What’s on the Telly (2)

What’s on the Telly (2)

There I was a few weeks ago, having a lovely time plodding through Downton Abbey which needs no explaining as I don’t believe there is anyone left on the planet who hasn’t watched it.

Just as I was getting comfortable,  good friend Pippa sent a text: “have you seen American Horror Story yet?”

american horror story

Wow and wow. Forget Dexter, this is the bomb.

Firstly I just have to say this: I love Jessica Lange, remember her? She has just the right amount of loveliness, sexiness and creepiness to make the whole show worth the ride. Secondly, this is not my usual genre. While I have dabbled in zombies and vampires, ‘horror’ is not really my thing. American Horror Story is such a tightly wound little drama, however that it’s perfect for those Downton Abbeyists who just need a break from the Abbey for a bit of “captivating style and giddy gross outs” (Washington Post).

american horror story lange

Each season is self-contained so it doesn’t matter whether you see them in order or not. In the first season, a family of three, psychiatrist Ben, Vivien and Violet move into an old house, unaware it is haunted. They get to know their neighbour, Constance (Lange) when her special needs daughter Adelaide (Addie) visits unannounced regularly, sensing and seeing the evil that lies beneath the veil of the living. Constance is a failed actress who has a complicated relationship with her daughter and those who dwell in the house.

The relationships within the little family are also complicated with Ben (Dylan McDermott) trying to win back his wife’s trust following an affair, his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) trying to recover emotionally from a miscarriage and their sweet but sullen teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) suffering from depression and struggling with every aspect of her life and her parents complicated situation.

american horror story family


The second season, American Horror Story Asylum, takes place in a sixties mental asylum, Briarcliff, run by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) overseen by Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes).

American Horror Story Asylum


It seems to be almost a caricature of a 1960’s mental asylum, with people being locked up for being gay, people being locked up and treated for insanity for racial reasons, patients having no voice, being trapped for decades in the brutally run asylum. The story follows four inmates specifically with many others providing fill. One is Lana (Sarah Paulson) whose lesbian lover is tricked into committing her when she comes to Briarcliff to write an expose piece on the place.

american horror story sarah Paulson


Jessica Lange is again superb in this season. She grows increasingly suspicious and unhinged as dark supernatural (or are they?) forces conspire to make her as mad as some of her patients. As one reviewer wrote, it’s hard to look away, even though you feel you should.

jessica lange American Horror Story Joseph Fiennes


The third season is in the works and probably called American Horror Story Coven. Can’t wait. I had to put down the iPad and start reading good old books again after this one.

The first two seasons are available on iTunes. My vote is they are both worth it. Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you think if you do.

5 Replies to “What’s on the Telly (2)”

  1. I am that only person who hasn’t seen DA yet – and I’m scared to start watching in case it’s a disappointment! I only discovered West Wing two months ago so I’m a bit behind the zeitgeist. American HorrorStory too scary for me, I’m afraid. Have you seen Luther, Serena? I think you’d really like it.

  2. Luther is fab Serena. We started watching it after finishing Wallander (on your recommendation). It’s a little darker than Wallander but so good.
    Sarah, glad to find another DA virgin! Mr B has recently discovered West Wing too so now I feel honour bound to wait till he can watch them with me. So I might need to get on with DA when he’s not here.
    Oh yes, and another vote for Mad Men Serena, if you haven’t seen that. Ooh Don Draper in a sharp suit….


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