Lest everyone think I only write about deep matters, I would like to take this time to talk about a television show.
It’s long been established that I have a predilection for anything creepy, spooky, gory, bedecked in cobwebs or performed by Peter Murphy. Not too many television shows deliver almost all of the aforementioned goods (as far as I know, Peter Murphy has yet to appear on an episode).
It’s not for everyone. People who are easily frightened/grossed out/offended would do well to stay far, far away from this show. Because it can be frightening. It can be quite gross. And just when you think there’s a line this show WON’T cross, it will go ahead and cross it. Yea, verily, it will leap over it, run circles around it, and even double back and cross it again. It “goes there,” and brings back souvenirs – mental postcards that will never be purged from your brain, never. Ever.
So if you’re not versed in all things American Horror Story, here’s the deal: it’s in its third season. Each season is a different story. There are no returning characters, but there are returning actors. Jessica Lange is always there. Ditto Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and Lily Rabe. Season One takes place in a haunted mansion in Los Angeles. Season Two – a mental asylum in Massachusetts. This season focuses on a coven of witches who live in a private school for “exceptional girls,” in New Orleans.
This time around, Lily Rabe plays an ostracized witch who also happens to be obsessed with Stevie Nicks. It’s PERFECT. The cast this season includes Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Gabourey Sidibe and Patti LuPone, which has led my friend (and Cohort In All Things Creepy) Dan and I to rename it American Horror Story: Bitches.
I have friends who turn up their noses at it, in the main because they think it’s “derivative.” Of course it’s derivative. Horror stories ARE derivative. Personally, I enjoy catching the references to other horror movies. I enjoy that a story about witches suddenly brings on a herd of zombies, and then turns into a scene straight out of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Derivative, you say? BRING IT, I say. I laugh like hell every single episode. Every one.
And, because I’m an alcoholic and notice these things, every season deals in some way with addiction. Jessica Lange is always portraying someone in the throes of alcoholism: Constance, the aging, failed actress in Los Angeles; Sister Jude, the former barroom chanteuse/hit-and-run driver turned nun; Fiona, the coven’s leader (or “Supreme”) whose powers are not enough to stop her aging.
Fiona can raise the dead, erase memories, persuade people to do her bidding….but so much more in her life is out of her control, and so she lies, she covers up, and all the while pops pills and drinks as her carefully-created façade crumbles around her. It’s about as accurate a portrayal of a woman alcoholic as I’ve seen. The witchcraft element just drives the point home. You can’t fix everything, no matter how much power you think you have, no matter how much you try to control the outcome.
And that, I think, is the real horror at the heart of it all.