Tuesday, October 14, 2014

American Horror Story - Coven

This Thanksgiving weekend I binge watched American Horror Story - Coven. When everyone is giving thanks and being grateful, I'm sitting in my recliner knitting and indulging in some grade A depravity.

Now, at first, my general impression of Coven was ... less than stellar. I was like, really? I mean, really? There were all these teenagers running around being teenagery with their angsty feelings and persnickety attitudes, being silly and it all seemed to be a bit too teeny-boppery for this cynical old bat (meaning me). Okay, before you get all uppity about my snap judgement, let me amend this by saying, I actually ended up enjoying this season more than the other two! So, there, you totally don't have to jump down my throat.

I knew not to give up on Coven until I'd watched at least three episodes. From past experience, I had learned AHS rolls out the red carpet slowly and its hooks sink in just as fast. Then, all of a sudden, you're knee deep in the fourth episode and excited to find out what happens next. The same thing happened with Asylum and the first season, which I just learned is now being called 'Murder House', so I didn't walk away. I battled through the 'this feels a bit too high school' vibes and made it to the really good stuff.

Don't get me wrong. The third season is totally worth watching all the way through, but I did feel it was targeted towards a younger demographic. This could have been because half of the cast was, in fact, hormonal youth, or the fact the young women are sent to Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies - doesn't the name alone sound like a popular YA novel in which the main character discovers she holds the power of the world in her smooth baby hands? And I also felt this season, like the others, stuck to the trend of tipping its hat to those without a voice - misfits, women, and the mentally unstable.

While this season certainly seems to touch on controversial issues such as race and women in power, I believe it did so without actually developing an opinion of it. Their are a number of strong female characters throughout but all of them are either naive, foolish, or complete jerks - some a combination of these traits - which means there isn't really anyone you're truly rooting for. Honestly, half the cast could die and you wouldn't even care - which might be intentional considering how body counts stack up with this program. Don't get me wrong, there are some undeniably lovable characters, like Kyle - the unintentional monster (played by that oh so cute Evan Peters - or Misty Day - the Stevie Nicks obsessed swamp witch - and Myrtle Snow - an always second best member of the council with a desire for revenge - all of which are wonderfully weird and totally endearing. Still, it's abundantly clear that men take a backseat in this season and of the three main male leads all of them are pretty much there to serve the ladies. This isn't a complaint, simply something I noticed and, I can't lie, was a bit refreshing.

Yes, Coven was more toned down than the first two seasons, but there was less to guess at and it wrapped everything up in a nice package. The plot line felt developed and not thrown together and, for the first time, I didn't think they were working hard to 'push the envelope' which is actually one of my pet peeves with horror shows. Sometimes people think these sorts of programs and movies need to be gory to be good, but that isn't the case. Don't be mistaken, there is plenty of blood and 'what the eff' moments, like the Axe-Man, Madame LaLaurie's chamber of horrors and the utterly disturbing nature of Spalding.

The only thing I could have done without is the second musical appearance of Stevie Nicks. A bit too weird and 'why is this happening' for me.  If you have reservations about how 'good' American Horror Story is, take it from me, it's weird and wonderful.

And Kathy Bates needs to be in more things. She's magnificent.

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