American Horror Story: The 10 Biggest WTF Moments from the Premiere

When its greenlight was first announced, American Horror Story instantly became one of the year's most-anticipated shows. Sure, America's love affair with Glee has begun to wane, and I don't think anybody was thrilled about the last, say, four seasons of Nip/Tuck, but it's a testament to creator Ryan Murphy's creativity (not to mention his self-promotion skills) that a basic-cable gothic horror serial would garner the interest it has. Add to that a truly talented cast—Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Jessica Lange, and Frances Conroy among others—and we were faced with nothing less than watercooler television.

So now that American Horror Story has finally arrived, how did Wednesday's premiere stack up to the hype? In short: WTF?

I don't know what any of us expected, but I have a feeling nobody expected THAT. American Horror Story is either great or terrible (still not sure!), and its pilot was basically a horror mixtape comprised of MANY familiar elements from other movies and TV shows that we've seen before, just never assembled in this way. I'm not sure it resulted in a coherent product, but I still came away excited, having seen something so insane and TV-unfriendly that I couldn't help but appreciate it for that fact. Dare to be different, you know?

Right off the bat, I will admit the premiere episode made basically no sense. Ostensibly about a troubled family who moves into a haunted house, this episode was pretty much structured like a musical (or maybe a porno?) with several setpieces linked by some of the loosest storytelling imaginable. So rather than bore you with plot details, here are the ten craziest things that happened in the American Horror Story premiere. (Be sure to comment below if I've missed anything!)

[SPOILERS AHEAD] [DUH]


1. Jars Full of Baby Parts

In the opening flashback (to be sure, the episode's finest sequence) a pair of twin boys vandalized an abandoned house, only to find a menagerie of horrifying specimen jars in the basement—including several that were filled with BABY PARTS. Aaaaaahhhhh!! Why???

 

2. The Gimp Suit Ghost

When Vivien (Connie Britton) discovered a black vinyl GIMP SUIT propped up in the attic (allegedly belonging to the previous owners, two gay men who murder-suicided), she understandably screamed. Later, when a PERSON walked into her bedroom WEARING IT, she barely batted an eye and immediately started SEXIN' with it. Because WHAT?

 

3. The Old Lady Child Monster

Pardon me, but what ON EARTH? This thing killed two kids, maimed a girl, and now will destroy my peaceful slumber for the next few days.

 

4. The Living Room Murals

When Vivien decided to strip the wallpaper in the living room, she discovered these horrifying hand painted murals on all the walls. Even weirder, she LIKED them?

 

5. The Obvious Horror "Homages"

There's a chance this "original drama" may have actually just been a clip montage from other movies? Not sure. Let's count all the "homages," shall we?

• Bone wind chimes from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
• The whistling scene (and music!) from Kill Bill
• Dead twins from The Shining
• Ghost seductress from The Shining
• Husband-going-mad plotline from The Shining
• Man standing among the clotheslines like in Halloween
• Creepy older gentleman in dark suit like in Poltergeist II
• Mysterious pregnancy from Rosemary's Baby
• Taciturn, morbid daughter like in Beetlejuice
• Twitchy editing from the Saw movies
• Mysterious servants like in The Others
• High-pitched violins from Psycho
• Hand-thrown firecrackers like in Boogie Nights
• Full-face skull tattoo like the male model in those Thierry Mugler fashion ads (not to mention the Lady Gaga "Born this Way" video).
• Systematic murder of a family like in Amityville Horror
• Pervasive, insane dream logic like in pretty much any Dario Argento film
• What else? Anything I missed?

 

6. So Much Dylan McDermott Nudity

In perhaps the show's biggest ode to True Blood, there was SO MUCH bare man booty. Congratulations, Dylan McDermott (and viewers!)


7. Jessica Lange's Character

In what seems like a reprise of her evil drag queen character from Hush, Jessica Lange plays an aging Southern belle next-door neighbor who steals silverware and casually refers to her own daughter as a "mongoloid." Up until this scene American Horror Story was pretty serious, but when Jessica Lange dropped the M-bomb I was like, 'Whoops! This is a comedy!'

 

8. The Shape-shifting Ghost Maid

It was crazy enough when Frances Conroy just showed up in the backyard claiming to be the housemaid and Connie Britton immediately hired her. But THEN when she became all young and sexy and tried to seduce Dylan McDermott, and the daughter walked in on them, and suddenly Frances Conroy was straddling Dylan McDermott... what was going ON there? By the final scene, in which we learned that Jessica Lange had murdered this character once already, I was like, "Sure, obviously. That is reasonable."

