I think I like American Horror Story: Roanoke

I really don’t know how I feel about American Horror Story: Roanoke. For a series that I truly think peaked in its second season, I sometimes wonder why I even come back every season. It is always with differing degrees of excitement. I was pretty excited for season three and it was super fun nonsense. Season four was OK. I gave up after about five episodes of season five. But, I have decided to stick with season six. Though I am not sure if it is out of enjoyment or curiosity.

I didn’t start watching this season right when it started airing, which is something I haven’t done since season one. I had given up after the bit of Hotel I had watched. But, from being told it had a strange new format and that Sarah Paulson was looking incredibly attractive, I decided I would tune in.

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And for the most part, I think I like AHS: Roanoke. It might get a bit of slack because it has basically been two shows within one season. The first was the fake documentary series. Now, I love a bad, low-budget true life haunting shows. So, I was a big fan of the first part of this season, because it had a hint of that and everything I like about this show; creepiest, actual scares and, the main draw for this show anymore, its cast. Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Lily Rabe, Francis Conroy, minimalist Lady Gaga, eventually Evan Peters and Cuba Gooding Jr. making the jump over from American Crime Story.

In the earlier episodes, I was getting annoyed that nobody in the show seemed to know about the lost Roanoke colony, even when people were yelling Croatoan at each other. Did none of them take American history ever? But, I guess I shouldn’t be so annoyed given the amount of times characters on Designated Survivor have had to explain what a designated survivor is.

I do have to admit, I didn’t like “Chapter 6”, the first episode after My Roanoke Nightmare ended and Return to Roanoke: Three Nights in Hell began. Of all the possible actors to seeming be the lead of the second half of the season, why make it Cheyenne Jackson? He is all right, but within my view of this show he is just one of the indistinguishable white guys from season five. I know she is probably busy with Scream Queens but how great would it have been if that asshole producer was played by Emma Roberts? Or hell even Taissa Farmiga, just someone I know and like.

There was one thing I really, really liked about the big twist of season six; the show finally put Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters together in a romantic way (and more than just at the very end like in season four). Though Sarah Paulson’s incredibly bad British accent was distracting me, she and Evan Peters were great. But because this show always has some problems, it kills Rory (Evan Peters’ character) way too quickly. It also killed his My Roanoke Nightmare character way too quickly.

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The show seemed to course correct a lot of the problems I had with “Chapter 6” in “Chapter 7”. It killed Cheyenne Jackson very quickly and Sarah Paulson toned down the accent and started sounding less like Mary Poppins and more like an actual British woman.

“Chapter 7” did suffer a bit because we already saw so many of the characters before just played by different people, and those people mostly being the actors who have been watching since 2011. It mostly made me wish the show had waited and had Francis Conroy playing the real Mama Polk and Lady Gaga playing the real Witch of the Woods. And I really thought the episode was building up for the real butcher to be someone we knew (Jessica Lange would have been an amazing surprise) but then she ended up being an actress I have never seen before.

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Story wise, I have really been liking this season. It has had a few missteps but for the most part it is OK. I think I might start posting about it each week because hey it might not have the best story, Evan Peters and Kathy Bates might be dead but Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Lily Rabe and Cuba Gooding Jr. are still running around. And that really is why I keep coming back.

 


American Horror Story: Hotel: “Chutes and Ladders” (S5Ep2)

This was a pretty good second episode for American Horror Story Hotel. It answered a few of the thousand questions it raised last episode, it created a few others, it told us that John (Matt Bomer) might not be crazy but again it had a few scenes I feel were not necessary and introduced another pretty, brunette white dude.

