I was approaching American Horror Story with some concern. Horror isn’t a key genre for me; I can take a good one, but really don’t want to spend my life flinching. Still, I saw Connie Britton; that’s a name I liked even before Friday Night Lights, so I had to give it a try. I hadn’t known that it would have Jessica Lange (and did she somehow skip a major step in her career? From respected, Oscar-winning movie lead to not that visible to support actress in a basic cable series; wasn’t she supposed to be the sassy lawyer or a detective who solves crimes in her spare time or something before hitting this?), but then I saw the name Tim Minear, and I haven’t really been happy with anything he did that did not involve Joss Whedon. And a horror series seemed like something that would have more texture than story, and while I like texture, I need story.
The set-up is basic: a family already in internal crisis moves to a house in the L.A. area, a big, dark, and lovely place that they bought for a fraction of its apparent value. But the house has a history, creepy things occur, and their are neighbors and others around with better knowledge of what’s going on, and with their own plans. The house is a dark, dangerous, but useful power.
The whole dark and creepy thing is done well. At this point, the focus is on revelation, giving the viewer ever more understanding of what is going on…. and they are setting up rules, not a pure physics but at least some structure that creates a consistency that can make story moments meaningful. But can they keep it going when the obvious move is for the family to break up and leave, so it feels stupid when they don’t? Dunno. But I’ve found myself watching each episode (well, except for the one I failed to record), against all expectation. I don’t need it yet, but I keep on wanting it.