 

9. The Burn Victim/Murderer Character

Why was this subplot in the pilot? For like a ten-minute stretch, the episode ground to a halt so that Denis O'Hare (Ryan Murphy <3s True Blood so much!) could stalk Dylan McDermott and then tell him all about the time he murdered his own family (complete with flashbacks). Why? Just why?

 

10. No Likable Characters?

One of the sadder WTFs was the total absence of characters worth rooting for. MAYBE Connie Britton's post-miscarriage basket case character, but certainly not the husband or daughter, who are both awful. Ugh, and that teenage boy? He is the worst character ever put on television. Maybe I'm rooting for Jessica Lange's daughter Adelaide. Team Adelaide!

 

Ultimately American Horror Story is completely insane. While Ryan Murphy clearly has great taste in other peoples' horror, the nearly fatal flaw of this pilot episode was an absolute dearth of tension or suspense. Plus the premise is just so questionable. How long can a weekly series survive once the home occupants notice the house is haunted? Are we really supposed to tune in and sympathize with idiots who remain in this horrible place?

For now, though, I can't believe American Horror Story is on television and that's probably why I'll keep watching. Boring it's not!


What about you? Did you like what you saw?

Comments (192)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
After much poking and prodding from friends, I decided to give AHS a shot and this recap pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly...WTF?!?!?

"American Horror Story...? Pfft, I could care less where it's from but it's all recycled horror with no story"

I'm already counting down the minutes to where this entire family gets killed. PTSD wife and her cheating dirtbag of a husband drag their whiny emo daughter across the country to buy a murder house?!? Just like my thoughts on the million times this theme has been used, these dummies deserve whatever bad things happen to them.
Reply
Flag
What do you mean no characters worth rooting for? Tate and Violet were both victims of bullying, okay? I get that Tate going insane because of it might tip off some, but what the fuck did Violet do?

Tate's my favorite character, btw. That evil side is the most like-able thing on television these days.
14
Reply
Flag
The thing that I find most confusing is this review. Did you like the show Price? Yes or no please. You review nitpicks at all the elements on the show but you never come out an say, "I like or don't like where this is going."



The horror genre has never been about things that make sense. Characters never act as they should. When in a dark spooky house how many times do characters go searching for the origin of some creepy sound. The audience always knows that if it was us we would have run out of the house as if demons were chasing us. Nevertheless a small part of us wants the character to investigate the sound. To do what we would not do so our curiosity may be satisfied even if it scares us to do so.



There are always few likable characters in horror. In AHS it is definitely the miscarrying cheated upon character of Connie Britton. I also disagree with your assessment that she hired the housekeeper without a second thought. I think the housekeeper believably convinced her she was capable when she mentioned using vinegar to clean the floors.



In my opinion this first episode is like a dream. Scenes move one after the other but we don't quite know how we got there. I can appreciate that. The three main characters are stuck in a bad dream that will soon turn into a nightmare. I am looking forward to catching up with this show.
More+
4
Reply
Flag
I have to say that just like in Glee I ABSOLUTELY root for every character in this show.
2
Reply
Flag
to be honest, AHS is probably the best show I've seen in the last years. iIt doesn't bother me that there are so many elements of other movies in there, cause I really like those movies too.
4
Reply
Flag
i live in australia and this premiered the other night.

im still so very confused...
3
Reply
Flag
One part maybe missed would be the homage to Richard Bachman a la Stephen King by Tate's character basically being from the story "Rage." The WTF moment with the baby parts in the jars can be summed up by the fact that the doctor had his son returned to him in pieces in separate jars. I adore this show, and I can't wait until next Wednesday. I said originally the story line and all the characters are so screwed up the show is like Stephen King on LSD, no...crack, no... Meth!
2
Reply
Flag
Was no one else phased by the awkward one minute scene of Dylan McDermott just standing there masterbating? And as if it wasn't awkward enough to witness, it was in front of a window of all places? Where the burned guy saw ? No one else was weirded out by this one enough to mention it? I like this show, and I continue to watch it. But when I saw this scene, I was totally like "WTF" I'm glad I wasn't watching it with anyone else because that is not a scene you want to come up while watching tv with your mother ...
2
Reply
Flag
#5, you missed where Tate watches Violet sleep in an Edward Cullen- Bella Swan Twilight manner
1
Reply
Flag
Have to admit I'm hooked, and precisely because I don't fully understand it. Like Blair Witch, its what you don't see that scares you the most and the idea that they know its a nightmare but may not be able to just walk away is not only allegorical but deeply tragic in its own sense.

Its Twin Peaks atmosphere - how many films begin with a Down's Syndrome actress prophet (who apparently doesn't age) foretelling imminent death - alone is worth watching.