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CJ "Winter's Tale" World Premiere - Inside Arrivals

Anyway, this episode started incredibly slow. It was an hour and nine minutes so maybe I should cut it some slack but if you are going to be long television, you should earn it. We had a scene of doctor Alex (Chloe Sevginy), John’s wife, dealing with a yuppie mom who decide not to vaccinate her son and how he has measles. Maybe that was some way to show real horror in society of parents choosing to let their children get violently sick for weeks. But, it didn’t work as the real horror of Lana’s gay conversion therapy in season two or the actual horror of Sally (Sarah Paulson) kissing Max Greenfield and then sewing him deeper into her mattress.

Fashion designer and new owner of the hotel Will (Cheyenne Jackson) is hosting a fashion show there.  The Countess (Lady Gaga) and Donovan (Matt Bomer) swagger down at some point and watch the show. John and his daughter Scarlett (Shree Cooks) get roped into attending. Scarlett hangs out with Will’s 2007 emo band member son Lachlan, who gets bored rather quickly and wants to show something actually cool to Scarlett. He takes her downstairs to the abandoned swimming pool. I’m torn by this location because 1) of course roaming kids end up in an abandoned swimming pool in a haunted hotel, 2) why are the coffins for the vampire children, including the one for Holden, Scarlett’s twin, who was kidnapped four years ago, in there and 3) is this the same abandoned swimming pool set Violet and that popular girl Tate traumatized in season one went to smoke by? If so, that is a cool connection.

Lachlan says the children never watch up but the Holden one awakes when Scarlett stands above him.

Back at the fashion show, The Countess sets her sights on model, junkie, bad-boy Tristan Duffy (Finn Wintrock). After he snorts either pills or meth before and after his first trip down the runway, Will kicks him out of the show. He stumbles around the hotel and ends up in Room 64. Evan Peters dressed in an old timey suit and sporting a pencil mustache and 1920s accent, has The Maid (Mare Winningham) bring in a bound up hooker. He tells Tristan he doesn’t have any drugs for him but he has something far better. Murder. He then murders the girl and the Maid excitedly goes to wash the sheets. Well, welcome to season five Evan Peters.

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Tristan ends up in The Countess and Donovan’s room eventually. Donovan tries to strangle him but the Countess stops him. She then bits him and starts to look much less like a strung out junkie. This episode seems to confirm that the vampire characters are actually vampires. Though Lady Gaga does call it “their virus” but I’m not sure why. She does say they are immortal and she was born in 1904, more on that later.

Before we get to the well done exposition dump that was the last 20 minutes of this episode, we find out that John was an alcoholic, who drank to numb away the gruesomeness of his detective work. Apparently he was on a two-day binge before he took his family to the San Monica pier in 2010 when Holden was kidnapped.  Why have all the leads since season two been addicts of some sort?

Also, Scarlett catches the bus to the hotel to see Holden. She has more luck than her father, who was just randomly running around the halls but kept ending back at the bar with Sally and Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare). Scarlett finds Holden in the brightly-light room filled with candy and video games from the 1980s that the vampire children hang out in. Vampire-Holden doesn’t make it clear if he remembers Scarlett or not. She tries to take a picture with him to prove to their parents he is alive. He tries to bite her though and she quickly runs home. Her parents have freaked and called the cops. She throws her phone at John, when he tells her Holden is dead. There is a blur beside Scarlett in the photo but that is all.

The last 20 minutes were really the best part of this episode. John ends up at bar with Iris (Kathy Bates), she agrees to tell him everything about the hotel so he will not arrest her for kidnapping, murder, John doesn’t even know. The hotel was built by oil tycoon John Patrick March (Evan Peters) in 1925. He was a bit of an insane serial killer, who built the hotel as a consistent ability for his murders. There are body shoots from multiple of the rooms and  hallways that lead to nowhere. Also, his office was Room 64. He was caught, a little too easily one day. Iris thinks it was by his wife, a blonde who conveniently never showed her face because cough, cough Lady Gaga, who inherited his millions.

He killed his victims in ways that displayed the 10 commandments and someone seems to be picking up his work as John has discovered, so is that why the 10 commandments are in the credits?

