So remember how this morning, I suggested that “American Horror Story” might want to start fresh with a new cast of characters and a new story for the second season?
Well, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Ryan Murphy and FX president John Landgraf did a press call this afternoon, and according to the reporters who were on it, Murphy says the plan is to start from scratch for the second season. No more Harmons, no more murder house, no more gimp suit. Some of the actors may return, but if they do, they’ll be playing new characters.
And while I didn’t like the first season of the show and doubt the second one will be any more to my taste, I love the idea behind the decision.
I complain a lot about shows, stories and characters that have run their course, but that keep going and going because that’s the way the American TV business model works. You can’t make money on anything short-term, so you have to extend things as long as possible to turn a good profit. The problem is, not every idea is well-suited to that, and ideas on a Murphy show are a particular struggle, since he tends to lose interest in his own creations very quickly and tries to move onto the next thing. (Case in point: Artie’s magic legs on “Glee,” or Quinn’s various personality transplants on “Glee,” or… pretty much everything to ever happen on “Glee.”)
But in deciding that the “American Horror Story” brand name is the only thing that’s needed to keep the series going – turning it into an anthology show in which each story runs a season – Murphy, Falchuk and FX have found a way to side-step the problem that comes whenever someone suggests doing the British series model. (Where you only do a season or two and then stop if you want.)
Murphy and Falchuk told a story. There was a beginning (Harmons move into the house), a middle (crazy and/or violent stuff happens to the Harmons as they learn about the house) and end (what happened in the finale). There’s additional story to be told about the baby, and maybe some unanswered questions about how the house became what it is (assuming you trust Murphy and Falchuk to care about and/or tell that kind of detail properly), but the story of the Harmons is done. Better that they move on to a new idea they’re interested in then begrudgingly try to keep the old one going because it’s what’s expected of them.
“American Horror Story” has been a big hit for FX. I’ll be curious to see what tune-in is like for season two, because if this does work commercially, it might give other showrunners license to try something similar, rather than treading water for season after season because they’re afraid of messing with the back-end money.
What does everybody else think? Are you glad about the fresh start? Annoyed that Ben won’t be shouting anymore? Will you miss the dog?