Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
It seems inevitable that there will be connections drawn between ABC’s 666 Park Avenue and other successful horror television series like FX’s American Horror Story and AMC’s The Walking Dead. That’s something showrunner David Wilcox expected, and he’s been doing his best to differentiate his show ever since its Sept. 30 premiere.
“We can’t compete with an FX or an AMC or anything like that,” he told a group of reporters at New York Comic Con. “We have broadcast guidelines that we’re actually trying to make more of a strength of the show. If you watch Psycho, or that kind of film, an early film, even like Rosemary’s Baby, it’s incredibly chilling, they’re incredibly frightening, and they really get deep inside your heads. There’s no gore, none of that. We think we can do that effectively, and that’s really kind of directed our approach.”
The supernatural drama stars Terry O’Quinn (Lost) and Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives) as the owners of a Manhattan apartment building who recruit an idealistic young couple (Rachael Taylor of Charlie’s Angels and Dave Annable of Brothers & Sisters) to manage the historic site with a dark history.
Wilcox and fellow executive producer Matt Miller spoke with press about their inspirations for 666 Park Avenue. In addition to the two previously mentioned, films like The Shining, The Omen, Blue Velvet, The Birds and Jacob’s Ladder helped shape their television creation. There will even be an episode that references Jacob’s Ladder, Wilcox teased.
“We’re embracing many of the tropes of horror and putting our sort of spin on them, and as well referencing some of our favorite films of the genre,” he said. “I’ve actually wanted to do a horror show for a long time, and there’s always that question, ‘Can you do horror on network TV?’ and I think there is a way to do it, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
With that being said, the show isn’t all darkness. The intention is to have humor elements brought into the series so it isn’t merely a bleak horror project.
“We want the show to be fun more than anything else,” Wilcox said. “We don’t want it to be bleak, we want it to be a fun piece of sort of pop horror. For sure we go to kind of a dark place. We want to be true to what we’ve established and we want to be true to the world itself. The nature of it is that it does go dark as well, but there’s fun stuff to be had there. There’s funny stuff to be found there as well, so that’s what we want to do.”
The duo refused to confirm whether O’Quinn’s character Gavin is Satan, as many have speculated, but they did tease we’ll learn more about his past and see more of his manipulations of those around him over the next few episodes. But what should really intrigue viewers is the development of The Drake as a character.
“It is a place that is endless in its kind of labyrinthine formulations, and that’s the kind of thing that we embrace,” Wilcox said. “We embrace it practically because it’s how we can produce the show, and we’re also embracing it narratively because we think it’s really fucking cool.”
The “resident of the week” style of the show will continue throughout this season, and we’ll meet some new recurring characters very soon. Annable’s Henry will acquire an attractive publicist as he delves into the world of New York politics, and Taylor’s Jane enlists the help of a detective played by Teddy Sears. Whoopi Goldberg will also appear as a resident who’s lived in the apartment for 25 years.
“We’ve added some characters into the show to kind round out the romantic situation,” Miller said. “We’ve always talked about Henry and Jane like, usually in a show, you have two characters that are apart and they’re pining for each other and you’re like, will they or won’t they? And the nature of this show is the prism through which you see the show, these two characters are very much in love at the beginning, and it’s very much about how do you start to possibly bring them apart but in a way that the audience still feels drawn to them.”
The main thing they want 666 Park Avenue to do is live in a world of its own.
“It’s not in the quick-cutty, contemporary horror world,” Miller explained. “We’re trying to live in the suspense a little bit more in the execution of the show, and hopefully it plays tense enough that you’re not flipping the channel.”
666 Park Avenue airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.