We found a witch, may we burn her?

Did you watch the premiere of American Horror Story? What did you think? Me, I didn’t love it. But I’m reserving judgment. For one thing, my expectations may have been too high. For another, sometimes that show takes me a little while to process.

But thus far it’s sorely lacking in the fresh and interesting department. There were an awful lot of tropes flying around that screen, almost too many to count. This show has always played with tropes but these weren’t being played with in any new or compelling ways. As far as I can see, they weren’t really being played with at all. They were just there. Which is fine if the showrunners are being intentionally campy, but are they? I’m not sure they are. I’m not sure some of those images they mixed in there can play campy.

And why are you hiring all this great talent if this is all you’re going to do with it? Because I don’t think it takes a cast full of award winners to play these roles. Jessica Lange is delightful as always, but oh look, it’s another messy aging bitch hiding her fragility beneath a veneer of cigarette smoke and destruction. Considering the past two seasons, this isn’t exactly new territory they’re taking her to, is it? I’m disappointed with the way they’re using (or not) Lily Rabe. And Kathy Bates is always excellent, but she seems to have been given a role, um, without a lot of dimension to it. All she’s missing is a mustache to twirl.

And the gore. Too much with the gore and the blood and the torture. I’m not objecting due to sensitivity, but on a storytelling level. AHS has never been your go-to for subtlety and nuance, but still. An insane butcher-doctor or a mullet-sporting serial killer torturing and mutilating people is one thing, but witchcraft should be more sophisticated than that, no? I mean, it’s got the word craft right in the name. Where’s the craft here?

On the plus side: The lighting and camera work were sufficiently creepy in the style we’ve come to expect. And I would like to congratulate the folks who do the title sequence on what is possibly their most disturbing and grossest one yet.

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