American Horror Story

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot

51
Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Oct 05, 2011 on FX
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
339 votes
9

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT

A family recovering from a mother's miscarriage, and a father's infidelities make the decision to move into a creepy home with a complicated history. The family is introduced to a handful of eccentric characters including a psychopathic teen patient of the father, a mysterious housekeeper who isn't what she seems, a former resident of the home who murdered his family, and a southern actress with a disturbed daughter.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Pretty Funny

    8.0
    Kool I guess
  • love it

    8.0
    How can I watch the first season online? Let me know please I seen a few shows I'm hook I wanna know the hold story line
  • Pilot

    8.0
    The story is intriguing and does not call to mind anything else on television. However, the series may lose footing if the story tries to go in too many different directions. Plenty of background information is relayed in the pilot: a man with burns obscuring his face killed his family when he lived in the house; Ben cheated on Vivien with a student, so they moved to Los Angeles with Violet; Violet is a cutter, drawing her to an equally disturbed young boy, Tate. Some of the characters are fascinating in their mystery, but if too much is revealed, this element will vanish. The editing is one of the most interesting aspects of the episode - jump cuts that zoom in and out are used especially well to increase edge. There doesn't seem to be a theme that the show means to address. "American Horror Story" would indicate that the show addresses fears that concern the average American, but already so many of them are set up. Perhaps all the resources will be exhausted before the show really has a chance to develop.

    The Good:

    -"Do you ever get tired of cleaning up other people's messes?" "We're women. It's what we do."

    -The fight between Vivien and Ben is raw and realistic. It is easily the most gripping acting display of this first episode.

    The Bad:

    -Dylan McDermott. While handsome, he doesn't seem to have the chops to play on the same level with his female costars.moreless
  • Look, I think they were trying. I really do.

    6.0
    I think the show is legitimately trying to be creepy and compelling and disturbing and a horror story in serialized form, as opposed to a thriller in serialized form. That is an ambitious goal and I like it.

    American Horror Story, though... it just doesn't pull it off. At least not in the pilot.

    See, here's how horror works. You get normal and you twist it. You present the notion that something is off, not what it seems. AHS doesn't do that. It just throws everything it has at us hoping that something will be scary or disturbing. It doesn't really seem to matter what it is, from plot points to characters and imagery. If it's ever scared anyone, they'll do it. Some of it has to work at some point, right?

    And it's a shame, because any one of the concepts in the show could have carried a horror story. The maid that looks different to different people? Yeah, ok, that's pretty cool. Let's do that. But nope, we have to go do the deformed guy. Ok, so let's do that, then. But wait, no, there's the creepy neighbours. But wait, wait, here's a couple of ghosts, too. Oh, hey, wait, how about some body horror. Psycho teenagers? No? Come on!

    Ultimately, this scare-ADD thing the show has going on makes it boring and exhausting but not really scary. At some point the family at the centre of it all stops being a conduit for us to immerse ourselves in the horror and it becomes another puppet in the theatre of the absurd mess the show is running.

    Now, normally, this would be fixable. Normally, the show could calm the heck down and let its concepts breathe once it moves past pilot mode. But here... how do you actually do that when you've already introduced a decade's worth of Halloween Simpson specials? Do you phase some stuff out and bring it back again later? Do you pretend it didn't happen? Probably not.

    So, at the end of this thing I was left not awaiting another episode, but an aspirin and some soothing music. It's a shame, too. The way to do this right is actually in there, somewhere. It's just buried under a ton of other ways to do this right. Oh, well, maybe next time.moreless
  • Nothing to like about this soulless mess.

    2.0
    I couldn't have been more disappointed by this show. I'm a fan of horror, through and through. From slasher to psychological to supernatural, I love a good scare. But the best scares come from a gripping story with characters you truly care about.

    This show couldn't care less about any of that. Instead, it cares about being edgy, bold, brash, fearless, current, twisted, sexy, blah blah blah. Like other viewers, I too felt assaulted by the constant reminders of all we can get away with on FX.

