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What American Horror Story: Coven Gets Wrong About Voodoo

"American Horror Story" is an anthology horror series that first aired in 2011 with the debut season "Murder House," which is a long-standing fan-favorite season of the show. However, that isn't the only season that impressed viewers either. As evidenced by its 85% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the 3rd season, "American Horror Story: Coven," was also well-liked by fans.

Season 3, like its predecessors, told a new story with much of the same cast from past seasons. This time the plot setting is a school for young witches in New Orleans, Louisiana. These aren't your average television show witches with charm and whimsy, though. They're actually pretty intense and ruthless, and, oh yeah, Stevie Nicks is a witch as well because, of course, Stevie Nicks is a part of a powerful witch coven.

In true "American Horror Story" fashion, actual historical events, no matter how disturbing they may be, are used as a jumping-off point for different storyline directions. With this being a television show, there are a lot of facts that get altered for dramatic effects, though the parts that aren't changed at all might surprise you. Season 3 blends historical accuracy and Hollywood dramatizations throughout the 13 episodes. Some of the incorrect bits involve the season's depiction of voodoo. Here's what "Coven" got wrong about it.

The way Papa Legba is depicted isn't accurate

The Haitian religion of voodoo has long been romanticized on television shows and movies. The facts are often distorted in favor of what some consider to be good storytelling. "American Horror Story" is notorious for blending fact with fiction in each season, and that's exactly what the writers did when they added the character of Papa Legba (Lance Reddick).

Papa Legba is a loa, which, according to Learn Religions, "are spirits who serve as intermediaries between man and Bondye, the supreme Voodoo god." Papa Legba is a well-known figure, typically described as a bit of a trickster. An old man with tattered clothing, a hat, and a cane. He is represented by the colors red and black and often keeps dogs at his side as they are sacred to him.

Papa Legba is believed to be a bridge of communication between the living and the dead. He carries the ability to assist those in need when they find themselves at a crossroads or impasse in their life. However, in order for Papa Legba to grant this assistance to those who ask for it, he must be provided with an offering.

How American Horror Story changed Papa Legba

"American Horror Story" depicted Papa Legba with a much more sinister appearance. His nails are long, and his eyes glow red beneath the brim of his tophat that replaced the straw hat he's said to wear in folklore. There are also no dogs seen or mentioned.

The darker and more sinister version of Papa Legba that "American Horror Story: Coven" shows is actually more in line with a different loa altogether, Bawon Samdi. Bawon Samdi is another powerful loa known as the master of the dead. However, when Bawon Samdi makes the occasional trip to the world of the living, he dons a more formal look with coattails and a top hat, much closer to Papa Legba's costume on "American Horror Story."

It's possible that with such a sinister show, the character of Papa Legba's on-screen wardrobe was purposely blended with that of Bawon Samdi's dark and formal attire for dramatic effect. Either way, the two loas seem to have been meshed together for the sake of a spookier storyline rather than sticking to a more accurate portrayal.