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American Horror Story risks angering fans with a season two refresh

FX's 'American Horror Story' completed its first season last week, and fans will be happy to learn that it was already picked up for a second season some time ago. What you may not know, though, is that next season is going to look a lot different that the first. And I dig that. A lot.

As much as I enjoyed American Horror Story‘s first season, I admit I’m surprised it lured in as many fans as it did, garnered a second season renewal so early, and got a few Golden Globe nominations to boot. Bro-in-law Bob maintains that the show’s pilot was one of the worst hours of television he’s ever seen, and I take his opinions of television shows seriously … most of the time. The show is unlike anything else I’ve seen on TV in some time, with a forever memorable opening credit sequence and not shying away from some pretty nasty violence and gore that at times put The Walking Dead to shame. Though the story started out somewhat confusing, seemingly with no plot whatsoever in sight, things quickly righted themselves and brought us to a hearty conclusion to the season.

What I believe most fans of American Horror Story don’t know is that you won’t be seeing the Murder House again. You won’t be seeing Ben, Vivien, Violet or, most likely, the babies. No more Constance; no more Tate. That’s because the first season was laid out as a self-contained story of its own, and co-creator Ryan Murphy and FX President John Landgraf made that very clear in a recent interview following the first season finale. You might see some of the actors cross over into season two in different roles, but the story of the Harmons and the Murder House is over. Next season: new building, new people, new locale.

First, let me start out with the good in this decision by Murphy & co.. As soon as I caught wind that the first season was a self-contained story, I thought Twilight Zone. It has all the feel of a story that I could see in Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits or Tales from the Crypt. Its ending often does not provide any finality to what you’ve been experiencing with these characters; it merely delivers the promise that there’s more to come for these “people,” and then leaves you the tools to continue the story in your own dreams and nightmares. It’s finality in the sense that this is the complete story the creators meant to tell, right from the get-go, though perhaps not with all the details many questioning fans want answered.

I really, really like the idea that season one is over and out, and that we’re diving into a completely new “horror story” next year. I’m a huge sucker for Twilight Zone shows and the like, so this is right up my alley. I’ve also been gunning for more shows to shoot for telling their complete story in one season — or for a show to simply last only one season — for some time now, and I’m hoping this show proves it can be successful.

Now, for the bad. There’s a huge risk here in what Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk are trying to do. For one, all but those who keep their eyes peeled for TV news every week will be privy to the knowledge that next season will not pick up where it left off. Most viewers will be sitting down to watch the second season premiere, expecting to see that evil kid taking over the world in a murderous rampage, or the Harmons continue to Beetlejuice up the Murder House. Instead they’ll not only see a completely different house and different characters, but some of those new characters might be played by actors from season one! Without adequate explanation, that’s either going to piss people off to no end, or they’re going to throw their hands up in utter confusion and give up on the show. What if the story next season isn’t as compelling as the first? They surprised me by luring in people with the oddities of season one — can they really pull off a one-two punch?

What do you think of the plans for next season? Are you on board with forgetting everything from season one and starting anew? Did you even know about these plans until now?

Photo Credit: FX

Categories: | American Horror Story | Clack | General | News | TV Shows |

24 Responses to “American Horror Story risks angering fans with a season two refresh”

December 26, 2011 at 9:27 PM

I like the idea of a new everything. Using the same place and characters would slowly change the show from the WTF fun ride to normal sitcom/drama. Lets see what happens….

December 26, 2011 at 10:42 PM

I caught wind of this information yesterday, and was truly devestated. I take my shows very seriously. I was hoping it wasn’t true. I am a huge fan of the show Dexter, so it is no suprise who my favorite character of American Horror Story is. Tate. I loved how this show kept me wanting more. Every episode was exciting, and scary. Most shows, even Dexter, have gotten to the point where it is about mid season until I actually start getting excited and to the point where I absolutely cannot wait until the next episode. With American Horror Story I felt that way with every episode. I am afraid of this step they are taking. I absolutely love the story and show they have created, and if us fans don’t take it well then it may be short lived. I don’t know if these were his plans all along. I know they were shocked at the success, and he probably wrote season 1 for it to end there. But, he should have had a back up plan. Although I do like the way it ended, it leaves me wanting more from the Harmon family and the rest of the ghosts. Of course, I will still watch the show, but he better bring it and bring it hard if he is changing up stories. I too love Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone, and the idea of having a different story every season is genious. But, at the same time I feel like saying “Go make another show and do it with that, but don’t screw with this!”

December 26, 2011 at 11:21 PM

I’m pretty sure this was the plan all along, as all of the actors were only signed to a one season contract. Like Keith joked, it would have turned into Beetlejuice had a new family simply moved into the house, as we saw in the finale. I think it’s a cool idea, at least in theory, but I will miss Jessica Lange’s Constance.

