This Fall has been insane, but I’m finally getting some breathing room. I reclaimed some time to catch up with some television, and when I found out American Horror Story Season 1 made it to Netflix, I put it near the top of the queue.
I’ve heard a lot of back and forth about the show, but a number of people I trust have really enjoyed it and they sold me on it. It’s also a rare beast: a successful, episodic horror television show on a network which will allow it to play to its strengths and earn an audience rather than strip itself down to appeal to anyone too lazy to change the channel from the previous show.
In the first season, a family purchases a house in Los Angeles. The couple’s marriage is on shaky ground, their daughter has become rebellious and distant, and now the house they’re hoping to establish their last chance in is haunted. So far, fairly standard horror fare, right? Maybe even a bit cliché.
Yet this is where the show shines. No, the haunted house story isn’t new, nor are a number of the tropes sprinkled throughout the season. Rather than trying to surprise us, I think the creators concentrated instead on making these tropes their own. They told a good story with characters I cared about, and I enjoyed the pacing of the show and the way they gave us a little more back story at the beginning of each episode.
In short, they sucked me in. Maybe not on the level I enjoy Justified or Sons of Anarchy, but enough I wanted to know what happens next.
My only beef, in fact, came into play during the season finale. I didn’t dislike the way it ended, but I felt a significant portion of the episode lost the tone of the season. Instead of the constant dread and suspense we were treated to all along, it became fifteen to twenty minutes of black comedy. It made sense for the ending they chose (and the episode did climax on a dark note), but I felt like they may have given the audience the ending they wanted instead of the ending the show may have earned or deserved.
Of course, I have a bias toward a good downer ending. Your mileage may vary.
In the end, I give it a solid four out of five stars. Far better than I expected. Unless you’re a hardcore horror snob, I say give it a shot. If you’re a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscriber, it’s already waiting for you to click. (And no commercials! Bliss.)
I’m also glad to hear Season 2 is starting over with a whole new story. Carrying on the first season would have been a mistake, as the problem with tropes like a haunted house is it doesn’t take long to milk them dry. Season 2, I understand, deals with alien conspiracies, and that should also fit nicely within the confines of a single season without wearing thin (*cough*X-Files*cough*). My biggest decision will be whether to wait until it’s on Netflix or rent it through Amazon when time permits.