In upcoming FX series American Horror Story, the fragile, damaged Harmon family moves to Los Angeles to start over. The problem? Their new house appears to be haunted. Series creator and executive producer Ryan Murphy knows what you're thinking: Why don't they just move?
"'Why do they stay in the house?' We really thought about that a lot. That was the most important thing we worked on," Murphy told reporters at Saturday's FX fall TV preview, adding that it will be explained in Episode 2.
FX screened the premiere for reporters earlier in the week, and in the episode many disturbing discoveries are made by the family — including, but not limited to, a homicidal, Victorian-era baby in the basement and an enigmatic rubber-suited man -- as they attempt to heal. Meanwhile, a host of strange characters, ranging from the longtime housekeeper to the mysterious burn victim who pops up in the backyard, invade their lives. It is deliberately unclear what is real and what the family might just be imagining.
At a time when fans are quick to take a series to task for leaving them hanging (see the uproar over Lost's ending and more recently AMC's The Killing), one journalist asked the producers how long the pilot's many stories and cliffhangers would be dragged out.
"We felt like we had an obligation to the audience [to answer questions], and in the next two scripts we'll start doing that," Murphy said. "By the third episode, all those big mysteries are settled.
"We do know where it's going, we do know what that great last episode is."
It's been suggested that future seasons may revolve around different casts — or even take place in different time periods — but Murphy said that whether or not those things happen, the series would feel timely. The current economic environment "makes you feel paranoid, suspenseful and worried, and that zeitgeist is definitely reflected in the show... and all the American horror stories we're being bombarded with on a daily basis."
At the same time, series star Connie Britton says American Horror Story is not just about the horror elements or the mysteries. "To me, it's not just horror, the same way Friday Night Lights was not just football," said. "It's about these grounded, dilapidated relationships... this psychosexual strange thing going on in this house."
Added Murphy: "Hopefully, people watch for two things: Emotional stories and... some very scary stuff."
American Horror Story premieres Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 10/9c on FX.