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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: Where can AMERICAN HORROR STORY go from here?

“Just because we’re dead doesn’t mean we don’t have wants … desires,” said Tate, the pouty, bratty, forever-teenage rubber-suit-wearing, mom-of-the-house raping, suicide pact-making … sorry, I feel like there should be about 12 more adjectives in there, because the ghostly Tate, like most of the characters on FX’s aggressively lurid “American Horror Story,” requires them. But let’s stay focused on Tate’s statement, because it’s key. Yes, of course! He and the other ghosts have wants … desires. And one of the many amazing things about the show is how, over the past few episodes, it has subtly moved the ghosts to the center of the narrative, to the point where the ever-dwindling number of living characters have started to seem like the supporting cast on a show that they were ostensibly the stars of. (Of course, now that they’re all dropping like flies — even money on Constance to bite the dust by the end of season two — they get to be at the center of the story again.) I’ll spare you a detailed recap because if you didn’t see the episode, you shouldn’t be reading this article i
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 15, 2011 2:01 AM
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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The controlled madness of AMERICAN HORROR STORY

This may be the line that Jessica Lange was born to say, in the role she was born to play, on a TV show perfectly suited to her fluttery intensity. That she delivered it over a tight shot of a ham festooned with moist pineapple slices being thrust into the camera’s lens — as if the show were being broadcast in 3-D! — made it a perfect kick-off to “Smoldering Children,” the 10th episode of the first season of American Horror Story. Written by X-Files veteran James Wong and directed by Michael Lehmann (Heathers), the hour greatly escalated the madness on this already demented show. Created by Glee executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the series seems to be inventing a new kind of horror — a 21st-century, short-attention-span-theater version, with no lulls. The traditional buildup to the big scare? Booooo-ring. Perhaps operating under the assumption — not unwarranted — that most viewers are watching the program on DVR or illegal download and will just fast-forward to the “good parts” anyhow, they’ve decided to save us all the bother. Every few seconds there’s a fabulously bitchy one-liner, a grim bit of exposition or a surprisingly deft transition between the two, or a beating or stabbing or disembowelment or horrendous searing of flesh, or a faintly S&M-dungeon-flavored sex scene, or a revelation that a character you thought was alive was actually dead all along, or that the heroine has been impregnated by both her husband and by a black-rubber-suited spectral hunk and is carrying both of their children.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 6, 2011 11:29 PM
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