TV review: “American Horror Story: Coven” is unfortunately not that ridiculous

  • Photo courtesy of FX
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From the December 12, 2013 edition

“American Horror Story: Coven” has run through more than half its season, and since last night’s episode was the last before a nearly month-long break, it’s time to check in on FX’s hit series.

The first season of “American Horror Story” was about the worst, most bat-shit crazy thing I’d seen on television in years. It was utterly terrible, but endlessly watchable in its terribleness. The second season managed to present a more cohesive narrative (that was still absurd), but lost much of what I liked about the first season.

Everything about the first season — haphazard writing that was basically just throwing up “horror” concepts, a cast that seemed to be acting as if they were on different shows and the most off-putting sexual situations — were toned down, or removed all together.

It was boring. The best thing about “American Horror Story” is how creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk think the series is either revolutionary or creative, when it’s really a ridiculous, mostly entertaining mess.

The “Coven” season doesn’t have quite the narrative whiplash of the first two seasons. It’s simply a darker version of “Harry Potter,” with Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) finding out she has magical powers and heading off to a school for witches in New Orleans. Some crazy stuff happens, people die and come back (as ghosts, coherent zombie things or Frankenstein-types) and there’s a battle coming between the Coven and the Voodoo.

This is all typical “American Horror Story” folly, but this season has lacked anything exciting — other than watching Jessica Lange chew scenery as head-witch-in-charge Fiona. All right, Emma Roberts’ stereotypical bad girl Madison is reminiscent of the series’ most terrible writing and acting. That’s fun.

And the whole teenage-Frankenstein-threesome-love-triangle is pretty hilarious in its WTF?!-ness. But it’s looking more like an actual love story now, not just a, “Let’s use this dead guy’s body for pleasure.”

Oh well, there’s sure to be more seasons of “American Horror Story” to come because it’s a huge hit. Hopefully it gets back to being the one of the worst — and highly entertaining — shows on television.