December 26, 2011 at 11:02 PM

This is an exquisitely stupid idea. It’s an insult to the viewers and the fans, and they will be spanked in the ratings next season because of it. The reason anthology shows worked (notice the past tense…there hasn’t been one in years) is because they were anthologies upfront…every week was a new story, and everyone knew that going in. Now that we are invested in the characters and the story they’ve created, to rip that away and replace it with something completely different will alienate the fans they gathered already. I haven’t watched the season finale yet (still sitting on my DVR at home while I do my Christmas travelling), and I’ll have to consider carefully whether I want to spend the time to do so now, knowing I’ll be left with an unsatisfying conclusion that isn’t to be followed up on.

PS: They’re gonna get rid of Jessica Lange? Are they on drugs?

December 26, 2011 at 11:29 PM

Just think of this as one of those mini-series that were popular in the 70s. Murphy had been pretty clear in various interviews (like the one in EW) that the cast had only been signed for one season. I don’t think you’ll be dissatisfied by the finale because there certainly are resolutions to the Harmon story, and a very Tales from the Crypt ending that is also satisfying. To extend the story beyond this finale would only diminish what Murphy and company created. I will miss Jessica Lange’s Constance, but what she gave us over the course of these 13 episodes (and she wasn’t even in all of them) was exquisite. Drawing it out longer would only devolve her into a caricature. It’s a performance that can certainly stand up to repeat viewings.

December 26, 2011 at 11:15 PM

I consider myself a tv critic. I know good tv when I see it. American Horror Story captivated me from the start. I loved how dark it was. Yet, I could relate to each character like it was my own life. I started to really understand the things they did. I put complete faith in the writers of American Horror Story, and while I am sad (a huge understatment) to see the story about “Murder House” come to an end – I have complete faith that the writers will produce something just as riviting. I am excited for the next season, it’s like the end of a good book – there is so much left for the imagination when the story concludes, and you can’t wait for the author to release something else to dive in to! I’m sad to see the end of “Murder House” but I am confident I will love what is to come. American Horror Story is truely, good tv.

December 26, 2011 at 11:18 PM

I’m cool with going this route because, frankly, the Harmons weren’t all that compelling. I was much more interested in Tate, the Montgomerys, Chad & Patrick, Billie Dean, and especially Moira and Constance. The chemistry between Frances Conroy and Jessica Lange had that Bette Davis/Joan Crawford vibe, and possibly not having them as part of a second season is the only thing that gives me reservations about this decision. Those were two indelible characters that I really want to know more about. Jessica Lange’s final monologue in the beauty shop was simply riveting and should earn her the Golden Globe and hopefully an Emmy. I know she wasn’t too keen on doing a series, but if they can give her another juicy role like Constance, maybe she will jump at the chance.

December 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM

I completely agree that the Harmons weren’t all that interesting. To be honest I vacillated between loving the show and feeling sort of on the fence about it. Knowing each season will be a self-contained story actually makes me want to return to it for a couple of reasons. First, if I’m not all that interested in an aspect of the show I know that the next season will bring something new. Secondly, and most importantly for me, I know the storyline will be resolved. Nothing’s more frustrating than having one of your favorite serialized dramas left hanging from that proverbial cliff for an eternity.

December 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM

I feel the same way, Tom. I didn’t watch the show regularly at the beginning b/c I wasn’t connecting with any of the characters, so I figured it was just going to be a waste of my time. But as time went on, it sucked me in and I was glued to the finale. It completely works for me to refresh next season; the Harmon’s story has been told, and now I know I can just enjoy the story and not worry about connecting with the characters b/c that’s really not what the show is all about. I’m really looking forward to next season, and watching every second faithfully, knowing what I’m going to get.

If I had any reservations about this decision, it was like Chuck said: Constance is amazing. I didn’t connect with her, but she was compelling and every second the exquisite Jessica Lange is on my screen is magic. She brings me back to the Audrey Hepburn era, where the actresses had such a presence. I was bugged that there were questions and that they still had places to go with this story, but in the end, I love the way the finale concluded and the way another commenter mentioned it was like reading a great book is a perfect comparison.

December 27, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Let’s hope that the hint about some of the actors possibly coming back as other characters means Jessica Lange will be back. She pretty much ruled the screen whenever she was on it and I think no matter the character she would play that would still hold true.

December 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

That creepy little babysitter eating baby has got to grow up….

December 26, 2011 at 11:42 PM

When I first heard about this show, I was turned off by the whole concept because how do you keep the tension of a haunted house story up for dozens or even hundreds of episodes? Think of Heroes and how they couldn’t hold the suspense after season one (or arguably season two). Now that I know the first season’s story is finished, I’ll have to take a look at the show.

December 27, 2011 at 2:49 AM

I guess it shows that audiences will never be pleased. If Ryan and Brad decided to keep this cast -then people would had been mad because there would be no where to go with the characters. It would be challenging just to keep interested in a show where 90% of the characters are ghosts and have had all their secrets exposed. Where would the mystery be? What story is there left to tell? I’ve given up on what audiences want -because they will KILL a show with their bickerings. I’m glad the producers are doing a different story with a different cast and location. It will be like discovering the show all over again. Why are people complaining BEFORE they even know what is come.

