By co-creator Ryan Murphy‘s count, the pilot episode for FX’s new series “American Horror Story” has “eight cliffhangers in it.”
But he also says that viewers won’t be left hanging for a full season to find out the answers to them.
He and co-creator Brad Falchuk “felt that we had an obligation to the audience in the next two scripts to sort of explain a lot of things that are set up,” Murphy said Saturday (Aug. 6) at the show’s inaugural session at the Television Critics Association press tour. “So we do. I think by the third episode, sort of all those big mysteries are settled.”
Including, he says, why the family at the center of the show — played by Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga and Evan Peters — decides to stay in what is apparently a haunted house. “We really thought about that a lot, and that was the most important thing that we worked on, I think successfully,” Murphy says, noting that characters who inexplicably remain in a scary place is a much-derided horror-movie trope. “I am really excited about that. [We] will explain why they are still there.”
FX screened the “Horror Story” pilot for critics earlier in the week, and more than a few people who saw it noted that it packs an awful lot of story — in addition to the haunted-house elements, there are plot threads about infidelity and fractured family relationships, plus curious actions by supporting characters played by Jessica Lange and Denis O’Hare — into its running time. Murphy, though, isn’t worried about the ambitious course the pilot takes, and he says the series will often have a similarly intense pace.
“I always love that when pilots have a lot of characters and a lot of story,” he says. “That being said, I think when you have actors like this, you have an obligation to write them really good, emotional, grounded stories, which we are doing. … We’re working on our two-part Halloween episodes, which I feel is very similar to the scares of the pilot. But then there’s an episode that we’re doing right now about the haunting of the various characters that is much more slow and sort of melodic and not so startling. …
“I think people will come to this, hopefully, for two things. I think that they will hopefully come to it for really good emotional stories that are zeitgeist-based, and I hope that they come because there really will be some scary stuff in there.”
“American Horror Story” premieres Oct. 5 on FX.