that the season will be set in 1950 and that Lange will have a German accent, but aside from that very little has been confirmed.
Until now, that is. Speaking on the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast, Douglas Petrie – a writer and co-executive producer on the show’s third season – was quizzed about rumors that American Horror Story season 4 would be set in a carnival, to which he replied, “That’s the idea, very roughly that’s the idea.” He also added that work has “just started” on season 4, and that it does not yet have a title.
There’s plenty of scope for horror in a carnival setting, though anything involving the kind of sideshows that were used for entertainment during the 1950s would probably have to be treated delicately. Perhaps the best known carnival horror is Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks, in which a beautiful trapeze artist hatches a plan to marry one of the sideshow performers – for whom she has nothing but contempt – in order to win his inheritance. Her plan backfires, however, and she ultimately ends up living her worst nightmare.
American Horror Story is a show that’s no stranger to courting difficult subject matter; Coven, far example, deals with the treatment of slaves and modern race segregation. In general Murphy and Brad Falchuk seem to take a keen interest in telling stories about outsiders who struggle to fit in with the rest of society, so it will be interesting to see what kind of characters get cooked up in the new carnival setting.
American Horror Story will return to FX in fall 2014.