Having binged watched the entirety of American Horror Story since returning to school; I’ve been counting down the days until the season four premiere, Freak Show (and questioning my life decisions). But before I get too excited for this new season I’m going to go back and talk about what made me fall in love with Ryan Murphy’s horror show.
I am an avid horror movie fan; what drew me into this series was the prospect of a truly horrifying TV series. But what kept me was not the success in its ability to scare me (it really is a hard thing to do), but the fact that American Horror Story is the TV equivalent of a repertory theater. Back in the day, repertory theaters were a common occurence in the Western world; they were theaters that featured the same actors portraying different stories. So like these theaters, the plot of American Horror Story changes season to season, but the actors stay the same (and who wouldn’t want to come back for more Evan Peters).
There are other big names that appear in American Horror Story; Zachary Quinto you might know from Star Trek, Emma Roberts from Aquamarine and Kathy Bates from Titanic, Misery, Failure to Launch, and, well, a whole lot of things. The actors delve into whichever character a new season brings. While there are a few new faces as well, their acting abilities compare to these big names.
My favorite season, personally, is Murder House (season one). This season beautifully wove in the storylines of multiple generations of ghosts and murderers, trapped for all eternity in the very place where they were killed. Centered around a broken family fighting against infidelity, depression, suicide and a miscarriage to stay together, there was something that seemed real mixed in with the messed-up horror of the house.
It’s not everyday that mainstream TV makes a realistic ghosts or paranormal show the norm for people to like, and that’s what I love most about this series. American Horror Story has made ghosts, aliens and realistic witches okay to like. As a child I was always intrigued by the paranormal, not exactly the most appropriate topic to discuss at a Catholic middle school. In the Catholic setting of my childhood, the only time ghosts were mentioned was on Halloween, usually in the form of Casper the Friendly Ghost (if we were lucky we talked about the Sixth Sense). Mostly this kind of talk was shut down by our old, former-nun teachers, but now, my guilty pleasure is shared by many and it’s not weird if I talk about how cool it was that these ghosts could interact with the living.
The other two, Coven and Asylum, each have their high points.
Coven is not the next Charmed or Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It highlights the descendants of Salem witches, their war with the voodoo queen and their fight against witch hunters. There are sacrifices and outside stories that weave their way into the lives of these women. While this season is more female driven, having only a few men consistently in the show: one a devout servant to an evil witch, one a teenager brought back to life and the last a witch's husband that is working for the voodoo queen to kill all the witches in their coven, the women take center stage and kick ass.
Asylum features a demon-possessed nun and the crazy torture of mental patients in the 50s. It tackles some true horrors that took place in insane asylums, but added onto everything deals with alien abduction. However far-fetched it got at times, the phenomenal acting of Lily Rabe as a possessed nun gave the show that same “something” that got people to watch the Exorcist 20 times, and the reason it is still a cult classic today.
Turn in your tickets and enter the freak show, because I'm sure this season will be filled with the same madness that preceded it.