Most of my good friends know that I am completely obsessed with American Horror Story. I discovered the show about two years ago and have loved it ever since. For those who aren’t familiar, each season the show takes on a different theme or location with different characters that are often played by the same actors of the previous seasons. Past themes have included: Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show, Hotel and now Roanoke.
Warning: The content of this post is a little heavier than my typical topics as it is inspired by a show that has some more mature themes.
When you’re a child, you’re especially full of questions. Everyone knows that a child’s favorite word is “Why?” and that they love to ask it until we, as adults, really don’t even know the answers anymore. For me, that childlike curiosity of why people do certain things never really went away. I am always trying to learn, trying to understand and trying to help others.
What makes this show so special to you?
American Horror Story takes inspiration from real life, real people and real horrors. It allows us to began to understand where evil comes from in this world. As someone who has always loved psychology, I love how American Horror Story creates characters inspired from life and used real motivations for their actions such as greed, lust and jealousy (some AHS fan theorists even think the show is trying to specifically cover the 7 deadly sins). So often when people see terrible things on the news they respond with, “wow that’s terrible” or “they must have just snapped”. AHS shows how it really isn’t just a point A to point B process. As much as I love horror movies, so often they alienate the villain. They keep them at a distance and slap the word “crazy” or “evil” on them. I used to be like this too, until a few years back someone that I went to high school with was tragically murdered by a boy I had once considered a friend. Suddenly, the world wasn’t so black and white anymore and that made everything much scarier. For awhile, I honestly felt afraid to trust anyone or be alone in a room with them because this boy had seemed so normal (I guess we should cue the AHS line “normal people scare me”). If people really can just go from normal to crazy, just like that then that’s pretty scary. The thought of people being able to just snap is much more terrifying than it being a process. In a way, AHS has made me understand the universe and people better, which has been an oddly comforting feeling.
The show has taken on truly horrific inspired events and characters from sources such as Columbine, Madame Delphine LaLaurie, the Axman, Mr. March was inspired by H.H. Holmes who is often referred to as America’s first serial killer. In the case of the Columbine storyline, which was loosely reenacted in season 1, the characters continually asked Tate, “Why did you do it?” As we got to know Tate, we began to see where this spawned from. I want to make clear that they are never justifying the actions, but instead revealing how they function in our world and giving you a bit of an answer to that instinctive “why” question that humans are wired to ask.
On a lighter note, the storytelling underlying these strong themes helps everything come together beautifully. From the score (listen carefully to how the music in each season is different), excellent setting and props and my favorite element of the show—the acting. As someone with an acting background, I am consistently blown away by the talent on this show. In my opinion, these are a lot of the best actors in the film and TV world. Period. From the acting queen Jessica Lange to Sarah Paulson who can create so many unbelievably distinct characters (still blown away by her conjoined twins Freak Show performance). Then, of course, there’s my favorite Evan Peters who has captured the hearts of viewers by infusing his lovable personality into often not-so-lovable characters. Lily Rabe steals every scene she is in. Denis O’Hare is one of the most committed actors I have ever seen. Then there’s Finn Wittrock, Kathy Bates, Matt Bomer, the list goes on and on. I can’t even imagine how intimidating it is to walk onto a set full of so much talent. In acting classes, one big thing that my professors emphasize is that the best actors are the best storytellers because that’s really what acting is, telling stories. The cast of AHS has some of the best storytellers in the business and beyond that they work as an ensemble. From season to season, the actors swap roles and their relationships to each other seamlessly. They are telling these stories that are so worth telling, which is vitally important.
If you haven’t started watching American Horror Story yet and are interested in psychological thrillers, I highly recommend you start. I promise the show isn’t probably as dark as I am describing it, I just wanted to express my appreciation for what creator Ryan Murphy is doing with this television show on a bigger scale. You can choose to also take it at face value like you would any other horror movie. Everyone has their opinions about which season is best, but for me, Murder House is still my favorite. For those already watching, the current season is slated to have a huge twist in this week’s episode unlike anything AHS has done so make sure to tune in.