American Horror Stories, repertory horror and intertextuality of casting

Lorna Jowett, Rebecca Janicker (Editor)

    Research output: Contribution to Book/Report typesChapterResearch

    Abstract

    By moving the geographical and temporal setting of the show and shifting its focus with each new season, American Horror Story (AHS) combines the pleasures of the anthology show with serialised storytelling that feature the same characters for a given length of time. While some structural elements are changed every season, AHS has cast many of the same actors across its four seasons (at the time of writing), 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). This paper will therefore examine how what Jeffrey Bussolini dubs 'intertexuality of casting' (2013) in AHS functions both within the series itself, and within a broader TV landscape.
    Many cult or genre TV productions use intertextuality of casting as a means of engaging their fannish and/or multiscreening audience members—see, for example, the casting of original series Star Trek actors in Babylon 5, Heroes, and Fringe. 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 in other productions. This paper explores these strategies and their effects, paying particular attention to AHS’ use of 'older' female actors such as Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates and the ways in which the multiple characters they play potentially challenge more conventional female roles and the industry's apparent sidelining of ageing women.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationReading American Horror Story:
    Subtitle of host publicationEssays on the Television Franchise
    Place of PublicationJefferson, North Carolina
    PublisherMcFarland & Company, Inc
    Chapter1
    Pages8-26
    Number of pages228
    ISBN (Electronic)9781476628929
    ISBN (Print)9781476663524
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2017

    Fingerprint

    Casting
    Repertory
    Intertextuality
    Intertexuality
    Pleasure
    Hero
    Star Trek
    Length
    Temporal Setting
    Creator
    Storytelling
    Babel
    Anthology
    Cult
    Conventional
    Continuity
    Disruption
    Industry

    Keywords

    • US television
    • anthology television
    • casting
    • gender representation
    • older women on TV

    Cite this

    Jowett, L., & Janicker, R. (Ed.) (2017). American Horror Stories, repertory horror and intertextuality of casting. In Reading American Horror Story: : Essays on the Television Franchise (pp. 8-26). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.
    Jowett, Lorna ; Janicker, Rebecca (Editor). / American Horror Stories, repertory horror and intertextuality of casting. Reading American Horror Story: : Essays on the Television Franchise. Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland & Company, Inc, 2017. pp. 8-26
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    Jowett, L & Janicker, R (ed.) 2017, American Horror Stories, repertory horror and intertextuality of casting. in Reading American Horror Story: : Essays on the Television Franchise. McFarland & Company, Inc, Jefferson, North Carolina, pp. 8-26.

    American Horror Stories, repertory horror and intertextuality of casting. / Jowett, Lorna; Janicker, Rebecca (Editor).

    Reading American Horror Story: : Essays on the Television Franchise. Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland & Company, Inc, 2017. p. 8-26.

    Research output: Contribution to Book/Report typesChapterResearch

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    Jowett L, Janicker R, (ed.). American Horror Stories, repertory horror and intertextuality of casting. In Reading American Horror Story: : Essays on the Television Franchise. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2017. p. 8-26