American Horror Story: Coven review

Note: Views here are personal! Don’t get all butthurt if you disagree cause I always respect differing opinions, whether or not I agree with them

I’m not a great follower of American dramas. Actually, I’m not really a “TV series” kind of person in general, so unless the show really has something that sticks out and draw me in, I usually find it hard to stay devoted to any particular drama series. I have never watched “How I Met Your Mother” (Horror! I know), “The Big Bang Theory” or even “Breaking Bad”. “Homeland” was the only series that I’ve managed to follow through both seasons. I actually thought it was pretty great, despite some obvious flaws in the writing that annoyed me. Oh, and don’t get me started on “Glee”. I don’t want to offend any fans, but that show is really…Such great potential and then…

Anyway, I watched the first two seasons of this series called “American Horror Story”. Well I gave up on the second season because it got way too ridiculous. Basically, each season of the show takes place in a different place with a different storyline each. I’m not going to go into the details but the first season took place in a “murder house” while the second season took place in an asylum. The show pays tribute to various horror movies, such as The Omen, The Exorcist and The Evil Dead….which is fine, except that I find these plot lines not very well blended into the show’s main (but pretty nonexistent imo) story lines. I mean, an alien abduction plot in the fucking asylum? Not to mention that it wasn’t well explained…at all. “The Black Dahlia”? Come on!

That being said, the main reason why I do manage to stay through at least half of each season is because of, well:

Jessica Lange as Sister Jude Martin from American Horror Story: Asylum

She’s such a fantastic actress. I mean it. I even felt that she should have won the Emmy for the second season of the show despite the horridness of the story (?). I feel like this was meant to be a vehicle to showcase her tremendous acting talent and range, which it did, and I’m so glad that the younger generation like mine can get to know of such a great actress. (I mean, I love Meryl Streep and all but…)

Actually, I knew of her work way before AHS (I feel so proud saying this). I watched her in this pretty charming film called “Tootsie” and I loved her in that (She won the supporting actress oscar for it). She was so sweet, naive and funny in that film that it’s kinda scary, seeing how it’s like a 180 degree turn from her AHS persona. And then there was her second oscar winning work in Blue Sky (THAT MOVIE! Urgh…) which was as amazing. You know, it’s a true testament to the ability of the actress when she is able to rise above the material she’s in…and keep viewer’s attached…

This monologue always gets me…the sheer emotional rawness of it all…Brilliant.

I can go on and on about how Jessica Lange is now my favourite actress but I think I should get back to my real purpose here, which is to share my opinions about the third season so far. IS IT as horrid as season 2?

Was it this torturous? Or worse, like having to sit through season 2?

I actually liked it. The whole absurdity is toned down a notch and it actually has…a storyline. I feel that it addresses its themes pretty well, and the topics such as ageing, motherhood, obsession with power, revenge and racism all blended pretty well together. Anyway, I still have my doubts because the season isn’t completed yet and things could go downhill from here but so far I’m pretty satisfied. I feel that the storyline is actually FOCUSED, without going overboard with the references to horror movies (The Evil Dead one was abit much though but I wasn’t THAT bothered…)

Anyway, I can’t give an overly detailed review yet but I can list down a few points here….

The Good:

1) Jessica Lange. Although I prefer the Sister Jude character, I think she played the part to perfection (once again). Actually, what impresses me the most about Jessica is that she manages to make each of the three seasons’ characters so…distinct from each other. Yes, they’re all bitchy as hell and always spouting all these sarcastic (but hilarious) one liners but to me, it is INCREDIBLY clear that these are 3 different characters with 3 different personalities. Sister Jude is often misunderstood as evil, which really puzzles me because I’ve always understood her as a character who merely wants to establish control over that fucked up place. I guess it’s because her methods are a rather extreme at times but you know what, when you are stuck in a place that is run by a demonic nun and mad scientist, crawling with carnivorous mutants and intruded by a serial killer disguised as a shrink,  Sister Jude’s methods seem positively tame in comparison. And the way Lange portrays how Jude is constantly tormented by her past and overwhelmed by the guilt of her actions…wow.

As for Fiona Goode, well, she’s not so “grey” and she’s clearly leaning towards the evil side, but Lange added the much needed complexity to the character, showing how there’s still a human side to her. I mean, that hospital scene where she revived the dead baby seemed so random and out of place but thanks to Lange’s brilliant emotional investment, it becomes really powerful and moving. And the guilt over neglecting her daughter is also portrayed to perfection. Jessica Lange has always been an actress who could portray all the flaws of the characters she plays with so much ease (Even in her seemingly one dimensional role in Tootsie) that it actually makes them extremely human and relatable…And her fears and insecurities because of her ailing health and her ageing body are so well depicted that you can’t help but feel sorry for the character despite her crap. I mean, just that scene where she wipes the tears while watching the plastic surgery video is amazing.

