There is a new American Horror Story. The madness is over, the loose ends have been wrapped, Briarcliff has been expelled in disgrace, and rumors for the third season of the popular FX series have already begun. Fortunately for the show, it ends on a high note by concluding all of the major storylines, including those involving Bloody Face Jr. and Lana as well as Kit, the kids, Sister Jude, Monsignor Timothy, and the rest of the AHS group.
The creators of the American Horror Story world, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are back with their anthology television series American Horror Stories for a second season on FX on Hulu. In addition to returning cast members from American Horror Story Gabourey Sidibe, Max Greenfield, and Seth Gabel, Denis O’Hare, makes an appearance in the first outing. Speaking of its parent program, the first episode of Horror Stories season two enters American Horror Story: Coven’s plot through an unseen side door in a prequel style.
By focusing on one stand-alone narrative per episode, American Horror Stories distinguishes itself from the original AHS series from which it originated. These stories often provide something new by utilizing actors who are not part of the standard AHS cast to explore terrifying one-offs that take the viewer through the triumphs and tragedies of killer Santas, feral bloodthirsty hybrids of the woods, or the scariest thing of all… teens.
Other eagerly anticipated cases include the season one finale, “Game Over,” when the program brings back key AHS figures like Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) to revisit old haunts as the setting for fresh tales where lesbian ghosts debate the pros and cons of doomed immortality in the Murder House.
We get a mix of new and old in the season two premiere, “Dollhouse,” which stars the American Horror Story staple Denis O’Hare as the maniacal dollmaker, Van Wirt. His obsession with creating living dolls gives the future man-servant we grew to love in the “Coven” season of AHS a backstory and brings him to the door of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, where he is met by a young Myrtle Snow, played by
Denis O’Hare plays an adult Spalding in “Coven,” the third season of AHS, but in this season, he plays the character’s father, Van Wirt, and we are given a brilliantly created backstory on dolls and how the love for them runs in the family.
American Horror Story’s fun take on twisted fairy tales is strengthened by its access to that rich thematic history and its ability to resonate with our nation’s cultural narrative. Van Wirt enjoys quoting dusty Old Testament passages that cast the role of women in a toxic patriarchal light, but he also gets caught off guard by Otis when he engages in a phone conversation with a distributor who declares that his handmade dolls are no longer relevant in light of Barbie, the new face of America’s ideal beauty. And Coby first thinks about her predicament with a dash of polite manners before assembling her wits and self-determination in a play to counter the impossible situation. She won’t watch helplessly and sit idle. Not with what her mind is capable of.
This franchise has always upheld its particular American-ness, in all of its name and all its forms. Even the opening title sequence appears on all American Horror Story brands and is a superb combination of actual crime and horror movie editing.
American Horror Story Season 2 – Skip it or Stream it?
That is the essence of what American Horror Story is. Although it hasn’t always been effective, it has always been clever (even when that cleverness is completely flayed away). Even the show’s faults have come from an effort to push limits, develop stories, and pack more into a limited amount of network airtime. That’s a wonderful way to describe American Horror Story under Ryan Murphy’s direction; I’d rather have a show trial for too much than not offer the home audience enough.
STREAM IT. American Horror Stories’ episodic structure keeps the action compact and compelling, and its sense of humor is just as welcome as the foreboding and sidelong references to the main narrative.
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