Also, in this episode newly made vampire Tristan meets up with a hipster dude from Tinder, it seems. He starts to make out with him in the elevator up to the Countess room. They kill him and drink his blood and then make out with each other a lot.

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Again, I am confused with this show’s LGBTQ representation. Tristan says in this scene he is not gay. So, has this show essentially introduced its third, at least, bisexual character but still avoided saying the word bisexual? Why? Why do television never say bisexual, like it is too much for the masses to handle? Did I mention Sarah Paulson sewed a guy who was nearly butt raped to death into a mattress this episode?

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Regardless, I am liking this season so far. See you next week.


American Horror Story: Hotel: “Checking In”

Somehow I was unaware that American Horror Story was starting until my incredibly straight Dandy-obsessed sister/roommate started yelling on Tuesday that Finn Winnick was going to be in this season. I hadn’t thought much about the show because all the stuff about Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe was announced a while ago. So, come Wednesday night my sister, her boyfriend and I sat down to watch the premiere of AHS: Hotel, hoping it would be better than Freak Show but knowing it is unlikely it will be as good as Asylum. I mean, the show is missing a main aspect of its success:

We start at the Hotel Cortez in modern day LA as two Swedish girls check into the hotel that is not what they expected and is creeping them out. They want to leave but the desk clerk Iris (Kathy Bates) tells them there are no refunds.

They are put in Room 64. One was murdered possibly by Lady Gaga, I think, in the hallway but returns to the room. She and the other smell something coming from the mattress. They cut it opened and a monster-y, corpse-y guy crawls out.

And credits, which have the 10 commandments in them. Is the Hotel supposed to be Hell?

Weirdly, I am not as annoyed by Lady Gaga swooping in and taking Jessica Lange’s vacant lead role from Sarah Paulson or Evan Peters (where was he?!) or another well established member of the series as I thought I would be. As my sister and I decided Lady Gaga is an eccentric, creepy weirdo and so is her character the Countess. Also, she hasn’t had too much dialogue so it is working so far.

One thing that is not working is the season’s gaggle of rather similar looking pretty white men. I mean:
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Wes Bentley plays detective John Lowe. We watch him go through a gruesome and disturbing crime scene that seems completely unrelated to the plot and then look at some equally disturbing crime scene photos back at his office. He is rather uninteresting until he gets a FaceTime from his daughter Scarlet (Shree Crooks). Actually, that scene wasn’t what made him interesting because I was distracted by how bad the dialogue was. I actually started to care about him when he gets home to watch his daughter as his doctor wife Alex (Chloe Sevigny, welcome back) has to go out to make house calls for rich people. Because you know, LA.

The show does a good job slowly revealing what the Lowe family’s big secret is. In 2010, the family was at the Santa Monica pier when Scarlet’s twin bother Holden was abducted off a merry-go-round, why is that a TV cliche? Anyway, the guy who supposedly did it has started calling and texting John from a cloned version of Alex’s phone. John agrees to move out because he is afraid the guy is going to come after him and it would be safer for Alex and Scarlet if he wasn’t near them. He goes to the hotel, because he was there earlier and saw the Vampire Twins. They look a whole lot like his kids five years ago. Also, they killed the other Swedish girl.

Matt Bomer plays Donovan, who is Lady Gaga’s lover and Kathy Bate’s son. He was drawn to the hotel by Sarah Paulson’s character Sally in 1994 to do heroin. He OD’ed and died in Sally’s room. Iris was following them and finds him while an indifferent Sally walks out. She is still high out of her mind and stands by an open window for too long. Iris pushes her and she falls about 12 stories to her death.

