Geek Girls Rule! #290 – Review American Horror Story Seasons 1 & 2

Good morning, I’m was sitting here drinking coffee, eating Triscuits and chevre and wondering what the hell I was going to blog about today, when I started getting grumpy because I haven’t been able finish watching Season two of American Horror Story , because the Geek Husband What Rules is working graveyard shift on the weekends, and is sleeping all day in the room with the television.  So, I figured I might as well talk to you about the parts I have seen so far.

There's actually no contortionists, though.
There’s actually no contortionists, though.

Season one, which I linked above, blew my mind.  I wasn’t expecting much, in spite of tumblr having blown up over the show, but I figured why the hell not?  So, one Saturday when I had the house to myself, I put it on figuring I’d get some knitting done while I watched an episode.  I wound up so engrossed I forgot about my knitting and binge watched five episodes before the Geek Husband What Rules got home.

He doesn’t like horror, so I don’t make him watch it.

Centered around a house, gorgeous house, in San Francisco known locally as “the Murder House,” the show focuses on the people who have all lived there, as most of them have died there, and the few survivors remain obsessed with it.  From the surgeon who built it to his wife, to the gay couple who built it to flip it, to the current family living in it.  He’s a psychiatrist, who slept with a student after his wife miscarried their second, very wanted child, she was a cellist.  They have an older daughter, Violet who is having trouble fitting in.  Next door is Constance, played by Jessica Lange, who used to live in the house, and her developmentally disabled daughter Addie.  Also in residence are the ghosts of everyone who’s ever died in the house, the surgeon and his wife, the queer couple who last lived in the house, and many others.  I have to say, Zachary Quinto surprised me in the role of one half of the couple.

The house seems to draw troubled couples to it, in some cases it seems to create the troubles after they get there, but for the most part it seems the troubles pre-existed those people living in the house.

Other things that surprised me, the candor about sex and drug use of teenagers, the graphic violence, and some nudity.  There’s lot’s of blood, and they don’t shy away from difficult topics.  They’re great at building tension, and doing false scares to lull you into a false sense of security.  The pacing is elegant and works.  I can’t say it never had slow spots, but for the most part even the slow spots kept me interested.  They definitely luxuriated in the amount of time they had to build and complete the story.  Sometimes the hints they would give you of things to come would be infuriating.  You’re sitting there going, “AAAAAAHHH!!! I know that’s important, but I DON’T KNOW WHY!!!”  Or on occasion they would hit you with the importance of a half-remembered detail that they were careful to make sure got noticed, but not in an obvious way.

I really enjoyed the first season.   The cast were great.  I don’t think there was a bad performance in the lot.  The kid who played Tate, was pretty amazingly good.  And I kind of have a raging crush on the woman who played the seductress Moira.

I’m only about halfway through the second season, and it isn’t quite as good as Season one, but it’s still pretty good.  This one centers around an insane asylum in the 1950s.  The plot’s a little more all over there place, and while I’m not finding it as engaging as season one, I’m still into it.  Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto and others from the first cast all have roles in the second, which I think gives the series this weird feel of traveling time or dimensions in a way.

In the first show, Evan Peters’s character is framed for the murder of his black wife (1950s).  The way she was killed implicates him as a local serial killer.  Another main character is the intrepid female reporter, Lana, who gets locked up in the asylum after she’s caught snooping, Jessica Lange’s character gets her girlfriend to sign the commitment papers by threatening to expose the two of them as lesbians, which will destroy the girlfriend’s career as a teacher, and potentially out a whole bunch of their close friends.

In the course of the first half of the season, you find out who the serial killer is (hint: not Evan Peters’s character), and see an abortive escape attempt.  Lana is subjected to electroshock therapy. There’s been a presumed alien abduction, demon possession, and there are… things in the woods that I’m not sure what they are yet.  This season hasn’t had as much blood on screen, yet, but it’s all over the place.  I’m kind of wondering how they’re going to pull this all together at the end, if they do.

They did a fantastic job of capturing the repressive feel of 1950s society, where people were murdered and/or committed for daring to love someone of the wrong gender or race (not like we’ve come completely past that yet, to be honest).  This is the era of McCarthyism, and I think they do a great job of recreating that feel.

If you like your horror a mix of cerebral and gory, I think this show will work well for you.  Especially if you don’t mind waiting for the payoff.

If you like the blog or the podcast, or want to pledge to help fund my new Captain Marvel addiction, please, please, please donate to keep us going.  Donations go to pay for the podcast hosting and website domain, primarily.

Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want.  We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly.  Check it out (we’re track 16).  The next Honey Badger show is May 2nd at the Kraken, in celebration of the Geek Husband What Rules’s and my 20th anniversary.  

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