American Horror Story: Apocalypse succeeds as a comedy without trying to be funny

The once-scary FX show's new season effectively trades horror for camp

Sarah Paulson as Wilhelmina Venable.
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Eight seasons into the American Horror Story franchise, it’s safe to say that creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have completely lost sight of the show’s initial creative direction.

In the show’s newest season, Apocalypse, which premiered this past Wednesday, Murphy and Falchuk neglect the “horror” aspect of the program’s title. If we’re being completely honest, they don’t particularly succeed in maintaining the “story” part, either.

The aging show—which uses new characters and settings each season—managed to build up impressive levels of hype leading up to this new season. It was branded as a crossover between two of its more popular past iterations, Murder House and Coven.

Series veteran Sarah Paulson will be reprising her roles from each of those successful seasons, as well as playing a new, third character for the Apocalypse iteration, someone inexplicably named Wilhelmina Venable.

With cast members Evan Peters and Taissa Farmiga also juggling roles from previous plots, you should expect another messy season this year.

There were certain elements of the show’s premiere that did actually work, though I’m not sure they evoked the kind of audience emotion Murphy was hoping for. 

When a supposedly frightening character entered the narrative on two zombie-horses to mark a horrifying end to the premiere, my housemate and I audibly laughed at how ridiculous the situation was.

Contrarily, when the writers tried to be clever in a scene involving a man named Stu being turned into stew, I couldn’t help but think that this was more of a morbid Disney Channel show than a prestigious cable program that’s been nominated for 30 Emmy Awards.

Overall, American Horror Story: Apocalypse has drifted into more campy, so-bad-it’s-funny humour than horror, especially after bringing comedian Billy Eichner—infamous for comedically berating people on the streets of Manhattan—onto the show to do the same shtick on Santa Monica’s streets.

Likewise, legendary soap opera star Joan Collins plays to type, taking any of the few grounded scenes to new, absurd heights with her obnoxiously rich character.

While it may seem like I won’t continue to watch much longer, I’m honestly more excited by this season of the show than I have been in years.

Whether intended or otherwise, Murphy and Falchuk create hilariously outlandish new ways to torture their repertoire of actors each year. As long as they stop trying to throw one-liners into the already clunky dialogue, they’ll have produced a show that The Comedy Network would be proud to air.

No matter how wild the ideas for American Horror Story become, at least we can rest easy knowing that the creators continue to abide by the series title’s first word and never forget to set the show in America.

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