American Horror Story is actually pretty good.
Co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have managed to do what horror movie directors haven’t done for at least the last decade: develop a project that puts good acting and character development first. There’s plenty of “jumpy” moments involved, but the show finds its merit in being able to successfully navigate multiple dark storylines within the typical framework of a Hollywood horror flick. The actors hold their weight and the historical tangents manage to trigger a real life authenticity in between all the freaky supernatural stuff that occurs.
I started binge-watching the show around Halloween and made my way through the first two seasons by November 1st. The third and current season, “Coven,” airs on FX every Wednesday, and now that I’m fully caught up, I loath waiting each week for a new episode. Seriously, what if TV shows leaked like albums did?
It sucks waiting an infinitely long 7 days for new episodes of a good show, but
what’s even worse is
hearing from your friends how awesome a show is, but finding out it’s already in its third season and would probably take forever to catch up. I still have a few friends – and an entertainment manager brother – who’ve yet to watch Breaking Bad for this reason.
American Horror Story doesn’t have this problem. Described often as an “anthology series,” one of the most standout features of the show is its development model. Each season is its own mini-series, comprised of completely different characters and plot lines. In other words, you can start season one before season two or perhaps disregard them both in favor of starting “Coven” immediately.
Clocking in at less than 15 hours per season, it would seem that this type of model would result in rushed storylines or underdeveloped characters, yet both are the show’s strong suits. Season two’s “Asylum” breeds an entirely new type of heroine in Lana, while actress
Jessica Lange has won numerous awards for her standout performances in seasons one and two.
The format certainly creates a lighter investment as a viewer, but the precision of each episode is an adequate trade-off. It demands that the creators have a higher investment, which is lacking in many traditional series, e.g. The Walking Dead, a show that is progressively slowing down, dying, and showing little signs of coming back to life.
Oh, and Jessica Lange is not the only actor that appears in multiple seasons.
Murphy and Falchuk use almost identical casts for all three seasons, rednering a different type of appreciation if you’ve watched them all. It’s not only about the actor’s ability to completely nail their role in one season, but to watch them extend themselves to completely different roles the next time around is also pretty tight.
But this is also where potential problems roll in. I’ve talked to a few
friends who are currently watching multiple seasons of the show at once and I find this completely weird. Sure, the mini-series framework allows for this sort of thing, but personally, watching an actor in one mode for an hour, then turning to another season and seeing this same actor in a completely different world would compromise the overall charm of the show. We’re not talking the Brat Pack. The fact that American Horror Story is a television series disallows me to disassociate its seasons entirely.
I don’t want to feel as though I’m watching people play dress up on screen. It’s probably funny, but the laugh doesn’t serve any purpose to the overall reach of the program. All in all, I think the model of the show is great, but of course people will find some way to fuck it up by trying to kill multiple birds with one stone.
I’ve found it much better to just keep the series separated. However, keep in mind that I’m also the guy who can hardly watch The Town without thinking: Don Draper, ad man, fighting crime.