Murder House, Asylyun, Coven, Freak Show. (I'm not counting season one because I have not had the opportunity to view the entire season). When FX began its programming schedule by adding the odd, the weird, the freakish, it seemed to play very much not only to a large amount of graphic horror (which I am not so much a fan) but included extreme elements of human frailty, weakness, and emotions. FXs American Horror Story seemed to care about the why and the psychology of the freak, which, I feel, they did extremely well. Real people (some insane), some criminals, most outcasts forced into an insane asylum run by nuns, priests, and a former Nazi death camp doctor who take great satisfaction in taking out their own frustrations on their "patients." The issues and problems faced by a young psychologist and his family moving into a haunted house, the trials and tribulations of the life of a coven of witches and, again, the psychology of their experiences, and then, the best of them all, I thought, the very real issues represented by a display of actual freaks and outcasts, deformed people with real emotions and needs, dealing with a society who is unable to tolerate them in a 1960's "perfect and comfortable" world.
The first four series actually had some real "meat" that attracted viewers - behind the gore and violence existed a "reason" for the events that took place. Most involved dealing with a group of people, through mostly no cause of their own, becoming entangled in a world that was not willing to accept the characters as they were. Even the malicious evil doings of the witches in Coven, Twisty the murdering clown and Dandy the abused, over-indulged, psychotic young man in Freak Show, and the dysfunctional actions of a family who is forced to purchase an "inexpensive" home to try to rebuild their broken lives had a deliberate and crafty form of psychological thought behind the scenes in Murder House had their reasons, their place, their psychology. Episode One of Hotel was totally void of any of those attributes.
When I sat down to watch this season's AHS: Hotel premier, I made myself a snack and waited with anticipation to see what creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy (also the director) had in their bag of tricks. How could they possibly outdo the pain, suffering, antagonism, and outrage expressed in Murder House, Asylum, Coven, and Freak Show? Acting great Jessica Lange is gone, (however, Ryan Murphy is "hinting" at her return in late October) but Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Even Peters, Angela Bassett, Finn Whitrock, Dennis O'Hare and a host of "regulars" are back, along with the AHS premier of Lady Gaga, Matt Bommer, Wes Bentley, Chloe Sevigny, and Cheyenne Jackson. I am not particularly a fan of Lady Gaga, but I sort of figured going into this season she has the "weird" factor necessary to portray some form of evil existence in this highly rated series. No use in naming the characters, yet, for as they appeared in last night's premier, it was impossible to assign any true identity to them. The most disgusting was a flesh covered pervert who performed sexual acts on hotel guests too gruesome and too obscene to mention in this review. Obscene sounds like the best word to describe what I watched last evening.
Back to the snack and watching the first episode of this series. From the very beginning of the Hotel, Episode One, I had two choices. Turn the episode off and finish my snack or continue to watch this disgusting portrayal of sexual gratuitous violence and blood letting and get rid of the snack. I could not do both. (I defy anyone to sit down and watch this first episode with any piece of food in their hands and NOT get a nauseous feeling in not just the pit of their stomachs, or in their entire being as well). I decided put the snack away (I was already sick after watching the first ten minutes of the show) and couldn't keep down any food anyway.
I could take a rotting, smelly corpse popping out of a mattress - I have become used to these types of scenes in American Horror Story (all episodes), but it was the violent sex, the excessive blood letting (not just a little bit of blood) but gallons of blood spouting out of sliced jugular veins scene after scene. Gratuitous wild sex scenes culminating in some character horrifically being savagely mutilated, followed by the free flowing blood, blood, and more blood - two "ghostly" children eating a dead girl, etc, etc. etc.... Too over the top. One aspect of this drama that I did note is that none of the "mutilated" characters seemed to possess any salvageable traits. They were drug users, prostitutes, sex addicts, etc... Maybe there is a point after all, but I have to wait to see. This is merely my assumption with no proof to the contrary.
And it didn't stop. The hour and fifteen minute Episode One appeared as if Falchuck and Murphy were trying to throw the entire cache of vulgarity at their audience. No character development whatsoever was portrayed in this first episode, accept some mysterious "thing" going on with cop John Lowe (Wes Bentley) who has a devoted daughter but a wife who doesn't really seem to want any part of him. That's the extent of character development in this first episode.
Actually, unlike every other AHS series, having a scorecard to keep track of these ugly, rotting, malevolent (I know, I said that already), blood thirst beings couldn't help the viewer. Some psychology and character development has to be in place. If not, I fear FX has lost its way. Some reason for the gruesome acts of violence must be developed; for without this, Hotel is nothing more than a Halloween special.
Although the promotional videos provided by the producers of the AHS series seem inviting, different, controversial, if the series continues with the gratuitous brutal sex, blood sucking, blood licking, throat slashing scenes, I am going to have to back off this season and focus my attention on Fargo and Twin Peaks for their weirdness factor.
I shall give this series a few more watches simply to see if Murphy does indeed add substance to what I viewed in Episode One. If this continues, I am out. Sorry. And I so much so look forward to AHS.