Sunday, October 9, 2011

American Horror Story on fX

It's creepy and it's spooky...and altogether kooky. But unlike the Addams Family, this new macabre drama on fX is short on humor and crazier than a bag full of bats.

The main character is a haunted house with a very troubled past. This Victorian fixer upper has been the venue for some nasty stuff, including the murders of two little red haired juvenile delinquents and a stylish gay couple who left behind some cool leather outfits in the attic.

The show takes place in Southern California, the least likely place for a scary old home unless you count the ride at Disneyland or the equally fake Magic Castle in the Hollywood Hills. A new family moves in and of course they are escaping their own dark past which includes (yawn) infidelity and a more interesting and sad stillbirth.

The cast is astonishingly good for TV. Connie Britton plays Vivian the mom, with Dylan McDermott as the family patriarch who is also a therapist. The amazing Francis Conroy (Six Feet Under) plays a maid with a mesmerizing lazy eye. Violet is the teenage daughter (by law every new TV show must have a teenage daughter) who is already being bullied to death at her L.A. gulag of a high school. Her new friend is a troubled boy named Evan who gets my vote as the most likely kid to go full out Columbine for the new television season.
After only one episode, American Horror already has a breakout character (Constance) played by Jessica Lange. How is it possible that they snagged a two time Oscar winner for this cable television drama? Lange is absolutely terrific as the fading actress and menacing mom from next door. She's a drama queen with a Downs syndrome daughter and a Tennessee Williams southern drawl. Rounding out the cast is Denis O'Hare, who has been so compelling as the evil vampire king on True Blood. Here he plays Larry the ex-con and arsonist with his own secrets to hide about the haunted house.

I would watch this program every week for Jessica Lange alone, but there is so much more to like about it. There hasn't been a really interesting murder/horror series on TV since Twin Peaks, and I am so ready for this one to be a winner. Having grown up in a 200 year old haunted house myself, I can say they never really lose their drafty appeal. And anyway, Halloween is coming, so it's a great time to give it a try. American Horror Story is on fX, Wednesday nights at 10pm.

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