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Behind the Camera - Ryan Murphy

Behind the Camera - Ryan Murphy

In Behind the Camera we look at people who may not be seen on screen, but who are important for series. Today we take a behind-the-camera look at writer, director and producer Ryan Murphy.
It is now impossible to imagine television without American Horror Story. Season twelve will soon start again in America. Creator Ryan Murphy has many other series to his name, and the flamboyant characters and extravagant design are always clearly recognizable. But where did it actually start for him? And what is he doing these days? Time to dive into that in a new Behind the Camera.

Ryan Murphy was born in 1965 in Indianapolis. After his studies, he started working as a journalist and worked for various newspapers and magazines, including Entertainment Weekly. He began writing scripts in the 1990s, and in 1999 created the teen series Popular for The WB (now part of The CW). Between 2003 and 2010, he was very successful with the drama series Nip/Tuck, which took place in a plastic surgery clinic and earned Murphy an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe.

Another of Murphy's big hits was Glee, which aired on Fox between 2009 and 2015, about an American high school choir. Murphy drew inspiration for this series from his time in a choir himself. Glee was the first series where Murphy collaborated with writer and producer Brad Falchuck. Murphy and Falchuck have also collaborated on other projects later on as well.


One of those collaborative projects is American Horror Story. The anthology series has been running on FX since 2011 and each season tells a completely new horror story in a completely new setting with new characters. Although the seasons are separate, it is clear that they all take place in the same fictional universe, populated by vampires, witches, ghosts and aliens. Since 2021, the spin-off American Horror Stories has also been running, in which each episode tells one separate story. The third season will premiere this fall.

Ever since American Horror Story, it's clear that Murphy has a thing for anthologies and miniseries, as he's made a ton of them. For these anthologies and miniseries, he is often inspired by true stories. American Crime Story dramatizes crime proceedings, including the OJ Simpson trial and the Versace murder. In Monster he tells the life stories of serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer. Feud features celebrity feuds and feuds, such as those between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Murphy also co-wrote a miniseries about the life of fashion designer Roy Halston.

American Crime Story

In addition to true stories, Murphy also makes series that are clearly fiction. On Netflix, these include the drama series Hollywood, the horror series The Watcher, the high school series The Politician and the thriller Ratched, a prequel to the classic film One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. For FX and Fox, these are the horror comedy Scream Queens, the LGBTI drama series Pose, and the procedural series 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star, which deal with emergency services in Los Angeles and Texas, respectively. These four series can all be seen on Disney+ in some countries outside of the US.

Murphy always incorporates certain themes and styles in his series. His series are extravagant, and everything and everyone is flamboyant. Even the ugly ducklings in his series have a desire to spread their wings and show who they really are. Murphy, who came out as gay at a young age, also incorporates many LGBTI themes into his work. Sometimes that's very subtle, but more often than not these themes present themselves in the extravagant Ryan Murphy style we've come to expect from him.


What is also striking about Ryan Murphy's works is the reuse of actors. In the first few seasons of American Horror Story, we often saw the same actors return for the next season, but in a completely different role. These include, for example, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Emma Roberts. But we also see these actors in other Murphy projects. For example, Emma Roberts had the lead role in Scream Queens, while we saw Sarah Paulson appear in Ratched and American Crime Story. Jessica Lange stole the show again in Feud, and last year Evan Peters scared the hell out of everyone in Monster. This also makes Murphy's series interesting to watch.

Where will Murphy go in the next few years? Many of his series are still running, and for now he doesn't seem to be done with his American Story series. Besides new seasons of American Horror Story and American Crime Story, he is also working on American Love Story and American Sports Story. But when they will appear, that is not yet clear.
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