I watched the first episode of American Horror Story this evening... and I suspect it'll be the last episode I'll watch. Ryan Murphy, the man responsible for that pedestrian series of stereotypes and cliches known as Glee, decided to bring his "everything but the kitchen sink... and maybe that, too" approach to horror, and thus American Horror Story is born. The problem is, the show is horrible, not horrifying...
The first episode is overly full of horror tropes--a potentially haunted house, ghosts, apparent resurrections, a savant, dead twins, sexual possession, and the quasi-sophistication of foul-mouthed teens, masturbation, bondage, nihilism... the problem is, none of it really comes together as an entertaining story. It's horror by numbers, set to a metronome--and every timing click requires another "shocking" image, none of which are truly shocking at all.
A troubled family moves into a haunted house, looking for a fresh start after a miscarriage has strained their marriage. As the story progresses, we learn that there are other strains on the marriage, including a snotty, pseudo-mature teenage daughter who comes across as a prime candidate for miscarriage. Throw in a Bette-Davis-has-nothing-on-me southern actress with a developmentally disabled daughter, an enigmatic maid, an obsessed former resident of the house, and some very expensive head-to-toe bondage suits left by a previous resident (does no one ever clean out a house before putting it up for sale?), and you have a recipe for... well, it's not a recipe for horror, that's for sure.
I have learned from prior experience with Nip/Tuck and Popular that Murphy suffers from David Kelley syndrome (you know--take a concept that seems to work initially, then overdo it to such an absurd extreme that it became absolutely annoying). This time out, though, he threw in the absurdity from the very beginning. I guess I should be appreciative; it saves me the time of having to watch a few more episodes.