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"AHS: Roanoke" took three episodes

It's that time of year again when Steph and I sign in to Netflix to catch up on last year's season of American Horror Story.  Lately, this has been a game to see how long it takes for me to suspect I'm going to hate-watch it.

"Roanoke" took three episodes.  That's okay, I guess.  In AHS terms, that's like a C+.

"Hate-watch" is probably too severe a term.  There's usually a lot to recommend and it's a well-crafted production.  The acting is consistently good (albeit overblown, which is more a consequence of the writing than the performers), it's well-shot, and I dig the way the show commits 100% to every strange thing that it can think of.

But at the same time, I hate how schizophrenic it always becomes.  There's too many ideas vying for attention, like a bunch of teenage divas trying to prove they're the most horrified Puritan in a tenth-grade classroom reading of "The Crucible."  Plot threads will get introduced with gravitas, then ignored one and a half episodes later when the show decides to just throw something revolting and/or sexually violent in your face like a bag of bloody intestines or a rape demon.

Last year I only made it one episode in.  The two years before that, I think I got maybe halfway through.

I should be clear and say that the show hasn't gotten shitty by episode three - it's just that we got the first gratuitous creepy sex stuff, and that's a bad sign.  Usually when somebody throws sex stuff into their horror, it's a sign that they're giving up.


"I've got this great horror story.  We use the classic premise of a haunted house, out in the remote forests of North Carolina..."

"Okay?"

"...and then we inject some racial politics with an interracial couple and layer that with a distrust of authority by having one of their siblings be a disgraced cop..."

"Hmm, okay, I see what you're doing so far."

"...and then we put in an adorable girl who goes missing..."

"Oof, that's pretty upsetting.  But it's a good hook to keep the season going.  Plus, you've got great potential to play your politics off that premise and delve into interpersonal conflicts."

"...and people keep seeing glimpses of a weird pig/human hybrid monster in the woods..."

"Excellent, that's a good use of the setting to inject supernatural creepiness and fear of the wilderness.  I like that.  This is sounding pretty good!"

"...and then somebody goes into a trance in the forest and fucks a witch while some hillbilly stereotypes watch and jerk off..."

"Wait, stop."

"...and then - sorry, what?"

"You said something about trance-fucking and a circle-jerk?"

"Yeah?"

"I don't follow."

"Well, it's creepy, isn't it?  Just imagine if your husband got entranced by a magic spell and sucked into a gangbang. SPOOOOOOOoooooOOooooOOoooky!"

It's not the sex that bothers me, exactly.  I mean, this is a show that shoved its series premiere full of sex and I thought that first season was pretty good.  It's more that it's such a lazy trick to make you feel icky in a situation where there's already plenty of legitimate horror to work with.  We already have a lot of excellent tension and an engaging framing device - can't we just simmer in what you've already built and stay focused?

No, no, AHS, stop it... come back, look at me.  AHS, stop it.  No.  Stop it.  Leave the rape witch alone.  No.  No.  I said, "No!"  You come sit back here and tell me more about the murder ghosts right now, young lady!  I will take you right off my queue, I swear to god!