Brilliant, scary, unpredictable and fascinating.
1
Reply
Flag
I LOVED the show. Not since Twin Peaks, X-Files and Buffy have I even bothered to check out a new tv show, but this one just blows my mind. No, it isn't as good as the above mentioned series but it is up there. If they can keep it as weird and compelling as they have been, I'm in for the season.
1
Reply
Flag
Uh I'm sorry but this show is fun and I could care less if it makes a shred of sense and really do you want it to make sense and get bored? True Blood makes no real sense...these beings don't exist so watch something else and quit whining like a virgin alter boy already!!!!

I like it and I hope it sticks around a while.
Reply
Flag
Am I the only person bothered by the fact that this house is supposed to located in the Valley.....
Reply
Flag
The house is located in Los Angeles as mentioned by the real estate agent on the first episode. She offered them a house in the valley worth less for twice the cost after mentioning the murder-suicide which took place in the house.
Reply
Flag
One other movie scene tribute was the set up for the murder reenactment was the same as the final scene of The strangers. Two people bound in chairs prepared for a ritual killing,three creepy emotionless masked people, "take the masks off" "you don't have to do this...."

Almost the same scene.
Reply
Flag
Okay... it's week two and I still have no clue. You'll excuse me if I like my "scary" to at least make a little sense.
1
Reply
Flag
this show was badass.

it's so f*cked up that i can't get enough of it. this show was made for people who like this kind of stuff, and if you don't then you probably won't like the show. I definitely loved it. I will be hooked all season.
Reply
Flag
I know! I feel exactly the same way. Loved the parts where characters see selected ghosts that no one else does. Emphasizes their madness: "Is what I'm seeing real? I'm screwed either way..." My favorite is the ongoing fact that McDermott sees young and sexy, while everyone else sees old maid. Plays to his weakness and none of them are aware of what the other sees. Yet. Sooo f***ked up!
Reply
Flag
Maybe it was my imagination, but did I miss something between episodes 1 and 2? There were big gaps in the story line, i.e. the scene where Leah and Violet were setting next to each other in the makeshift skate park talking about when she came by the house to by drugs and was attacked or the conversation between Larry and Ben in the tunnel that referenced a prior conversation at the house. Its only the second episode, what, where and when did a miss this stuff?
Reply
Flag
You didn't miss it. It took me a few minutes to figure out who they were at the skate park and the prior conversation was the one in the park when Ben was jogging.



I think some of the disjointedness is to keep the viewer uncomfortable, to add to the sense of disorientation.
Reply
Flag
You mention the similarities of this show to different horror flicks. All of those horror flicks are american. I think that was intentional. To take different elements of classic horror stories and make it into a tv show. It's suspenseful and exciting. And most importantly, entertaining. Sure it's weird. But it's original in it's own creepy way even though it uses other ideas. I personally love the crazy kid and i'm curious to know what his involvement is. I mean....did you even watch the show? The mother slept with the guy in the suit because she thought it was her husband. And the maid doesn't shape shift. She appears old to everyone but the husband. The true mystery is the neighbor character. wtf is going on there...anyway. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
1
Reply
Flag
This isn't really that important to the point you were making, but I want to point out that Dario Argento (along with his movies) is Italian not American. I only point this out because you seem to be saying that since it is called "American Horror Story" it uses only American references to horror movies...but Dario Argento's style is far (very very far) from the typical American directors'...so I don't the writers limit themselves to inspiration from only American works.
Reply
Flag
I think that's whole point your not supposed to root for any of the characters ... evil begets evil, kind of like you get what's coming to you. I kind of like that everyone isn't nicey nice, definitely eerie, gross and absolutely enthralling.
Reply
Flag
I love this creepy show! The "gimp suit," is latex, not vinyl ;) Rubber-Ghost can haunt my home any day!
Reply
Flag
I will continue to watch as long as this show is on television! It is bizarre, creepy, sexually explicit, keeps you guessing, eery, evil, scary and disgusting all at the same time! I am fascinated with every aspect of this show and I can't get enough of it..........is it Wednesday night yet? lol No show has ever kept me as captivated as American Horror Story! Last night's episode felt like it was over in 10 minutes......I wanted MORE! My 43 year old boyfriend loves the show, but after last night's episode he said that he was really scared! So, needless to say, if you're squeamish or faint of heart, this show is NOT for you! I say..........KEEP THE EPISODES COMING!!! Way to go FX!
Reply
Flag
The pilot didnt seem like a pilot. It seemed like a show that has been on for awhile. It was creepy. Second episode was great. I liked it and will continue to watch
Reply
Flag
I loved the show. It was creepy, wierd and the first time I felt scared from watching a show, a TV show in ages, yet it had it's funny parts much like a Stephen King novel. In fact, this is like watching a King novel. His books are sometimes all over the place,with unlikable characters but it all makes some sense as time goes on. You don't know what is real and what isn't. I love that the housemaid looks like an old lady to Vivian and young sexy woman to her husband. I like the wierd boy. Seems his character is connected to the house, along with the burned man. Much like Lost, I think all these plots and characters will gel and will make snese if viewers hang in there. Seem when something new and somewhat different comes to TV viewers are ready to slam it. Give it time, and let it come together.
Reply
Flag
i think the show is pretty freaky and weird also. Tonights Episode 2 was pretty out there. I will continue to watch. I feel like turning on all the lights in my house. I LOVE IT
Reply
Flag
I agreed with much of what was said in the article. But I liked it anyway. Like the author, I can't help but wonder how long they can keep this up. This seems to be a family that could move it it wanted to.

