Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for “American Horror Story: NYC” and descriptions of sex and violence.
Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” (AHS) is arguably his most successful television show. AHS has been nominated for hundreds of awards over 11 years and has developed a different theme for each season as recurring actors take on different roles each season.
I have watched “American Horror Story” religiously since season 5, “AHS: Hotel,” and yet, it has started to feel like a chore to watch every Wednesday night. The show’s plotlines have significantly downgraded over the years. Simply put, they are boring.
On the night the first two episodes of “AHS: NYC” were released, I was excited. Though very quickly I wished I was doing anything other than watching the show. So far, the season has followed the stories of several white gay men living in New York City in the ’80s as serial killers specifically targeting gay men are killing them off one by one.
In the first few episodes, we are very slowly introduced to each character as they complain about their lives even before the murders truly begin. The two most central characters are Patrick Read and Gino Barelli, who are in a relationship and fight very often throughout the show.
Patrick (Russell Tovey) is by far one of the most frustrating characters I’ve seen on AHS. He is a gay detective who recently separated from his wife, one of the very few women in the show. He is a very shady character and is even shown in one episode accidentally killing a young man during BDSM malpractice while on drugs.
Gino (Joe Mantello) is a reporter for The Downtown Native who writes about the rise in hate crimes against gay men. He is targeted by one of the serial killers, the Mai Tai Killer, for several episodes before Patrick kills the serial killer.
The other murderer in the show is Big Daddy, an extremely buff, leather-clad man who seems to be targeting people with an unknown disease. Although it is hard to tell as he was shown killing Patrick’s ex-wife, who as far as the audience knows did not have the disease. The show has not yet shown exactly who this man is or who he is working with.
“AHS: NYC” only features a handful of women; Dr. Hannah Wells, played by Billie Lourd; Barbara Read, played by Leslie Grossman; Kathy Pizazz, played by Patti LuPone and three activist lesbians — Fran, KK and Lita — played by Sandra Bernhard, Clara McGregor and Quei Tann respectively. Overall, they get very little combined screen time and have yet to pass the Bechdel test.
Nothing can save this season from its boring plot that is going nowhere and the harmful stereotypes that the season is portraying about the LGBTQ community.
I am honestly disappointed in this season because it had a lot of potential to be interesting. Serial killers and the queer community of NYC could do so much. Instead, I sit through 50 minutes of white gay men complaining and fighting with each other for only a few minutes of the action that “American Horror Story” usually delivers.
Additionally, the idea of a murderer hunting the main cast has been done before in most seasons, and this time there is no punch to it — just hate crimes. This season is just an old cop show that they decided to add some LGBTQ characters to. Perhaps Ryan Murphy is trying to make up for never adding many queer male characters to any of his shows (and when he does, they are often killed off very quickly).
Aside from the overused plot, Murphy has made a detrimental mistake this season by portraying the LGBTQ community as unhappy, hypersexual and aggressive individuals.
Murphy’s characters this season are constantly fighting amongst each other, and there are only a handful of sweet moments within the relationships in the show. The more dominant characters in the relationship are shown to be manipulative or abusive and the other characters come back just as aggressively or are shown to be depressed afterward.
“American Horror Story’ is known to have many sexual scenes — consensual and nonconsensual — in all of its seasons. However, in “AHS: NYC,” there are many scenes that portray malpractice in BDSM and the harmful stereotype that sex is the only thing holding several LGBT relationships together.
In fact, it is the idea of sex that seems to drive a lot of the scenes to happen. Zachary Quinto’s character Sam has manipulated many men throughout the first eight episodes with the prospect of sex only to lock them in cages for days or kill them, whether on accident or on purpose.
The portrayal of aggression from the LGBT community is extremely harmful. While the season is implying that these crimes are all hate crimes, so far, the crimes have been committed all by gay men. Though it is unknown if Big Daddy is a part of the LGBT community, it has been heavily implied as he has personal ties to a few of the characters.
In the seventh episode of “AHS: NYC,” there is actually a call to action from Gino for the LGBT community to take back their lives through acts of violence. He calls for them to use their shame and anger as an act to aggressively defend themselves.
Overall, “AHS: NYC” is a disappointing addition to the series that has been in a constant downward spiral. Last season,” American Horror Story: Double Feature” also received a lot of backlash due to its confusing plot and lack of connection between the two parts of the season. Personally, I think that Murphy should have cut the show off after season 8, “AHS: Apocalypse.” That season tied most of the previous seasons together in order to finish an ultimately compelling story.
Now, it seems as though Murphy is grasping at straws. It has become clear over the years that the show's success has relied solely on the fans.
Over the summer, Vulture reported that AHS fan accounts all over the world were going on strike due to the fact that Murphy refused to release any information on the upcoming season. These fan accounts were tired of doing his marketing for the new season for free.
On Sept. 29, 2022, only three weeks before the release date, both Ryan Murphy Productions and the American Horror Story Instagram accounts posted the first glimpse at the new season. From Oct. 4 to Oct. 10, the AHS Instagram account slowly released an official cast list that did not feature many of the reoccurring actors from previous seasons.
Most notably, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters did not participate in this season, and they are arguably the most popular actors in the franchise. Both of the actors have appeared in every season of AHS until now, except for “AHS: 1984.”
In response to not returning to American Horror Story, Paulson told Newsweek, “Momma’s tired!” I think she speaks for all of us. I am tired. The fan accounts are tired. Even the actors are tired. As much as I love “American Horror Story,” it has definitely overstayed its welcome.
The last two episodes of “American Horror Story: NYC” will air on FX on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 10 p.m.