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American Horror Stories Series Premiere Review: Diluting the Franchise, One Story at a Time



If you thought American Horror Story: Apocalypse ruined the concept of the Murder House forever, then allow us to introduce American Horror Stories Season 1 Episode 1 and American Horror Stories Season 1 Episode 2.


The purpose of this spinoff is to tell new horror stories set in the same universe as American Horror Story, so it was bizarre to return to Murder House and for there not to be any of the characters we met throughout the two seasons we spent there.


Well, we heard the kids as they lead a therapist to her death, but still, there was so much squandered here.


I completely understand that many of the original stars were probably done with the franchise, and if that was the case, they should have left Murder House alone.


New stories in new locations would be much more exciting than beating a dead horse and baiting viewers into thinking they will meet some beloved past characters by returning to these locations.


Scarlett, Michael, and Troy arriving in a new locale would have made this story more interesting, but knowing the history of Murder House held this story back from reaching its full potential.


The first part of the premiere played out like a Lifetime movie, and not one of the ones that are so bad they’re good. It was just plain forced, with twists that felt thrown in for shock value rather than advancing the plot.


The show relied too heavily on the parallels to American Horror Story: Murder House. It’s one thing to throw in some easter eggs for nostalgia purposes, but given that we’ve already returned to Murder House, it fell very flat.


Scarlett was a complex character, and Sierra McKormick played every single beat of her story to perfection. I appreciated the darkness associated with the character and that she owned who she was from the get-go.


All she wanted was to find someone to connect with, but what she got was four teenagers who wanted to make her life a living hell. She was very reminiscent of Violet, but they are still distinctly different in their own ways.


The bratty teenagers live streaming Scarlett’s confessions was a real shocker. Obviously, Maya and her band of friends were up to no good, but I didn’t expect them to air her revealing her deepest, darkest secrets.


What would Maya have done if Scarlett came on to her? They must have had a contingency plan, and they must have planned to take down Scarlett the moment she arrived at the school. Maya was persistent and played up her interest very well.


Paris Jackson was another strong part of the cast as Maya.


Unfortunately, the deaths of the four girls were handled horribly.


The concept of Scarlett threatening to kill herself and telling Maya how she and her friends would probably be sent to jail for several years was intriguing, and I accepted they were going to die the moment they were stupid enough to show up at Murder House.


But there should have been more horror involved.


While the show managed to include the Infantata, the death scenes were over way too quickly, driving home, once again, that none of this feels remotely like a horror.


The Murder House story played with many concepts, but it relied more on ludicrous twists and campy humor.


It came off more like Scream Queens than American Horror Story, and that’s a glaring issue if the series is going to be utilizing that tone in the future.


Kaia Gerber’s Ruby was another weak link, which was disappointing.


I was interested to see how Gerber handled the role, but she didn’t bring the vulnerability needed to connect with the character. Ruby was more concerned with her name being in the headlines than anything else.


Her love story with Scarlett came out of nowhere, but there was a clear attraction between them. Not even Ruby killing Scarlett’s fathers drove a wedge between them, and that’s saying something.


Speaking of Michael and Troy, there really wasn’t anything here to challenge both Matt Bomer and Gavin Creel as actors.


The writers clearly wanted them to be the witty parents, who have something to say about everything, but they got some of the worst dialogue in the franchise’s history.


American Horror Stories needs to find a way to tell stories set in this universe without relying on the locations or the nostalgia from American Horror Story.


Maybe the future episodes will be able to find the right balance because they are single-episode stories.


For now, I’m not sold on the series, and that’s largely due to the weak writing, strange tone, and the show’s reliance on what the franchise so great in the first place.


The end of American Horror Story: Apocalypse paved the way for Murder House to return down the line, but after this 90-minute return to the house where it all started, I never want to set foot in the place again.


We have five stories left on American Horror Stories Season 1. Let’s hope they are completely new and show that the franchise still has some life because right now, the show feels like a way to dilute the franchise.


Okay, American Horror Stories fanatics!


What did you think of the two-part premiere?


Did you like the return to Murder House?


Hit the comments below.


Catch new episodes of American Horror Stories Thursdays on FX on Hulu.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.





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