January has come and gone. Its passing marks the end of yet another season of the show we love to hate: “American Horror Story.” Let me preface this by admitting I was once a fan of its hijinks. The first season had me teetering on obsession. While other, more proactive students focused on expanding their intelligence, I was engrossed in the fictional world of haunted houses, gruesome murders and unrelenting mystery. Sure, I recognized its flair for the ridiculous—at times it resembled a trip through the halls of a bad haunted house, simultaneously inducing both frights and laughter. But I didn’t care—it was wildly entertaining.
When the premise for the second season was revealed, “AHS: Asylum,” I was ecstatic. There is nothing more frightening than the minds of the criminally insane. However, as the weeks went by, I began to wonder if the creators of “AHS” were as unstable as the patients of Briarcliff Manor. Whether they were banking on the loyalty of their previously established fan base or they just decided to throw all rationality to the wind, “Asylum” seemed beyond characterization. The season included a myriad of divergent subplots featuring psychopaths, aliens, Nazis, flesh eating monsters and demons, with virtually nothing to weave them all together. I was beyond confused and beginning to question my allegiance.
This brings us to the third season, “AHS: Coven.” Once again, the creators at FX served viewers with an intriguing premise promising witches, dark magic and the historical richness of New Orleans. I, more than anyone, hoped it would allow me the chance to forgive and forget the craziness of season two.
In theory, this would be the part where I’d explain to you the basics of the plot and tell you what the heck it was about but frankly, I’m having a difficult time narrowing it down. It’s as if the writers just had so many ideas that they couldn’t come to a decision on what to make it about so, in the end, they decided to make it about everything.
On the surface it is a story about Miss Robichaux’s Academy, a boarding school and asylum for novice witches, and the problems that arise as a result of the violent and magical history of New Orleans. Complicate it with a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, a racist Kathy Bates, frankensteins, axe murderers, witch hunters threesomes, religious neighbors, voodoo, a hunt for the next Supreme and Stevie Nicks (yes, the real Stevie Nicks) and you have season three in a nutshell.
In terms of performance, most of the show’s recurring favorites, as well as a slew of new faces, were given some amusing roles, though their relevance to the story is debatable. Some of the highlights include Jessica Lange, as glamorous as always, playing the reigning Supreme obsessed with maintaining her youth and her title. No complaints there. Kathy Bates as a racist psychopath returned from the past was also fun to watch, though she never fully developed into an important piece of the narrative. Evan Peters wasn’t given much dialogue as a resurrected Frankenstein, but his grunts were convincing enough, I suppose. Lastly, Stevie Nicks made an appearance as a magical, shawl-twirling Stevie Nicks. Need I say more?
Mirroring its audacious plot, the style of season three was equally as outlandish. Employed for sheer dynamism and spectacle, the show was complete with swooping camera movements, canted angles and extreme lens lengths. Did it look cool? Yes. Did it mean anything? Probably not.
“AHS” is a prime example of how a promising premise does not necessarily make for a great show. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not really meant to be taken seriously, and should be appreciated solely for the spectacle that it is. That being said, I find “AHS” to be like a slice of double chocolate cake. A piece here and there is an enticing treat but a weekly barrage of its richness can become exhausting and unpleasant. Though it has been confirmed for a fourth season, I am sad to say I’ve had enough—my stomach is aching and I’m wondering if it was worth it.
Would you defend “AHS” to the death? Let Callie know why at email@example.com.