American Horror Story: Coven: With Apologies to Stevie Nicks
I feel like paraphrasing the ending of Bioshock Infinite this week.
See it's hard to draw a line from two points and establish a pattern. You need at least three, and now when it comes to American Horror Story we have three. Here's what I've noticed about the show based on the points each one hits.
There is always a house. There is always a physically disabled person who is secretly more than she seems. There is always a man in a mask who is more terrifying than the mask itself. There is always a child conceived through evil. There is always a rape.
It's become positively weird at this point just how uncannily the various settings in the three seasons are starting to line up, and it's making me positively giddy with possibilities. The show isn't called American Horror StorieS is it? No, somewhere in the back of the minds behind it I am beginning to wonder if there is not something so much grander planned than anything that has come before. Is it one single repeated tale told over and over again with a different cast? Will this all tie in together at some point in the future? I rather think that it will.
In the meantime, "Boy Parts" was both much better and far stupider than the premier of Season 3. On the very much plus side Angela Bassett as the immortal form of Marie Laveau comes out to eat every inch of scenery, especially when she spars words with Jessica Lange. The two of them alone are enough to carry the show along its path as they act out old grievances between the voodoo practitioners and the proper witches.
The continued teabagging of established witch history in the United States still makes me grind my jaws, though. This idea that the slave Tituba, who admittedly did begin the persecutions of CHRISTIAN PEOPLE in the Salem Witch Trials, was the ancestor of the Arawak tribe from Africa and descendant of shamans is both fairly new and slightly ridiculous. Tituba's exact genetic heritage is not known, but she's closer to Native American than traditional African slave. Her race changes dramatically in the historical record over the course of the 19th century writings on the matter.
I understand that the historical marker buoys are meant to just serve as pins in the map for a viewer to follow, but the whole history of the witch trials across America and Europe is already so badly misunderstood and misused as it is that it really starts to irk me.
Still, when this ignorant historical backstory is let go of and Lange, Bassett, and the newly brought back Kathy Bates are allowed to just be their bitchy selves it makes for some extremely riveting television. Think Steel Magnolias meets Carrie and you get the idea. I do love that.
On the other hand... the teenage set gets ever more ridiculous. Gabourey Sidibe and Jamie Brewer continue to turn in great performances that don't get center stage because one is heavy and the other is disabled so why would we do anything with them when conventionally pretty white women can try bringing a corpse back to life after making dick jokes?
Madison and Zoe decide, apropos of nothing and with more holes in their logic than an Alex Jones rant, to visit the morgue of the local hospital holding the corpses of the frat boys Madison killed in a bus crash for raping her while drunk.
Review continues on next page.
Since the corpses, including Evan Peeters who Zoe is crushing on, are in more pieces than wholes, they pull a May and sew enough bits together to raise the dead with a spell in order to create the perfect boyfriend. It works, and he comes back a violent murderous corpse because writing is hard.
Screenwriters... stop. Please stop. I know it's a horror film convention that teenagers just up and decided to lick the sweaty ballsack of the occult but that shit is all based on a handful of propaganda material stretching back to the '80s intended to make women feel bad about working. There is no reason why the hell this scene would've taken place, and as impressed as I am with your body part effects it's not enough to overcome the fact that you can't do better than Re-Animator.
Then, Lily Rabe, who has a small role as a modern witch who was burned at the stake then comes back to life, waltzes in and does the best she can with a really, really stupid part. It starts well. She actually opens the episodes with perhaps the greatest death scene in the show's history. Then when she hooks up with Zoe it turns into a discussion on whether or not Stevie Nicks is an actual witch while "Edge of Seventeen" plays on an endless loop in the gayest scene I have ever watched.
One, Nicks hates the idea that we all think she's some sort of Wiccan pagan goddess Earth spirit. She's just a very talented singer who has done a lot of drugs, OK?
Two, I don't know a whole lot about adolescent lesbianism because of the whole penis thing, but I do know that you can't light candles and play Fleetwood Mac and expect to get your waterslide rode while a Frankenstein covered in alligator poop is in the room.
There's a lot of potential in American Horror Story, but it is still acting out some really ridiculous ideas to get there.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events