Third-episode verdict: American Horror Story

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm, FX
In the UK: Mondays, 10pm, FX UK. Starts November 7th

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how you can have all the elements of a scary story – haunted house, ghosts, demons, murders, possessions and more – yet not have something that’s actually scary.

So it is with American Horror Story, which since its first episode has settled down into something a bit more subdued, a bit more thoughtful, a bit more like it’s taken its Ritalin. But is it any cop yet? Not really.

The basic problem, apart from the lack of scariness, is that there’s so much going on in every episode, it’s hard to become too attached to any one element of the story and focus on it. Now, obviously, focusing on Alex Breckenridge as the youthful version of the house maid is what a lot of guys are doing when they watch the show, and since she is the most interesting part of the show, it was good to see episode three focusing on her. But we also had to deal with McDermott’s affair again, his daughter, the melty man, the arrival of the 1920s woman, Jessica Lange being way too big for the small screen and possibly the world’s fastest impromptu construction of a gazebo.

Yes, a gazebo. Or it might have been a very small bandstand: as I’ve remarked before, it’s hard to take American Horror Story too seriously, particularly when it doesn’t (or at least it isn’t sure if you should or not so hedges its bets).

We are at least getting answers to questions, but those answers aren’t exactly original – they’re exactly the answers you’d expect in any horror story, so possibly the show should be called Archetypal American Horror Stories – but we’re also getting new questions, the answers to which already don’t look any more interesting. And the questions in the first episode that were at least a little “on the edge” – who was the guy in the gimp suit? – appear to have been forgotten about for now.

As a show, it’s not bad and I’ll probably keep watching for Alex, but it really hasn’t found its feet yet and I’m not sure if it ever will. Not as cutting edge, scary or funny as might have been hoped, but not so badly made you want to switch off.

Carusometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Should last a season; might even hit two seasons. But no more than that.  


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.