Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why American Horror Story: Coven Really, Really Sucked

Photo: Stevie Nicks, from her Wikipedia page.  Read on for the AHS: Coven connection, especially if you haven't seen the show.

It's over now, anyway, and the ending was so disappointing that I didn't even want to write about that.  That's bad, and that's how bad it was.  The only reason I felt even slightly motivated to write about it was because of how bad it was, and now I'm over it enough to do just that.  So, Coven sucked because of:

--Mona's end.  She was by far the most interesting, the most dynamic character, and the way her end was handled was indeed very sloppy.  What about all those scenes of her knowing about her darkness?  What about how she wanted to be better, and asked for forgiveness?  She knew Stevie Nicks, for God's sake, so how bad could she be?  (And I'm unsure of how I feel about unabashedly plugging Stevie Nicks so much.  I mean, the last episode began with a video for her.  But...she always did strike me as kinda earthy, kinda wispy, kinda Misty Day-like, actually.) True, her daughter saw her future killings of everyone, but could that really have been the case if she was dying of cancer the whole time?  And why not have the Axe Man do her in, if you're only gonna have her use him, which does him in, and then have her disappear for awhile so that we think she's dead, only to have her return, but be dying of cancer?  Does that make any sense at all?  And that Catholic / Hell / Purgatory judgment thing at the end, with her character and a few others?  No thanks.  That's as old and as unnecessary as the movie Ghost.  Didn't like it there; didn't like it here.  Writers do not judge their characters.  They only write about what happens.  Understandable that they wouldn't want Lange's character to seek redemption, as I said above, and then work to get it, since that's exactly what they did with her character last season--but this?  Did they have to do this?  And was that really a purgatory for her character--suddenly she doesn't like the guy (if she ever did) and she has a fit about the wooden floors and walls?  Incidentally, that voodoo-whatever guy was apparently responsible for that end, but remember, Mona was unable to make a deal with him to begin with because he said she lacked a soul.  No deal, so no punishment for reneging on that deal.  Stupid, ridiculous, and really, really bad writing.  Made me angry.

--Misty Day's end.  (And what a great character name!)  So, speaking of judgment, someone is supposed to remain in Purgatory, or just die (or, what exactly did happen to her?) because she doesn't want to kill anything?  And she feels like this to begin with because she was burned at the stake herself?  Why did she live just to be in Purgatory because she didn't want to kill anything--which, by the way, is normally seen as a good thing?  Why not just stay in the swamp, or go back there once the threat of getting killed was gone?  (A serious threat that Mona, by the way, took care of.)  Ridiculous ending to what could have been a good character.  After Mona, she was my favorite character.  Stupid, ridiculous, and really, really bad writing.  Also made me very angry.

--Misuse of Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett.  So Angela Bassett's character gets conked on the head by Mona's former slave / servant--who had died but not died, like almost everybody else--and then buried alive somewhere, and nobody knows where?  What was her character around for, anyway?  And was she that evil at the end that she would shove hot pokers in the throats of Bates's daughters?  If so, why wasn't she in her own Purgatory?  That's the thing about judgment: Once you judge a character for reason X, you have to judge every character by that same reasoning.  Or it's a mess.  What a waste of a good actress and a role that could have gone somewhere.  Speaking of judgment: What exactly did Bates's daughters do that was so bad that they deserved to be killed like they were, and then to be pokered like they were, for eternity?  Again, that's where judgment goes bad.  Stupid, and really, really bad writing.  And Kathy Bates...Well, at least her end was a little more understandable, though I'm still not keen on the whole judgment thing.  And her character had her scene-chewing moments.  But...again, did her daughters belong there, as well? And if the argument is used that those aren't really her daughters, but representations of them for Bates's own Purgatory--then wouldn't she get that, sooner or later?  I mean, she has all eternity to figure that out.  Once she does, it's not Purgatory-like punishment, because she knows it's not really her daughters getting it, anyway.  And does Bassett's character need to be there for all eternity as well?  Stupid, and really bad writing.

