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FX’s ‘American Horror Story’ Leads to a Dead End

Even FX had to know how creatively muddled the finale of “American Horror Story” was, calling a press conference for Thursday to discuss the show’s direction.

Ahs_gimpAs in — and there are spoilers in the rest of this post, so read no further if you’re behind  — “How do you renew a series when almost all of the principal cast is dead?” Kind of limits the dramatic possibilities, doesn’t? I’m only sorry I didn’t watch the final episode in my latex gimp suit, but damned if it wasn’t at the cleaners.

It fell to FX prez John Landgraf and series co-creator Ryan Murphy to put lipstick on a corpse — a show that has its share of admirers and has delivered strong ratings, which is an Emperor’s new clothes situation if there ever was one. Not that FX cares — viewers are viewers, I guess — but I have to believe a lot of people watching the show did so more out of stunned disbelief than admiration. Maybe they should round up old sponsors of Glenn Beck’s program.

According to Murphy, the show is essentially going to hit the reset button next season — and in each future run — featuring an entirely new haunting, although some actors may return playing different characters. Frankly, that makes more sense than most of what was featured in season one, which played like a crazed LSD trip.

The conference call reflected some of the schizophrenia surrounding the series, which earned a Golden Globe nomination, primarily because the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. assembles its roster based more on sizzle (hey, look, it’s on AHS_EP111AfterBirth_Scn54_0021the cover of Entertainment Weeky!) than merit.

Surprisingly, nobody asked any of the questions that haunted me after Wednesday night — like where one finds diapers for a ghost baby; or about the surprising potency of spectral sperm.

Murphy said the anthology nature of the show — one season and out — ought to allow him to attract actors who might not otherwise be available for series work.

“Clearly, there are no rules in the ghost world,” said Murphy, laughing, underscoring what was so terribly wrong with the series — that there seemed to be no rules, period. In fact, I’ve never seen a more half-baked view of issues surrounding life and death, and I’ve seen a lot of them.

FX’s Landgraf acknowledged the show was “somewhat polarizing,” which would certainly be an understatement. And that’s about the only thing that was understated about this overwrought “Horror Story” — the ultimate triumph of style over substance.

 

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