Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot In Cleveland / American Horror Story: My Mash Up Review.

SPOILER ALERT!  I talk about what happens on Hot In Cleveland and American Horror Story. You have been warned.  Also, this post is ridiculously long.    

     American Horror Story is a new, popular drama.  I've never seen it.  Hot In Cleveland is a TVLand original sitcom in its third season, starring Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, and Jane Leeves.  I enjoy this show.  When it was first advertised I made fun of it.  I watched the pilot; I wasn't too impressed really.  Then I didn't get the channel it aired on and I assumed it would go away.  It did not.  Luckily, it was available on Hulu, so I caught up.  It's amazing that the show is still on the air and that it is being nominated for awards.
     My very dear friend Mary enjoys the show American Horror Story.  She and I spend a lot of time talking about various television shows and movies.  We get along pretty well, but really, we don't watch a lot of the same shows, so sometimes these conversations get pretty one sided.  I go on and on about Up All Night and Hot In Cleveland while she does the chat equivalent of smiling and nodding.  The same is true when she discusses shows about vampires and American Horror Story.  Today, she extended an amusing challenge to me, and I really wanted to accept it.  Her challenge--to watch just the season finale of American Horror Story and review it.  The problem--American Horror Story is on at the same time as Hot In Cleveland.  The compromise--watch Hot In Cleveland, then then last 40 minutes of the extended season finale of American Horror Story.  The overlap was uncanny.
     The ladies in Cleveland were up to their same old (pun!) shenanigans.  Elka (Betty White) is currently dating the guy who played the dad on Frasier.  The other three ladies are being hot whilst living in Cleveland.  This is something that should irritate the hell out of me, but I'm amused.  Joy runs in the house, hiding from someone.  She's running from a woman with pruning sheers who is tired of Joy bending over and picking up the mail, because Joy is hot and the woman's husband stares.  The woman unleashes a little bit and points out the ladies' attributes.  And that's where I kind of liked what was happening.  The hot older women were proud of being older and hot.  Wendie Malick has the most amazing arms of any woman over the age of 43 (she's 61), and she fucking show them off.  It's actually pretty damn endearing.
     Elka's story line in this episode is that the old man she's dating is still about 10-15 years younger than she is, so she lies about her age (and weight on some forms about sky diving).  She takes the advice of the girls, who dole out all the life lessons they learned in LA.  Of course, all these life lessons are wrong.  That's a big part of the point.  They seem to learn this a lot.  For their story, they give "LA makeovers" to several housewives in the neighborhood.  At the end of the episode, the husbands come after their wives and say they prefer their wives the way they were, not all LA'd up.  The ladies then have a moment about embracing Cleveland.  It lasts about one minute.  Then they go back to feeling special because they're the hottest things on the block.
     It would be obvious to compare Hot In Cleveland to Golden Girls; I've done it.  I recently made the joke that it would be funny if the HiC cast just read a GG script.  Sure, it has its parallels--any show about 4 older women when one of them is Betty White will--but it's actually not the same.  Hot In Cleveland is no Community, but I still like it.  I laugh out loud at it.  Betty White it still hilarious; she has impeccable comedic timing.  The other ladies are also funny.  The writing is pretty strong.  There are so many shows that are on the air that are so much worse.  I realize that doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation, but it is.  It's a nice little show.  I'm glad it worked out its problems from the pilot.
     Then I switched the channel over to FX.  Jessica Lange was there, and then Kate Mara was holding a baby, and then a corpse was on the ground with spiders crawling from its mouth, and then a guy slits Kate Mara's throat and took the baby she was holding, and Jessica Lange was talking to police-like people.
