TV Review: 'American Horror Story'


People keep asking me what American Horror Story is about, and for good reason. Producers have kept quiet on the details, yet have been pushing a titillating, omnipresent advertising campaign. At its base, AHS is The Shining if directed by the mad lovechild of David Lynch and Dario Argento. Of course, if there was a Lynch/Argento lovechild running around, making movies, the base of a story would be deemed almost irrelevant.

The Harmon family has moved across the country for a fresh start. Vivian (Connie Britton) has been traumatized by a brutal miscarriage she was forced to carry to term, and while she is still mourning the loss, she catches husband Ben (Dylan McDermott) having sex with one of his psychology students. In the hopes of rebuilding their marriage, Vivian, Ben, and their teen daughter Violet move to a beautiful classic Victorian house in Los Angeles. Naturally, the house has a dark past (murder-suicide) and bizarre neighbors. Constance (played magnificently by Jessica Lange) is the consummate Southern belle who moved to Hollywood to become a big star. Instead she got pregnant and has been forced to dedicate her life to raising her "mongoloid" daughter Adelaide (she has Downs Syndrome). Adelaide will not stay away from the Harmon house, which suits Constance just as well, as she is a busybody and loves having an excuse to barge in to the Harmon home.

American Horror Story zips by - blink and you might miss an important story beat. In the first episode, this is actually a detriment. It feels like a two-hour pilot that was cut down to fit into a 70-minute time slot (supersized because, obviously, there was far too much content for 60 minutes). Between meeting the characters and sorting out the circumstances, there is a lot to take in and it forces a certain disconnect. But by the second episode (once you know where the chips have fallen), the quick cuts and occasionally unconventional structure grabs you by the throat and yanks you along for the ride.

The show has everything; because of that, it likely won't appeal to all. In addition to infidelity and violent deaths, you can look forward to sex, nudity, drugs, child abuse, teenage sociopathy, and yes, rubber BDSM. The Rubber Man is predominant in the ad campaign, but he is not a major figure in the series... yet.

Verdict? This is my new obsession. 

American Horror Story premieres October 5th at 10pm on FX.