At about four yesterday morning, I finished watching the first season of American Horror Story, and while I don’t normally talk much about (let alone review) television…it somehow feels the thing to do, here.
/poses sexily in a falling-open French maid outfit…distracting from the ghostly figure behind her, who is inexplicably on fire whilst wearing a fedora
‘I AM THE MAN OF THE HOUSE. I GOT THIS SHIT, YOU GUYS.’ /POINTEDLY IGNORES GHOSTLY MAN ON FIRE AND STARES BROODINGLY INTO THE DISTANCE INSTEAD
/ANGRILY EATS WATERMELON
Congratulations: After viewing that one picture, you now know everything you need to know about the first season of American Horror Story!
Except for the fact it is still, somehow, actually kind of awesome.
In case you couldn’t already guess, the writing, ‘plot’-wise, is rather reminiscent of Stephen King guest-writing an episode of Passions. And after more than one ‘big reveal’, I felt like that’s exactly what I was watching.
Don’t get me wrong; I found this to be wildly entertaining. Just…probably not so much for any of the right reasons, hah.
But I’m not here for plot. I can certainly appreciate it when its done well (and even AHS did have its moments*, to give credit where credit is due); but plot, to me, is a vehicle to tell character stories, and not the other way around.
I’m a character-writer myself, and so I view everything else through that lens.
And with AHS, it’s there that things start getting impressive.
Impressive enough to successfully overshadow the Stephen-King-writing-Passions plot.
Here, the ‘normal’ characters, the easy ones, the ones you could make likable and relatable and audience-engaging with relatively little effort, aren’t. The ‘normal’ characters aren’t particularly likable, at least not if you ask me.
The characters I found to be most likable instead?
A literal psychopath, and an incredibly obnoxious aging Southern socialite who aspires to raise demonspawn.
Allow me repeat that: The most likable characters are a literal psychopath, and an incredibly obnoxious aging Southern socialite who aspires to raise demonspawn.
And those characters are legitimately likable, in their own rights, and don’t simply earn those spots just by virtue of everyone else being so awful you’d prefer anything else over them.
Likable, mind you; I’m not even talking about these characters being the most interesting. Personally, I spent the entire series wanting to fold the psychopath up and put him in my pocket; I found him that precious.
This show made me want to put a psychopath in my pocket.
If that is not good character-writing, I don’t bloody know what is. I especially appreciate the fact that the writers didn’t take the easy road — they make you care about the characters who by all rights should be damn hard to care about, they make you emotionally invested in them despite your own better judgement, rather than just letting you care about the more normal characters you can probably already relate to anyway.
They took a risk with their characters, and they pulled it off.
The actors who played those characters in particular were absolutely fabulous, as well, which definitely helped more than a little. ♥ They were wonderful to watch.
In short, character-wise, AHS made me happier than anything else has in a while, and that’s saying something.
And the other thing it did that impressed me?
It succeeded in almost kind of freaking me out.
To put this into perspective, I once decided it would be a fantastic idea to first read The Shining in a hotel, right down the hall from Room 217, and was still almost completely unfazed by it. (Except for the hornets, that is. Because…hornets. Enough said.)
It takes a lot to faze me.
But American Horror Story managed, at least in one regard. (Reading about haunted hotels in a hotel is one thing; ghostly gimp suits are apparently another, if you ask me.)
And it was the good kind of fazed — it freaked me out in between making me laugh out loud with its own sheer ridiculousness and making me emotionally invested in characters I had no business being invested in.
That is to say, the show as a whole completely played with my emotions, and I am quite pleased.
And, on a final note, while I’ll avoid spoilers…the final scene was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen in anything. Period.
And I’m still laughing, even if I shouldn’t be. ♥
* ‘Not many of them, but it did have them.’