December 27, 2011 at 1:41 PM

I’m really surprised that fans are not upset about this. I had mixed emotions after watching the season finale. I thought it was good but it did seem like a series finale to me. Then once I got the on the internet and found out that was it – I was devastated. They rushed the last episode way too much and I feel really robbed. I don’t have a problem with their plans but if they were planning to do this all along, then I really think they should have prepared us from the very beginning. I will probably watch season two but I’m not sure how excited I will be about it.

December 27, 2011 at 2:07 PM

I am really disappointed, I loved the cast who were in season one. I especially loved Jessica Lang’s character Constance, she really made the show. I thought the season finale was really crazy. It didn’t make sense to me to kill Dillon McDermott’s character the way they did. I kind of figured the family would all die, but to make a whole new show next season! Count me out!

December 27, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I caught wind of this change on the radio the other day, initially I was shocked and a bit disapointed. Honestly now though I have to agree, I loved “Twilight Zone” and am kinda looking forward to Second Season! I also feel that by the time the Second Seasons aires, with FB and everything else out there, fans will already have an Idea what they are in for and so will not be surprise so much.

December 27, 2011 at 5:51 PM

I’m fine with this. I trust Ryan and Brad to do something as extraordinary again. In fact, I can’t wait to see what it is!

Of course, I’ll miss Jessica Lange. But if she had to go? Her last scene in the beauty parlor was a helluva farewell! (Blanche DuBois would have been proud.)

My only regret for the Harmons is that they’re stuck with a newborn for eternity. Sounds horrifying to me.

December 27, 2011 at 5:59 PM

I dont like the idea of the new story of the show.. I really enjoyed this one, and now its just going to end like that… I dont even know if im going to watch it anymore…

December 28, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I am highly disappointed in this new direction! I truly loved the first season, mainly due to Jessica Lange. I wish I had known this was their plan all along so I wouldn’t get hooked on the show. Now? I just don’t think I’ll watch it and if Jessica Lange is no longer on the show, I definitely won’t watch it. There were so many things left unexlained from season 1, like how did the murder house get the way it is? They had options for so many off shoot story lines, like the whole speech that Jessica Lange laid down to the man who wanted to buy the house, that they could have gone with. So disappointed!

December 28, 2011 at 9:35 PM

I too am out. I don’t do TV and was surprised when I watched this first show and then made sure I taped and watched the rest. I waited each week for it to come on and couldn’t wait. This is the only show that has done this to me in adulthood. I loved the characters and sad to say but I won’t be watching it in the future. Bad idea as far as I am concerned!

December 29, 2011 at 11:33 AM

I thought that Jessica Lange’s character said early on that she has 4 children. Am I wrong ? Because we only know of 3. Could there be a 4th child out there somewhere? Could he/she be part of the next episode?

December 30, 2011 at 9:38 AM

i don’t know, i feel like there are a lot of loose ends with the murder house. the psychic said the darkness was trying to get out, what’s gonna happen with that? what’s gonna happen with the killer kid? is he the anti christ? i mean, yeah okay new story but to completely abandon this whole thing they’ve built and people have invested in? seems like they’re acting rashly

January 3, 2012 at 1:27 AM

*Warning, contains SPOILERS*
I’m split. I’d heard about this before the finale aired and was enthusiastic about it up until the last minutes of the episode. I became very curious about what was going to happen with Tate (?Going evil?) and the evil baby and want to know how the story ends. It felt a bit TOO cliffhangery for my taste.

That said, leaving it open to imagine how those stories end is nice of the writers, and shows trust in the viewers. I’m just hoping that the new characters, building, etc, are different enough from the current story. I’d like to see something other than ghosts, or at the very least, ghosts with different motivations/needs/opinions. Not Vampires, Zombies or Werewolves, but maybe Witches (this show has shown that it can elegantly nod to modern paganism so as a wiccan I’d like to see how they handle witches, even for horror) Wendigos (Because eating human flesh sounds like it’d be fun for this series), something from a particular area of mythology (eg, Fauns and Satyrs and Dryads; OR Dwarves, Elves and Wights), or even actually competent psychics.

I’d assume they’re gonna do this every season, so please writers of AHS, have a more wrapped up season, just slightly. Or, have an effort to bring in a character from previous seasons several years down the line so we can catch up on what happened to them.

February 4, 2012 at 8:32 PM

I don’t mind the changing story lines each season, but I think they should use the same ensemble of actors. I became especially fascinated by Constance and Tate. Although the Harmons could be annoying and boring sometimes, a new storyline, with new roles, could take care of that problem. That could put them in a different relationship to each other. Or they could be a couple, just a different one, in a different setting. Might be interesting if the new roles/characters contained some whispers of their characters from first season. Maybe a parallel dimension kind of thing. Especially in regard to Constance. I would miss her!

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