Haunting the Hetero-Home: Narrative Spectacle and CulturalFantasies in American Horror Story and Homeland Open Access

McCollom, Amanda Kathryn (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/08612n890?locale=en


Premiering within the same week in October of 2011, American Horror Story and Homeland tap into the cultural fantasies of heteronormativity that circulate within the American public consciousness. Drawing from a plethora or real-world events, these shows can be considered narrative spectacles for the ways in which they allow for a critical distance from the diegesis. This critical distance can be used to examine the ways in which the cultural fantasies that support institutions of heteronormativity (marriage, family, government, school) are constructed to seem natural, desirable and achievable to the average citizen. In complicating various characters' relationship to these cultural ideals, I argue that these shows both reinforce and subvert the dominant hold of these fantasies, which allows for an examination of the viability of and investment in social intuitions. Both shows explore these privileged norms through trauma, the invasion of the private sphere and the complicated nature of heterosexual romance. In investigating the relationship between narrative spectacle and cultural fantasies, it is my aim to complicate the reader's understanding of how heteronormative culture constructs one's identity and position within contemporary American society.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Synopsis and Industry Context 2

Femininity, Excess and Television 6

Cultural Fantasies of Heteronormativity 10

Part One: Space Fear and Sexuality

American Horror Story

The House and the Body 16

Rubber Man 21

The Hypersexual Seductress 28


Suburban Surveillance 33

False Fidelity 40

The Heteronormative Terrorist 46

Part Two: Time and Trauma

American Horror Story

Tate 53

Violet 58

Romeo and Juliet, Post-mortem 62


Brody 65

Carrie 70

Double Agents of Love 74

Conclusion 79

Undying Fantasies 80

Conflicting Desires 82

Horror in the Home(land) 84

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