From high school dreams to American screams

Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy has unleashed his dark side, as Sarah Hughes discovers

Most people find working on one television show to be an exhausting affair; however, most people are not Ryan Murphy.

The co-creator of Glee is currently juggling three shows – in addition to Glee itself (currently airing its third season on Sky) he is heavily involved in its reality spin-off The Glee Project while new drama American Horror Story, which starts on FX tonight, has been one of the surprise successes of the US television season.

Murphy is also involved with a film adaptation of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's award-winning Broadway play about the Aids epidemic, and co-writing a half-hour comedy with Allison Adler for NBC about a gay couple's attempts to start a family.

"The thing is I just want to do the opposite of what I've done before," Murphy says. "It's like dating – you know if you're going to fall in love then change it up a bit. When I wrote Glee, I was coming off [plastic surgery drama] Nip/Tuck and I really wanted to be happy because I felt like everything was getting too dark.

"Then after two seasons of Glee it felt as though that was too much sweetness and I needed to change that up so [long-term writing partner] Brad [Falchuk] and I pitched American Horror Story, which we'd actually been working on three years before Glee, because now the time felt right for that. Now the new sitcom is going to be a really sweet half-hour comedy about a subject matter that's very close to my own life and that I feel passionate about."

That said, Murphy won't be abandoning the dark-hearted American Horror Story any time soon. The story of an unfaithful psychologist, his grieving wife, their moody daughter and the extremely creepy house that they move to in order to start afresh might not have been a Glee-style breakout hit but its combination of clever horror references, knowing one-liners and genuine chills has seen the ratings increase each week. The fourth episode pulled in three million viewers in America.

Murphy and Falchuk are aided by a strong cast including a scene-stealing Jessica Lange as the very steely magnolia next door.

"I've been obsessed with Jessica since I was a kid and my favourite performance ever is her turn as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire," Murphy says. "When we were writing Constance, in my mind she was how Blanche would have turned out had she been stronger so I sent the script to Jessica. Then I spent weeks begging her to do it because she's never done TV before. Luckily, she agreed, as it turns out she's hilarious. We've changed part of the character in response to how funny she can be."

As to Glee, Murphy remains sanguine about the criticism thrown at the show last season – "We got a lot of flak for the themed episodes but those were also the highest rated," he says – and claims to be unconcerned by the fact that a more stripped-down third season has seen lower ratings and fewer record sales.

"The Broadway music lends itself to the story we're telling," he says. "It's important that the music reflects the storyline and it's not as though we don't still have some big songs."

And while the two shows are very different on the surface, Murphy argues that they are more similar than you might imagine. "Everything that Brad and I have done has a lot of emotion and charge and feels very heightened," he says. "Glee's not the real world, it's the world that we wish we lived in and American Horror Story is the world that we're terrified we might be living in."

'American Horror Story' starts on FX tonight at 10pm. 'Glee' airs on Sky One, Thursdays at 9pm

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern