i gave serious thought to dropping the American Horror Story franchise.
American Horror Story had a good first season and then four really bad seasons and i just couldn't be arsed to put myself through this shit again.
dropping media after i've picked it up is really, really, hard for me, i can only think of one show that i've abandoned in recent history, Under The Dome, which was pretty much unwatchable.
everything else, though, i just keep on slogging my way through out of some sense of obligation.
but, when i thought about it, i just didn't have any attachment to the American Horror Story franchise and with so much other shit to watch, so many other shows that exist in The Golden Age Of Television, do i really need to be dicking around with this?
i was all set to flush American Horror Story down the crapper for good but the PSE went ahead and watched it without me and reported back that it was good.
not great, but certainly better then a fair amount of the TV programs i follow.
which doesn't say much, i watch a lot of bad TV.
but, the PSE's advice was enough to convince me to go at least one more round with this shit, so, okay, let's go...

American Horror Story: Hotel:
American Horror Story is an anthology series where each season the same group of actors play different characters in a different spoooookey scenario.
this time, they all work in a spoooookey hotel run by Lady Gaga who is some kind of a vampire.
the hotel is also inhabited by ghosts, several of them murderers and others murder victims.
for reasons that i don't understand, once people get murdered in the hotel a good number of them then turn into murderers themselves.
like something about being dead makes these otherwise normal dead people loose all compunction about murder.
i know that makes for more interesting television when almost every character in your story is a murderer, but it's just not plausible that some many people are able to get so comfortable with it.

anyways, the season starts with Vampire Lady Gaga selling her hotel to a famous fashion designer because she lost all of her vampire fortune to Bernie Madoff, which i thought was cute.
Vampire Lady Gaga designs to hustle the fashion designer into marrying her even though he is a Homosexual but that doesn't bother her because vampires are always all about sex and they can seduce anybody.
this causes trouble with several of Vampire Lady Gaga's vampire boyfriends and vampire girlfriends who all get jealous of each other and take turns conspiring with each other to kill each other.
at the same time, a local homicide detective moves in to the spoooookey hotel because, i don't know, he would rather waste a lot of money then live in his own home with his own family.
the homicide detective is hot on the case of a mass murderer who is killing with a Ten Commandments theme which was the plot of Se7en if i recall correctly, but fuck it, who cares?
about halfway through the thirteen-episode season we find out that the homicide detective is himself the murderer, that he's been brainwashed or some shit by one of the hotel ghosts who is some kind of prolific serial killer mentor.
once the homicide detective realizes that he is the killer he's been looking for, he just goes with it, adapting to killing in a conscious state like it's no big deal.
also, the homicide detective's wife and youngest son get turned into vampires by Vampire Lady Gaga.
in the end, the staff of the hotel mutiny and they conspire to kill Vampire Lady Gaga and take over the hotel and update it to be a posh boutique with all the ghosts and vampires serving as tourist attractions, the end.

the problem with American Horror Story: Hotel is that everything seems disjointed.
like the writers said “let's have Vampire Lady Gaga and maybe throw in some ghosts and a serial murderer mystery and that should be good enough to coast on.”
like they were painting in broad strokes and couldn't be arsed with fine details.
they figured at some point they would have to interweave these threads and tie them all up in a coherent narrative but the points at which they did so were clumsy and didn't really make all that much sense.
“what are we doing with this serial killer thing?” they asked themselves in the writer's room somewhere around episode nine.
“make the detective secretly the murderer, fuck it, who cares...”
there was also some kind of weird sex monster that haunted around the hotel but only seemed to bother one of the ghosts, not any of the rest.
i think they just put it in the first episode because they thought it looked cool and then never bothered to explain how it works.
if you're gonna make a show about spoooookey shit, you better have an internal logic for how this spoooookey shit works.
you can't just half-ass a show's internal logic.
also, not for nothing, but Lady Gaga is an odd looking woman.
not ugly, just weird to look at.

all that said, American Horror Story: Hotel was a much better show then most of its predecessors.
i could watch the show and kinda-sorta give a shit about what is happening.
only two or three times did i get upset at the show, for the most part, it kept my attention for forty-four minutes at a time, which is really the least we can ask of TV.
for holding my attention, for being good enough, for putting Lady Gaga to some constructive use and for saving the American Horror Story franchise to live to disappoint me once again, American Horror Story: Hotel earns a 5.1/10

American Horror Story: Roanoke:
by the time i'd finished American Horror Story: Hotel it turned out, holy shit, there was another one that had already come out.
even though i had a more-favorable-then-not opinion of Hotel i was once again not looking forward to having to roll the American Horror Story dice one more time.
this fucking franchise just can't earn my trust.

this season in the anthology, American Horror Story: Roanoke is about a TV show about some people who buy a house that is haunted by the lost colonists of Roanoke Colony.
it is a ten-episode season, which is shorter then all the other seasons by two or three episodes.
the episodes are further divided into groups of four or five.
the first five episodes are about a fictional TV documentary series about the people who buy the haunted house, then the next four episodes are about the making of a second season of the show, but things go bad and almost everybody gets killed.
the last episode is a series of clips from other pretend TV shows that report on what happened in the aftermath of all the TV-production-related murder.
the whole thing gets so meta that it becomes tedious after a while.

like all the other seasons of American Horror Story, Roanoke rips off other genres of horror.
this season it was shaky-cam Blair Witch-style horror movies.
which leads to some pretty awkward moments over the ten-episode run of the season where the season tries so hard to justify why people are running around shooting cellphone video while ghosts and monsters and hillbillies are trying to murder them.
the season also riffs on the rural-Americans-are-scary-as-shit genre of horror movie, which is my very favorite.
because, yeah, rural Americans are scary as shit.
in addition to having to contend with the malevolent ghosts of the Roanoke settlers who are trying to murder people who set foot on their land, the main characters of the story also have to deal with a family of hillbilly pot farmers who live next door and are cannibals, even though it would seem they make more then enough money from sales of their marijuana to afford proper groceries.
still, rural people who turn to cannibalism Texas Chainsaw-style are my very favorite form of horror motif because, hell, i'm sure that shit happens all the time in Trump country.
there are also pig monsters who wield butcher knives and Asians-who-walk-like-creepy-spiders thrown in the mix as a nod to Japanese horror.

the biggest problem with the American Horror Story: Roanoke conceit is that it doesn't make a bit of sense that the family who was the focus of the fictional TV documentary about the haunted house would ever agree to go back for the second bunch of episodes.
you would think that after escaping with their teeth they would cheerfully say “naw, go fuck yourself” when the producers of this fictional TV series tried to get them to go back.
it's not like they needed the money, the fictional documentary show was wildly successfully and they could have milked that shit and made a modest income to last them.
American Horror Story: Roanoke had to go out of its way to come up with convoluted reasons for all the characters to return to the house so that they could be murdered, which was a little stupid.

American Horror Story: Roanoke wasn't bad.
it was almost comfortable in the way it would pick a horror genre and embrace its conventions, allowing the viewers to look forward to the series take on the next genre to appear on screen.
it's like a TV show for people majoring in horror studies at some community college for idiots.
but, it's enjoyable for what it is.
i think, next year, when American Horror Story comes back around again, i should remember to be a little more open to what it has to offer.

for celebrating the horror genre, for being watchable and for redeeming the American Horror Story series for me, American Horror Story: Roanoke earns a 5.5/10.

//[ab irato ad astra]

September 2017

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