Friday, September 6, 2013

Stories to Haunt By

Usually, I find it hard to review a TV show, especially one where each episode builds on the episode just before it. Reason being that sometimes, it's hard to pick out episodes that easily represent the series as a whole, and you can't really talk about any one episode in general without discussing the preceding episodes.

So, when I talk about American Horror Story, I'll try and be as spoiler free as possible, all the while giving it an honest review.

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (both of Glee fame), the series debuted on FX in late 2011. Described as an horror themed anthology series, what makes this series different than other anthology's, such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, is that each season tells a single, self contained story instead of a new story every episode. The story being told in season 1 is officially over at the end of the season finale, and season 2 starts anew telling a brand new horror story with a new set of characters and a new setting, and so on.

I like this idea, it helps to expand on the characters and the trials they go through, all the while breathing new life into the show with each new season. While at times, this could be a bit jarring because who knows how much you may or may not like a character by the end of a season, it makes for some new surprises every time a new season starts.

But, despite liking this idea, I'm going to say something that may be going against the regular horror loving crowd. Based of the five episodes I watched, I didn't like it and couldn't go any further into the season. Should I have finished the entire season? Possibly, but could I? No, not really.

Reason being that I couldn't really feel for any of the characters or care for the story being told, even though you're obviously meant to feel for these people. We have the husband that cheated on his wife, using her unwillingness to have sex after a miscarriage as an excuse. The wife seemed to just be "there" for the sake of the plot, and at times, seemed to be a little too forgiving. There's the daughter, who seems to hate everyone but her boyfriend that she just met the day before. And then we had the assortment of ghosts that used the weaknesses of the family against them.

I'm all for having a show full of "bad guy" or "realistic" characters, as long as there's a point behind it. Breaking Bad is an amazing show because while Walter White gets involved and takes part in some pretty terrifying events, you understand exactly why he does them and that theses actions are ultimately done for a better cause. Even shows like Boardwalk Empire and Sons of Anarchy, both of which were full of vicious characters fueled by greed, featured characters that wanted something better from their lives and you truly wanted to see them succeed, but you also see that they were trapped in a life they couldn't escape from.

However, in the case of American Horror Story, you're meant to feel for characters that have little to no redeeming factors. The husband gets himself wound up in a web of lies that makes his life only worse and the only person who seemed like they weren't going to have it was the daughter. While I can understand the wife wanting to be the better person and forgive, I saw her mostly just being "there" in the show and not really helping the plot move forward.

The show had some great atmosphere, though. I must admit that the filming, and even the title sequence, were pretty well done and showed that this season had a lot of potential.

Ultimately, I felt what the show came down to was characters I cared nothing for in plot didn't do anything for me. I wanted to like this show, I truly did. I went in with an open mind, purposefully going into the show knowing next to nothing other than it was a horror based show with a "anthology" concept, and ended up being completely underwhelmed with the plot and characters.

In saying that, however, if you're a fan of horror, give this show a viewing. You may enjoy this show more than I did, who knows, you may find some compelling and redeeming features of the show that I just seemed to overlook for whatever reason. In my opinion, it wasn't good enough to warrant a full viewing, but it seems to be popular enough in the rest of the horror loving crowd that I seem to be in minority in this viewpoint. The series seemed to have plenty of potential, but just fell flat and couldn't keep me engaged in what was going on. Here's hoping that possibly season 2 could do something for me more than the first season did.