I’ve watched approximately 23 minutes of American Horror Story, FX’s new haunted house yarn spun by Glee & Nip/Tuck creators Murphy and Falchuk. There’s a part of me, the part that follows TV critics on Twitter and blogs who love AHS, that wants to go to the “Catch Up” category on On Demand and immerse myself in the series. But there’s another part of me that is avoiding AHS like the plague. Here’s why:
AHS seems incredibly misogynistic. Granted, I’ve seen less than half an episode, BUT the part that I did see turned me off from watching any more because it was so violently sexist. There are critics on both sides of the fence on this one. One of my favorite TV thinkers argues that the show is not sexist – it’s just following horror tropes. But this doesn’t preclude the show from being misogynistic; the horror hallmarks AHS calls on are not exempt from scrutiny just because they’re traditional to the genre.
If David Lynch had no class or vision, he would have made AHS. By that I mean the show is sensational for sensationalism’s sake. The gimp suit, the nurse costumes, the two versions of Moira etc. make great visuals and one-off mysteries but don’t really serve the larger plot. Which brings me to the next problem…
There is no larger plot. Remember when Lost ended and you felt lied to and hurt like when you realized dinosaurs never existed? Well, even though my 23 minutes of AHS viewing is not long enough to get a sense of the story arc, it was enough to tell that the show is headed down the Lostian path. AHS is still figuring out where it wants to go, which concerns me because a show which relies heavily on serialization should already know it’s destination (at least for the first season). But it’s clear that Murphy & Falchuk’s latest project is flying by the seat of it’s proverbial pants.
Perhaps Julieanne Smolinski at NYMag said it best: “did NO ONE make plans to write this series beyond, ‘It’s a haunted house. Sometimes there are butts.’ ???” Side note: “Ghosts and Butts” is actually an early Jane Austen novel, but she stole the premise from the Bronte sisters. The Bronte version was heavy on the ghosts whereas Austen really focused on the butts. See what I mean? No focus in this show! It makes me dream up fantastic yet non-existent 19th century Brit lit rather than pay attention to what’s actually going on because the creators don’t even know what’s going on!
For now, AHS can sit in it’s little creepy box and maybe, when I feel like I won’t give up in frustration because I think there won’t actually be any reward for my efforts after the gimp suit fades, I’ll watch American Horror Story.