Nov 9 2011 3:30pm

Romance in an American Horror Story

American Horror Story poster

At first glance, it appears that An American Horror Story is about a couple trying to work through their issues. If it were a book, it’d be a really heavy contemporary featuring the Harmon family: The mother (Vivien) recently miscarried, and the father (Ben) had an affair. Their daughter, Violet, has a number of issues. The entire family picks up and leaves Boston to start a new life in Los Angeles.

It’s interesting, I generally don’t read or watch horrors. I’m a giant pansy like that, the whole over active imagination. (; I still don’t like driving through woods when I’m alone in the dark. And I didn’t even think The Blair Witch Project was that scary...while I was watching it!) I’m hooked on An American Horror Story, however, because it’s just SO off the wall. There are characters who have been “introduced,” or at least appeared, that you don’t know anything about. I started considering the “romance aspect” of the show when I read a book that could probably be classified as a romantic horror.

Anyway, the show. In the show, you don’t know who is or isn’t a ghost—the ghosts, spirits, what have you, look entirely real, human, and alive. So you can understand why I’m a bit leery, then, of pairing people up currently, but I think it’s fascinating the stories that are already there.

American Horror Story Cast

The house itself, known as “The Murder House,” is almost a main character, with all the humans/individuals—alive or dead—circling around it.

Each group or couple who has lived in the house has some aspect of romance to it, barring one—the sorority sisters who were murdered. The house’s inhabitants include the Harmons, the gay couple, Constance and her husband (which is also where Moira comes in), the pyro man and his family, and then the doctor and his socialite wife. Everyone was either married or in a committed relationship.

Ben, Vivien, and Violet in American Horror Story

Violet, the daughter, has fallen in love (or at least teenage lust) with Tate. I’d thought he was alive and kicking until this last episode. But now it seems pretty clear (but not yet confirmed) that he’s a ghost. Ben’s a psychiatrist, and Tate is one of his patients. He’s understandably upset about Violet seeing Tate. There are holes and gaps that would never fly in a book, but are a huge part of the show. Here, it’s the writers reeling us in and leaving us hanging.

The people who lived in the house right before the Harmons did was a gay couple who everyone thinks died in a murder/suicide. You learn, instead, that the PVC suit man killed them. It seems they were on the verge of reconciling right before they died, or at least reaching a critical moment. Of course we’re also pretty sure PVC suit man impregnates Vivien. (See? This show is crazy!)

Connie Britton as Vivien in American Horror Story

Young Moira and Ben are an interesting side story as well. Ben seems really noble—at first—and great hero material. But you learn that Ben isn’t a very good person. It seems like he’s trying to be good now, and yet he still has all these secrets and lies. The question then, is his love, and the fact that he’s really trying, get him points? He does want to resist Moira and tries to put her off. Do you think he’s redeemable as a romance hero?

The fact that Ben and Vivian had been trying to work out their issues is romantic and follows along the lines of an actual romance. But until episode 5, it’s hard to see them actually splitting or staying apart for long. Perhaps the house is against (live) couples falling or staying in love? For some reason I don’t think the house will let them split up, either. At least not physically.

The original couple who lived there was a doctor who wanted to impress his wife who was a socialite. Do you think they were in love when they first moved in? He must have felt something for her to build such a show piece.

Dylan McDermott as Ben in American Horror StoryAn American Horror Story is an insane blend of horror and sex, scare tactics and romantic relationships. From the start, Ben is trying, and Vivien says they still love each other. I guess the question is, does history and love carry the day —even against a house and spirits trying to kill you?

I imagine we won’t find out for a while, because the network and writers want it to go on.

I can’t help but hope though, that all the characters find someone, and get their happy endings. Maybe that’s why I, a self-declared horror wuss, can’t quit this show.


Limecello is a reader, reviewer, lawyer, foodie and discusser of all things random. You can also visit her at her blog or Twitter.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kiwi
almost makes me want to watch.... at least if it werent for the whole no cable thing, of course
2. Leslie Dicken
Okay, okay, here I am. I still haven't watched Halloween - Part 2. Hard to do when I'm never ALONE in the house (and don't want the kids to see/hear ANY of it).

Not even sure WHY I like this show, honestly. I'm not a horror fan at all, but the way they write the storyline has me hooked. They don't explain the characters and their motivations right up front -- especially the secondary characters. I mean, who is a ghost and who isn't? Exactly how many murders have taken place in that house?!

The first episode with Dylan's magnficient butt and self-love scene was still the best, I think. ;-)

And what's up with the rubber-suit man??!!! LOL!
Lime Cello
3. Limecello
@Kiwi - boo! Any chance of seeing it with a friend or borrowing an "on demand" type pass?

