Subtlety isn’t just out of American Horror Story‘s wheelhouse; it’s anathema to the show, the literal antithesis of the shameless camp that treats Jessica Lange snorting coke to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” like just another day in the neighborhood. Part of the fun of watching AHS‘s 13-episode cycles unfold has been the way it wields tropes of gore and body horror like a sledgehammer — then takes that sledgehammer to social issues like disability, race, and, most prominently, gender. Historically, that questionably good-faith effort at blending shock value with social criticism has had mixed results at best. But unlike the series’ first two iterations, Murder House and Asylum, Coven has finally figured out a way to incorporate feminism convincingly into the DNA of American Horror Story.
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