American Horror Story doesn't shy away from the horror genre, as evidenced by its name. Whether it's a haunted house, an asylum or a school for witches, FX's anthology series has helped to bring horror to the forefront on television.
But the series has mostly done so by raising the stakes so high that death has become the norm. Murder House killed off the entire Harmon family. Technically, only Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) survived Asylum. And Coven axed two main characters — Lily Rabe's Misty Day, who has the regenerative power to bring things, including herself, back to life, and Evan Peters' frat boy-turned-Frankenstein — in the premiere alone.
However, at what point does the audience become desensitized to death? "With a horror show, the rules are anybody could die at any time," executive producer Ryan Murphy tells TVGuide.com. "I don't think it's something like The Walking Dead that has maybe 20 deaths an episode sometimes. I love that show, so that personally doesn't bother me. It's a horror show, you know what you're getting."
But Horror predicates itself in the anthology format, sometimes exploiting the fact that killing off a main character doesn't negate the actor from returning the following season. Jessica Lange, Paulson, Rabe and Peters are among those who have appeared in each season, even though most of them have died at least once.
"The advantage of doing a miniseries format is that it's somebody new dying every year," executive producer Brad Falchuk says. "It's not like in a show where you have your leads, you can't kill them, and then around them people die all the time. You know the guys in the red shirts are going to die [on Star Trek], but Kirk was always going to be fine. In this one, at any moment, Kirk could get hit in the head with an axe. Because that tension is there, I don't think it's a problem."
"If they are desensitized, then we're not doing our job well enough that you want to care about the people that are alive," he continues. "In Episode 3, we kill someone you think is really important that you love. So it's like, 'F---, they're dead!' They could come back in Episode 6, but who knows."
Do you think there's too much bloodshed on American Horror Story? Hit the comments!
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.