Ryan Murphy has long been a creative force to be reckoned with, the writer/producer bringing us such memorable and popular series as Nip/Tuck, Glee and Popular from the late ’90s through through to the noughties.
But the last few years – let’s call it the post-American Horror Story era – have seen Murphy’s output increase rapidly and his star rise dramatically, cementing his position as one of the busiest and most powerful people working in television.
With so much going on in the Murphy-verse, though, it can be difficult to keep track of the status of some of your favourite, or soon-to-be-favourite, shows.
So we’ve unpacked his current slate for you, with all the latest on AHS, American Crime Story, Feud, Pose and the rest of the Murphy milieu.
American Horror Story
Murphy’s twisted sort-of-anthology series (“sort of” because every season actually takes place in the same universe) will return for an eighth season on September 12, 2018 on FX. (New episodes usually arrive within a week of US airing on Fox in the UK.)
Firming up the links hinted at in previous seasons, the show’s eighth year will be its first ever explicit crossover season, with characters from the first season, Murder House, and the third, Coven, meeting.
Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates and Evan Peters will all be back, alongside American Horror Story: Cult returnees Adina Porter, Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Eichner, Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd.
Emma Roberts has also confirmed she will be back and likely to be reprising her Coven role of Madison Montgomery, despite the fact that the character was killed off (twice!) in the third season.
Dynasty legend Joan Collins will also feature in season eight, playing the “glamorous” grandmother of Peters’s character.
An official subtitle for this season is yet to be confirmed. One theory was ‘Radioactive’ after “American Horror Story: Radioactive” was trademarked by Twentieth Century Fox, which produces and distributes the show. Murphy hasn’t yet confirmed or denied.
American Crime Story
Though not strictly created by Murphy – the idea was developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski – he does serve as an executive producer on the American Crime Story franchise.
Among Murphy’s best-received works, ACS has so far spanned two seasons based on real-life crimes: 2016’s The People v. O.J. Simpson and 2018’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
The third season is expected to be Katrina, focusing on the tragedy during and after the hurricane that decimated New Orleans in 2005. Katrina was originally supposed to air as the second ACS instalment, but later swapped places with Versace.
The original plan was to adapt Douglas Brinkley’s book The Great Deluge, with an impressive list of names already signed up, including Annette Bening as Kathleen Blanco (the governor of Louisiana), Matthew Broderick as Michael D. Brown (the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, director) and Dennis Quaid as President George W Bush.
However, these plans were later abandoned and the season will now be based on Sheri Fink’s book Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, which examines how the disaster impacted the staff of Memorial Medical Center 15.
Sarah Paulson will now play the lead role of Dr. Anna Pou, who was on duty when Katrina struck, but no other names have been confirmed. The Hollywood Reporter noted last August that producers were “attempting to find new characters” for the cast attached to the previous version of Katrina, including Quaid, Bening and Broderick.
The project remains in development, but has no confirmed air-date.
Post-Katrina, Murphy was briefly developing a fourth season based on the Bill Clinton / Monica Lewinsky scandal, adapted from Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.
Paulson was again attached to appear (in an unspecified role), but in April 2018, Murphy announced that the project had been abandoned, since it felt “gross” to tell Lewinsky’s story without her own willing involvement.
Feud launched in 2017 with Bette and Joan, chronicling the rivalry between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Following the success of that eight-parter, FX announced that the second season of Murphy’s latest anthology would focus on the royal row between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, with the title later confirmed as Feud: Buckingham Palace.
In January 2018, Murphy announced October as a provisional start date for production, but explained that he couldn’t begin the casting process until the filming schedule was finalised. Two months later and he clarified that he was still “taking [his] time and just trying to get everything right”.
“I don’t want to do something unless the scripts are ready and the casts are ready,” he said of Feud 2.0.
Premiering June 3 on FX, Pose is Murphy’s newest series and is groundbreaking in having assembled the largest transgender cast ever for a scripted TV series.
Exploring New York culture in the late 1980s, with a particular focus on the LGBTQ+ scene, Pose is currently airing its eight-part first season in the US, with the finale scheduled for July 22. (It’s yet to be acquired by a broadcaster or streaming service in the UK.)
Starring Kate Mara, James Van Der Beek and Murphy-verse regular Evan Peters, the show is yet to be renewed for a second season. (If it gets the green light, Pose will be Murphy’s first ongoing non-anthology series since Glee wrapped in 2015.)
A procedural drama but with a very Ryan Murphy twist, 9-1-1 premiered in January on FOX in the US and follows Los Angeles first responders – cops, paramedics, firefighters – dealing with unusual emergencies, including saving a woman from a giant snake.
With a quality cast including Angela Bassett, Connie Britton and Peter Krause, it’s already secured a second season, which will launch September 23 in the US. The first run of episodes will air in the UK from August on Sky Witness (formerly Sky Living).
Bagging a two-season straight-to-series order from Netflix in February 2018, The Politician will star Ben Platt, best known for his work on Broadway, in the musicals Dear Evan Hansen and The Book Mormon. Platt will play Payton, a wealthy aspiring politician, with each season charting a different political race he’s involved in.
Platt might be untested as a television lead, but he’s expected to be joined by some big names, with Gwyneth Paltrow and actual Barbra Streisand in talks to join the comedy series as regulars.Only on a Ryan Murphy show! No launch date has yet been set for The Politician.
Murphy’s next collaboration with his muse Sarah Paulson will be a prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The duo have signed with Netflix for a two-season commitment on first-time writer Evan Romansky’s Ratched, an origin story for the horror nurse played by Louise Fletcher in the 1975 Oscar-winning movie.
Murphy will direct the first episode of the series that will explore how Ratched went from regular caregiver to sadistic monster. Beginning in 1947, the show will “track her murderous progression through the mental health care system”.
Again, there’s no firm release date in place for Ratched, and no cast confirmed other than Paulson.
Murphy has another show that he’s plotting called Consent, though this one’s not actually in active development and is just at the ideas stage.
They’re rather sensational ideas, though, with Consent set to revolve around the #MeToo movement and the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood.
This would be another anthology series, but an episodic anthology a la Black Mirror, with each episode focusing on a different case, including one devoted to the allegations currently facing Kevin Spacey.
Never one to shy away from controversy, our Ryan.
Murphy’s deal with Netflix
Murphy’s empire only looks set to expand with the news that he’s signed an exclusive deal with Netflix, having previously been signed exclusively at 20th Century Fox to create content for FOX and FX.
According to The New York Times, the five-year deal with Netflix could be worth a whopping $300 million, one of the largest ever of its kind, and will commence in July when Murphy’s Fox deal expires.
He’s already got The Politician and Ratched (see above) in development at the streaming service and has insisted that future series “will continue to champion women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ heroes and heroines”, while Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos has also promised more “broad and diverse stories” from Murphy.
The good news is that, while he won’t be developing any new shows for FOX or FX, Murphy’s current shows on those networks – American Horror Story, American Crime Story and the rest listed above – will all continue for the foreseeable future.
This is a man who, we can only assume, does not require sleep.
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