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Why This Season Of American Horror Story Proves The Show Needs To End

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Photo: FX/Youtube.
I have a very distinct memory of the first time I watched American Horror Story. It was January 2013 and I had just moved into a new flat. It was dark. It was cold. Rather than go out on that Friday night, I curled up in bed with a new show. It was the best.

American Horror Story: Murder House was a revelation — I was an instant fan. It was scary, it was smart, it was funny and absurd in all the right ways. Each character had a purpose and a backstory. I cared about them. I wanted to know why Tate was the way he was; why Violet couldn't leave the house; why Constance had this deep connection to the grounds. And all those questions were answered in due course. There were twists and surprises — but they were simple and well-designed.

The latest season of American Horror Story is not. Roanoke started out promising. After disappointing seasons like Freak Show and Hotel, based more on looks and set design that actual storyline, season 6 seemed to be returning back to what Murder House promised: horror.

Four episodes in, I'm sorry to say it hasn't quite managed it. Ryan Murphy has promised us a big twist in episode 6. Great, I can't wait. But should it really take five episodes of clunky dialogue and fake documentary production to get us there? Almost nothing that has happened so far has been scary. (Save for those murderous nurses — props for going back to basics.) The pigs are weird, the colonial ghost mob is kind of silly, and Matt and Shelby are the dumbest protagonists we've ever had. The problem with mocking a crappy medium — as Vulture very smartly pointed out — is that you risk creating a crappy show.

Matt, Shelby, and Lee could have been interesting. But the constant narration of what they're thinking or feeling, courtesy of their real-life selves, removes any effort at character analysis. I don't need or want to figure these characters out, because they keep telling me everything I need to know. They're not believable and I don't care about them.

All this could be forgivable if the action were actually interesting. (After all, Coven wasn't so much scary as fantastically campy, but it worked.) Sadly, this season falls short here, too. Maybe it's just me, but when attempting to summarise the latest episode for a friend who doesn't watch the show, it struck me just how absurd it sounded.

"Yeah, so Cuba Gooding Jr. slept with Lady Gaga, but doesn't remember. His wife is mad, but she forgives him because she sees 'in his eyes, he wasn't culpable.' Random people keep showing up at their house to help them and they go with it, which seems unlikely. Those people meet horrible and gruesome ends, because that's what happens to everyone in this house, including the random Taiwanese family that they felt compelled to show, despite it not advancing the plot AT ALL.

"Somehow, all of this doesn't convince Cuba and Sarah Paulson to phone a friend and maybe stay with them a while until they figure out what to do. Kathy Bates is the head of a mob of ghost colonists who speak in very strange semi-Scottish accents. Oh, and don't even get me started on Lady Gaga's headdress."

Is this really what the show that brought us the indefatigable Fiona Goode has come to?

I really hope I'm wrong. I hope the episode 6 twist is amazing and that the standalone 10th episode blows my mind. But at some point, you have to ask yourself: If you have to make the show this complicated in order to attract viewers, isn't it time for it to end?
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