My favorite line in the whole show was when the old/young maid walked into the study where the father was working, bared her bra and asked if he wanted to touch her a little. That just cracked me up.
Reply
Flag
Thank you! My sentiments exactly, especially regarding the total lack of likable characters. Frankly the only one I find mildly worth rooting for is the young girl but so far I hope this show ends in a tragic house fire in which they all die.
Reply
Flag
Not creepy but how about the father trying to justify his affair by throwing "statistics of men who cheat after a miscarriage" at his wife. umm.. wtf.
1
Reply
Flag
The pilot was a big steaming pile. It started out creepily enough, but BOY are all of these characters annoying. I wouldn't care what happened to any of them. Especially the daughter. She actually almost makes me root for the bullies to kick her ass. The only reason i'm not is because they're ALL equally annoying. Connie Britton played the only sympathetic character, and that was only until the big fight when it was revealed that she thinks marriage is basically a one-way-street and that it all revolves around her own feelings and needs, and that apparently her husband's only function is to listen to her yammer and carry her bags.

As far as the 'haunting' is concerned. Nothing scary at all, just weirdness for weirdness' sakes, and not even done right. Am i supposed to be freaked out that McDermott is seduced by some old hag he thinks is a young hot woman? So it will lead to the inevitable marital problems. Is this soap or horror?
Reply
Flag
It was great....except the manbutt parts.
Reply
Flag
The man butt parts rocked.
Reply
Flag
This show isn't just throwing out homages to movie and tv horror, but REAL horror. Anyone catch Tate (as in Sharon Tate) quickly saying "helter skelter" down in the basement when the bully gets her face clawed up? That's a nod to the Charles Manson Family murders. I'm sure there were more most of us never even came close to catching.



As a lifelong horror fan, I'll be watching at the very least the first season. I don't want to give up before questions start getting answered, and I've read in several places that happens in episodes two, three, and four.
Reply
Flag
when to exit its ?
Reply
Flag
Time will tell, thats all!
Reply
Flag
I really liked it. Loved the homage to various other horror films. I agree that it is a dark campy humor with a tinge of horror.
Reply
Flag
Absolute camp. When you look at the show's pilot and characters that way, the entirety of it makes sense. It's not drama. It's dark campy humor.
Reply
Flag
Bottom line: it kept my attention better than any other new show this season. It's effing crazy, but in the best wtf way. I wanna see where this goes!
Reply
Flag
You and me both, Rob!

Reply
Flag
me tooo!! dylan mcdermott nude was aweome! and sex too, kinky!!
Reply
Flag
Was not going to watch till you mentioned Dylan McDermott 's buff scenes...
Reply
Flag
Clip montages from other movies in an hour format tv show? I loved it! of course its not original but what is on TV these days? I dont care, Ill keep watching...

When Vivien discovers the suit in the attic, it wasnt just the "suit" was it? it had form and shape to be just a suit... she and her husband had sorta kinky weird sex moments before, why would she bat an eye when a person she thinks its her husband walks in wearing the suit?

