Perhaps one of the most interesting and original shows on TV is American Horror Story on FX, Wednesdays at 10PM. Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Malchuk of Nip/Tuck and Glee  fame, AHS is a bizarre yet entertaining series that breaks with several conventions and norms. It’s set in a haunted house, but it’s not haunted in the way you would think. It has a weird brand of logic yet is still understandable. It’s these kind of things that make the show so watchable.

The plot revolves around the Harmon family, Ben, a psychiatrist, and Vivien along with their daughter Violet who move to LA from Boston and take up residence in a restored mansion, unaware of its dark past. The parents relationship is partly in shambles due to Ben’s infidelity and Vivien’s miscarriage. The cast is expansive with a wide range of personalities. Constance, a neighbor, is intrusive and lets on that she knows more about the Harmon’s house then she reveals. Her daughter Addy, who has Down syndrome, keeps suddenly appearing in the house, setting the family on edge. One of Ben’s patients, Tate, is a mentally unstable teenager who bonds with Violet over mutual issues. Perhaps the most interesting character is the elderly housekeeper Moira, who Vivien hires back on. However, she appears to Ben as a young maid who tries to seduce him on a number of occasions. There is also Larry, a former resident who milled his family becuase he claimed the house told him so, who constantly warns Ben about what the house will do to him and his family.

The house is haunted, but not by shadow figures or mysterious sounds. A large number of people who have lived there have been murdered or have murdered others there. These past residents reappear at the house at varying times as normal people to the Harmons. What makes the plot so intriguing is you’re never quite sure whether some people are ‘ghosts’ or not. It’s this ambiquity that gives so much originality to the series. It isn’t just a overly-dramatized version of Ghosthunters, in for a few scares, it revolves around the house and the effect it has on its residents. The house itself is a member of the cast. These spirits all have their own agendas that clash and coincide with each other at times. Constance for example seems to not be a ‘ghost’ yet has more knowledge of the house’s past, having lived near it for so long. Her relationship with Moira is punctuated when she says to her, ‘Don’t make me kill you again’. Chad, the previous occupant who was murdered, comes back as a ‘fluffer’ to make the house more sellable and gets on Vivien’s nerves because he wants to make the house like he wanted to before his death. Chad’s gperformance is noteworthy, not least of because he is played by Sylar, I mean Zachary Quinto.

AHS has gotten mixed reviews, with a large number of critics going negative, complaining that it is too over-the-top, among other things. However, some have said the show is bad that it is good. While I wouldn’t go quite so far, it is indeed more then one would expect. But it is that outlandishness that makes it stand out from the rest. The creators manage to cram a very complex story with a wide variety of parts into single 40-something minute episodes. I’ll admit that the story is hard to grasp at first, but as the show gets deeper into the season, these questions will be answered and some criticisms will be answered. This approach that only gives you small pieces of the larger puzzle, while keeping you guessing is yet another feature of AHS that makes it stand out from a majority of shows on television.

American Horror Story is a fresh and new idea, that is so ridiculous that it actually works. Words cannot do the show enough justice and any explanation or review of the show cannot fully capture the developing mythos and unfolding drama. So go watch for yourself and form your own opinions.

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