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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

Horror stories are made to engage your whole body. They make the hairs on the back of your neck perk up. They force you to wince or close your eyes.

FX's American Horror Story might make you cry, vomit, twitch and run maniacally from the living room.

The show's title is about two-thirds right. American Horror Story is American. And it is horror(ible). But the story part? Well, let's just say that any sort of understandable plot or narrative is now lying in state and unlikely to haunt this series anytime soon.

The rest of the dead? That's another matter.

What Happens in Roanoke Colony Stays in Roanoke Colony

FX's wacky freak-out show retains the same vibe and some of its players from season to season, but everything else changes. From a family dealing with a house full of ghosts to a coven of New Orleans witches grasping for power, each season has its own nightmares.

Season Six (subtitled Roanoke) is predicated on the infamous Roanoke Colony, which mysteriously disappeared from the coast of (what is now) North Carolina the late 16th century. An ancient house now sits on the site. But no one lives there—like, literally, lives there—for long. Matt and Shelby Miller are the home's most recent residents, but sleep is hard to come by, what with all the strange pig-people, cleaver-wielding ghosts and spooky Druidic witches running around.

And this season has an even odder twist connected to it. The story is presented as a cheap, basic cable reality doc called My Roanoke Nightmare. As such, the "real" Matt and Shelby Miller—the ones we see participating in on-camera interviews, are played by one set of actors (André Holland and Lily Rabe, respectively), while "re-enactments" feature another pair (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson). Does this mean that that Millers actually live to see the final credits? Who knows? With American Horror Story, they might well be participating in the devil's own cable network, for all we know.

While often hailed by critics and perennially nominated for Emmys, American Horror Story is flat-out, over-the-top, take-no-prisoners weird—perfect fodder for the snarky riff-meisters on the dearly departed Mystery Science Theater 3000. Or it would be if Tom Servo and Crow could manage to crack jokes between the gasps of horror and disgust they'd surely utter. The fact that this new season is couched as a low-quality reality TV show paradoxically makes the gore all the more unreal, in a sense, even as it grows all the more bloody.

There's more sex and gore per scene here than you'll see this side of, well, pert near anything—on TV or at the movies. Slate's Troy Patterson calls the show "deliberately unhinged" and "a showcase for scenery chewing and giddy blasphemy, an exploitation chamber piece." Had Edgar Allan Poe seen the script for just one of these episodes, he would've laughed himself silly ... then buried the whole mess under the floorboards while glancing furtively over his shoulder. Not that we'd expect much sanity from creator Ryan Murphy, the mind behind the despicably gregarious Nip/Tuck and the outrageously unhinged Scream Queens.

Getting Out the Knives

When interviewed for New York magazine, Murphy defended his nightmare by saying the show's spooky-sexual ethos was cribbed from Dark Shadows, ABC's supernatural daytime soap from the 1970s. "My grandmother used to force me to watch Dark Shadows," he said. "Even when I was sobbing, she made me watch, to toughen me up."

Now Murphy's grandmother's lack of entertainment discernment has come back to haunt us all. Where was Plugged In in 1971 anyway?

"There is nothing—repeat, nothing—subtle about this series," writes salon.com's Matt Zoller Seitz. "It's a jumble of pathology and mayhem—horror for the YouTube generation. ... If it were possible to take a classic early '60s camp horror movie, feed it massive amounts of cocaine, then turn it into a basic cable drama, the result might look like this."

It's a slow episode that doesn't feature some sort of murder, mutilation or scene of torture before every commercial break, most featuring R-level blood and gore. And when the violence wanes, it's often replaced with sexual deviancy and enough anti-religious, often blasphemous messages to make marble statues openly weep.

Morality? That's about the only thing truly dead and buried in American Horror Story.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

American Horror Story: Oct. 5, 2016 "Chapter Four"
American Horror Story: Hotel - Oct. 14, 2015 "Chutes and Ladders"
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-15-2014
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-9-2013
AmericanHorrorStory: 10-17-2012
AmericanHorrorStory: 12-7-2011



Readability Age Range



(Season Six) Kathy Bates as Tomasyn White/The Butcher; Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller; Cuba Gooding Jr. as Matt Miller; Lily Rabe as Shelby Miller; André Holland as Matt Miller; Denis O'Hare as Dr. Elias Cunningham; Wes Bentley as Ambrose White; Angela Bassett as Lee Harris; Lady Gaga as Scathach






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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