'American Gothic' Boss Talks Premiere Revelations and Long-Term Series Plan

Corinne Brinkerhoff also discuss a possible "psychopath gene" and what a potential second season would look like.
Christos Kalohoridis/CBS

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the series premiere of CBS’ American Gothic, “Arrangement in Grey and Black”]

No one in the Hawthorne family can be trusted. At least not at first glance of the prominent Boston family with chilling secrets introduced in the pilot of American Gothic.

The case of the Silver Bells Killer, a fictional murderer who terrorized Boston for three years always leaving a silver bell with his victims, was reopened in the premiere after 14 years, and the Hawthorne family found themselves right in the thick of it in a number of ways.

Heavy suspicion lay on patriarch Mitchell Hawthorne (Jamey Sheridan) who had a heart attack at the very mention of the Silver Bells case being open. His grown children Tessa (Megan Ketch), a teacher, and Cam (Justin Chatwin), a recovering drug addict, found a stash of silver bells along with morbid newspaper clippings in the family shed doesn’t bode well for Mitchell. Unfortunately, before Tessa and Cam could confront their father about the findings, their mother Madeline (Virginia Madsen) ended his life creepily like a pro at the hospital. This extra attention, along with the arrival of estranged Hawthorne brother Garrett (Antony Starr), is perfect timing to really throw a wrench in the family’s oldest sister Alison’s campaign for mayor. To top it all off, Cam’s son Jack (Gabriel Bateman) revealed a passion for slicing up animals like a mini-serial killer in the making.

A lot of drama is coming up for the Hawthornes in the 12 episodes ahead. “As we dive in, each of these characters has a secret that could be potential liabilities particularly for Allison who is running for mayor,” American Gothic writer and executive producer Corinne Brinkerhoff tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We have fun with that story with her campaign.”

Gothic will also be exploring some bigger issues as Tessa and her husband Brady (Elliot Knight) try to start a family of their own. “One of the things we play with a lot on the show is the idea of nature vs. nurture and is there some sort of psychopathy gene. If there is, is there some responsibility to not continue this genetic line?” Brinkerhoff says. “They start to rethink that at some point when they realize what may be afoot in their family. We have great fun with Jack, who is the living proof if there is a psychopathy gene he’s got it.”

Brinkerhoff previously promised that there will be a "satisfying end" to the season. However, she says the possibilities are endless where American Gothic could go in a potential second season.

“I pitched it as a seasonal anthology where each season would be a different family, a different setting, a different mystery,” she says. “I think it would be creatively invigorating for all of us to reinvent the world, but put the same players in it. We’ve also gotten really excited about potential ways to stay within this world and with this family, but maybe jump time a bit, which is another way to approach it.”

American Gothic airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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