“American Horror Story” Tanks as “The Walking Dead” Finally Resurrects
The more I watch of the new seasons of “The Walking Dead” (TWD) and “American Horror Story” (AHS) the more I’m convinced that I’m in bizarro world. One reliably great show has hit the skids while another consistently bad show has turned a corner for the better.
THE WALKING DEAD
For years I’ve bemoaned on how bad TWD has been ever since its second season. The show was just awful. Don’t get me wrong, it pretty much worked if all you wanted was to see zombies get killed in new and creative ways. However fans of the show kept arguing that it was actually about the “characters” and “survival”. Neither of those two elements seemed to be the focus since all of the characters were cardboard cut idiots who never seemed to be hungry or ever run out of bullets.
On top of that, the zombies stopped being a threat once the Mayberry good-old-boy character of The Governor was introduced. A character so riddled with contradictions in motivation and action it seemed as if even the writers weren’t watching the show they were making.
Then there were the main characters. There were more arguments about leadership than in any presidential debate from the last 10 years combined. Lest we forget the plethora of soap opera storylines about adultery, pregnancy and love triangles that put my fast forward button to good use all through season 2 and 3.
Lastly, the show seemed to constantly ignore its own rules. When anyone dies, they become a zombie but the writers make the resurrection time dependent on what their story needs. Sometimes its seconds after death, sometimes its hours. There is a “rule” that zombies are attracted by noise yet the characters are often seen target practicing or riding loud motorcycles around the places that they sleep.
The list goes on, the show was really bad. If you need more proof, the series has gone through 3 Executive Producers in 4 years. Something was seriously wrong with this show causing powers that be to continually make changes. But the ratings kept improving. In fact, the season premiere of the current fourth season secured 16+ million viewers, even more once you add up the DVR and encore broadcast viewers. People love this show. I didn’t.
I was what you call a “Hate Watcher.” I’m a horror geek that loves zombies so I couldn’t NOT watch the show, no matter how bad it was. I even proclaimed at the beginning of this new season that I wouldn’t watch any of the episodes until the mid-season break so that I could just marathon the awfulness. But of course, I was right there with 16+ million other people watching the Premiere in October.
To my surprise (while the premiere had its weak moments), the show is narratively light years better than it has been. In the first 4 episodes of the 4th season the writers have slowly added real character drama and conflict as well as serious survival issues for the group. So far this season features no hammy, homicidal villain hunting down and killing survivors for no apparent reason (The Governor). Instead the threat is back to Zombies and now an unknown sickness that is infecting not only our group in the prison but people in the surrounding cities as well.
This is a nice return to form as it makes the show scary again. It also reflects a return attention to natural threats instead of artificial external ones without explanation. Gone are the extended scenes where characters see ghosts of people who have died. Gone are the scenes of characters arguing about love triangles, family and friendship. We’re back to a bleak story of the apocalypse. So far. The one thing that TWD has taught us is that at any moment you should be ready for bad speechifying from annoying characters.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN
On the flip side AHS was a show that I raved about ever since its’ weaker first season and awesome second season. That second season was a work of art for horror/scifi buffs like myself. They beautifully threw in everything AND the kitchen sink into this show. Aliens, Exorcisms, Mutants, Axe Murderers, Serial Killers, Creepy Hospitals and even fucking Anne Frank was crammed into this insane show. And I loved every minute of it.
The best part about AHS was that although it was all over the map, it was genuinely surprising and scary. It lived up to its title with every new episode. It was fun seeing how things would eventually tie together in the end with the jumps in time and locations. Not to mention the creative way the producers brought back the actors from the first season into new roles for the second.
So, for some reason, I was stoked for the new season when I read that it was going to be about a coven of witches starring Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates. Boy was I blind. I mean, look at this shit:
In hindsight, I should have known the show would just be a showcase for these great actresses to be “Bad Bitches.” The show could easily be called “Sex and the Coven” or “Desperate HouseWitches.” Its a shell of its former self. The creators of the show made the specific decision to cater the program more for women and effeminate gay men. Seriously.
Example One: The show is no longer “scary”. Now, AHS is more of a comedy where scene after scene features the 95% female cast giving witty one-liners after doing or seeing something magical.
Example Two: There are no significant male characters on the show. Most of the men on the show are emasculated, mute minions of the women. There is one character with a little testosterone, but we’ve hardly seen him and I really couldn’t tell you how his story fits in with the rest of the show yet.
Example Three: The photo below.
Da fuck does FX have me watching?! As a matter of fact, is my television even on FX? This show looks like it should be on OWN or Lifetime right after the Murder Porn Original Movies of the Week featuring Kim Cattrall plotting to kill her wealthy yet abusive husband.
The show that was once unpredictable and scary is now a Shade-Throwing, Boss Bitch Saluting, Charmed Wannabe comedy for women and their male hairdressers/stylists.
So far, tables have been turned this season. The Walking Dead gets a hesitant Thumbs Up while American Horror Story: Coven gets an enthusiastic Thumbs Down. However, given the track records for the two shows I have a feeling things will rebound for one and sink for the other.
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