Before I start up this slight bashing, I would like to make something very clear. I truly enjoyed season one of American Horror Story. I thought the show was incredibly risky at times, and the payoff was a stellar cast of characters who kept everything quite motley. And while it did spread itself a wee bit thin by having too many branching story lines from different time periods, that was also a huge part of what made the show work. Problem is, writers and networks see a success, and the want to see it repeated. But by the third episode of season two, Asylum, it was clear to see something was off. The writers obviously wanted to go in a multitude of directions regarding what would put the “horror” in American Horror Story.
The end result was the first time I can say I have seen a show more contrived and convoluted than Lost (which, by the way, I was an avid fan of until it became clear even the show itself had no idea where it was going). So this is just an examination of where American Horror Story tripped up, and what it can do to bring us back for season three, which has already been green lit even though season two was an absolute joke. So if you thought demon nuns who rape priests in an asylum while aliens and serial killers are on the loose was all a bit too much, than this article is for you. I can’t be the only one who thought this was all super silly, right? American Horror Story, what happened to you?
Oh, a nun carrying red buckets of body parts! Look how EDGY that is!
Remember in high school, that one friend you had who tried to be everything to everybody? The kind of person who would act accordingly depending on who he/she was hanging with at the time? And remember how much respect you loss for the person every time you witnessed them being fake, to the point when you could no longer call them a friend? That is my experience with season two of American Horror Story. It was THAT person. Granted, season one had quite a number of interweaving plot lines, they all made sense with the story. School shootings and haunted houses may sound like a lot to take, but it somehow worked. Yet, for season two, it is like the writers had a fish bowl that they filled with little pieces of paper with “scary ideas” written down on, and then they just decided to keep pulling ideas out until the bowl was completely empty. How can you get attached to one story line,w hen they jump around so much that you can’t? For those who haven’t seen this season of American Horror Story, allow me to list just a few of the “horrors” from this season:
Evil Nazi Doctors
Evil Psychiatric Doctors
Angel of Death
” Hey, we should put that Adam Levine guy in this show for absolutely no reason other than to bring in female viewers.”
I know it seems weird putting Adam Levine on the list of horrors, but is it really? To me that just shows, in one simple move, how contrived this show really was. He did not play a crucial character at all. No, he was a reason to put oral sex into the first four minutes of the first episode. NO, really, that was it. You see, the show effortlessly shocked people with season one. I, for one, had never seen such graphic television before (and I loved it for that) but you need to understand, season one had no precedent. Yet season two did, and it was season one. You could see their entire angle for season two was to live up to season one, which is why this season sucked so much. It is the idea of why people hated The Hangover 2. Part one worked so well because it had not been done like that before. The dichotomy between the guys in that first film was genuinely fresh and entertaining. So what did they do for the sequel? They rebooted the first movie in a different location, and it sunk for that reason. How can you give people something so wholly original, and then, in the next breath, insult us with something so see-through? I ask that of The Hangover series, and American Horror Story.
I will admit, some of the performances on the show this season were pretty remarkable, regardless of the silly story.
I will ask all of you now, what was the main story line in American Horror Story: Asylum?
Was it the lesbian reporter who got mistakenly locked up because she knew too much about the asylum and how it was being run? Was it about the kid who was accused of being a serial killer and his interracial relationship that ended in his wife’s death (and aliens)? Was it the story of Jessica Lange (the one bright, shining star that managed to make the show watchable this season) and her redemption as she saw her own faults and had to suffer them as well? Was it the story of the nun who got possessed by the devil, and took over the asylum? Was it the Nazi doctor doing experiments on the patients for his own sick means? Was it the story of how aliens were knocking up chicks after they died? Was it all a metaphor for the archaic standards people lived in back then, were everything people did was considered morally wrong?
I mean, honestly, at one point in this show we had Anne Frank. No, I am not kidding, Anne f*cking Frank was a character on this show. And to anyone who feels obligated to take to the comments and quickly tell us all that she was not Anne Frank, but rather, a patient who THOUGHT she was Anne Frank, how the f*ck did she remember the Nazi from the concentration camp, and know his name? See what I mean? It is like some bro’s who don’t know horror got their hands on a huge pile of coke and decided to write a horror show, but couldn’t find one idea to run with, so they went with them all.
When I heard Voldermort’s brother was on this show as a priest, I was so excited to see how it played out. Long and short, they gave him nothing to do.
And what about that subplot of creating zombies and leaving them shackled out in the woods? And then Chloe Sevigny becomes one at the Nazi’s hand, and crawls off to a school, where she is discovered by kids? WHAT?! And don’t even get me started on the alien subplot, because there is not a single person I knew that thought that element worked. Not one. Even fans of the show let out a massive WTF regarding that.
There was one episode this season that really shined, though. And it shined for one reason. Ian McShane. The Christmas episode was f*cking dope, and could have been a stand alone evil Santa film by itself. But there is one reason that worked so well, and it’s name is Ian McShane.
He was Ho Ho Horrifying. GET IT?! I made a Santa joke!
But even that single working element was the result of an amazing actor giving his soul in his performances, and not the shoddy writing and ridiculous number of interwoven plots. You see, what worked at the heart of season one was the transition this family was making into a new home, and the how the fucked up history of the home before them, bled into their lives once they got there. And what was the single thing that linked season two? An asylum? Oh sorry, I forgot about the asylum while trying to keep track of the 742 plot lines, and 3000 characters they threw at me.
So here we are, with season three already approved and in its earliest stages of plot development, and I feel the need to intervene. Please, FX, do not try to one-up your show by having coat hanger abortions (which they literally showed this season) and masturbation scenes. Instead, focus on a (GASP) single, great, atmospheric, creepy plot-line, and weave a few interesting characters and twists off of that, but keep it minimal. You don’t need to insult your audience by throwing everything you can at them and hoping it overwhelms. You have literally already tapped every horror trope in your first two seasons, except for werewolves and vampires.
Oh no, please, no……
Season three is about a time traveling werewolf who needs to stop a race of evil vampires from impregnating a group of marauding, flesh eating robots. It actually sounds kind of dope.