Warning: The following contains spoilers from tonight’s American Horror Story season 12 episode one “Multiply Thy Pain” directed by Jessica Yu and written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Halley Feiffer.
American Horror Story turns 12 this year and you’d never know it; it’s like the Ryan Murphy-Brad Falchuk show has never had any work down in the Nip/Tuck sense of the word. It’s as young and virbrant as it was back in 2011.
Just when you think the series is showing crow’s feet, and has gone to loopy ends, i.e. clever-wielding pilgrims (AHS season six My Roanoke Nightmare), Murphy and Falchuk glam it up with a curve ball headlining star (here we have Kim Kardashian in a rare non-reality TV role, changing up from Lady Gaga in seasons past), and a millennial take on Rosemary’s Baby. Yep, no guessing which horror film this season is based on (however, that is a fun game to play with friends). This season looks as posh, as cool, and sexy as a Prada dress on Madison Ave and you wanna hang out with these New Yorkers despite how creepy and inappropriate they are.
However, instead of satanic neighbors hanging around Mia Farrow’s apartment building like in the 1968 Roman Polanski movie, we get cryptic high class folk hanging around in public places in Manhattan.
Emma Roberts plays famed actress Anna Victoria Alcott, a Michelle Williams type who has gone from being on a CW show, to an indie movie that has morphed her fate into an award-winning actress. She’s trying to have a baby with her icy hubby, Dex Harding, played by Matt Czuchry. Note how she wears a pink winter cap (symbolism: girl!) and a baby blue wool coat (boy!). He may or may not still have something for the girl who literally got away in his life, his first wife, Adelaide. That still irks Anna. As it should.
Anna is undergoing an embryo treatment from Dr. Hill, the best doctor in the city who can do so, played by Denis Hare who has a surgical staff clad in red like they’re fresh from David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. Outside of that bizarro, there’s a lot of other crazy stuff happening to Anna as her career is on an ascent (she just booked her first late-night gig on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen), i.e. there’s a black cloaked, feminine-looking figure who’s in bed with her. When Anna wakes, the figure flees the apartment. Also, Anna is left with blood on the carpet, as though she’s just left the baby.
There’s a smoking goth lady in red boots and gloves who follows her around in the city; toward the onset of the episode we find her looking into a nest outside Anna’s building that has an embryo in it. Oh, so no big deal per Dex. “Maybe she’s just trying to have a baby,” he tells Anna when freaky lady is outside Dr. Hill’s office building. Anna is natch the wiser: “I don’t think she’d be smoking if she was trying to get pregnant.” Dummy!
And there’s old Mrs. Preecher, who also freaks Anna out in public (“I know you” she tells Anna at the fertility office; “Thanks for watching” answers Anna not getting it, “You are her!” she exclaims). That’s a normal run-in, but old Mrs. Preecher winds up as one of the red-clad nurses toward the end when Anna’s finishing up her embryo treatment. The elder reveals a long tongue and decides to kiss Anna. Let’s not forget Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), the artist who likes to come up from behind at her own gallery showings, specifically behind Anna.
The only normal person in Anna’s life seems to be her publicist and confidante, Siobhan, played by Kim Kardashian. How’s Kim’s acting? She plays a dead-on Type A entertainment industry type who champions her doubting client that her life and career are great. You feel like Kim is channeling her mom-anager Kris Jenner with the greatest of homage. She’s perfect for the part. Everyone calm down, it’s not like Kim is playing Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Siobhan has also battled with fertility issues, but she’s not envious of Anna’s progress “Your joy is my joy.”
But gosh, Anna, what’s wrong with you? Why so freaked out?
As Siobhan tells her client, “You have a penchant for turning dreams into nightmares.”
Then again, perhaps it’s Anna who isn’t the freak in this freak show. The season has been billed to be a feminist take on Rosemary’s Baby. We’ll wait and see if Mama Anna let’s it rip.
MIA in episode one are this season’s players Evan Peters, Cara Delevinge, and Michaela Jae Rodriguez.
The season is based on Danielle Valentine’s thriller novel, Delicate Condition, which follows a woman who is convinced that a sinister figure is going to great lengths to make sure her pregnancy never happens. We get that gist when the cloaked figure appears at the end of the episode (or is it really the beginning? The entire episode takes place “a week earlier”); the person having written the cryptic message on Anna’s mirror in liptsick: “Don’t Do It Anna.”
Our advice this season when it comes to the 12th go-round of American Horror Story, “Do do it.”