'American Horror Story' More Absurd Than Frightening

Ever since its October 2011 release, “American Horror Story” has been widely praised for its ability to blend unique, unexpected plot lines with an all-star cast. The show relies on the use of shock factor and frequent slips of nudity to attract viewers, as well as a cliffhanger at the end of every episode to make sure people tune in the next week. Last Wednesday, “American Horror Story” aired the premiere of its sixth season—six being a significant number in the world of horror—and demonstrated why many shows choose to cap their number of seasons at five.

The episode follows a multiracial couple who move to an eerie farm house in the-middle-of-nowhere, North Carolina, and (shocker!) begin to uncover that their house is, in fact, haunted. Not only is this disappointing, seeing as the first season of “American Horror Story” was actually titled “Murder House,” but it goes against the very essence of the show: A house being haunted is not unexpected or unique at all. Unlike “Murder House,” however, instead of being haunted by ghosts or goblins, the farmhouse is invaded by middle-aged white men sporting Puritan outfits and hoisting pitchforks. While white men are currently a rather frightening population in America, the series’ execution renders them comical, and I find myself amused rather than jumping in fear.

Interestingly, all of the episode’s happenings are explained in the style of a documentary, although the actors providing the commentary are not those experiencing the actions themselves. While this is probably an artistic choice which will make more sense in episodes to come, it is currently failing at its intended purpose. In fact, the premiere leaves many unexplained components. This may often be a useful tactic in keeping a viewer interested, but it is so greatly overused here that the episode simply renders one more and more perplexed.

“American Horror Story’s” past seasons have included psychotic happenings in asylums, a coven of sexy witches, and a very well-coiffed Matt Bomer. This season has included a farmhouse and the appearance of a bloody pig. Perhaps my expectations were too high. One thing the show did get right, however, is that it finally gave Sarah Paulson an adequate head of hair. Perhaps, however, they should have spent less time treating their actors to balayage highlights and more time crafting a gripping plotline.

I will continue to watch this season, primarily because Lady Gaga is expected to return, but also because I would like to see if Jessica Lange can finally, on her sixth attempt, play an interesting character. “American Horror Story” also has a habit of uncovering as they go, so while the season six premiere might have been terrible, its following episodes might still hold promise.


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