A very good friend of mine, who happens to be an extremely talented writer and critic herself, asked me if I was giving negative reviews to Coven because I had predicted it would be bad and wanted to be proven right. Now, I don't think that's true, but I'm as weak as the next man, so I vowed I would focus on the positive things going on in this week's episode, "The Replacements."
First off, let me say this... if you made a TV show that featured nothing but a bitchy Jessica Lange interacting with a time-transplanted racist Kathy Bates from the 19th century I would crash my car in order to get home and watch that on time. We get this simply amazing and hilarious scene where Bates is watching a speech from Barack Obama, and she just has the most gut-splitting, slave-owner reaction to it that I literally thought I was going to die laughing. I don't care of you think Obama is the Muslim Anti... Mohammed? There is no way the idea of a brutal slave owner seeing the first black American president isn't funnier than watching a monkey try to make sweet monkey love to a football.
Bates winds up finding her new place as the maid of the school, and this immediately brings her into conflict with Queenie. Fiona orders Bates to be Queenie's personal slave, which leads to still more hilarity. Seriously, this show could be called "A Confederate Racist in Queenie's Court" and be the comedy hit of the season.
Also on the positive front and funny front are the new neighbors, Bible-humping uber devouts because of course they are. Both Nan and Madison set their sights on one of the older, Abercrombie & Fitch-looking sons, much to his mother's horror.
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Madison, while still coming across as a somewhat one-dimensional character at times, really is starting to show some signs of growth. True, she all but shows up naked to the object of her affection's house and sets things on fire as soon as things don't go her way, but later interactions with Fiona reveal more of her back story as a child forced into stardom by greedy parents as a well as a basic humanity and need for a loving parental figure. Without spoiling it for those who haven't caught up yet, this turns badly, but the trailers hint at some fun to come.
Jamie Brewer plays second fiddle to both Queenie and Madison, but really steals the show in any scene she's in. She uses her clairvoyant powers to deduce the type of cake Madison's boy-crush likes best, and in true southern style shows up to welcome him to the neighborhood with baked goods. Nan has him all but eating out of her hands in seconds, to Madison's vocal outrage, and as far as I'm concerned it goes to show that Brewer, rather than the more Disney-esque looking stars should really be the focus of the youth storylines.
That's not to say nothing stupid occurred. Oh it did, and the one thing that American Horror Story really needs to let go of is this idea that you can be sexually edgy on anything but a premium channel. Incest and playing with yourself while a minotaur watches ("Don't you want to love me?") are just never going to play out with any real punch within the confines of broadcast rules you've restricted yourselves to. Without the ability to take it to a truly shocking level, you're stuck just making us go, "Ewwwww."