I’m so ready to be disappointed by American Horror Story again

Every year, against my better judgment, I participate in a certain fall tradition: I watch the first episode of American horror storydefinitely raising all my hopes know that I’m going to be disappointed.

Many of my colleagues wonder why I even give this show the time of day when it hasn’t been reliably good since its second season. I can’t really tell you because I’m not so sure myself. Maybe it’s because sometimes it’s in the overwhelmingly indistinguishable sludge American horror story most days there is the occasional glimpse of something more. A brief glimpse of the potential for the show I know AHS may be, but is rarely the case. And sometimes (rarely) Ryan Murphy still strikes gold.

This is what it is about American horror story: The themes are always right. The opening scenesall aligned with the seasonal concept, all illustrate the rich potential of these themes. Asylum‘s makes a particularly chilling swap with a statue of the Virgin Mary; 1984‘s radiates retro vibes (and blood too), and the rotting carnival trinkets of Freak show‘s are more sinister than anything in the actual show. Which is unfortunately the case for many AHS seasons. Often those opening scenes are much more fun than the season ultimately is.

Image: FX

Yet they lure me in like a siren. Half a season set in a deserted New England town, where artists struggle for inspiration as bleak gray waves crash on the shore? An homage to ’80s slasher films, filled with flashy costumes and self-referential trope characters? A haunted hotel where one’s own inner darkness lurks in the long, disturbing hallways (with “Hotel California” playing)? I’m a sucker for these themes! They have so much promise and yet they rarely, if ever, fulfill their potential.

I suspect that AHSThe biggest problem is the same problem I have with fanfic: the writers have a lot of cool ideas, but as soon as they sit down and start committing to one concept, they immediately get bored and move on to the next new and exciting thing. Only in this case they are a little to have to wrap up a season and not leave the Google Doc forever. So they rush to the end and then move on to the next bright, shiny idea. The American horror stories series is an example of this. Not to be confused with the main series, this one is full of one-off episodes that all resemble the first drafts of an entire season that were rejected. (The first two episodes are basically a reboot sequel of Murder Housethe first AHS season.)

But every year I am sucked into the rich potential of the new American horror story season. And with one incredibly notable exception, I’ve been abandoned every season after the third season (and even the third was a bit shaky, but it was also personally tailored to my interests, so it’s my favorite). But while they all disappointed me in the end, there were still moments in each season that made me remember why I ate up the show like a kid coming home from trick-or-treating.

Cody Fern as Michael Langdon in American Horror Story: Apocalypse

Image: FX

Because, yes, Apocalypse was overly indulgent, but seeing Angela Bassett’s Marie Laveau appear made me audibly cheer. Hotel It may have been a mess, but bartender Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) had a beautifully evocative and emotional arc that made me cry. Roanoke fumbled about the landing, but the first half was so utterly unsettling, with fear and anxiety taken away with the utmost finesse. Even Double function, which I hated so passionately, had such an atmospheric setup that instead of feeling indifferent to the show’s mediocrity, I feel sad for its lost potential. Even at its worst, AHS makes me feel something big.

And if the show is good, so be damned Good. Take last season, which exceeded all my expectations. The first few episodes of AHS: NYC I was a little wary, especially since Murphy seemed to be making up a fictionalized Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who haunted many of his projects. But that character only played a small role in the overall story, which was less about killers and chases and more about the horror of being a queer person in the middle of the AIDS crisis, fighting for your life while society doesn’t care. gives. . It was terrifying! Hang out! It was the best this stupid show has been since the first two seasons.

Of Delicate threatens, I’m hopeful for now. After all, there’s a brand new showrunner who’s never been written for AHS rather, and it’s based on something, rather than just coming out of Murphy’s head. But at the same time, I know better. I’m steeling myself. I’m ready to be disappointed. But most of all, I am willing to feel something enormous.

American horror story: delicate premieres September 20 on FX at 10pm EDT. The show airs on Hulu the next day.