Note: What follows contains spoilers from American Horror Story seasons 1-3.
One of the more unique shows in recent TV memory, American Horror Story, returns soon for its fourth season. What makes it unique is the setup? Each season is a self-contained horror story in which actors and actresses play new roles every year. This approach allows the story arc a freedom most other shows can’t match.
Most serial show problems can be traced back to pacing issues. To keep the shows interesting, many many things happen to the characters. Eventually, it becomes unbelievable they’d still be alive, functioning human beings (i.e. 24’s Jack Bauer kicks a heroin addiction in a day, those caught Under The Dome suffer undrinkable water one day, unbreathable air the next etc…). With each entire story being contained in a single season, American Horror Story suffers none of these problems.
While their roles change, the show’s cast remains mostly intact from season to season. Led by the incomparable Jessica Lange the cast includes Even Peters, Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare, Taissa Farmiga, Kathy Bates and Frances Conroy. Other actors / actresses have appeared for one or two seasons such as Dylan McDermott, Zachary Quinto, Angela Bassett, and Joseph Fiennes.
The first season told the story of a family moving into a haunted house. All of them died in various manners and joined the ghostly contingent of the haunted house by the end of the season. The second season told the story of a 1960’s insane asylum and is the darkest, most wonderfully evil story I’ve ever seen on TV. The story revolved around a reporter doing a story on the asylum only to wind up a patient there. While there, she encounters everything from a Nazi doctor performing macabre experiments on the patients to a demonically possessed nun to a psychiatrist-cum-serial killer to alien abduction. Insane, indeed! The third season told the story of a coven of New Orleans based witches led by a “supreme witch” seeking eternal youth. While not as dark as season two – an impossible task – the third season showed amusingly deranged Witches reveling in the torture of 18th century slaves, burying each other alive for centuries, and even a Frankenstein’s monster love triangle.
The trailer for the fourth season was released yesterday, announcing American Horror Story: Freak Show. You can view it here:
9/10 – I can’t say for sure what the season will bring but I’m comfortable saying it’ll be near the top of my fall “Must Watch” list. Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett give the show such weight that it’s difficult to turn away.