The Winner of the Fall TV New Show Battle Royale

I’ve given a lot of shows a chance this year, probably more so than I ever have. I’m not normally one to get into new shows until they’ve proven themselves with enough good word of mouth, but this year I decided to give a bunch of them a shot.

My history with Terra Nova is well documented on the site here, and I gave it a chance but ultimately deemed it too poorly made to function. I tried Zooey Deschanel’s The New Girl, but I got tired of three guys ripping on her adorableness. Up All Night made me never want to have children, so it might have done its job, and I even got through three whole minutes of Revenge before throwing in the towel.

But there’s only one show that I’ve not only seen every new episode of so far, but where I actually look forward to each new installment. That would be American Horror Story.

Honestly? I thought it looked terrible. The creators of Glee and Nip/Tuck combining into one project seemed like trying to mix applesauce and mustard, and it just didn’t seem like anything I’d actually be interested in.

Alright maybe there’s a LITTLE bit to be interested in.

As it turns out, however, I really am enjoying the show so far, and it’s the only program on air at the moment with a true sense of mystery to it. You’re constantly trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and like Lost before it, there are about sixteen different ongoing questions at any given point, waiting to be answered.

The show follows a family of three that has moved into a new home after major life events (the husband cheating and the wife miscarrying) take a huge toll on them, and a fresh start is required. Friday Night Light’s Connie Britton is Vivian, the closest thing the show has to a hero, while Dylan McDermott is Ben, king of all douchebags. They have a daughter, Violet, who enjoys cutting herself and flirting with her father’s psychiatric patients, whom he sees out of their new house. Yeah, because that’s a good idea.

But the main three aren’t the most interesting part of the show. That would be the house itself, deemed appropriately as the “Murder House” by local tour guides. In only three episodes, we’ve seen or heard about five or six separate events that happened in the house, most of them centered in the mysterious basement where very, very bad things tend to happen.

The scariest American horror story? That hat.

The house is patrolled by a quartet of strange figures. A nosy neighbor with a down’s daughter who seems to have it in for Vivian. The maid, Moira, who looks like an old hag to women, but a sexy seductress to men. Ben’s patient, Tate, who is a disturbed kid with an apparently demonic alter ego, and finally a man with half his face burned who says that he once cooked his family alive inside his house, and his symptoms of psychosis are starting to be mimicked by Ben.

You’re trying to figure out what exactly all these people…are. Ghosts? Demons? Figments of imagination? It’s tough to know, and that’s the most interesting part of the show.

It’s not perfect though, and I would argue it piles on almost TOO much. I mean seriously, describing or showing six different sets of murders in one house in under three episodes? We’ve got to slow down here a bit people. And with every person they meet apparently some sort of supernatural force and with dreams and hallucinations, it gets hard to keep track of if anything at all is real or actually happening. Mind games can be good, but American Horror Story might be overdosing on them to the point where it muddles up the story.

It also treats murder with such casualness, that it’s quickly going to be hard to be shocked. In the first three episodes, every member of the family has either killed someone, or been involved in someone’s death, and so it’s going to take a lot to truly shake them up from here on out. Or at least it should.

It’s an interesting show, and the only one out of the entire fall line-up that has actually kept my interest to date, which is an impressive feat in itself. Find it online and start from the beginning to see what you make of it yourself.

Also, Vivian is now pregnant via a mystery man in a gimp suit that she thought was her husband. The fun never ends!


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  1. I’ve watched all three episodes so far. My initial reaction was it would make an ok movie, but how are they going to drag this out over the course of a season? or multiple seasons? So far I’m not feeling a lot of sympathy towards Dylan McDermott’s character which may or may not be a key to truly appreciating that show but there are enough other things going on to distract from that. I particularly like the odd mix of humor & tension the maid brings to the show.

  2. I am loving this show so far! I especially like the interesting and subtle camera shifts and positionings. It keeps that sense of unease and tension at all times. Can’t wait for the next one!

  3. Just finished watching the third episode. First episode (weakest of the three) just got me interested enough to give the next episode a try. Second episode had some good thriller moments that helped pull me into the show more. Third episode has now trapped me (I’m in for the season) and I’ve enjoyed how the writers have woven the characters into not being easy for them to leave the house.

  4. I am strangely obsessed with this show. I think it’s one of my new favourites simply because it’s so fucking strange and I almost never know what’s going on. I can’t wait for it every wednesday. I really like it. I didn’t want to see it either. I really love Glee, but when I saw the commercials for this, I thought “No way, looks fucking stupid.” Watched the first episode and now I’m hooked. I can’t wait to see what happens next. And you’re right about Terra Nova. I liked the first ep, but now? No thanks. I stopped watching after about halfway through episode two. ^-^

  5. SPOILER ALERT* Vivian, Ben, and Violet are all dead. They died in a car crash accident when they were moving to the new house. Where they are right now is hell.

    Of course, this is just my imagination running through my head, but it’s the most plausible explanation for all the weirdness happening around them.

  6. as someone mentioned above, i believe Homeland is by far the best new show of the year. intense, mysterious, topical, with some of the best acting you’ll ever see on tv… what more do you want?

  7. I couldn’t get past the first episode. My family was like, “Oh, this could be awesome, like The Walking Dead.” Then the session with that disturbed kid happened. When he started explaining about his mother… the show became dead to us. I had the same reaction with The Usual Suspects 15 minutes in. It was trash, even if some good details survive in a Wikipedia article.

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