Saturday, July 27, 2013

American Horror Story: Asylum

Photo: A promo poster for the show, on its Wikipedia page

I've been trying forever to get to this series, which I'd DVR-ed.  Turns out, I somehow missed the first episode, and--since two episodes started later than they were supposed to--I missed fifteen minutes or so on those two episodes.

At any rate, I came into the house exhausted from working outside in the heat for five hours--I didn't take any breaks, and was often so lightheaded that I became dizzy and nauseous, but I did the day--and sat down and didn't want to get up.  Thinking I was now in my best position to at least start the series, I did so--and then watched them all, until about three in the morning.  That was about 11 1/2 straight episodes--fast-forwarded through all the commercials, of course.

So, since it's been nominated for a million Emmys, here's my two cents of it:

--Very compulsively watchable, despite the characters being in so many implausible situations.

--Jessica Lange was the best of the bunch, as she apparently was last year when she took home the Emmy. 

--I don't know what's so exactly American about American Horror Story.  Seems more French to me, in a very Sartre-like, "Hell is other people," kind of way.   But if you don't know that, and you thought it was a lot like Lost, well, then, there you go.  I got an Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None vibe while watching the series, too.

--(I'm reminded of the time I saw a few minutes of one of the first episodes of the first season of Lost.  I told someone the island was obviously a Sartre-like Hell, and that "Hell is other people," and I never had to watch a single episode again.  When it was all over, years later, the girl I said that to said I'd ruined it for her, that she wasn't surprised at the end, and that she'd been ticked that I'd been right about the whole thing in five minutes.  I admit that I'm a bit of a killjoy that way.  I did the same thing while sitting in the theatre, watching The Sixth Sense.  The Bruce Willis character was obviously dead, and the real tipping-point for me was when he was at dinner with his wife, and the waitress placed the bill on the table, facing her.  Waitresses purposely don't point the bill at the guy anymore, but they still did in 1999.)

--I got the Hell aspect of the show, and that Briarcliffe was supposed to be that, but it became suspension-of-disbelief impossible that they'd all get put back there by the State of Massachusetts so many times.  I mean, I went with it, almost derailed my viewing between episodes six through nine, or so.

--The demon didn't seem to have a fully compelling agenda.  I know that the angelic sister was battling the demon the whole time, but, still...Demons normally have plans of destruction, or something, right?  This one seemed content to take part in a battle of wills with the Nazi doctor, the sister in charge, and the Monsignor--all battles that she was apparently content to lose most of the time, as well.  The demon in The Exorcist at least wanted to conquer some souls and kick some ass.

--Jessica Lange's Boston accent was both right-on, and too exaggerated, at the same time.  Odd.

--It also doesn't seem reasonable that the girl she ran over ended up living a productive, mobile life.

--Her thinking that she'd run her over, blaming herself her whole life, drinking again, and all for what?  I realize there's a lesson in there, somewhere.

--What're the chances of a fake nun, a demon, a possessed man, some aliens, some inhuman creatures, and a Nazi doctor all being in the same building at the same time?  Maybe that's the American part.

--There were many homages to Psycho, especially, but other American films as well.  One of the many notable Psycho homages was when a woman entered the behavorial therapist's (or whatever she was) office, and found the therapist sitting in her chair, hair to us, facing away.  I expected her to turn the chair around, and to hit a swinging light fixture as she screamed.

--I'm no prude, but...I don't know.  I have to admit to being a little uncomfortable knowing that so many crude sexual references, so much cursing, and so much nudity was on commercial television.  I'm surprisingly prudish for such a liberal-minded guy.

--I still watched it all, of course, hypocrite that I am.  Perhaps that's the American part as well.

--It's not every day that you see a nun forcing sex on a Monsignor.  While wearing black garters.

--The suicidal driver who picked up the reporter when she escaped must've been thinking, "Of all the suicidal guys' cars in all the state, she has to jump into mine."

--While watching, I must've said, "What?" two hundred times.  Usually after what someone said.

--Speaking of being such a prude, I couldn't get over the constantly-repeated massage gel commercial.  Times, they are a changin'.

--I didn't expect the Monsignor to throw the nun off the stairway.  But I did expect the Nazi doctor to become permanently bereft about it.

--Of course, he was already permanently bereft, in many other ways.

--I expected things to get easier for Lange's character after she was born again, but instead they got much harder.  I know the Lord works in mysterious ways, but after awhile He didn't seem to be working in Briarcliffe at all.

--Of course, the asylum was Hell on Earth, so that sort of makes sense, but still...

--The series wrapped up very well, showing what happened to all the characters.  It ended like a Stephen King book has ended lately, at least in the last ten years or so.  Very bittersweet, sad but not.  That speaks well of how the show (and King, I suppose) led us to care about the characters.

--The aliens seemed to also be very hands-off in the series, much like the demon.  It feels odd to have just typed that.  But it's true.  The aliens didn't try to save the two women at all.  And I can understand each of the women's POV, too.  One felt raped, the other raptured.  I would've felt like the first, too.

--I saw the rebooted Star Trek movies before this, so it was hard for me to see Spock doing those things.  Speaking of being a killjoy, I nailed him as Bloody Face right away.  Had to be him.  He was the only good character on the show at the time.

--Speaking of that, Jessica Lange has come a long way since King Kong.  That was in 1976, by the way, for those of you who didn't feel old enough already.

--That little girl perhaps disturbed me the most out of everyone.  I've read lots of nonfiction books that said that five-year-olds can indeed by evil psychopaths.  After killing her family, she's never referenced again, with quite a few episodes remaining.  Maybe in Season Three?  Though every season is a different story, she can find her way into the show again if the writers really want her to.

--Having a show's cast be like a repertory theatre troupe is a good idea.

--Very good show, overall.  I did watch it for about twelve straight hours, which perhaps says something unfortunate about me as well.  And, no, I didn't have to get up for work in the morning.

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