“I’m in charge everywhere”

Of course, the evil scenes are portrayed with delicious malice as well. The entire monologue before she *SPOILER ALERT* killed Madison *SPOILER OFF* was just brilliantly complex. Was she guilty about her past actions? Or did she feel triumphant?

Besides the emotional distinction, the physical and technical parts were brilliant as well (I got a limited vocabulary, I know). The stiff, upright posture of Sister Jude as compared to the catlike slouch of Fiona Goode, Sister Jude’s unique and firm Boston (I THINK it’s Boston, I’m really not sure paiseh) accent as compared to the hissing and snarling of Fiona… This could go on but I think you get my point.

“I was a shitty supreme…”

2) Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates. I’m so glad with their addition but I have to admit that Bate’s role kinda disappointed me because of how limited it is. That’s not to say that she wasn’t brilliant though, she was REALLY scary and effective in the first episode (Different, yet similar to her iconic performance in Misery) and the guilt over the ill treatment of her daughters was a finely acted scene but…that was it. I have no idea what’s going to happen to the character now, I hope she gets a better arc other than merely being…the maid.

‘Such a small part? Wanna get “hobbled”?’

Angela Bassett is pretty fine. I’m not really familiar with her work as an actress (Haven’t watched What’s love go to do with it?) and I have to admit that her line delivery bugged me in the beginning (Why EmPhaSise On Each SyLlaBus?) but I actually got used to it and now I even think that it’s very effective. It really shows how forceful and extreme the character can get. She’s pretty siao anyway. And her showdown with Jessica Lange was really great.

Too late for tears, damage is DONE!

3) Lily Rabe. Fantastic as Misty Day. I love how she brought out every tiny aspect of this character that makes her so fascinating, funny and mysterious at the same time. I actually liked this one more than the Sister Mary Eunice character because I find this character so more complex. She has such a strong screen presence and I think that she’s an excellent character actress so….Give her more to do…please?

4) Focused, and fairly intriguing storyline (For once!!!) but I’ve already talked about that earlier

Not-so-good:

1) The younger actresses. Oh dear. Emma Roberts was fine imo, I don’t want to sound judgemental but I feel like this role isn’t much of a stretch for her. Moving on…

Taissa Farmiga…what happened? I can’t really remember season 1 but I actually sorta remembered that she was pretty good as Violet Harmon! Anyway I’m blaming it on the character cause she isn’t really smart but why does she always look so…blank? Maybe this character isn’t exactly spunky but the way she said “witch up!” was so bland… like nah, I don’t think I’ll join your team. That being said, she played the terrified aspect pretty well, I guess, but that was when the character was being a TOTAL idiot (I’m talking about the police interrogation scene). I do hope that what’s with the hints of the character’s future development, Farmiga’s acting can…improve as well.

Gabourey Sidibe. I don’t know much about her work either, all I remember is that she was extremely heartbreaking in that movie “Precious” and actually held up pretty well to Mo’nique’s TOWERING achievement. But over here….THAT MASTURBATION SCENE (Simply had to get it out)! Actually I don’t blame her, it was a horribly written scene that was CLEARLY for shock factor and I guess she did what she could…but still looked pretty darn lost. The earlier scenes where she was trying to be bitchy (The way she insulted the others, I don’t know…) and all felt rather forced in my opinion but I think it got better in the later episodes. I mean, her evil laughter while torturing Spalding was fairly memorable.

Mixed feelings:

1) Denis O’Hare. Nothing wrong here, I’m just wondering why he’s forever delegated to being victimised by Lange. Lol. We need more Russell Edgington!

2) Sarah Paulson. LOVE HER, fantastic actress, fantastic performance in season 2…Over here, nothing wrong with the performance. In fact she’s really good, I guess it’s just that her season 2 character (hence performance) was so much more dynamic, forceful, heartbreaking and haunting that this Cordelia Fox character REALLY pales in comparison. And I do think that she’s a bit of an idiot sometimes. Having said that, with this newly acquired gift of hers, I think that there’s going to be some major developments with this character so I haven’t given up yet

Ending thoughts: Good and enjoyable season, but I’m starting to get a bit scared cause that axeman character feels like an unnecessary plot device. We can only see how it goes from here.

***

Life so far: School term has ended, my finals are next week. Now before you accuse me of slacking (“Blogging? Watching tv? Sacrilege! You should be SMUgging!” “Oh do me a favor and zip it, goodness”) I’ve been studying the past few days ok! And I’m going for consultation tomorrow. Sighs…I don’t even know why I’m trying to justify my actions, I guess I’m kinda unsettled by the horrified glares I got from my project group mates once for telling them that I took a break by watching a movie. But….but…*struggles for words*

I’m not going to do a reflection of my first semester in SMU because it hasn’t been an eventful one for me and my thoughts are still the same as that of my first post. And with that…I shall end here

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