     I watched the rest of the episode trying to figure out what the show was about.   I still have quite a few questions, but I didn't want to look it up on the internet and ruin the intrigue.  I did ask Mary how many time lines were happening and she said one.  Ok.  So, here's what I think happened:  There's this house, called the death house.  Some people call it the murder house.  Everyone who lives there is a ghost.  There is a servant / maid ghost who is generally kind.  Or at least not malicious.  Also, I think Jessica Lange lives in the house but is not a ghost.  There is a blond boy named Tate.  Tate is a psychopath.  He has killed so many people.  He raped the lady ghost who lives in the house, probably when she was alive.  She had a baby and probably died while giving birth to it.  The ghost family did not all die at the same time. In fact, the ghost lady's husband was originally going to raise the rape-baby on his own, but then he got hanged by the ghosts.  (I learned this when FX replayed the finale immediately following the finale and I watched the beginning.)  At some point a new family moved into the death house.  The new family makes an incredibly rash decision to make a baby on the butcher block table in the kitchen because their 17-year-old kid will be graduating next year and they worry the house will be too empty.  While they're making it in the kitchen, the ghosts are watching and decide that they need to teach these sex fiends a lesson about bringing a baby into the death house, the hard way.
     The best way for ghosts to teach a lesson is to attack people and confuse them in their dreams and fake kill each other.  The scene where man ghost and woman ghost kill each other for the benefit of creeping out the living people reminded me of the X-Files episode with Ed Asner and Lilly Tomlin.  They do a similar stunt to scare Mulder and Scully.  But I digress.  While the adult ghosts are scaring the adults, the ghost kids are scaring the real kid.  Apparently, Tate is hopelessly in love with Violet, the ghost girl.  I assumed she was a ghost because she was in alive kid's room and he didn't know how she got there.  That's how you know the person who you are talking to is a ghost--they never explain how they inexplicably got into your room.
     This Tate kid always has tears in his eyes.  He's a psychopath, but apparently he's also really emotional about it.  He's in love with Violet and I think maybe this affects him a lot.  He was going to kill Gabe so he could be a ghost and be with Violet to make her happy.  Then Tate got all wimpy and couldn't do it and Violet was all "I didn't say good-bye" and they made out.  I don't know the purpose of ghosts making out. They're ghosts.  They're dead.  How do they feel the magic?
     At one point Tate started to confess what he's done to the ghost dad.  (Ghost Dad!  Remember that Bill Cosby movie?  Good times.)  It was a lot of pretty bad shit.  It made me laugh; I realize this is an inappropriate response. It wasn't what he did that elicited the laughter, but he fact that he just started confessing it all as though that would redeem him some how; the way the words just poured from his mouth caused me to guffaw.  
     Have I mentioned the baby?  I wasn't sure at first if the baby was a ghost baby or not.  It's not; I also decided that a television show would have a really hard time getting a ghost baby on the air.  Stuff happens with the baby.  Over the course of the 40 minutes the ghost family decides it should raise this baby.  It is ghost lady's baby after all.  And then they decorate a Christmas tree, because now ghost families raising psycho babies celebrate Christmas--the day the savior was born.  Sure.  There probably wasn't actually that subtext to that at all, actually.  But then Tate and Kate Mara are watching the ghost family decorate the Christmas tree and Kate Mara says something menacing to Tate.  Dun-dun-dun.  CUT TO:  Three years later.
     I imagine this is a bit that fans of the show are excited about.  Jessica Lange is in a hair dresser and goes on about how she's a mother now.  By now I'm pretty sure that Jessica Lange is Tate's mother, so she's obviously rape-baby's grandmother. She's raising the ghost family's baby.  She goes home, there's blood, and this little blond three-year-old has murdered his nanny.  She says "what will I do with you?" and smiles at him.  Now, I don't know what this means, but I bet it's a huge set up for the next season.

Also, a few extra side notes--thoughts I said to the TV as I was watching:

-No, that doesn't answer the question.
-It's Joe! From Ellen!
-Is there a "shit" quotient you're trying to reach?
-You just told him you raped his wife, so I don't think he wants to hang.
-I have to pee.
-Someone's dead.  Are they all dead?  Well, at least someone is newly dead now.
-Bwawawa <<maniacal laughter>>.

Now Mary can tell me what was really happening.  And I'll tell her all about Hot In Cleveland.

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