Soap Opera of the Damned

American Horror Story Gathers Steam

When I first wrote about American Horror Story I was impressed.  It was just getting started and was filled with sex, violence, bad language and loads of haunted house scary stuff.  It still is, and it just keeps getting better.

The peril of those first episodes was that they were scary but the story seemed contained and could have been self-limiting.  Family moves into haunted house and gets freaked out before either succumbing to the ghostly horrors or Image of American Horror Story Postergetting the hell out.  But creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (who also created Glee – nobody can ever say these guys are limited in creative scope) clearly foresaw those hazards and are taking delicious steps to broaden the story and keep the entire Harmon family attached to their evil house.

Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivien (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) have embarked upon a series of betrayals, lies, mistresses, crimes, deaths, pregnancies, secrets and misunderstandings that would make any good soap opera proud.  Add the delightful twists of graphic sex, violence and horror and you have a winner on all counts.  McDermott continues to be a sleazy weasel, the guy you love to watch squirm as his every misdeed comes back to haunt him – literally.  Britton continues to be our heroine, the ever-abused good girl who we can actively root for without feeling like complete perverts.  Farmiga’s role has evolved to allow her to be more sympathetic.  She’s not all good, but she does appear to at least have a soul at times.

Jessica Lange continues to chew the scenery in the finest way possible.  Good Lord she’s creepy and unpredictable and totally unstable.  This role must be an absolute joy to play – her character of Constance the next door neighbor is so completely over the top and vexing you can almost feel Lange rubbing her hands together with glee as she embarks on yet another lunatic plan.  Frances Conroy as eternal housekeeper Moira is matching Lange step for step with her rational logic countering Constance’s craziness, plus adding some crazy of her own.  She is a dead housekeeper, after all.  She wouldn’t be sticking around that house if she didn’t have issues.

What I’m really liking is the expanding world inside this haunted house.  More tormented spirits equals more potential complications, conflicting motives and complex shenanigans to keep us on our toes.  As things become more and more convoluted and soap-ish, the more delightful is the whole package.

If you have any interest at all in ghost stories and are not averse to R-rated material on your basic cable channels, give American Horror Story a try.  You might be scared, but you won’t be disappointed.  It’s on Wednesday nights on F/X and you can see back episodes on Hulu or on F/X.  The benefit of visiting the F/X site is that it’s filled with behind the scenes goodies, previews and other good stuff.  You can see the pilot either place and catch up with some of the episodes already aired – plenty to bring you up to date on the basic story lines.

Another option, once you’ve seen the pilot and determined that the show is, in fact, awesome, is to download individual episodes from Amazon.  You can fill in any gaps from what’s available on the free sites or just have all the episodes so you can watch them again and catch little details you might have missed the first time.  Now that’s a win/win.  Click below to find the Amazon downloads.  Enjoy!

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