American Horror Story: A Look Back

At first after seeing trailer after trailer on this show I didn't think much of it. Ever since seeing the opening scene of the pilot, I have been hooked. The story revolves around the Harmon family. It is a bit of a broken family as Ben Harmon, the father of young rebellious Violet and husband of Vivien, is first seen cheating on Vivien with one of his patients. Ben is a shrink who sees his patients in the comfort of his own house and Vivien comes home early after a check up with a doctor to catch him in the act with one of his patients. Adding insult to injury, before than Vivien had a gruesome miscarriage where the child she had been carrying was dead inside her for quite some time. Ben chalks up his infidelity to burying his grief in between the legs of a younger woman seeing as how he hadn't been able to touch his wife since the miscarriage. Ben and Vivien try to work things out and decide a change of scenery would benefit them greatly, hopefully. They move from Boston to California and move into a beautiful house that carries it's fair share of baggage just like the Harmon's. The Harmon's find out through their real estate agent that the house is being sold at a cheaper price because of the murder's that took place on the property, the fact doesn't scare the Harmon's off and decide to take it.

Amittyville Horror? Yes and No
Amittyville Horror? Yes and No

The Harmon's begin to move into the house not fully noticing the weird kinks in the house. At one point Ben finds a black plastic suit in the cellar to which they think nothing off but that suit has creeped into the plot of the show a couple times in the four episodes that have aired already. Violet develops a relationship with one of Ben's new clients that he is seeing in the area named Tate. Tate is a troubled child who doesn't deal with rejection very well and is quite mysterious even through the past four episodes. All that is really known about him is the fact that he knows a lot about the house and truly cares for the Harmon's as he saved them from intruders in the second episode.

The Harmon's also have a very intrusive next door neighbor in Constance who is played by Jessica Lange. Constance and her daughter Adelaide frequently come in and out of the Harmon household and their only response as to why is that they are very familiar with the house. It is also revealed that Constance once lived in the house where she found her husband cheating on her with Moira the young red-headed housemaid. When Constance found them she pulled a handgun and shot Moira through the eye killing her instantly, and saved multiple bullets for her husband. Moira is still somehow connected to the house as Vivien hires her in the first episode to be the housemaid. She comes off to Vivien as a innocent and nice old lady who is very familiar with the house but then through Ben's eyes he sees a young and seductive red-headed woman who constantly makes sexual advances on him. Moira, Tate and Constance remain to be three of the most intriguing characters of the show as they clearly know more about the house then they let on to the Harmon's.

The Harmon Family
The Harmon Family
Denis O'Hare as Larry Harvey
Denis O'Hare as Larry Harvey

Ben is frequently visited by Larry Harvey, a disfigured and insane man that explains to Ben that he needs to take his family and get out of the house. He tells Ben that he was driven mad by the house and the end result meant the death of his family and disfigurement of himself. Ben dismisses it to Larry being a sociopath, but when Larry asks if Ben sleep walks or blackouts it grabs Ben's attention. In the first episode Ben is seen having multiple episodes of sleep walking and then in the third episode he has multiple blackouts. The blackouts in fact happen during his job when he is helping a woman who says that her husband doesn't listen to him. When he experiences a blackout in front of her it drives it to kill herself. He doesn't know this at first and throughout the episode he wonders if he was indeed the killer. Adding to his stress throughout the episode he is also approached by Hayden, the woman he cheated on Vivian with. In the second episode he traveled to Boston to see Hayden and help her through her abortion. However, he left in such a hurry she decided to keep the baby and tell Vivian. Larry comes to the rescue of Ben in the form of a quick slap on Hayden's head with a shovel. It instantly kills her, and Ben who had been digging holes throughout his blackouts buries Hayden underground and builds a gazebo on top of the hole.

Larry is confusing character, but due to Denis O'Hare's portrayal of the character he may just be the most fun to watch. He effortlessly adds comedy to his character in spots you wouldn't expect comedy to be in all the while being incredibly mad. O'Hare's portrayal of Larry and Lange's performance as Constance have been two of the biggest bright spots of the show as the two are terrific actors.

