[This article contains SPOILERS about the first season of the FX show “American Horror Story: Murder House.”]
The first season of “American Horror Story” (retitled “American Horror Story: Murder House”) premiered in October of 2011. Attempting to save his marriage and make a new start following his infidelity, psychiatrist Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) moves cross-country to a mansion in California with his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) and teenaged daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga). Utilizing an office in the house, he starts seeing clients, the first being teen Tate (Evan Peters), who, during his therapy sessions, discusses Columbine-style murder fantasies.
The show’s opening episodes establish Tate as a bit disturbed but definitely sympathetic character. While wandering the house after his session, he walks in on Violet trying to slash her wrists, and the two bond instantly, creating the tragic/doomed Romeo and Juliet type love story show creator Ryan Murphy intends to reprise in the show’s third season.
Like rock star Kurt Cobain, the singer for Nirvana who committed suicide in 1994, Tate sports dark blonde locks tumbling over his boyish face, grungy sweaters, ripped jeans and tennis shoes. Tate even tells Violet that he likes Cobain. He also mentions reading the poet Byron. Tate embodies the Byronic hero, a literary type attributed to Byron, described by Lord Macaulay (historian/critic) as “a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection” (according to Wikipedia). A romantic/gothic figure. A Heathcliff. A Rochester.
After Tate saves Vivien and Violet from home invaders, Tate and Violet fall in love, and show fans fall for Tate just as hard. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Tate’s mother is Constance (Jessica Lange), the Harmon’s next-door-neighbor. And lots of other crazy stuff happens in Murder House, including someone wearing a rubber suit impregnating Vivien. She believes it’s Ben, but viewers know better since he’s shown elsewhere. All the hype is – who is the Rubber Man? Which one of the show’s myriad characters could it be?
Then shock when in Episode 1.8, entitled Rubber Man, he’s revealed to be Tate. And an even bigger shock: Fans who love Tate don’t care. That he’s Rubber Man. That he impregnated his love’s mother. That his murderous fantasies weren’t actually fantasies at all. That he set his step-father on fire and, in skull-face makeup, shot a teacher and killed fellow high school students. That he is a ghost. That, as a ghost, he brutally murdered the house’s former owners. That he later attempted to forcibly rape Vivien.
In an Entertainment Weekly article, Peters says he was also surprised to learn he was the Rubber Man. He said, “I was shocked but I was also grateful. I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool. I guess I have to slime up and put on the rubber suit.’ ”
[WARNING: Linked items in this paragraph may contain profanity.] “AHS” is an anthology show, which means each season will feature new characters, settings and storylines. In the show’s second season, Asylum, Peters plays a good-guy hero, the complete antithesis of Tate. [More on this character in tomorrow’s Part 4 on Peters.] And yet, fans remain devoted to Tate, with lots of fan art (see attached list), T-shirts (like this one), Pinterest boards (like this one ), Tumblr pages (like this one), Facebook pages (like this one), fan fiction (like these), e-cards (like these), fan videos (like this), etc.
Completely twisted. How could viewers continue to love such a character? The answer: The pure genius of Murphy’s story-telling and Peters’ acting. There is no other explanation.
Murphy called Tate a monster to Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly, saying, “The devil is beautiful … Tate is the true monster of the show but because Evan has made him so likable and lovable and complex, I think people are torn.”
In an Entertainment Weekly article, Murphy addresses the big question – why did Tate shoot his classmates?
I don’t think his motivations were as sinister and dark and f***ed up as Dylan Klebold, for example. I do think Tate was probably someone who was bullied and made fun of. What he has done in many ways, all of it is in retaliation of Constance. She had several children and he was “the most beautiful” and she had such high expectations and needs and wants and probably wanted him to fill some of her own dreams and ambitions and he was just not gonna have it. We show him doing a lot of crystal meth. That’s what he’s doing, coke and crystal meth, before the shooting. I think his massacre became even worse because of the drug taking.
Peters told Tom O’Neil of Gold Derby, in a Google Hangouts interview, that Constance “is a bad ass, she’s just totally nuts and to me was one of the most evil characters in the whole show. I mean, Tate was definitely evil but I feel like she’s the one that drove him to be that way.”
In a later EW article, following the season finale, Murphy talks to Stack about Tate’s fate.
Murphy: I personally think Violet will never speak to Tate again. I feel like he deserved pain. I think the biggest justice for him could be to not get the one thing he wanted, which is love.
Stack: Basically Tate’s and Hayden’s comeuppance is that they end up alone.
Murphy: That’s exactly right. That’s what we wanted for them. Alone and tormented.
Click here to read some of the best lines from the incredibly complex character Tate Langdon.
Click below to read other articles in this 8 part series:
- Part 1 – Who is Evan Peters?
- Part 2 – Life before “American Horror Story”
- Part 4 – Kit Walker, hero
- Part 5 – You mean he doesn’t really love Violet?
- Part 6 – Onscreen with his sweetheart
- Part 7 – Coven, X-Men and ‘Safelight’
- Part 8 – ‘Lazarus Effect’ opens Friday
Faces of Tate
Artist Sarah Silva (aka leftygohome) has captured Tate in 3 traditional drawings, Misguided Youth, I Prepare for the Noble War, and I Did Something Bad Didn’t I. Posted on DeviantART. Used with the artist’s permission.
Click here to see more art from Sarah Silva.
Tate Langdon – Evan Peters
Tate Langdon – Evan Peters. Traditional drawing by Jasmine C. (aka Jazzie560). Posted on DeviantART.com. Used with the artist’s permission.
Click here to see more art from Jasmine C.
Violet and Tate
Violet and Tate. Original digital art by Dori Hartley. Posted on DeviantART. Used with the artist’s permission.
Click here to see more art from Dori Hartley.
Tate Langdon. Original pencil drawing of Tate in the skull-face makeup by Agata Bednarek (aka MrsXBenzedrine). Posted on DeviantART. Used with the artist’s permission.
Click here to see more art from Agata Bednarek.
tate and violet
tate and violet. Digital art, SAI+Photoshop, by GetNine. Posted on DeviantART. Used with the artist’s permission.
Click here to see more art from GetNine.
Farmiga, Murphy and Peters
Actress Taissa Farmiga, producer/creator Ryan Murphy and actor Evan Peters pose at the after party for FX Network’s ‘American Horror Story’ at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on October 3, 2011 in L.A., CA.
‘AHS’ at 69th Annual Golden Globes After Party
Actress Frances Conroy, FX president John Landgraf, actors Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters arrive at NBC Universal’s 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012.
Ashley Rickards, Evan Peters and Shelby Young
Actress Ashley Rickards, Evan Peters and Shelby Young pose at the after party for FX Network’s ‘American Horror Story’ at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on October 3, 2011 in L.A., CA.