“Granny’s letting loose now”: American Horror Story, repertory casting and older women on television

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsSeminar/WorkshopResearch


By shifting the setting, time frame and focus with each new season, American Horror Story (AHS) combines the pleasures of the anthology show with serialised storytelling. AHS has cast many of the same actors across its five seasons, playing with a particular form of continuity and disruption. Casting announcements have been part of the series’ promotional strategy and Ryan Murphy, one of the series’ creators, has described it as ‘a repertory company’ (PaleyFest, 2013). Many cult or genre TV productions use what Jeffrey Bussolini dubs 'intertexuality of casting' (2013) as a means of engaging their fannish and/or multiscreening audience members. AHS employs this type of connection, as well as invoking ‘quality’ in some of its casting decisions, but also exploits casting within its series of distinct seasons. In this way it takes common strategies of intertexuality of casting in TV and pushes them further, offering the same actor playing similar or contrasting roles from season to season, and playing on their previous roles and productions. This talk explores these strategies and their effects, paying particular attention to AHS’ use of older female actors such as Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy and Angela Bassett and to the ways the multiple characters they play potentially challenge more conventional female roles as well as the industry's marginalisation of ageing women.
Period26 Feb 2016
Event titleGender, Literature, and Culture Seminar
Event typeSeminar
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map