"American Horror Story" is the Best New Comedy on TV

Oh, FX. You're better than mescaline!
Publish date:
October 14, 2011
TV, television, An American Horror Story, FX, Ryan Murphy, M

Ryan Murphy’s haunted house thriller "An American Horror Story" on FX is quickly becoming my new favorite comedy.

I know I’m supposed to take this crap seriously, but it’s a horror series for people who think "Glee" is too subtle. "Glee." Too subtle. With that in mind, here’s my list of the five most unintentionally hilarious moments from Wednesday night’s episode.1. Flashback to 1968.

In case the music and the clothes weren’t enough, the date (“1968”) flashed on the screen. As the young women flailed about going to see The Doors, it became clear that this was the ‘60s as imagined by someone who has only ever seen The Brady Bunch and certain Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The moment I lost it was the line, “Oh, Maria, you are such a square.” I do covet those hairdos, though, and I invite American Horror Story to mangle as many decades as it sees fit.2. Vivien and Ben work on their marriage.

The worst scene in the "American Horror Story" pilot was the big confrontation between troubled couple Vivien and Ben. Alas, their serious talk in the second episode wasn’t nearly as awful, though Dylan McDermott’s unbearable sincerity continues to delight. “This baby is why we moved here,” he told his wife. “It’s our salvation.” And then he went off to cry and masturbate, presumably. (It’s kind of his thing.)3. Violet tells Vivien off.

Teenage girls and their mothers are pretty much guaranteed to fight, but like all Harmon family conflicts, the scene between Violet and Vivien was laughably unrealistic. None of these characters resemble actual people, so I guess it follows that Violet would make dramatic pronouncements like, “Having a baby isn’t going to keep you and Dad together,” and, “I think you’re weak.” Kids can be so cruel, especially when they’re given lines that reflect a character’s incessantly reiterated insecurities.4. Hayden breaks down.

There was definitely something unsettling about Ben’s visit to his ex-student/mistress Hayden, played by Ryan Murphy favorite Kate Mara. I mean, who ditches a former lover while she’s getting an abortion? But it was impossible to take Hayden seriously when she talked about being over the relationship while inching closer to Ben’s lap. And nothing beat her tearful breakdown after Ben wouldn’t hand over his cell phone: “All I ever wanted was for you to love me!” And to let me play Angry Birds on your phone! 5. Constance locks Addie in a room of mirrors.

Credit where credit’s due -- Ryan Murphy continues to employ actors with Down’s syndrome, for which he deserves mad kudos. On the other hand, he seems to have no idea how to use them, and Addie’s role as “freak” is borderline exploitative. I tittered nervously when Constance shoved her in a closet full of mirrors, where she repeatedly shrieked at her own reflection. It would be one thing if "American Horror Story" were trying to say something new about disability, but in this episode, Addie was used to reflect Violet’s pregnancy fears. Tacky.