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'American Horror Story': What the what?

By Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published November 27. 2012 2:00PM   Updated November 27. 2012 5:18PM

*SPOILERS BELOW. Proceed with caution.

So, I know everyone’s way plugged in to “Walking Dead” right about now (me too), but is anyone out there still holding on to “American Horror Story - Asylum” with me?

Mu husband’s even bailed on me, and I don’t blame him, because I really have no idea why I keep watching. Hope springs eternal, I suppose.

Because, season one — set in an entirely different universe than season two; indeed, season two doesn't require really any knowledge of season one — was phenomenal. I don’t scare easily and that show got waaaaay under my skin, starting with the man in the black rubber suit creeping around that hideous house/poor tortured, murderous Tate. And the twist with young Violet at the end of the series? So great, a tad heart-breaking, and perfectly executed. Well played, FX. Even the opening credits were freaky.

PS. How fabulous is Jessica Lange? Answer: completely.

Alright, so now we’ve got season two, set in the 1960s in a Massachusetts mental asylum called Briarcliff Manor, a former tuberculosis hospital. Sounds good right? We New Englanders love us a good ghost-set-in-asylum story; we dig Poe, winters are dark here, we get it. Color me all amped up for season two when it started this fall, featuring several actors from season one return to take on new, often very, very different roles. And if you thought Jessica Lange was intense as a smoldering Southern mama with an iron grip, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen her as Sister Jude, an administrator at Briarcliff.

Wouldn’t you say that’s ever so fertile ground for a rollicking, kooky, scary season two? I sure would’ve.

But no, season two also considers no less than: alien abductions; a mad-scientist-Nazi-doctor war criminal; zombie-ish ghouls tended by said Nazi-doctor war criminal; demonic possession complete with exorcism; Adam Levine running around minus one arm; and more Catholic dogma/guilt than you can shake a stick at. Oh yeah, and as is turns out, (SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER) Zachary Quinto’s Dr. Thredson — someone we thought was one of the good guys — likes to skin people and make lampshades from their skin. Get it? “Thread-son”? He goes down in urban mythology as  — wait for it —"Bloody Face" the serial killer.

For real.

It’s too much—it’s so too much I wonder if the show is parodying itself, making some sort of super-stylized homage to pulp fiction. But I don’t think it’s that kind of party. I wish it was.

Actually, no I don’t. Is it so much to ask for a good scare/opportunity to exit reality these days? Must everything be ironic? Sheesh.

To the writers/creative types behind “American Horror Story”: rein it in. You’ve got a great cast, and Ms. Lange will likely win herself another Emmy for her efforts on your behalf. Don’t squander it with a jillion storylines that nobody cares to follow. Creep us out with the kooks in the asylum and their handlers and leave it at that. James Cromwell as Head Mad Scientist is amazing in that capacity. It’s such a far cry from Farmer “That’ll do pig” it’s, well, scary. Chloe Sevigny as a very, very, very unfortunate inmate? Not much else needed. I’m certain that’ll be better than the Three-Ring Circus of Post-Modern Frights you’ve scheduled every Wednesday night.

Yet, I shall hold out hope for one more episode for some grand show of cohesion. If not, I'll meet you all back for season 3, because Jessica Lange's aboard for that one too and I'd tune in just to hear her read the phone book, aliens notwithstanding.

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