When “American Horror Story” aired in its first season last year, it gained a sort of notoriety for both its ability to maintain a moody setting and its preposterous storytelling.
Starting with entirely new characters and a different setting, the second season is subtitled “Asylum.” It throws away everything from the first season while maintaining the same level of insanity and becoming a bit more polished in the process.
The majority of the show takes place in an insane asylum called Briarcliff Manor in 1964, a place where we learn that more than 46,000 people have died during its operation. Sister Jude, played by Jessica Lange, is a nun running Briarcliff who believes that mental illness is a manifestation of sin. She often resorts to whipping the bare buttocks’ of her patients as a form of punishment.
Opposite Sister Jude is Dr. Arthur Arden, played by James Cromwell, a physician who believes in science over spirits and has a fondness for lobotomies performed without anesthesia. In between are Lana Winters, played by Sarah Paulson, an investigative journalist, and Kit Walker, played by Evan Peters, a convicted murderer who is adamant about his innocence.
The show also includes hints about aliens, exorcists, a bloody ghost and a collection of inmates with varying physical and mental deformities who throw their feces at people.
Technically, “American Horror Story” isn’t a great show. While slightly better than last season, the story still feels as though it was written with the dexterity of a seven-year-old playing with dinosaurs and army men.
This, however, along with its new setting, is also what makes the show perversely fun. Time can only tell if it maintains this level of craziness, but at the very least fans can expect an interesting ride ahead of them.