    Further, it was completely uninspired and thoroughly cliche. Creepy twins? Check. Strange neighbors? Check. Crazy Christian? Check. Angry daughter? Check. Telegraphed jump scares? Check. Cryptic warnings? Check

    This "paint-by-the-numbers" approach coupled with a determination to push the envelope simply for the sake of doing so, results in a completely uninteresting journey that one endures, hoping for some payoff in the end, only to find out that there is none.

    For Pete's sake, people. Go back and watch The Exorcist. Go back and watch Psycho. Go back and watch Halloween. Heck, to some extent, watch Paranormal Activity. Keep it SIMPLE. Be CREATIVE. Give us characters we care about and feel protective of, so our heart breaks and our pulse races at the thought of malevolent forces attacking them.

    Meanwhile, aspiring horror writers and directors should view American Horror Story as the perfect model of what NOT to do.

    The danger here is that folks may be drawn in by the shock value of this mess, and may continue to watch out of morbid curiosity, resulting in favorable ratings. If that happens, then unfortunately, in an industry more and more driven by "the bottom line", we can expect to see more offerings of this sort.

    So here's hoping that folks will be offended that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk think so little of them, as to shamelessly tap into their basest instincts and expect them to put their better judgment aside, and allow themselves to be drawn into their lifeless, unoriginal, sick world that is American Horror Story.moreless
Shelby Young

Shelby Young

Leah

Guest Star

Andy Umberger

Andy Umberger

Gynecologist

Guest Star

Bianca Lawson

Bianca Lawson

Abby

Guest Star

Frances Conroy

Frances Conroy

Moira O'Hara

Recurring Role

Alex Breckenridge

Alex Breckenridge

Young Moira O'Hara

Recurring Role

Jamie Brewer

Jamie Brewer

Adelaide

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Ben: Peeking in people's windows is still a crime, even in L.A.

    • Gynecologist: So are your periods regular again?
      Vivien: Every other month. Not that I'm really complaining. After all that blood. Ben hates blood.
      Gynecologist: You having issues with arousal?
      Vivien: Not when I'm by myself.

    • Vivien: The light is different out here. it's softer.
      Violet: It's called smog.
      Ben: You should be excited, Vi. You can stop sneaking cigarettes and just start taking deep breaths.

    • Constance: Adelaide, I put on Dora the Explorer for you, so you would sit and watch it.
      Adelaide: It was Go, Diego, Go! I don't like it.
      Constance: Oh, brown cartoon characters--you can't tell the difference.

    • Vivien: Can I ask you a personal question? Do you ever get tired of cleaning up other peoples' messes?
      Old Moira: We're women--it's what we do. I just get paid for it.

    • Ben: You taking your medications?
      Tate: Yes.
      Ben: Any side effects?
      Tate: I was taking them at night, but they kept me up.
      Ben: And what did you do?
      Tate: Started taking them in the morning.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Music: Tonight You Belong to Me (Patience and Prudence), Special Death (Mirah), Twisted Nerve (Bernard Herrmann), Blood Gets Thin (Pete and the Pirates), Flickers (Son Lux), Baby, You Ain't Looking Right (Powersolo)

    • International Airdates:
      Canada: October 24, 2011 on Citytv
      Australia: November 1, 2011 on 11
      UK: November 7, 2011 on FX/FX HD
      Portugal: November 13, 2011 on FOX
      Finland: June 11, 2013 on Sub

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Violet: Great. So we're the Addams Family now.
      Referencing the creepy clan later known as the Addams Family. They began with a 1938 New Yorker cartoon, whose characters frequently reappeared (and evolved) over the next several decades. In 1964, the cartoon was made into a live-action TV series. Cancelled in 1966, the series went into syndication. It was later remade (twice) as a TV cartoon series and was the subject of two theatrical movies and one direct-to-video release.

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