‘Drag, Die, Repeat’: ‘Drag, Die, Repeat’: Queer Horror and Performative Pleasure in American Horror Story (FX 2011-present)

Darren Elliott-Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The TV horror explosion arguably demonstrates a merging of horror with other genres, an embrace of genre fusions that suggests a ‘loosening up’ of generic tropes and conventions marking a shift away from fixed genre forms (see for example The Walking Dead (AMC 2010-present) and Preacher’s (AMC 2016-present) embrace of Western/Horror traits and Bates Motel’s (A&E 2013-2017) conflation of teen-drama/slasher elements). Such a thematic shift can also be seen in recent TV Horror’s depictions of non-essentialist representations of gendered and queered identities. The central text for analysis in this chapter is anthology Gothic horror series American Horror Story (henceforth AHS) which appropriates and pays nostalgic homage to a number of horror texts drawn both from TV and cinema. Across its (currently) seven seasons, the show has garnered a cult following in the LGBTQ+ community and attracted a wealth of interest in queer academic circles . I want to suggest that the appeal of AHS as the Queer Horror TV show par excellence, lies specifically in its anti-essentialist queer appropriation of both gender and genre. Via the show’s focus on the concept of identity-as-costume, the queer fans of AHS experience a jouissance-filled immersion in genre, gender, identity and temporal forms that are all effectively shown to be constructed, culturally imposed and therefore, able to be assumed and rejected at will.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Horror Reader
EditorsSimon Bacon
PublisherPeter Lang GmbH
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018


  • Queer
  • Horror
  • Film and Television
  • Queer Film
  • Queer Horror
  • Drag
  • Gothic
  • Adaptation
  • LGBTQ studies
  • TV Horror


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