That's what really gets me about Lange's, and Bates's, and Bassett's characters (and maybe Misty Day as well, who had a certain flair): They were the only interesting ones, the ones with any sort of character arc, or personality, or sense of humor.  Or anything.  Like, at all.  And they get punished for that?  Stupid.

Have I gotten across how stupid I thought the whole thing turned out to be, and how bad the writing was?  And don't get me started on FrankenCarl.  What, exactly, was he around for?  And Madison.  She was, at least, interesting.  Did she get a Purgatory?  We didn't see one.  Misty Day gets one, completely undeserved, and she doesn't get one, when she mauled a bus-ful of boys (as understandable as that was, considering what they did), but then kills, but doesn't kill, Misty Day?  (So that she can later have a breakdown in eternity in a science class with a frog.  Reader, repeat that sentence again to yourself.)  There's perhaps a certain irony there, considering Roberts was later arrested for assaulting the real FrankenCarl.  They also later become engaged.  And--

What a mess!  What an incredibly horrible stinking mass of excrement that was still--because of the acting of Lange and Bates and Bassett--at least still shockingly bearable.  Until the end.  And coming on the heels of Season Two, which I thought was one of the best shows that I have seen in a very long time, perhaps ever...

So bad that it defies explanation, despite my reasons expressed here.  Unbelievable that the same writers who wrote Season Two also wrote this.  Like the Brandman book of a few blogs ago, this was so egregiously bad that it actually crossed the line and became offensive.  It's hard to screw up a series in which essentially anything goes, with really good actors and a talented writing crew--but they somehow managed.

And that's why American Horror Story: Coven really, really sucked.

Did you think it sucked?  Why?

Click here for American Horror Story: Freak Show, my new blog.  Each episode will be reviewed in the blog.  Let me know what you think!


  1. Someone summed it up perfectly and I"m going to share their response with you as follows: "AHS Coven was like a long supernatural version of Bad Girls Club."
    This comment is exactly what I was thinking! I blame Emma Robert's character for stirring up arguments and confrontations and it became a bitch fest instead of storytelling. Her character riled up, Sidibe and the others into fighting! She added nothing.
    Why did Farmiga's vagina cause people to die? No explanation, barely any Evan Peters, I forgot all about his character (stupid frankencarl).
    I like Murder House the most and Asylum second, I hated Coven. It had SO MUCH POTENTIAL! I was so excited and I hated it!
    Pros: I did like Spalding (loved Dennis is season 1), Lily Rabe needed to be in it more. Cons: Emma Roberts, Paulson gross eyes, zombies (enough already), bad girls club arguing, not enough Farmiga/Peters, missed opportunities everywhere.

    1. Well-said, Anonymous. I also thought it was AHS meets Mean Girls. Ridiculous. I liked Asylum the most, so we'll have to respectfully disagree there, and I didn't care much for Spalding, as he seemed essentially useless. Wanted to see much more of Misty Day.

      Having said all that, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates deserved their Emmys--especially Lange, who was the only real reason to watch this mess.

      Thanks for the great response!

  2. The season/story sucked because it was a soap opera right from the start. Murder House felt like it had an identity crisis. The show took a huge step forwards with Asylum, which felt like a real horror story. With coven, it seems like they decided not to do horror at all and do twilight with witches. Hopefully Freak Show will follow Asylum's example rather than Coven's.

    Also, I feel that the Lange and Bates' Emmys, whilst well deserved, reflect more on the lack of well written female roles on TV rather than the believability or depth of their characters on coven.

  3. Great response, Anonymous. And good call about Asylum, which was indeed a horror story from the start, and it stayed that way. No melodrama. No soap opera clichés. Just mad doctors and Nazi experiments and aliens and insanity. Good point, too, about the lack of believability re: Bates' and Lange's characters, though I think Lange actually succeeded in making her character relevant for quite a long time, despite--not because of--the writing she was given to perform.