Strathclyde Telegraph

Best to Binge Watch: American Horror Story

By Michelle Buckley

Not everything we love is good in excess. Gluttony is after all a sin. So when you find a show you can stomach all at once it is difficult not to fall down that particular rabbit hole. American Horror Story is a show that excels in this respect. Currently the first two seasons are available on Netflix with the third due to land on the 30th of October. At first glance the eponymous premise of the show might seem a bit narrow to lose an entire weekend over, but once you’re on board it is one ghost train that is very hard to get off of.

Often the thing that makes a film, book or show addictive is a compelling mystery at the centre of it. However for a television series this can be a double edged sword that can similarly make a show tiresome. A perfect example of this would be Lost. Therefore American Horror Story’s format of each season being a self-contained story ensures that the show never loses momentum. It is extremely satisfying that after every season all questions are answered and all lose ends are tied up. The writers never paint themselves into corners in terms of storylines or character development. Each season has a specific setting and core conflict. However the major storyline is part of rich tapestry of flashbacks and subplots which is why a genre that had typically been reserved for two hour films translates so well into series.  Also in a show that demands a high death toll the fresh slate each season means there is no jumping the shark in terms of bringing back beloved actors/actresses.

Though the cast changes between each season there are three constants: Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Evan Peters. Jessica Lange has won a Golden Globe and two Emmy’s for her performances in American Horror Story and been nominated in the years she didn’t win. Though her characters change between each season her skill and presence remains undeniable. With each character she can capture the ugly and tragic capable of evoking both fear and sympathy. Each season is undeniably well cast yet time and time again Lange outshines even her most talented co-stars.

American Horror Story, despite the gruesome subject matter, is also very funny and not in the way some horror movies are so bad it’s laughable.  The show never tries to take itself too seriously in fact it revels in the ridiculous. A perfect example of this is season one’s core villain of rubber man. The concept of a murderer in a full body black latex suit shouldn’t work but somehow it does. There is a line and somehow Ryan Murphy knows exactly how to dance back and forth over it. He is helped expertly by the cast, in particular Frances Conroy who is a true comic genius. She creates, with ease, bizarre characters who amuse even when committing heinous crimes. The show is dark and without the morbid sense of humour threaded throughout binge watching would probably be a tad traumatic.

I will admit I did not think American Horror Story would be for me, in fact I think I rolled my eyes when I first heard about it. I very much believed that somehow Hollywood had lost the ability to make good horror. That after the eighties it became all about remakes, bad CGI and sorority girls acting like morons. AHS restored my faith in the genre. It never sacrifices plot at the expense of an easy scare. When things get bloody, and they do often it’s never gratuitous it always follow what came before. AHS like in all good horror you often can’t look away, even when you want to. This combined with a streaming service like Netflix means binge watching in not only inevitable but practically mandatory.if (document.currentScript) {