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The Rise of Anthology Television

By Thomas Gillen
Staff Writer

Over the last several years, television creators have been adopting the anthology format when creating new shows. Each season of an anthology show tells a complete story, which allows for new characters to step in and have a new story set in a different location or time period. This trend began with “American Horror Story” on FX five years ago and has continued with HBO’s “True Detective,” and fellow FX show “Fargo.”Rise of anthology

Anthologies are a very unique type of show that allows the creator to tell a different story every season and employ talented actors who would otherwise not have time to appear on multiple season shows. Senior film major Amaury Narvaez believes anthology shows are a good addition in television.

“I like them,” Narvaez said. “Compared to a series running over multiple seasons, it can be refreshing to get a new story and new characters every year.” While anthology shows can have some drawbacks if the story is not particularly interesting, Narvaez feels that the trend is good for television. “Overall anthologies can be awesome, especially when you don’t want or have the time to invest in multiple season stories.”

“American Horror Story” was the first anthology show to start this trend. In AHS, every season takes place around a different clichéd horror location or group, like a haunted hospital or group of witches. The show is currently airing its fifth season and has included a haunted house, insane asylum, witch coven, freak show, and now a hotel.

The show has also had well known actors and actresses such as Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley, and Lady Gaga.

In “True Detective,” each season revolves around a crime case and the detectives assigned to solve it. Season one took place in Louisiana over the course of 17 years, as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson attempted to catch a serial killer. The season was extremely well received and was nominated for several Emmys.

The recently wrapped second season, starred Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Vince Vaughn. Instead of Louisiana, the action moved to Los Angeles and centered around a murdered businessman. Detectives from three separate departments attempted to solve the case.

The latest anthology show is “Fargo” and each season revolves around a different crime case set around Minnesota. The first season took place in 2006 and revolved around the arrival of a drifter named Lorne Malvo in a small town in Minnesota, in addition to the impact he had on the community. The cast for season one included Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, and Colin Hanks.

Season two is actually a prequel to season one, taking place in the 1970s. This season focuses on Lou Solverson, who is the father of Allison Tolman’s character, Molly Solverson, from season one. This season features Partick Wilson, Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Jean Smart. Season two focuses on the cover-up of a hit-and-run murder, and the investigation of a massacre that occurred in a diner.

As each new fall season approaches, it seems like more anthology shows are premiering. Some new anthology shows this season include “Scream Queens” and “American Crime Story.” “Scream Queens” airs new episodes Tuesday nights at

9 p.m. on FOX, while “American Crime Story” premieres early 2016 on FX.

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