What is the fascination with American Horror Story? Maybe it’s the masterful authorship to illustrate reality hinging on fantasy. Or maybe it is the fresh perspective that audience receives with each season. Each season ushers in a new storyline. Anyone who watches American Horror Story religiously knows that the show portrays a delicate balance between scary and disturbing. Perhaps it is this the vice that captured 3.18 million viewers during its premiere on October 5th, 2011.
At least this was the appeal for me a “scary show” that would not give me nightmares. I was first introduced to American Horror Story through a college roommate. I was very nervous about watching the show since I get frighten easily. When I was watching the first episode, “Murder House”, I was drawn like a moth to a flame.For me, I did not find it scary in the least. It was entertaining, witty, and thrilling rather then scary. Subsequently, Wednesday nights became our girls’ night in. We were hooked. We watched the show with giddy exceptions and speculations.
The first season reads almost like a Shakespearean tragedy(without the Old English). At its core the season follows the narrative of marital infidelity. The small family of three looks for a fresh start after the father figure, Ben Harman, cheats on his wife, Vivien. To resolve his guilt he moves his wife Vivien and daughter Violet from Boston to Los Angeles.
The unhappy trio purchase a luxurious mansion with breathtaking craftsmanship and artistry, for a bargain. As there is dark past associated with the massive. Their nosy neighbor, Constance, pops in and out of their home like an unwanted mother-in-law. She parades around their house sprouting doubt, uncertainty, and suspicion. It is unclear whether she is a friend or a foe of the Harmons. Constance has her own agenda as influences the Harmons’ likes under her guardianship strange things happen in the Harmons’ home. Strange things of the supernatural sort.
In its sophomore season, American Horror Story focused more on the motifs of humanity/obscurity, religion vs the supernatural, and life vs death. In 1964, the catholic Briarcliff Mental Institution tries to cure the criminally ill. Through characters like Sister Jude the audience cyclical reality of life. Sister Jude experiences falls and redemption throughout the season as she struggles to find her place in the world.
Her experiences beg the question of what makes a person either moral or immoral. Through her eyes, the audience witness the true evils of humanity through the likes of Sister Mary Eunice, Monsignor Timothy Howard, and Dr. Oliver and Dr. Arthur Arden. We as the audience are led to question the humanity of the mid-sixties’ society. As it allows the evils of humanity bread the obscurity of society’s throw-a ways. The obscurity of an alleged serial killer, Kit Walker, journalist Lana Winters, and other such characters fight to remain relevant. Briarcliff is a facility shrouded in external and internal demons, the supernatural , and scientific. It is a testament of the strength of the human mind and will.
In its junior season, American Horror Story once again introduces the supernatural at its premise. The show ushers characters like Vodoo Queen Marie Laveau(Angela Bassett) and Madame Delphine LaLaurie(Kate Bates). Set in the modern New Orlean’s French Quarter, a coven of witches traces its ancestry back to the Salem Witch Trials.
The coven is led by an aging self-indulged Supreme Witch, Fiona Good. She tries to to instill strength in her coven while fulfilling her own agenda. Fiona Good is nothing short of a manipulative sociopath that uses and abuses anyone close to her to get what she wants. Her daughter Cordelia struggles to keep external forces like Delta Corp and the Vodoo practitioners from infiltrating and destroying the coven. In this season more controversial motifs like racism, loyalty, and family relations are addressed.The overall feel of this season resonates real life.
In its fourth and current season the show returns to its motif, in the second season, as humanity vs obscurity. Jupiter, Florida, houses one of the last remaining freakshows in the country. The freakshow hosts a curiosity and fascination. A German speaking Esla Mars and her troupe of “freaks” struggle to make end’s meet. The world of carny folks is a small dying breed that is being pushed out by the invention of television.
A pivotal moment in the series arises when Elsa discovers conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler. Their arrival to the freakshow exposes the freaks daily torment from the outside world’s aversion to them, as they try to find comfort with one another. Jimmy Darling, the main man of the freak troupe, aspires to the transcend his freakish condition. If only he had been born forty-some odd years later he might have been able to have surgery for his syndctyl.
But alas such is not the case for Jimmy instead he will inevitably spends his life as a social outcast whom is separated from his peers only by a physical defect. What is aspiring about this recent season the acceptance that the freaks find with themselves, among themselves. Society be damned! With all her furnishings of decency lies nothing more than a hotbed hypocrisy.
Freakshow challenges the audience to accept the imperfections in ourselves and in others. Overall, I find American Horror Story to be both existentialistic and intelligent. It takes a miscrope and examines some of the hypocrisies mirrored in American society and forces it to think in a way that transcends just entertainment. I, for one, find this approach deliciously thrilling and I cannot wait more episodes.#ohmyliba#americanhorrorstory