Disturbed? You should be, and welcome to American Horror Story
Disturbed? You should be, and welcome to American Horror Story

The black plastic suit that Ben found in the attic still remains to be the most mysterious part of the entire show thus far. Toward the end of the pilot we see Vivien getting ready for bed only to find at her bedroom door a man in the black plastic suit. She assumes it is Ben trying to spice things up a bit and the two have sex. However, during this scene we are also shown Ben downstairs sleep walking about to burn himself. It is still presumable that it is Ben inside the suit, but it is also presumable that it was not Ben at all. The most disturbing part of this is the episode ends with Vivien revealing to Ben that she is pregnant, we are not told how much time has past but it can't be that long of time in between. In the most recent episodes there has been complications with the baby, that is still unknown as to what those complications where however. I have a theory that when Vivien and Ben went to the hospital and the nurse passed out after doing a ultrasound that the nurse saw a deformed baby in Vivien's stomach. The fact that in the episode it was mentioned that the house's first owner tried to sew his baby back together after it was killed has to tie into the story we are being presented in the present timeline. In the same episode the viewers are shown a gay couple that lived in the house in 2010 that was murdered by the black plastic man.

4 1/2 stars out of 5
4 1/2 stars out of 5

Closing Comments

The show is disturbing, but not scary. I do realize it can scare people, but I don't scare easily so I'll take that into consideration. The writing and direction is amazingly well done and is the main reason why it has me hooked. The performances from Dylan McDermott as Ben Harmon have been okay week to week, but he could improve. Connie Britton as the grief stricken Vivien Harmon has been about what you'd expect. The show benefits greatly from seasoned actors like Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, Denis O'Hare and newcomer Zachary Quinto. The show benefits from having Conroy, O'Hare and Quinto as all three are used to being apart of a television show. Conroy was on the television show Six Feet Under, O'Hare has appeared on multiple episodes of True Blood and Quinto appeared as the villain in Heroes.

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have done a fantastic job in setting up this creepy horror/thriller story and creating likable characters that keep the viewers engaged in the story that is being told. I question the show's longevity but every episode has been fresh and wildly entertaining.

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Comments 10 comments

BWD316 profile image

BWD316 5 years ago from Connecticut

I was excited to see this show but have only watched the first episode. To me it feels like they are just trying to push the envelope on FX, i'm sure i'll give it another chance but it hasn't really impressed me yet. I also think seasoned actors like Denis O'Hare are great additions to the show! Great review voted up!


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 5 years ago from Columbia, MD Author

I'm very impressed with it. It's a well done show, but on paper and in terms of directing.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Pretty interesting analysis of it's pilot. It sounds like an interesting show. To be honest, I don't normally watch shows like this. However, the premise of this show sounds very interesting, and I can see why you like it so much. I'll definitely make a note to check it out sometime, as I'm sure someone must've posted this pilot on youtube somewhere, so I'll be sure to look for it. Thanks for the heads up, and thanks for the great read.


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 5 years ago from Columbia, MD Author

i'm glad i can turn you to some tv shows lol


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

Most excellent review and hub. I, too, am so hooked as are family members and friends. I like your image description of "Disturbed? You should be..." I found the parts of the Halloween episodes very disturbing and look forward to the next episode. I will say I think it has scary effects too! I would never watch it alone. The creativity and writing and acting is well done. Thumbs up on your review.


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 5 years ago from Columbia, MD Author

See i dont find it scary, but it takes alot to scare me usually. I do find aspects of it very off-putting though and I love the directing style in the show.


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I loved this show! It was something completely different - a horror story, but in a series! I was hooked on each episode, the characters were believable (except for the last episode - I think Vivien was very much out of character), the writing was excellent and it was SCARY as hell! Can't wait for Season 2.


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 4 years ago from Columbia, MD Author

i think the entire show as a whole was a very mixed back at the end of it. I was fairly disappointed with the entire season, but I also realize that I am in the minority. I loved the performances, mostly Jessica Lange, but I feel like it was over done, and over stylized. The writing could have been better too. All in my own opinion mind you.

I am however curious where they would go with Season 2, like will they have completely different characters? Will Vivian, Ben, Tate, Violet, Constance all just make random appearances because then it could all become to cluttered in aspects. Either way, thanks for coming by and I appreciate your feedback.


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I agree with you on the point of it being over done at the end of the season. It's almost as if they rushed it, and it started off so well. Jessica Lange was amazing.

From what I hear, Season 2 is going to be with a new family, new characters and a new house which makes me excited. I think if it were to be with the same characters, the show probably wouldn't even last the full season - where would they go with it?


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 4 years ago from Columbia, MD Author

First half was very good, second half lost my interest. Next season they would make it pretty much the same way i'd assume. They have a good formula in place, but keep it grounded and don't try to become to ambitious. I still kind of think the show would have been better suited as a mini-series.

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