Friday, October 10, 2014

Why American Horror Story: Freak Show is already wearing on me

I go back and forth on American Horror Story.

I was really excited for the first season, and I thought the quality associated with the show for the first handful of episodes in that season was stellar.

Unfortunately, just like everything else he’s ever produced, Ryan Murphy took it a step too far. He always takes it a step too far – which is the problem I consistently have with each American Horror Story season.

AHS: Asylum started out phenomenally – creating a gritty world that you wanted to know more about. The Nazi doctor angle was inspired, and the social commentary affixed to being able to lock a woman up for being a lesbian in those days was poignant.

That was all painted on a backdrop of dueling serial killers working in the past and present day.

Then Murphy insisted on including an Anne Frank angle – and then reinforcing a strong season with
alien abductions and magical hybrid baby births. Ugh.

I was a big fan of the Coven arc – mostly because I loved the New Orleans setting and I thought Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett were fantastic additions to the AHS universe. As a whole, I do think the Coven arc held together the best – but it still wasn’t perfect.

Which brings us to AHS: Freak Show, which debuted Wednesday night.

The whole point of AHS was to create a horror anthology. Sure, because Murphy is in charge, those horror anthologies often go off course. I’d rather see genuine fear than forced sexual innuendo that is meant to titillate instead of terrify the viewer.

For example? Evan Peters went a little too far for me in his rubber rapist outfit in the first season. Now, in the first episode of Freak Show, we see he has “magic hands.” That whole scene was just about pushing the envelope – not about character development – which is why it failed.

Then you have a sociopath who wants to buy conjoined twins for god knows what reason – although
I’m betting it’s sexual and nefarious – and a killer clown. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the people the clown killed deserved to die. I mean, who takes a look at a creepy clown like that and doesn’t think something odd is up? And why did that girl in the field trip? That was just so ... lame.

And then there's the whole time traveling music thing. Jessica Lange is singing a David Bowie song (loved the blue eye shadow, though) in the 1950s? How does that work?

I get the alienation associated with these freak shows -- and I think the arc could be fantastic -- but immediately going for multiple murders with a freaky clown, conjoined twins, and a lobster-clawed man seems like a contrived and insulting way to go.

Right from the get go this season, it seems as if AHS has gone too far for me – and that’s usually something that only happens on the back half of a season. I’ll still check it out – but I’m not exactly thrilled with how this arc is going already.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Freak Show?


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