American Horror Story, Ep. 1.12, “Afterbirth”: After thoughts, part 1

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American Horror Story Review, Season 1, Episode 12, “Afterbirth”
Written by Jessica Sharzer
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Airs Wednesdays at 10:00 pm ET on FX

Warning: Spoilers

A little bit of context is useful in digesting the helping heap that is this season finale. Soon after this episode aired, series co-creator Ryan Murphy (below) explained that American Horror Story would embody the format of a season-long anthology. This means new characters, new story, and new actors every season. This is exciting for several reasons. The main reason being that this hasn’t been done for a television show, at least in recent memory.

It’s a very interesting and ambitious move. In an era thick with serial dramas, writers ensure that viewers will return by the cliffhangers they throw in at the end of their season finales. It’s a familiar trick to build momentum for the next season, but American Horror Story won’t have that. This is bittersweet news. It’s sweet because it promises closure in story and character arcs and will hopefully prevent unanswered questions and lingering mysteries (ahem, The Sopranos, Lost). It’s bitter because it means no more Jessica Lange.

The format will likely attract other talent on par with Lange. With a one-season commitment, it provides an alternative to Broadway, a long-time hideaway of Hollywood’s more “serious” actors. It could also build a jigsaw audience. Anyone can jump in at the beginning of any season and become a fan. And if long-time fans utter that infamous “I-don’t-like-where-the-show-is-going” line, they can stop watching and wait for next season for something completely different. It also erases the notion of “catching up” on a show and the opportunity to laugh at whatever parodies may pop up on YouTube without worrying about spoilers.

Obviously, audience investment will only be a season long. So, no one should get too attached to any one story or character. It’s kind of sad to think no more Harmons, no more Rubber Man, and especially no more Constance. Then again, their integrity as characters remains intact. They haven’t been dragged out (ahem, Friends, The Office), and in the end, that’s all any television fan ultimately wants.

Lastly, the season-long anthology validates the broadest of television show titles (still waiting for a reason from you, Regular Show… look it up, Sound On Sighters, it’s amazing). And best of all, it gives audiences something different, literally and figuratively. Now, on to the actual review.

It was good.

Ryan Clagg

Just kidding. Part 2 here.

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