Third-episode verdict: American Gothic (US: CBS; UK: Amazon Prime)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Thursdays, Amazon Prime

Summer novels are fine, if all you’re going to do is set on a beach all day and you just want to read something fun and untaxing. However, as weekly TV series, they often leave a lot to be desired. American Gothic seems to exist purely to fill a TV schedule somewhere, giving us the unlikely idea of a high-powered, multi-siblinged Boston family, all of whom potentially might be the so-called ‘silver bell’ serial killer. Each episode gives us evidence that one of the family might be the killer; the next episode then gives us evidence that refutes the previous evidence and suggests it’s someone else; and the third episode just decided to re-refute everything and suggest maybe it’s the first one. Who knows? Perhaps there’s more than one ‘silver bell’ serial killer or perhaps there’s just one but the others coincidentally happen to like murdering, too. Or something.

Trouble is, I’m not that inclined to care. While some of the cast seem happy to ham it up, only Justin Chatwin’s comic-strip drawing younger son and his very disturbed, cat-experimenting son have real characters. Everyone else is doing proper acting, except have to be just a bit grim and stoic because no one’s thought to give them much else to work with. Perhaps some people enjoy the sight of other rich people doing backstabbing, but I’m not sure “Oh no, you’ve only gone and bought that company through a Russian front company despite the fact we agreed you wouldn’t, husband” really has much resonance for me.

If rich people being rich, dull and potentially murderous floats your boat, American Gothic could be the show for you. If not steer a wide berth away.

Barrometer rating: 4
Would it be better with a female lead? N/A
TMINE’s prediction: Cancelled at the end of the first season

  • Mark Carroll

    People deceitful in personal relationships is something I find tedious (despite that being a staple of soap operas) and overly many refutations are doubly tedious, it's worse than Jo escaping and being recaptured yet again because there are more episodes than story.

  • American Gothic seems particularly keen on husbands lying to their wives and wives being mortally offended over even the slightest issue. Although its first episode has a big reverse on that…

  • JustStark

    Deceit in personal relationships is a good source of drama provided you realise that:

    (a) the drama is not in the deceit itself but comes when the deceit is uncovered, ie, trying to drag out 'he's lying to her' for twenty episodes is boring; and

    (b) once someone has been exposed as a liar, most people are not stupid enough to trust them again (this being what annoys me about the soap operas my mother watches: 'She's cross because he's cheating on her? But didn't he previously cheat on X, Y, Z, A, B, C, and didn't he cheat on at least three of them with her? What on Earth did she expect was going to happen?')