There’s Been Very Little Hoopla About the New Season of American Horror Story

American Horror Story670American Horror Story–nothing like the earlier seasons about psychosexually haunted houses, modern-day witches’ covens, and asyla (that’s the plural of asylum. Seriously. Look it up). Maybe because the creators’ ill-concealed fascination with certain imagery is finally getting to be just a little too icky to tolerate–icky in an unhealthy, beyond-torture-porn kind of way.

The grim grotesquerie of Freak Show may have been meant to invoke the days of Tod Browning and Something Wicked This Way Comes–you know, the unspeakably evil carnival, embodied in its ‘freaks,’ a term that generally we don’t apply to the disabled and challenged any longer. But it’s not the Thirties any longer, or even the Fifties, and simply setting this season’s action back in 1952 doesn’t really forgive the show’s creepy fascination with two-headed women and bearded ladies, even if they are played by award-winning actresses. All this discomfort is made worse by the fact that this particular cycle is pretty damn light on plot and characterization. It’s almost only about the drive-slowly-by-the-car-wreck discomfort of looking steadily, even lovingly, at the deformed and mentally deranged. And without any real-world hook (past or present), in plot or character, to hang it on, it’s just become a grubby succession of ugly ideas that the creators present in a relentless, lingering pace and with entirely too much–you should pardon the expression–glee. Anyway: After the ups and downs of the first three seasons, and particularly the awful last few episodes of Season Three, we’ve rather lost our enthusiasm. There was a new episode last night, but forgive us for skipping it.

Wednesdays @10P on FX