The series was being honored on the opening night of PaleyFest (the William S. Paley Television Festival) that is in its 29th year of celebrating quality television.
The night began with a screening of the penultimate episode of the season, entitled “Birth.” Then a panel session, moderated by Entertainment Weekly writer Tim Stack, began with Murphy, co-creator Brad Falchuck, and producer Dante Di Loreto. Joining them were members of the cast including Jessica Lange, Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy and Alexandra Breckenridge.
Murphy revealed that the writers had always planned on AHS being an anthology series, and had discussed at the very beginning of the project that most of the main characters would be killed off by the end of the first season. However, Murphy also disclosed that several of the actors will be appearing in season two as entirely different characters, namely Lange, Paulson, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, and Lily Rabe. He also noted that despite the different setting for the second season (rumored to be some sort of institution on the East Coast) “anybody can pop up at any time.” The setting will not deal specifically with ghosts this time around, although “a supernatural element will always be a part of the show. But we’re trying to do something more historically accurate,” Murphy said. The writers are up for anything, with a small exception. Murphy said, “Our only rule is: no werewolves and no vampires.”
Some of the night’s best moments came when the cast talked about their role in creating the show. Lange said, “I loved the monologues. There was a lot of poetry to Constance, reminiscent of Tennessee Williams.” Lange provided a humorous addition when she perfectly described the coldly brutal Southern belle and her relationship with her daughter with Down Syndrome and her son who carried out a high school shooting. “She cut to the quick. Constance would say, ‘If you’re retarded, I’m gonna tell you you’re retarded. If you’re a serial mass murderer, well I love you anyway.’”
The show is known for its outrageous and shocking elements (namely a character dubbed Rubber Man.) Stack asked the production team if they ever questioned the often disturbing direction the scripts took. Stack said, “Did you ever say, ‘This is f’ed up?” Falchuck laughed, and then replied, “No, it was like, This is Tuesday.”
Murphy and Falchuck are also the team behind FOX’s Glee, pretty much the exact opposite of AHS in every way. When an audience member asked whether they ever considered a ‘cross-pollination’ between the two casts, Falchuck said he wouldn’t be interested in mixing the shows. “It’s kinda like having your mistress and your wife. You wouldn’t want them to meet, but you tell them both you love them!” However, Murphy noted that the Glee cast did become obsessed with AHS and often visited the set since both shows shot at Paramount.
PaleyFest continues through March 14, featuring shows including Once Upon a Time, New Girl, Mad Men, and Revenge.