AMERICAN HORROR STORY 1×12

"Afterbirth"

After a season full of tree-hating ginger twins, elderly demon babies, slutty ghost maids, burned men, home invasions, shovel bludgeonings, rubbermen, school massacres, pig men, brain-eating, pope boxes, and the promise of the antichrist, the season finale should have blown the doors off American Horror Story.

Instead, we're left with a staggeringly dull episode that feels like an afterthought, a sappy and unearned resolution to the dysfunctional family storyline, and a tacit admission that the show has absolutely no idea what it will be in Season Two.

I'll tune in next year, but—barring a serious reworking of the show in the off-season—I won't be back to review it. It's been fun, but around the time Rubberman was revealed to be the most obvious suspect possible, it became less fun with each subsequent episode.

So forgive me if I forgo my usual in-depth review this week. I may circle back for one more post on the season as a whole, but for now I'm going to take my cue from the American Horror Story finale itself, and retreat into premature resolution and some phony Christmas cheer:

’Twas the season finale, and throughout Murder House,
Not a creature was living (except Ben the louse).
This critic was watching in doubtful suspense,
In hopes that this season would somehow make sense.

Ben’s daughter was rotting within the crawlspace
While spiders and ants danced all over her face.
And Mama died too (which made me forlorn).
What would happen to her kids? (One alive, one stillborn.)

When out of my TV there came so much drivel,
I knew my review would be rather uncivil.
Away to my office I flew, feeling vile,
Tore open my laptop and vented my bile.

The entire first season of this batshit new show
Had promised so much, but fallen so low.
When what, in the finale, did finally appear?
A dull epilogue, and some fake holiday cheer.

When the mom and the daughter made peace with the dad
(who now is dead too), I knew we’d been had.
More treacly than thrilling, a total cop-out,
I bristled, and brooded, and threw up in my mouth.

"Where’s HORROR? Where’s DRAMA? Where’s CONFLICT and STRIFE?
Where’s the pay-off for twelve fucking weeks of my LIFE?
Where’s good versus evil? Where’s the thrilling last blow?
Ah, fuck it all, fuck it all, fuck this whole show.”

A new family arrived (some of the “better Hispanics”),
But the Harmons decided to make them all panic,
So they staged some lame scares, and a little abuse,
In a scene that felt lifted straight from Beetlejuice.

And then, as I cringed, I saw on my screen
The most sickening and phony of holiday scenes.
As the dead happy family decorated their tree,
I dropped to my knees and prayed to be free.

It was all just so nauseous, and all so unearned:
The whole season was tarnished, and I felt so burned.
All the crazy mythology that we had been fed,
Had led to one lesson: it’s good to be dead.

This show—how it floundered! And how we’d been waiting,
Through demonic babies, and Ben’s masturbating.
Through Dahlias and Hayden and poor Addy slain,
Through pig men and popes and chowing down brain.

We’ve watched and we’ve waited throughout the fall,
For this ridiculous show to make sense of it all.
And what’s our payoff for all these ghosts and these freaks?
The kid is the devil (which we’ve known for six weeks).

Blue-eyed and tow-headed, a right jolly elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
He thinks killing his nanny is just a fun jape!
(What’d you expect? He was born from ghost rape.)

I’m sick of this show, and I’m glad that it's done;
Around episode seven it stopped being fun.
There were too many ghosts, yet they kept adding more.
(For the record, in total, there are now twenty-four.)

It sometimes was shocking, and sometimes was funny,
But never made me care or scared enough for my money.
So you may hear me proclaim, as I bit you adieu,
“I’m outta here, bitches! Enjoy Season Two!”

The Unaffiliated Critic

Michael G. McDunnah is a freelance writer, a recovering lit major, a pop-culture junkie, and an unaffiliated critic. He lives in Chicago.

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