But, since she is still hanging around the hotel in the present, murdering a junkie played by another pretty white man in her room with the help of a skin demon with a dagger for a dick (?) and releasing one of the Swedish girls from Iris’ detox cages (?) so they could be murdered in the lobby by Lady Gaga, the theory from my viewing party was that most of the main characters/long-term residents of the hotel are dead.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- "Checking In" Episode 501 (Airs Wednesday, October 7, 10:00 pm/ep) Pictured: Sarah Paulson as Sally. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

Donovan and the Countess aren’t in the episode too much, but they go to a movie in the park night to watch Nosferatu, but end up picking up another couple instead. The four of them go back to the hotel. The couples partner swap (straightly) with a whole lot of no-naughty bits nudity and then Donovan and the Countess really violently kill them and drink their blood as the sexy music continues to play.

So with all that I know most people are not going to focus on the LGBTQ representation of the scene. But, from what I have read The Countess and Donovan are both bisexual. So yeah that scene was sexy and violent and weird, which I am sure is what the show was going for but it also seemed to be playing into the “all bisexuals are sluts” stereotype. Also, Lady Gaga and the chick kissed for like a split second with their hair covering their faces and Matt Bomer and the guy didn’t kiss. I, my super-ally sister and her bisexual boyfriend were a little annoyed by this. Hopefully, the queer representation displays itself better in the coming episodes.

Cheyenne Jackson is the last pretty white man who plays Will Drake, a fashion designer and new owner of the hotel who moved in with his son Lachlan, who looks like a member of an emo-rock boy band from 2007. Will quickly pisses off Donovan by bursting into his room and talking about how the building and LA sing to him. The Countess seems to get along with him better. Iris is convinced they are all going to be out on the streets soon.

Other returning cast members that made it into this episode were Denis O’Hare, who is playing Liz Taylor, a wig-less, always in drag (?) drag queen who seems to share Iris’ duties. Also the show made an excellent subtle callback and connected this season to the first season by having Marcy (Christine Estabrook), the realtor who was hopeless trying to sell the Murder House, return as the realtor showing Will and Lachlan around the hotel.

Overall, I am liking this season so far. It seems to be making a whole lot of The Shining references. There have also been a lot of Silent Hill similarities, especially to Silent Hill: The Room. Not sure if that is intentional or not. I am intrigued by the possibility of the hotel being Hell and if the vampire seeming characters are actually vampires or just murderous humans who like to drink blood. Though the basic framework of the story, a building inhabited mostly by dead people tormenting the living residents, is the same as season one, I think the show has introduced enough elements to make it different, good and interesting.


American Horror Story season 4 thoughts

I didn’t write about Freakshow. I tried with American Horror Story’s fourth season, but I couldn’t get through writing the first post because I realized I didn’t really care. In the first episode it was clear it had the potential to be great but it just wasn’t. There are about seven minutes of build-up in the episode to Bette and Dot or two-headed Sarah Paulson. But, Sarah Paulson did all the press for this season, we knew that was coming. If we had no idea and then boom! Two-headed Sarah Paulson! That would have been awesome. It was so much wasted potential.

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That is how I felt about the entire season. The season also seemed to set itself up to have this problem. The scary, creepy hook for this season was the “freak” characters. But, we find out very early on that the “freaks” are not scary or creepy at all. It’s the “normal” people that are.

That made the freakshow’s back drop of characters not be scary or creepy but just a bunch of underdeveloped characters. The show told us the “freak” characters are not defined but what makes them freaks, but it didn’t develop any of them — except for possibly Paul — enough to give us anything else to define them.

As for the main characters, with the exception of Dandy, they were all just all right.

I have to give the best acting credits to Sarah Paulson and Angela Bassett. Sarah Paulson spent most of this season acting off herself and Bette and Dot had the best character development and arch of any of the characters. Angela Bassett was just as great and enjoyable at Desiree as she was as Marie.

I’m really annoyed that Elsa was Jessica Lange’s last character on the show. It fit with the show’s wasted potential problem. All of Jessica Lange’s characters, have been faded, past their prime, addicts, desperately trying to regain the power they once had. That’s probably the show’s intention and I get that, but it would have been cool for her to have been a level-headed badass just once. She’s Jessica Lange for fuck sake. Even Sister Jude, who might be my favorite fiction character ever, fell into this, but she at least broke out of it earlier than the other characters did. Also, why the accent? I know what a Berliner accent sounds like and I know what an American faking a German accent sounds like. That was the latter.

