American Horror Story: Pilot

Alright, so here’s the deal: I really hate horror. Like a lot. Plus, I have a sometimes debilitating phobia of anything stabby-stabby, specifically needles but also occasionally knives and razors. But as far as I can tell FX needs a genre show, and American Horror Story is going to be my only near-term reliable source of the critically acclaimed, perpetually undervalued Mrs. Coach Taylor Connie Britton. Our story begins in 1978…(well, the story begins in 1978, but the writers presumably began in 2010 or 2011)…

Down syndrome girl in polka dots, wind chimes made out of bones, bratty ginger..check, check, double check. Don’t worry, they have bats! Smashy-smashy!

Let’s back up a bit, should the ads feature what many probably don’t know are latex fetish full-body outfits?


So I got a call from Connie Britton’s agent, and she needs a new star vehicle. Maybe we could consider her.

I mean don’t get me wrong, she’s wonderful and earnest and perfect for anything I can imagine, but this is certainly not a star vehicle. We start her character getting a pap smear, for example.

Yah, but. But! Actually, I have nothing to interject. She’s probably not great for this, but let’s see how it goes!

Agreed. Also that actor from that show who hasn’t worked in a while. Dermot Mulroney? That might not be his name, but I can’t remember…and I have already forgotten about him.

Should we blatantly rip off the Walking Dead intro? Good artists copy; great artists steal.

Too soon.

Does a single-child family need a giant three-story mansion? Oh, America. I think I done answered my own question.

Would a realtor just casually mention in the first couple of minutes of meeting her clients that the previous [gay] owners died of a “murder suicide?” I mean, we need to move this spooky (spOOOOky!) story along, so we might as well just throw that one in there. I mean, gays are likely to suicide-murder each other on any given day. It’s like the new pilates. Speaking of…


Well now that that’s over, we really need to pin down this season’s narrative. You know, really Lost- our way into the viewer’s imaginations with eerie details and subtle musical queues. Definitely we should cast some hopelessly forgettable young actress as the daughter.

You’re gonna die in here!

Die in…here. Um, here? I don’t understand. Die in the writers room?

[As the sun sets, and the moon rises, co-producer Ryan Murphy enters the room in a lhasa apso-drawn carriage in the shape of a pumpkin.] It is I, your maker, R. L. Murphy! I have come to bestow upon this fledgling series a nugget of my genius. The role of the saucy neighbor will be played by…Tootsie!

Mr. L. Murphy, Tootsie was a fictional character. Most of us weren’t even born when that movie came out. Plus, and I don’t mean to embarrass you, but you realize that was a male actor playing a female character?

SILENCE! [With the sound of dinner plates shattering, the lights go out. When they come back on, one fewer writer is at the table. In her chair lies only the quickly dissipating plume of a tiny, once golden ember. The writers — stunned with their mouths and “green pastures” agape — realize R. L. has already left.]

That was…not as weird as he usually is.

Agreed. Moving on. I don’t hate the idea of Jessica Lange as the neighbor, but won’t she steal every scene she’s in since she is so amazing?

Do you mean she will steal the silverware?

Queen stole my hat!

Should we include an obvious homage, no…that’s not the right word…blatant reference to Glee and Kill Bill? Go ahead and slam in a slight reference to that edgy male model while we’re at it? People will think we’re hip without quite knowing why, and certainly they won’t do any research to figure out how we blatantly copied others.

“Reference, References” is the subtitle to my memoir, so I’m fine with that.

Dermot Mulsomething…we should really, um, try and remember that guy’s name at some point…is nothing closely resembling a psychiatrist.

But he’s so damn sexy!

Truth is what you are speaking.

[Gratuitously nude pyromaniac sleepwalker scene goes here.]

Say, why would Dermot’s patient just be allowed to walk around the house? I mean, that makes no sense. What was Dermot doing otherwise? Wouldn’t he just be attending to the patient, and when not doing that, ushering him out?

[Insert another gratuitous nude scene here, masturbatory if possible.]

Did we name that dog?


Should it die?


Let’s write in some more torture subplots for the daughter. She is maybe terrible.

How do we write in some serious, cheaty McCheaterson emotions on this show?

Shouting. THERE MUST BE SHOUTING. And Connie Britton saying “pussy.”

Definitely. Also a miscarriage. Nothing gets the tears flowing quite like a good ol’ cheating/miscarriage plotline.

I see your lips moving, but all I hear is “suspension of disbelief anger SEX!

What happened to your face?

What happened to your face, bitch?

When does Connie Britton (by the way I refuse to remember what we called this character) slash Dermot with a knife, like in the context of the rest of the episode? I can’t remember. Did that even happen?

What I think we should do is insert some more pyromaniac nudity, definitely some bizarre latex sex, and probably Jessica Lange.

JESSICA LANGE…My erection..what happened to my erection?

I’m getting really mixed up with all of these dream/sex sequences. Which person is having sex with whom, and who is sleeping, and who is imaginary?

Oh, god, what is this crazy basement monster you’ve sketched out?I want my innocence back. And when did Russel Edgington get out?

You’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

What do you mean, “wait until next week?” We write like 3 episodes all at once. And who are you talking to?

Shut. Shut up. You shut up now!

Not to interrupt the writers here, but I must say I really do like the tone, look, and spirit (no pun intended) of this show. It’s not something we really have on television. Of course the pilot is probably a heightened, tight version of what’s to come. Clearly, there are some obvious genre choices going on, but there are also some fairly interesting and dark elements.

I love the sexy/decrepit housekeeper device. It’s odd that such a thing hasn’t been done before (to my knowledge) in such a fashion. It’s sort of exactly what you imagine a sex-addict would see, right? But then there’s this other element, of course. Like, is she supernatural in some way; does he actually see her differently or is everyone else seeing her wrong? On a totally superficial level, it’s refreshing that the objectified body in a horror story is a man (and an older, slightly realistic one at that) here.

And, obviously, anything Connie Britton does should be watched. If this show ends up being a total disaster, at least we have Tami.  I believe for zero seconds that her husband would cheat on her, however, but I guess a person who cheats is a person who cheats.

Side note: How did the house not completely burn down when Russel Edgington basically torched the place decades ago? Seems like it was a lot of gasoline.

Also, I would have survived without so many dangling plot devices towards the end. It was like one “I’ll have to kill you again, apparently living person,” after another. We get it! This show is spooky, and the writers need to set up the story for the season. But give me a break.

Lastly: Too many (AKA, any) knives. Cut out those knives and razors, R.L.


2 thoughts on “American Horror Story: Pilot

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  2. […] and Dermot Mulroney…which, let’s be honest, is impossible, even for our staff here at By That You Mean. This is playing off the research showing that members of an ethnic group have trouble […]

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