What do singing high school students, scalpel yielding plastic surgeons, and a demonic insane asylum have in common? Not only are they plots of popular FX television series, they have the same two writers. Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, the creators and executive producers of Glee, Nip/Tuck, and American Horror Story have proven that with hard work and the right chemistry, Hollywood writers can thrive in multiple genres.
Brad Falchuck, a firm believer in knowing your voice as a writer, originally had no desire to write for television. After he graduated from the American Film Institute, he tried unsuccessfully to write screenplays. After a few years working as a personal trainer, his girlfriend insisted he begin to write specs for television. He did, and was brought onto a few small shows where he was able to learn the differences between writing for TV and for film. Brad eventually met Ryan Murphy at a meeting for Nip/Tuck, and found that they had instant chemistry. Ryan, who started as a journalist writing for papers like The Los Angeles Times and The New York Daily, began scriptwriting in the 1990s, became Brad’s mentor and took him under his wing. Together, their openness to vulnerability and willingness to access the darker sides of characters emerged.
With a different target audience and tone, they worked together again on Glee, and eventually as creators and executive producers of American Horror Story. To help them in the new genre, they brought in specialist writers Tim Minear, Jennifer Salt, James Wong, and Jessica Sharzer to American Horror Story on the show in various capacities. After a successful first season, the show was renewed for a second season, which will feature many returning actors playing new characters in a new location, an insane asylum.
After tuning in to watch every episode of the last season, I was impressed with the depth Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy brought every character and the complexity of the plot. I think it’s a testament to their skill as writers that they’re able to produce 3 completely different but successful television series. Though I am sad to see the first season go, I’m excited for the development of a completely new story in Season 2. It will also be interesting to see how the actors handle playing completely opposite roles from last season.
For an excellent interview with both writers, and in-depth look at how they have room in their hearts for both “American Horror Story” and “Glee”, visit the New York Times article “Don’t Stop Screaming”. You can also find out more about Brad Falchuk in his Life After Film School interview.