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Evan Peter’s character Jimmy seemed to fall somewhere between Kit and Tate. He was kind of weepy and you felt sorry for him, but he also wasn’t a dead school shooter like Tate. He had some leadership qualities and generally I liked him but he wasn’t as honorable or open-minded as Kit.

Kathy Bates’ Ethel was a good character, even though I felt the hokey accent held the character back a bit. Frances Conroy’s Mrs. Mott was great but like all Frances Conroy’s characters she wasn’t around enough.

So to Dandy. Finn Wittrock was great and creepy and scary and everything this show is supposed to be. He tried to buy Bette and Dot in the first episode. He murder a ton of people, multiple in his playroom while crying. He then proudly exclaimed he is a serial killer to his childhood best friend while naked. And then he bathed in a claw-foot bathtub filled with blood. Now that is the kind of fucked up I am looking for from you, AHS.

Twisty was horrify too and I liked him. But, he was killed in the fourth episode. Leaving, all our horror to came from Dandy and Stanley. The “freak’s” vigilant justice wasn’t scary, because none of the characters were and we wanted that to happened. I wanted to see Meryl Streep’s Daughter’s dad be tarred and feathered and I wanted Stanley to get turned into the thing from the end of Freaks (1932).

Remember when people went missing in Asylum and they were either abducted by aliens, being turned into monsters by an ex-Nazi doctor or getting skinned by a serial rapist. That was way better than being kidnapped and murder by a con-artist with a big dick and barely-a-bad-guy Emma Roberts.

Also the final killing off of the characters seemed unceremonious. In all the other seasons, there has always been a slow dwindling of all the characters until only one is alive (or hasn’t died, in Coven’s case). Freakshow seemed like it didn’t work up to that well enough and had to have Dandy waltz through the freak show with a gun at the end to get us to that point.

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Freakshow did break the one surviving character rule by have four (Desiree, Jimmy, Bette and Dot) left alive. I’m not sure how I feel about that, it seems to lower the stakes.

The way I feel about this series is that Murder House was OK, Asylum was freaking awesome, Coven was a fun hot mess and Freakshow was blah.


GoT and AHS: Emmy Thoughts

The nominations for the Emmy awards were announced a little bit ago and I had not thought about writing anything about them until I had a conversation with one of my friends about Emilia Clarke’s nomination. Of course, I am happy about any nomination that my favorite shows can get from Best Drama Series to Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries. My opinions on the nominations are more based on my knowledge of the shows performance within itself than how it compares to other shows. So, here are my Game of Thrones and American Horror Story focused Emmy thoughts.

Game of Thrones Season 3

Game of Thrones was nominated for 16 Emmys, only being beat out by American Horror Story, which got 17.  In addition to what I will cover below, Game of Thrones was also nominated for Outstanding Art Direction for “Valar Dohaeris”, Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Cinematography for “Mhysa”, Costumes for “Walk of Punishment”, Hairstyling for “Second Son”s, Makeup for “Kissed by Fire”, Picture Editing for “The Rains of Castamere”, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing for “And Now His Watched Is Ended” and  Visual Effects for “Valar Dohaeris,”

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Peter Dinkelage, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

If Game of Thrones had a lead or at least an actor it couldn’t exist without it would Peter Dinkelage. Co-creators David and Dan have said multiple times that Peter Dinkelage was the only actor they ever considered for the role and Tyrion Lannister was the first part cast. He has always been amazing. Good job on another nomination, sir.

