Seasons, Family and Nation in American Horror Story

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Abstract

Arguably, the title of American Horror Story sets out an agenda for the program: this is not just a horror story, but it is a particularly American one. This chapter examines the way that the program uses seasonal celebrations as a way of expressing that national identity, with special emphasis on the importance of family to those celebrations. The particular seasonal celebrations focused on are those of Halloween and Christmas, each of which has associations with the supernatural. However, the use of the supernatural at those seasons is one which is particularly associated with the US, presenting Halloween as a time of supernatural incursion and horror, and of disruption to society and the normal order of things, while Christmas is presented more as a time of unity for the family. Where the supernatural emerges in American Christmas television, it is typically as a force to encourage togetherness and reconciliation, rather than as a dark reminder of the past. While these interpretations of these festivals have been broadcast abroad by American cultural products, not least American television, they have different associations and implications elsewhere, as will be shown. So the particular uses of these festivals is part of what marks American Horror Story out as American, as is the way that the program's narratives have been structured to fit in with US television scheduling. This chapter, then, argues that the structures of the narratives combines with their use of the festivals of Halloween and Christmas in order to enhance the sense of this series as a particularly American horror story.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading American Horror Story
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on the Television Franchise
EditorsRebecca Janicker
PublisherMcFarland
Pages45-63
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4766-2892-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-4766-6352-4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Keywords

  • American Horror Story
  • seasonality
  • National identity
  • Television
  • Horror

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cultural Studies

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  • Cite this

    Johnston, D. (2017). Seasons, Family and Nation in American Horror Story. In R. Janicker (Ed.), Reading American Horror Story: Essays on the Television Franchise (pp. 45-63). McFarland. http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6352-4