Every year, I partake in one particular autumn tradition against my own better judgment: I watch the first episode of American Horror Story, getting all my hopes up, absolutely knowing that I’m going to be disappointed.
Many of my colleagues wonder why I even give this show the time of day when it hasn’t been reliably good since the second season. I can’t really tell you, because I’m not quite so sure myself. Maybe it’s because sometimes, in the overwhelmingly indistinguishable sludge that is American Horror Story most days, every so often there is a glimmer of something more. A brief glimpse of potential for the show that I knowAHS can be, but seldom is. And sometimes (rarely), Ryan Murphy still strikes gold.
Here’s the thing about American Horror Story: The themes always slap. The opening sequences, which are all tailored to whatever the season’s concept is, all exemplify the rich potential of those themes.Asylum’s does a particularly chilling swap with a statue of the Virgin Mary; 1984’s oozes retro vibes (and also blood), and the decaying carnival trinkets of Freak Show’s are more sinister than anything in the actual show. Which is, unfortunately, the case for many AHS seasons. A lot of the time, those opening sequences are a lot more entertaining than the season ends up being.
Still, like a siren call, they lure me in. A half-season that takes place in a desolated New England town, where artists struggle for inspiration as bleak gray waves pound the shore? An homage to 1980s slasher flicks, filled with garish costumes and self-referential tropey characters? A haunted hotel where one’s own inner darkness lurks in the long, unsettling hallways (with “Hotel California” playing)? I am a sucker for these themes!Read more on polygon.com