The Fall season is in full swing now – and what a season it’s been so far!

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling pretty spoiled for choice at the moment when it comes to TV shows – with a pretty stacked DVR that fills up every day. It’s quite a job keeping on top of all the great shows out there.

Best night of the TV week has to be Wednesdays – with Modern Family, Suburgatory, Revenge and The X Factor all essential viewing. And then there’s American Horror Story – the deliciously dark treat from FX that’s arguably the scariest TV show ever created!

I’ll be honest and admit that I was a little skeptical about Horror Story when I first heard about the show – mainly because of the series creator Ryan Murphy. Murphy’s Glee went off the rails alarmingly quickly and Ryan himself is a polarizing figure who doesn’t exactly do himself any favors in the PR department. I worried that American Horror Story would be too ridiculous and over the top and ultimately collapse under the weight of its own craziness.

Well that hasn’t happened so far – but that’s not to say the show isn’t crazy – we’re not exactly talking ABC Family here!

In case you haven’t seen American Horror Story yet here’s the basic story. Troubled couple Ben and Vivien, along with their daughter Violet, move into a creepy LA house in an effort to rebuild their crumbling marriage. Vivien is still recovering from a stillborn baby and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity – but the new home isn’t exactly helping her state of mind. There’s the creepy neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange) whose mentally disabled daughter keeps trespassing on the property; Tate a troubled young boy who takes a shine to Violet; and the fact that the new home is on the ‘murder map’ of LA.

Yep, it turns out that the couple’s new house has a dark history of murder, dismemberment and kinkiness! There’s the house cleaner Moira, an elderly lady to the world, but a hot and sexy maid to any man who enters the house; Larry, a horribly burned previous resident of the home who murdered his family and is now trying to blackmail Ben (long story!); and of course the scary guy in a leather fetish suit who has sex with Vivien (who thinks she’s making love to her husband) and murdered the previous occupants of the house. Not to mention the scary Frankenstein like baby in the cellar and the murdered twins who keep popping up to bother the new family…

YouTube Preview Image

It’s all completely insane of course – but so far it’s all working very well. American Horror Story is pitch black dark  – a tone established by the nightmarish opening credits every week. But even though the show trades in some pretty grim realities it doesn’t feel depressing and actually maintains a certain amount of (black) comedy. Seeing Ben being teased by Moira for example is more outlandish than scary.

That’s not to say American Horror Story isn’t frightening. I’m actually surprised at how much the show is getting away with. There’s little gore and violence – but the series still pushes several buttons. Not many shows for example feature the lead male character masturbating frantically, while fully naked, in the first episode. I’m surprised at how little backlash Horror Story has attracted actually, given the furor surrounding the mild naughtiness of The Playboy Club. I guess the crazy Christians don’t get FX!

What’s helping ground American Horror Story are the show’s leads – Dylan McDermott as Ben and Connie Britton as Vivien. Both are familiar faces in the TV world but have never taken on a show as twisted as this one, that’s for sure! But since the pair are both so experienced as actors they give the series a gravitas that it wouldn’t possess if it featured, say, a young, CW style couple moving into the home. These are characters who’ve been run over by life and that weariness, frustration and anger plays out on screen. Plus Jessica Lange’s Constance is the icing on the cake – proving for the umpteenth time that all the best roles for women are on TV these days.

So far American Horror Story has done a terrific job of staying on track – but I’m always nervous with a Ryan Murphy show! That said – the sheer unpredictability of the series is actually working in its favor. While the show has been renewed for a second season we have no idea if any of the current cast will make it to next year – or indeed what will happen next week! And that’s what I like in a TV show… keep me surprised. So for now Richard definitely Recommends American Horror Story.

But what about you? Are you a fan of AHS? What do you most like about the show? Comment away…