A couple years ago, either in a fit of nutritional pique or as an impulse buy at Target, I purchased a Magic Bullet, or perhaps its generic hand-blending equivalent.
For a solid month, I was obsessed with smoothies, with the idea that by tossing a banana, some ice cubes and a little bit of juice in the blender, I could create a sweet, semi-healthy paste that could also be a delivery mechanism for other fruits and vegetables. A handful of carrots vanished into the paste, barely changing the flavor but making the goo orange and higher in Vitamin A or something. A couple leaves of spinach delivered iron and a lurid green tone. An apple or a pear? The consistency might change and maybe the wellness benefits, but the flavor stayed the same. I marveled at all of the different things I could do with my Magic Bullet, the number of things I could blend up, and have the end result be interchangeable.
Like most impulse buys, the pleasure of the Magic Bullet wore off. I wasn't enjoying my smoothies all that much and dispensing with chewing eventually ceased to be a sufficient advantage over just taking a carrot or an apple out of the fridge and devouring that. The interchangeable smoothies maintained amusement, but more as culinary experiments that nourishing meals. I haven't used that Magic Bullet for a long time.
That, fans of clunky, extended and imperfect analogies, brings me to the third season of "American Horror Story," premiering on FX on Wednesday (October 9) night. Sorry. The third "miniseries" of "American Horror Story."
In the past, I've made the argument that FX was taking advantage of Emmy loopholes in calling "American Horror Story" a miniseries because in addition to maintaining the same basic creative team and the same core cast, I suspect that everybody involved with the show is working with a standard series contract. But that's just semantic quibbling.
People protest, "But 'American Horror Story' has a totally different narrative and characters each season" and that also makes me chortle.
Watching the premiere of "American Horror Story: Coven," I was stuck by two key things: First, I strongly dislike "American Horror Story" as a week-by-week narrative, but I find it utterly fascinating as a cumulative work now in its third season. And second, it hardly matters what stories or genres Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk want to work through in any given season, because once everything has gone through their narrative Magic Bullet, it all looks and feels exactly the same, so of course the show isn't three [and counting] separate miniseries projects under the same banner, it's just a slightly varying recipe for American Horror Smoothies.
With "American Horror Story," after three seasons the audience has become self-selected. If you dig the freakiness that Murphy and Falchuk are laying down, "Coven" will probably hit you with similar success, while if you find "American Horror Story" unpleasant to watch or merely masturbatory, you shouldn't be fooled into thinking you're going to like "Coven" just because the cast has now reached an almost absurd level of awesomeness. And if you're like me and you manage to find exactly enough that's engrossing to compensate for the monotony of what's just gross, that will probably continue as well.
To paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, "American Horror Story" is what you thought it was and what hasn't changed is a good deal less important than what has changed.
More after the break...