In American Horror Story, FX’s new entry in the fall TV lineup, we meet the Harmons, a family that moves across the country to start fresh after their life nearly falls apart back east. Mom Vivien (Connie Britton) miscarried and, not too long after, found psychiatrist hubby Ben (Dylan McDermott) in bed with one of his students. After a year, she still hasn’t forgiven him. Daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) seems not to have fared well through it all. She turns out to be a sulky self-abuser whom we suspect is trouble the moment we meet her.
The main character in this grisly fright fest is the Harmons' new abode: an expansive Victorian we learn through flashbacks has a foul history of killings within its walls and body parts in its basement. Creepy next door neighbors Constance (Jessica Lange in her first episodic TV role) and her mongoloid daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) have borne witness to all the nastiness and visit the Harmons, or rather pop in uninvited, anytime they like.
Adelaide's proclamation that the Harmons will "die here" does nothing to give the transplanted family a warm, homey feeling. The housekeeper Moira (Frances Conroy/Alexandra Breckenridge) appears prim and elderly to Vivien and Violet but to Ben she is a young temptress, ready to bed him at the first opportunity. A versatile gal, to say the least.
Then there’s Tate (Evan Peters), Ben’s troubled teenage patient who, much to Ben’s chagrin, shows a more than platonic interest in Violet. He also shows signs of being a demon.
The co-creators of this shop of horrors are Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, best known for their production work on FOX’s hit show Glee and FX’s Nip/Tuck. Creatively they’ve taken a real chance with American Horror Story, playing against type, but their gamble could pay off. This is not a slipshod affair. The production is classy, and much effort has been made to make this show look good. To aid them in their quest to do horror right, Murphy and Falchuk have enlisted X-Files alum James Wong and Tim Minear as co-executive producer/writer and consulting producer, respectively.
American Horror Story is not for the fainthearted. The language is raw, the grisly scenes are truly disturbing, and there is some very odd sexual stuff going on here. However, if this sort of thing floats your boat, you’ll want to tune in. Just make sure you keep a night light burning.
American Horror Story premieres on Wednesday, October 5 at 10pm ET on FX.