Criticism is hard. Eventually, when I am talking about a TV show, the points I am arguing will inevitably fall into the danger of being no more than the armchair biases of an average viewer. In this respect, there is nothing which separates me from any of the thousands of people live-tweeting, nor the amorphous blog posts and episode discussions that are part of the way we now watch TV. In fact, there is really no objective difference between my criticism, vouchsafed by the identity and the banner of The Tribe from anybody else’s.
It is easy to point to good TV, to shows, seasons, and series that people should be watching. You can tell by the actors used, the directors and producers involved, the volume of a fandom, etc. whether a TV show is good, watchable, great, magnificent, or any other adjective you want to use to describe it. But chiefly, TV shows are about telling stories. And when stellar shows begin to falter, criticising them is like splitting hairs.
Hence American Horror Story: Hotel.
The season was a strong one from its beginning and throughout its middle. Owed in more than a small part to our hopeful expectations for it after Freak Show’s lacklustre performance, there was so much to be excited about: Lady Gaga, pinning the entire season together, who well deserves her Golden Globe nomination (and who will *SPOILER ALERT* be missed as beguiling Countess Elizabeth Johnson-March), Dennis O’Hare’s wonderful performance as the transgendered Liz Taylor, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Naomi Campbell’s cameo, etc.
But, like all behemoths, Hotel has lumbered under its own weight and the egotistical need to be BIGGER! BRIGHTER! BOLDER! than it was in previous seasons, instead of telling a story. The Ten Commandments Killer storyline was the driving force of the season, and then we found out who it was (no surprises there). Then, Ramona Royale’s Revenge, which is merely a reshaping of the Delphine LaLaurie/Marie Laveau beef of Coven, and as such an unfortunate misuse of Angela Bassett, was *SPOILER ALERT* peddled into a lovers’ misunderstanding between her and Gaga’s Countess, whom she allowed to escape before the ice queen of the Cortez was decapitated by the Ten Commandment’s killer.
The problem with this desire to overreach is that the storyline stretches beyond the realms of believability we would accord even AHS. It is sloppy. And while it is not technically over, with its star character and main antagonist gone, how can the final episode tie together all of the many disparate and ill-handled strings of this season?
Perhaps the long holiday break has made the show seem overlong, especially compared to Scream Queens, which finished perfectly in December. But these are two different beats, and AHS has been in danger of stumbling into a campy caricature of its past and its potential.
Perhaps there is nothing left for us to see.
The American Horror Story season finale was January 13th. Were they able to tie it all together? Comment below.