(Lots of spoilers in this)
Don't get me wrong, I adore the much-praised series and applaud Ryan Murphy for bringing horror to the mainstream. Each year I (along with many other fans) eagerly await the new installation, anticipating shocking twists fuelled by emotionally disturbed characters. However, here's 5 things I dislike about the scary show:
1) Repetitive Characters
The use of a very flexible star-studded cast is an excellent plus for the show. And with the recent additions of powerhouses Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, the group is only getting stronger.
Why then, are they made to play tired repeats of past seasons? From Lange's matriarchal bitch (with a heart) to Peters' emotionally disturbed heart-throb, the character tropes are old and insulting to the acting talent. Why not (god-forbid) push them out of their comfort zones and give them new and exciting roles with different attitudes and challenges?
Notable exception: Sarah Paulson's characters seem to be the most diverse. I'd like her to be play the archvillain next season though (a man can dream).
2) Messy Plots
The writers of AHS sure know how to get their viewers hooked on the series, that's a given. They'll often introduce interesting elements of the horror genre (from aliens to freaks to witches) with fantastic execution. However, as the series progresses and the stories reach their end, there's often a lot of unanswered questions. Why did the powerful and scary witch-hunters in Coven get killed off so easily? What's with the extraterrestrials abducting Kit Walker?
We want fewer story-lines with more detail. Season 4 started strongly with Twisty the clown terrorising the locals. His character was positively frightening. And then what do the writers do? They kill him off rather quickly after showing a quick back-story. Sure death is always going to happen in a series dedicated to scaring the viewers shitless, but let's stop using death to just end any plot you cannot seem to figure out (Deus ex machina, anyone?). Oh, what should we do with this detailed and intense plot? That's easy, just fucking have them all die! It's a 'fuck you' to the viewer who invests in these characters, for them to die in such a cheap way.
Notable exception: Pepper's story-line is nothing short of heartbreaking and a redeeming strength amongst season 4's unpredictable writing.
3) Too Many Musical Performances
This is American Horror Story, not Glee. The fact the two could sometimes be confused says a lot. Yes, it's undeniable that Lange can sing her way through anything and get away with it. And yes, a well-timed song can provide the perfect amount of relief and surprise to keep the viewers guessing.
But, let's not forget that this is a horror series, not a musical. Overdoing it with the music (Freak Show I'm looking at you) makes viewing boring. Keep the viewers guessing instead. Again, if I wanted a horror-themed musical I'd watch Glee.
Notable exception: Asylum's "The Name Game" by Lange came out of nowhere and for that it was an excellent device to use and a great reboot to a pretty terrible song.
4) Too Much Sex And Lust
This one is harder to write about. Although similar to point 2, it seems like sexuality in Murphy's world is rampant, thus deserving its own point.
There's more to someone than their genitals, Ryan. Lust doesn't have to be the driving force of all your characters. What's the relevance of Stanley having a big schlong in season 4? And we get that Evan Peters and Emma Roberts are dating in real life, that doesn't mean they should have a romance story every season (Let's not forget Taissa Farminga in all of this). Why not have them absolutely hate each other for a change?
Sure some characters are going to be sex-driven, and that's fine. Moira O'Hara's ghostly sluttiness and Shelley's nymphomaniac tendencies are notable examples of sexuality used right. But a witch who uses her vagina to kill men? Why did Queenie randomly have sex with a minotaur? Please, let's not just add sex scenes in for the sake of it.
Notable Exception: The twisted love story of Violet and Tate in season 1 is what got many hooked to the series. It was a fucked-up beauty of a romance. Let's have more of that.
5) Underusing Great Actors
It's difficult in a star-studded cast for everyone to get their share of the limelight. Competing with Lange's consistent and dominating performance is tough, I'll admit. But the writers don't do some of the actors many favours and are missing out on a pretty great line-up of talent.
Notable examples include Taissa Farminga, Frances Conroy and Lily Rabe. These have all proven to be fan favourites, but it seems like they don't get the justice they deserve with the stories they're given, instead often used as mere embellishments in developing other characters (Gloria Mott could have been a great character; instead she was used to progress Dandy's psychopath story).
Why not devote less time having the main characters fuck each other or throwing shade at every turn, and more time dedicated to developing these rather shallow roles into the potentially great powerhouses they could become. Please, we love these actors, now give them the roles they deserve.
Notable Exception: Angela Bassett has been an awesome addition to the cast and really helps better it with her powerful roles. The woman's a star.
It's hard to be critical of something you love, but these things are what's stopping the series from becoming legendary. The show is still great and deserving of cult-status but pretending it's perfect? Nah, it's frustrating to see something with great potential go in the opposite direction to what you'd hope and undersell itself.
What are your thoughts?