I think Dylans character sees Conroys as a slutty young woman, its not like Conroy is shapeshifting or anything... thats why when the daughter catches them its the maids old self.
Reply
Flag
I think that once Vivien started having sex with "whatever it was", she knew that it was NOT her husband! She was crying and kept seeing images of her husband's face, but that was not her husband. And now she's pregnant with that "things" baby. And as far as the shapeshifting, I believe that the maid is doing just that! Jessica Lange's character said, "Am I going to have to kill you again?" to the maid......so she is obviously not real. We'll just have to see what happens!
1
Reply
Flag
This show reminds me so much of Twin Peaks (which was mind blowingly good). It just comes off as such a cheap imitation of Twin Peaks or anything David Lynch has ever done. When you've seen the entire run of TP (including the movie) it's hard to take this show seriously as either groundbreaking or edgy.
Reply
Flag
Ahh, Twin Peaks! Those were the days. Those crazy CRAZY characters. Those insane story lines that always turned dark. But it was such good television. If AHS is half as interesting, then it's worth being on our screens. A television show gets accused of being anti-television. I love it. Thank you Mr. Murphy.
Reply
Flag
It really sucked, there's no other words for it.
Reply
Flag
Like many other people, I didn't really know what to think of this one. It's f***ked up with a capital "huh"??? I want to like it for that reason alone but I'm just not sure yet. I'll be watching this Tuesday but it'll probably be the make or break episode for me.
Reply
Flag
Hands down, the craziest thing I've seen on television since Twin Peaks.

No, it's no where near as good as TP, but still.... completely insane, and therefore watchable.

I love how Price is all like "Man, this show doesn't make sense", as if most of the sci-fi/horror offerings out there would make any sense in reality... obviously, this show got a style of its own, and, why it does indeed featuring a boatload of homages, its setting doesn't try to copy anything else on TV right now. So let's way and see if it can find its own path.

And there lies the main problem with AHS: how on Earth is it suppose to figure out why it is why Ryan Murphy is its creator? Murphy is undeniably one of television's best SHOW CREATOR - when it comes time to come up with an idea, an original concept, he's the man, no doubt about it. But, as a SHOW RUNNER, as someone that need to bring out all of best qualities of a program to bring it to the next level... frankly, he sucks. Murphy literally destroyed "Nip/Tuck" (took me way longer than it took Petererson to hate the show, but that last season... that sh*tting, worthless last season... oi), and, while "Glee" was truly enjoyable in its first 3 MONTHS RUN, when FOX brought it back from its first break... again, OI. I still haven't managed to finish season 2 - and why would I bother?!

So, for Murphy to run a show that no one, not Price, not me, not anyone around here, that no one believable to have a premise strong enough to last longer than 6 episodes... well, it could actually be a good thing, if IT'S ONLY LASTING 6 EPISODES. Anything above that, and it will start sucking, you can bet your house on it.
More+
Reply
Flag
I will be watching the next few weeks before I make up my mind.

I know one thing is for sure......I have seen enough Dylan ass for the season.
Reply
Flag
Speak for yourself.
Reply
Flag
I haven't.
Reply
Flag
me neither!

Reply
Flag
Must be a male - female point of view. lol

I know that if they were showing Connie's ass i would not be complaining.
Reply
Flag
"And then I had the Mongoloid ..." really made me and my husband laugh!! I couldn't believe she said that, but I'm glad they're going with it and not being all PC about it.
Reply
Flag
Didn't Ryan Murphy also have a character use that word in "Glee"? At a certain point you have to wonder why he's so fond of throwing in cheap, cliche "oh aren't I shocking because I'm not PC." It's a step back, not cutting edge.
Reply
Flag
No, in fact Becky, the Down's character in Glee, is shielded from cruel name calling by Coach Sue Sylvester, and she is made head of the cheer squad. I find Murphy is looking at the AHS character in the exact opposite light as the Glee one
Reply
Flag
I think i liked it. I had to watch it twice to make up my mind, though. After I watched it the first time, I was left feeling like "Huh? Did I miss something?". My own little "WTF?" moment. So I rewatched it, along with the BTS clips, on OnDemand. I was at first stunned by what they got away with for being a network show (language, suggestive themes, blah blah, etc), but they needed to push the edge to make it interesting and not so copy-cat bland.

2nd episode should make-it or break-it for me. I hope I dont waste my time watching the entire season and then still being left with "WTF?"...
Reply
Flag
All the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen were opened, obviously copied from the Sixth Sense.
Reply
Flag
Very creepy and I can't wait for more. Loved hearing Twisted Nerve! (whistling song from Kill Bill, come on, ya'll didn't know that?)
Reply
Flag
One more homage: the music playing just before and during the burn victim/murderer's burn in' down the house flashback was from the famous nightmare sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Reply
Flag
I actually liked it! It was just SO strange that I'm curious where it's going. Thought it had a Twin-Peaks-meets-the-Shining thing going.
Reply
Flag
I thought the show was great!
Reply
Flag
Will give it a few more viewings we will see
Reply
Flag
Load More Comments

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    Caught on Camera With Nick Cannon High Jinx
    NEW
    NBC
  •  
    500 Questions
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    20/20
    NEW
    ABC