I began watching American Horror Story last year when a few BAD commenters asked for coverage. I was a begrudging viewer and reviewer at first because I've taken some long-standing umbrage at creator Ryan Murphy's way of doing things. Which is to say that he comes up with a good idea, fosters a solid season or so before crippling it with his bizarre, over-the-top enthusiasm and then finally killing it off with neglect when he moves on to something new. And American Horror Story, honestly, is ridiculous. It's so ridiculous, you guys. It is flat out badly written. But something happened over the course of the season. I slowly discovered that I was looking forward to each week's episode, and a week after the utterly lukewarm finale, I realized I missed watching it.
I'd say "I can't explain it," but it's sort of my job to explain it, so I'll give it a shot. First of all, the show is gory as hell. It's not really scary, but it's gross and creepy, and I love gross and creepy. The effects are all well done and the kills are original. The performances are outstanding. Murphy (and co-creator Falchuk, also of Glee) cast the shit out of this show. Jessica Lange, Connie Britton and Frances Conroy are the clear heavyweights, but Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Dylan McDermott, Denis O'Hare and Kate Mara all brought it every week they were on screen. Lange in particular could squeeze pure gold out of the most ludicrously bad lines. She and Britton elevated the material - and damn, that material needed elevating.
The set designs are all spectacular, as is the makeup. The guest stars always shined, and I love the costuming. Actually, every single thing about American Horror Story is good except for the writing. Now, as a writer, reader and critic, that should pose a problem for me. And it honestly does. I wish the show were written better. I think it might be something kind of great if anyone but me cared about the writing. But American Horror Story is such proud, flagrant trash that I can't help but admire it and be entertained by it. And now that I've gotten some details about the second season, I have to admit: I can't wait.
As Season One was just gaining momentum, Murphy mentioned a few times that he intended for the second season to take place in the Murder House of Season One, with all of the ghosts that already existed in the first season joined by the ghosts of people killed during the first season. It would be one big, crowded ghost party when the new family moved in. But that's no longer the case - one presumes someone finally told him that is a laughably bad idea - and Season Two is now going to take place in an entirely new location and a brand new story universe, with much of the same cast playing completely different characters.
That idea is also so weird, but it might be kind of great. Obviously, the stars love it. Quinto says in this THR article:
The notion of coming back and playing something totally different and in a totally different world with many of the same actors, it's probably one of the more exciting things that has come across my plate in recent years. I'm really looking forward to it.
Murphy announced Wednesday that the second season will take place in an institution for the criminally insane run by Jessica Lange, and I am fully on board with that as it allows her plenty of room to be as darkly melodramatic as she damn well pleases. The second season is also supposed to take place in a different era; ideally an era when mental institutions were still allowed to be bleak, depressing, dangerous, terrifying places full of abuse and malevolence. And the following S1 cast members are joining her as brand new characters: Quinto, Peters, Paulson and Rabe. Murphy teased that a few other cast members may be back that haven't been announced yet. I'm crossing my fingers for Britton, Farmiga or Conroy.
Weirdly, Adam Levine will also be joining the cast, which sounds frankly terrible. Here's what Murphy had to say about that:
He's a sexy guy so he needs to play a sexy guy, but the guy that is different than who you think he would play. I pitched him the part and he listened, slack jawed, and simply said, 'I'm in.' The second season is fun, sexy and baroque. It has a lot of meat to it; it's a really gritty part. He's with a girl and they play characters called The Lovers.
That aside, there's no point pretending that I'm not fully down with this show now. You can be sure I'll post reviews every week of the silly debauchery, and if you want to read my season one reviews, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post and see where I linked to all of them and read my finale write up here.