I think I can pretty safely say I'm a fan of Ryan Murphy. Despite the wildly inconsistent quality of episodes in the three TV shows he's created so far--Popular, Nip/Tuck, Glee--the man has managed to come up with intriguing concepts that no one else would touch and turn them into must see TV. There's high camp and melodrama every week and that's the point. His goal is to get you to not just watch his shows, but talk about them. He hasn't failed yet. Shoot, people are still talking about the cliffhanger series finale to Popular and crazy stunt casting like Rosie O'Donnell wanting arm liposuction on Nip/Tuck. Murphy has a new show premiering on FX for the fall season. It's a horror/drama/quasi-soap opera in the vein of Dark Shadows. The show is called American Horror Story and I'm addicted to its promo footage.
This is the thirty second TV promo.
It's pretty messed up.
What is going on with these odd pairings in the ad? Who is the leading man actually with? Why focus so much on the maid? Why is that man spontaneously combusting and climbing into the fireplace? And what in the name of all that is good is that freaky black latex suit looking thing on the ceiling? In thirty seconds, American Horror Story has convinced me I need to watch to try and find out.
Here's a twenty second teaser of a pregnant woman.
Babies clawing at the stomach always freaks me out. That's enough to convince me this is genuinely a horror story. Then you hit the Ryan Murphy touch. What exactly is that off sounding lullaby being played on a xylophone? It's a cover of "Tainted Love." What could be so tainted about the baby? Is it the Antichrist? Is it born of incest or sexual abuse? Is it psychic and capable of exploding everything by shaking its head real fast? Who knows?
If you go to the show's YouTube page, you can see a whole bunch of "Clue" videos. These are 15 second artistic teasers of important elements in the show. Here's one all about the freaky guy in the latex suit.
That...doesn't help me at all. What about this Clue about the freaky guy in the latex suit?
So it might actually be a woman. Or not. Or it's their collective psyche. Or it's the spirit of the house. And the video identifies it as a rubber suit. My mistake. Then how do the cello videos fit in?
Are we the ones being played here?
I am always a fan of well done dark imagery and deep dark secrets. American Horror Story seems to be playing up both. That works for me.
All we know about the show for sure is that a man moves into an allegedly haunted mansion after he is caught cheating on his wife. Rumor has it that the first episode is going to end with multiple cliffhangers that will be slowly unraveled and resolved throughout the run.
Here's what I know about dramatic horror television. We haven't had straight up adult-targeted horror show on the air since Twin Peaks. Shows like X-Files and Millenium were crossed with a lot of science-fiction and even fantasy elements. Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were aimed at a late teen/young adult audience, though older and younger viewers grew to appreciate them. And shows like the new Twilight Zone and Kingdom Hospital were mostly episodic affairs with standalone stories resolved in one episode.
I can't be the only one who wants a genuinely disturbing horror/drama/mystery on the air again. If the show aims for that Twin Peaks model with believable characters facing unbelievable circumstances and absurd Gothic imagery, it could be spectacular. Keep in mind we are dealing with Ryan Murphy. It will go over the top and lean towards sensationalism. That does not exclude it from hitting on some disturbing believable arcs.
American Horror Story premieres on FX on 5 October 2011. Will you be watching? Sound off below.