@Leslie - RIGHT?! PVC Man is FREAKY! I really thought he took Violet and that she was a goner! Especially since he killed the gay couple like he did...
I'm wondering if the writers will have more such Dylan scenes, because he's getting pretty detestible. I'm also wondering how many more people they can kill off, considering it's like 2-4 people each episode - wouldn't the house/people have been investigated before then? O_o Although now I just thought of someone trying to get a priest there to exorcise it and the House taking him down...

I don't know why I watch either! I only heard radio previews, but then I saw all these people with their O_O WTF comments and... I had to look. And now I can't stop because I have this need to know how it works out!
4. Joely
I loooove a good horror movie, and this show continues to surprise me with how much they're getting away with on television (granted, it's cable, but still pretty gutsy)!

I hope it lasts long enough to answer some of my questions (I hesitate to invest time in new series because they're inevitably cancelled right when I begin to love them!) I want to know WHY the house is able to keep and hold these ghosts. I can see a ghost or two lingering because of how they ended...but ALL of them? Even when some of them (like the maid) really want to leave?

I love the risks this show is taking. There have been some really powerful moments, and I love to be kept guessing. Who's alive and who's not? Who's the man in black plastic and did he really impregnate Vivien?

As for HEAs, I guess it's going to be pretty hard to give them a happy ending when so many of them are dead. *winks* I especially feel for the maid. The scene with her mother killed me!
Lime Cello
5. Limecello
@Joely - agree! I don't know why Moira didn't leave - although... yeah, she only said she wanted to go see her mother. But when her mother asked her to go with her she said she couldn't. Other people have suggested the characters are forced to stay around the house - but then Moira came in for a while. And then Hayden was at the Police Station, and Tate had gone out with Ben during their session away from the house. So confusing! I think there are contradictions - it must be, right?

Ugh right? Poor Moira - getting shot like that. :X But, why then did she become this evil predatory vamp?
Annnnnnd yeah I guess the show won't have a happy ending. But maybe? You don't think there's any hope for Vivien and Ben working things out?
6. Joely
For me, no. She gave him a second chance -- which not everybody would do. Then he lied and lied and lied. It was implied in the last episode that he got the younger woman pregnant after they'd moved (unless I misunderstood -- there's so much going on) -- so he was still sleeping with her even during the reconciliation. Then to be soo whiny and weak. It irritated me when he just stood there dumbfounded and let the scarred guy whack her with the shovel and bury her.

It's funny in a way. He's so remorseful -- I've never seen a hero cry like him. :-) But he's too weak-willed and can't tell the truth to save his life!
Jessica Novak
7. jessn1017
Was reading this post while watching this week's episode. After this week's episode... is it wrong of me to be rooting for the Tate/Violet relationship to have a happy ending and provide him with some kind of redemption? I don't really care all that much about any of the characters, none of them are very likable. I'm not even really sure about why I watch the show, other than that it is just so twisted I'm trying to figure out where the heck the writers are going with all of it and how they are going to manage not succumbing to "second-season-of-Lost-itis". But, I really found myself, if not liking Tate and Violet in this episode, at least hoping for a happy ending for them, even though I a) find what Tate did reprehensible, and b) am pretty sure there is no such thing as a "happy ending" in this show.
P.S. @Limecello and @ Joely - If I remember my timelines of the show correctly, the only times those characters who have been revealed to be ghosts have left the house were on the two Halloween episodes, and I was thinking it was because the whole mythology behind Halloween was, that was the one night of the year that spirits could walk the Earth unhindered - thus why the high school spirits had to leave when the sun was rising and all the other spirits returned to the house at sunrise, and why Hayden disappeared when she did. Just a theory, and I will freely admit if I am wrong on my timelines (it's hard to keep track with this show)!
Lime Cello
9. Limecello
@Joely I definitely agree- especially with this latest episode. Especially as you said with the previous one we found out Ben was STILL CHEATING after they'd moved to LA! WTF, Ben! Vivian should have stabbed Ben instead of just cutting him in Boston. I really like the cop that's showed up... but I'm also scared they're going to kill him off. Sad!
And good point though - I wonder if Ben *is* the hero? Not that some authors have a problem killing heroes off - have you read/watched the George RR Martin series? :P

@jessn1017 I had never really been into the Tate/Violet relationship until this week. I don't see how they'll ever be together - but maybe Tate can help Violet some how become normal/well adjusted/happy so she *can* end up with someone? Tate was really sweet, and it's nice to see that he actually does love Violet, even though he's totally a lost soul. I wonder how - or if - Tate can even cope with what he did when he remembers.
And I'm so with you with the not knowing why I even watch but yet HAVE to.

Hmmm and you might be right about them walking around only on Halloween. So Candace must be alive - but what do the ghosts do when they're not "visible"? And, doesn't Tate realize something is weird?

Also - was he the creepy demon looking thing in the first episode?

All so strange!
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