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Emilia Clarke, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Daenerys Targaryen is in the top three of my favorite Game of Thrones characters. I love that Emilia Clarke is only 25 and that this is her first role out of Drama School. She was super badass this season, in great contrast to the limping and screaming of last season. But with that said, I’m confused about this nomination and I don’t really agree with it. Of all the supporting actress for the third season, Emilia Clarke would not have been one of my choice. Much of the fandom has been saying it should have been Michelle Fairley. And yes, she was amazing in “The Rains of Castamere”, but she hardly had any lines in the rest of the season. My number one choice is Sophie Turner. She has been consistently amazing since the pilot and especially during the last two seasons as she has suck deeper into her abuse victim prison. She was the best in “Second Sons” this season. Sophie Turner was able to play both the scared victim and the cautiously cunning bride in the same episode. I’ll be rooting for Emilia Clarke to win the Emmy, but next year I think Sophie Turner should get the credit that is usual given to the more badass women of the show.

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Diane Rigg, Outstanding Guest Actress on a Drama Series 

Olenna Tyrell is awesome and so is Diana Rigg. The Queen of Thorns was almost too snarky to handle and really sold the sexual liberated High Garden vibe the show is going with. She had a stand off with Tywin Lannister and she and Charles Dance showed that nobody can out do the older actors on this shows. I died laughing when she perfectly teased her grandchildren about how messed up their family tree is going to be after all the weddings. I hope you win, Diana Rigg.

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Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, The Rains of Castamere

Duh. This was by far the most memorable episode of television this year. Millions of people freaked the hell out, while millions of other people already knew what was going to happen. The Red Wedding was perfect. It was terrible, it was emotionally straining and Michelle Fairley has never been better. But, the Red Wedding was not all that happened in this episode. Everything that was done with every other character was also great. And when writer can make a simple goodbye scene between two brothers as emotional as a massacre at a wedding, they deserve an Emmy.

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Best Drama Series

Because of the above mention of “The Rains of Castamere”, outstanding performances by everyone from Peter Dinkelage to Kristian Narin and the expansion of the world, season three has been the best so far. But, I do say that at the end of every season. Really, GoT might be able to win this award just because of “The Rains of Castamere”. But, in addition to that there was Dany destroying a slave trader after listening to him insult her for two episodes, Sam killing a White to save his family, Jon and Ygritte’s relationship developing and falling apart and Tyrion and Sansa’s marriage. The Internet does not even have enough space for me to mention everything I loved about this season.

American Horror Story: Asylum

In addition to what I will mention below, American Horror Story: Ayslum was also nominated for Art Direction, Casting, Cinematography for “I Am Anne Frank Part 2”, Outstanding Main Title Design, Costumes for “Madness Endess”, Hairstyling, Makeup, Prosthetic Makeup, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing for “Welcome to Braircliff.”

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Jessica Lange, Outstanding  Lead Actress In A Mini Series

Constance Langdon won this award last year. For me that means there is no reason why Sister Jude shouldn’t get this award. Jessica Lange played Sister Jude perfectly. She started as the villain of Braircliff, but even when she was torturing the heroes she was still hilarious. She then slowly crossed over and become another hero and I loved every minute it of. Sister Jude really might be one of my all time favorite fictional characters.

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Sarah Paulson, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini Series

Sarah Paulson seemed to come out of nowhere as Lana Winters in season two. She played a pretty small role in season one and like most of the supporting characters, was pretty one-dimensional. But, she stepped it up in season two, playing the overly ambitious and almost a villain sometimes Lana. I have previously expressed my praise of how well done the convulsion therapy aspects of Asylum were. Sarah Paulson played it heartbreaking-ly perfect. I hope you win and get an equally as cool part in AHS: Coven.

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Best Mini Series

Can you tell that I like this show? I like this show. For me there is always an easy way  to tell if a show is really good. If I and both of my sister like it, everyone does and it is usually Emmy worthy. Since all three of us become teenagers and young adults, there has only ever been two shows: Orange is the New Black and American Horror Story. Asylum was so much better than Murder House and deserves a win.