FX's hit anthology series American Horror Story is heading toward the end of its third season (subtitled Coven), and while its core trait - a gleeful unpredictability - might lead some of the more recent episodes in strange, off-putting directions, the show remains popular and engaging.
From the first season's ghost-infested L.A. manor to season two's insane asylum run by a possessed nun (where a Nazi doctor performed sick human experiments as a deranged serial killer stalked the countryside - with alien abductions somehow factoring into the equation) to the current season's modern-day coven of New Orleans witches, AHS has seemingly tasked itself with exploring every horror trope out there. With Coven drawing to a close, we've learned some new details about season 4.
The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, has dropped some teasing details to EW about the next season's time-frame as well as one little plot detail:
“It’s set in 1950. If you look historically what happened in the year 1950, there’s some more clues in that year. It’s a period piece. We try and do the opposite of what we’ve done before. Jessica Lange has already started practicing her German accent so I’m very excited!”
So, what happened in 1950 which might tie into Lange's "German accent" and just what does "the opposite of what we’ve done before" mean? Aside from the Korean War beginning that year, the immediate aftermath of World War II was also the ramping-up period for the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. There were a few major espionage-related events that year, and of the big ones had to do with a German physicist named Klaus Fuchs, who confessed to being a Soviet spy.
1950 was also the year of what has become known as the Second Red Scare, with Senator Joseph McCarthy publicly claiming that the U.S. State Department had 205 communists working for it. That wasn't the only communist-related news, either. West Germany decided to purge all of its communist officials from the country, and there were riots in Berlin.
Could season 4's plot have something to do with the Cold War, the development of the hydrogen bomb and all the commies running around? Possibly. With vampires and werewolves saturating the airwaves in other horror-themed shows, it would be wise for American Horror Story to turn in a different direction - and the Atomic Age sci-fi-themed horror of the 50's (Them! Godzilla, The Incredible Shrinking Man) would be a fascinating subject for this series to explore.
As for Murphy's tease about doing the opposite: the show's overall plot for each season has had one storyline taking place in the present day and another pinging around in the past, with the two ending up being related to each other somehow. Will season 4 take place entirely in 1950, with no present day aspect? For fans accustomed to a modern character or setting as some kind of anchoring point of view, this could be a big departure from what they're used to. Stay tuned for more news on the fourth season of American Horror Story as Coven comes to an end.
American Horror Story continues Wednesday at 10PM on FX.