Jessica Lange revealed in a 2019 interview that Coven is her least favorite of the four seasons of American Horror Story in which she starred – why?
American Horror Story star Jessica Lange has said she disliked AHS: Coven despite it being the most popular season of the FX franchise to date, and she might be right with her criticism. When quizzed in 2019 about the four years she spent as American Horror Story’s leading lady, the Oscar-winning actress admitted that the witch-themed season is her least favorite when compared to the other three seasons of the show in which she starred. This revelation generated discourse on social media for weeks and led to audiences questioning whether or not Coven is the best season of AHS after all.
Following her portrayal of the scene-stealing Constance Langdon in Murder House, as well as the sinful Sister Jude in Asylum, Jessica Lange returned to play “glamour cat” Fiona Borgia Vandenheuvel Goode in Coven. Anointed the Supreme Witch at a relatively young age after passing the tests of the Seven Wonders, imbued with powers superior to those of her peers, Fiona is a powerful-yet-negligent leader who is rarely seen dressed in anything other than black couture. In 2013, she returns to Miss Robichaux’s Academy in New Orleans, now run by her daughter and soon-to-be successor, to both rally the descendants of Salem against outside forces and, once she learns that she’s dying of cancer, to identify (and perhaps eliminate) her successor. The season ends with Fiona slipping away into a hellish afterlife, passing on the status of Supreme to Cordelia Goode, her daughter.
After winning an Emmy award for her role as Fiona in Coven, Jessica Lange returned to American Horror Story to play German singer Elsa Mars in Freak Show. Despite claiming that American Horror Story season 4 would be her last and that she had moved on from AHS, showrunner Ryan Murphy convinced her to reprise the role of Constance Langdon for an episode of season 8, Apocalypse, a performance which earned her yet another Emmy nomination. While talking about her comeback in 2019, Lange revealed during awards season (via Gold Derby) that she wasn’t a fan of Coven and in fact favored Asylum and Freak Show over it: “I mean, the part was very well written, but I didn’t particularly like the whole setup of the season and the story that we were telling.”
All things considered, Jessica Lange is correct in implying that Coven doesn’t quite match the quality of Murder House, Asylum (which AHS season 11 could revisit), and Freak Show. Those other seasons had character development and deeper, more meaningful themes. Coven, meanwhile, was excessively plot-oriented and relied more on style over substance, caring more about its Supreme storyline and aesthetic than it did anything else. This is generally not the case with the other three seasons of American Horror Story in which Lange starred, especially Asylum and Freak Show. Regardless, there is still a lot of complexity woven into Fiona Goode’s character, especially when taking into account her troubled dynamic with her daughter, although the characters of Constance, Sister Jude, and Elsa Mars are undoubtedly more layered.
Although Jessica Lange has a distaste for AHS: Coven (partly based on a true story), it doesn’t subtract from the fact that the season’s stylish, one-liner-spouting characters were genuinely entertaining to watch. Nor does it diminish the notion of Coven being the most impactful installment of American Horror Story’s 10 seasons, although Freak Show performed better in regard to overnight ratings. All that aside, one thing could be argued: AHS: Coven’s setup is one to be envied when compared to the show’s latest three seasons, particularly Double Feature.
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