A while ago I wrote a little bit about my brainstorming process. Basically, I filled a page with ideas, big and small, that inspired me. Some of these things were totally disconnected, but tethered together by the fact that I have a strong interest in exploring both topics (e.g, American folklore and one-eyed dogs).
This process comes to mind as I watch the second season of American Horror Story on FX. Over all, I enjoy the show and really can’t get enough of the weirdness. But my hypothesis is that creator Ryan Murphy must have sat in a room with his writing partner and simply asked the question: “What’s scary?” The one rule? Leave Nothing Out.
I say this because of the insane soup of horror elements that are thrown into each episode. It’s shamelessly packed with disparate conventions, each of which is deserving of its own series. But they all sit on the same bus, “alien abduction” wedged next to “demonic posession”, while “murderer on the loose” looks glumly out the window and then back to his iphone.
No, no there’s no iphone. We’re in 1965. So, from the more typical monsters, Murphy and company move to a subtler, sometimes scarier set of creepers: The homophobe, the racist, the religious hypocrite (chills). They’re all on this bus, and the bus is headed straight to hell. Or is it Danvers, MA? I think the show is supposed to be set in Danvers.
Yes, the show has troubles. The Chloe Sevigny character, for example, had a awkwardly earnest monologue about sexual repression in the most recent episode. I could feel the grumbling head shaking of every creative writing teacher in the nation as she talked, and talked, and talked, without interruption, about sexual justice in a “tense dramatic moment”.
We get it, Ryan Murphy. No one disagrees with you. Things were bad for the more free-wheeling ladies of the 1960’s. Here’s something though, the virgin/harlot dichotomy is way out of control this season on the show. I mean, literally, the nun is wearing red knickers. The prostitute is forced to dress up like a nun. It’s…just…we get it.
But that’s all beside the point. What’s the point? Good quesiton. I think the point is that sometimes it’s fun to just throw everything in the pot and see if you can draw plot lines from A to B to 231 to Guatemala. American Horror Story is a grab bag of weird, and I know I’ll be watching until the trapped lesbian reporter has an illicit affair with a zombified Hitler or some other inevitable breaking point.
Lady on the verge of a very bad few weeks.