When FX's American Horror Story began, we were wary. Its co-creator Ryan Murphy has a bad television record of throwing a billion things at the wall and then not really noticing that only a few of them stuck (if any). Instead of inspecting the elements that work, he just goes and throws a billion more things until there is a dust cloud of half-formed ideas and plotlines that disappear with no followthrough. This happened eventually with Murphy's Popular and Nip/Tuck, and very quickly with Glee. AHS's early episodes made it seem as though the show was headed in much the same direction, with campy humor abruptly giving way to too-real grim stuff, all of it jumbling together into a pile of nonsense that amounted to nothing.
But what we failed to realize early on was that unlike the earthly environs of a high school or a medical office, a big spooky haunted house is actually the perfect place for this scattershot delivery system. Who cares if specters and other assorted demonry disappear into dark recesses as quickly as they're glimpsed? There are no hard-set rules in a mystery manor, it can be as wild and silly as it wants to be. Now, that's not to say that some narrative consistency isn't required for a good television show, but as it would happen, as the show progressed it became clear that the season was the singular story of a battle for ownership of a demon baby. As people died in the house, more ghostly cast members were added to the party, and by the season's end this ridiculous and slap-happy and, yes, sometimes genuinely scary melange managed to deliver on the satisfying goods. [Spoiler alert] The Harmons are dead! Conniving Constance got the child she wanted, but, oops, he turned out to be evil. Many of the ghosts are still sad and stuck, but a few others, namely dual-aged maid Moira, got some little bit of contentment. And it was all fun and gonzo, even if not all the plot threads really tied up in any sense-making way.
And, well, it seems like they'll never make sense. A.V. Club editor Todd VanDerWerff has been tweeting during a phone press conference with Murphy and AHS co-creator Brad Falchuk, and it seems that, in fact, the Harmon story, actually the whole Murder House story entirely, is done. Yes, as hinted at long ago, American Horror Story will function actually as a season-long anthology series. Next time we'll have a new horor in a new part of America. Kinda crazy, and kinda cool, huh?
Murphy says that he hopes the format will entice bigger-name movie actors who are curious about doing television but don't want to do a multi-season commitment. This is a fairly revolutionary, for these days at least, concept for a television show, especially one as popular as this first season of AHS has been. Frankly we're glad that, even though this story got truly engaging as the season went on, we won't have to see the Harmons Beetlejuice-ing around next year, scaring away new resident after new resident. Their story is done, with a little Christmas cheer and peace, and now we'll move on to something else.
So, we're sorry to have doubted you, AHS. And we can't wait to see what you do next.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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