The phrase ‘I can never un-see that’ has rarely been applied to television so earnestly since American Horror Story first hit our television screens in 2011. Ryan Murphy (of Glee fame) and Brad Falchuk masterfully created a gripping, emotional and yet horrific addition to prime time television and while causing controversy, they have managed to weaken the hardiest of stomachs with their gothic stories.
Each series is a self contained chronicle of chilling tales in various haunted locations; it originally and refreshingly focuses on both the living and the dead. Starring Jessica Lange and Dylan McDermott the first series concentrates on a troubled family that move into a haunted house.
Much like the first in any television series, the haunted house chronicle had some creases that needed to be ironed out, however it was intensely gripping. The storyline and progression meant that by the end, the living and the dead become impossible to decipher, the editing and continuity played tricks on the audience as well as the characters. The brilliant part of AHS is that it cleverly uses social fears as an undertone to the uncomfortable horrific screenplay, this series main focus is on forbidden love, adultery, and provides an exposure to gay and lesbian relationships that other prime time shows usually skim around.
The second series, American Horror Story: Asylum included many of the original cast members but this time placed them in an asylum, home to a serial killer a possessed nun and a corrupt priest. This series was in many ways more controversial than the first due to graphic scenes of violence and had guest star appearances such as Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes and Maroon Five’s, Adam Levine. It also provided an, all be it, exaggerated but contemporary comment on how mental health used to be viewed and treated by medical professionals. However far the second series had progressed, it still had some plot holes and left audiences with unanswered questions.
Now the third series, American Horror Story: Coven is well underway and already I can tell that it is the best addition yet. The beauty of AHS is that you can start watching any series in any order and it won’t affect the experience. Coven follows a home for witches in the 21st century who use the mansion as a safe haven and a place to practice their gifts.
The young witches have already killed at least three people; brought two back to life, and forged a war with the voodoo community on the other side of town. This season has focused on contemporary worries in society such as racism, sexual abuse, rape and cancer.
The series has been brought alive by a guest star appearance from Cathy Bates, who plays Madame LaLaurie, a wealthy land owner who used to brutalize and torture her slaves. The interesting part of this character is that she is based on fact and the true account of LaLaurie is just as uncomfortable and unbelievable as the character. If you like a good scare, and have an iron constitution then give American Horror Story a go, just don’t eat anything at the same time.