Season 1, Episode 01 – Pilot, American Horror Story Recap

Season 1, Episode 01 - Pilot, American Horror Story Recap Meet Ben and Vivien Harmon, who recently moved into the haunted house with a deadly curse…

So…a couple of readers asked me to recap American Horror Story airing on FX. I will hold them accountable for my therapy bills if I get psychologically traumatized by this show. (Cue the I’M GONNA REGRET IT sound bite!)

But for a self-proclaimed horror story, I didn’t think the first episode was that scary. If anything, it was actually a bit depressing. Or maybe the word I’m looking for is disturbing. All of the characters are fucked up on some level, and more than a few of them make my skin crawl. In fact, the sanest character might be Adelaide here, who greets everyone with YOU’RE GONNA DIE IN THERE, but at least she’s predictable!

The story begins in 1978, as two children wreak havoc inside an old abandoned house, because that’s what kids used to do before the days of video games and the Internet. These annoying twins eventually get mauled by (what could be best described as) a bloodthirsty mutant baby in the basement, which is…all things considered, a pretty ~*awesome*~ way to die.
In present time, we’re introduced to a dysfunctional American family that’s about to move into the haunted house. Meet Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott), who we already know is a giant douchebag based on the fact that he wears a fedora hat. His wife Vivien (Connie Britton) recently went through a miscarriage AND caught her scumbag husband cheating, so she’s a whole bundle of joy. Their teenage daughter, Violet, is mopey and dour and angsty and miserable and emo and borderline suicidal.

In short, this family living in that house is gonna be one helluva trainwreck!

The previous homeowners actually died in the basement of the house, which would scare off most prospective buyers, but Violet is like “This place couldn’t be any deader than my soul, so whateves” and Vivien is like “At least my husband didn’t screw any bimbo here yet, so this is still a step up from my last home.”
Ben can pretend to be the reformed family man all he wants, but it doesn’t change the fact that he stuck his rod where it ain’t belong. His marriage is clearly on the rocks. Despite the multiple attempts to reconnect with his wife, Vivien keeps resisting any intimate moments between them. She wouldn’t even hold his hand, let alone perform a handy-j or do anything more. Their nonexistent sex life is the *real* American horror story.
At her new school, Violet commits the heinous crime of smoking on school property. This apparently upsets a loony health-conscious student named Leah, who then forces her to EAT THE MOTHERFUCKING cigarette as a punishment.

Violet: Hey it’s all cool, man. I’m putting out my ciggie. This is my first day here and I just wanna make my way to the Glee club without any drama…
Violet: O.o

Whenever there’s a high school, rest assured that Bianca Lawson is part of the student body somewhere. From Saved by the Bell to Pretty Little Liars, I love her ongoing quest to become the oldest and longest running teenager in television history. Give or take another decade of these teenage roles (and let’s face it, girlfriend can pull it off), I think we can officially make a game called The Sixteen Degrees of Bianca Lawson. You read it here first.
As a psychiatrist, Ben’s first patient is a mentally disturbed teenage boy called Tate. He’s an odd kid who has these psychotic fantasies of killing his classmates, but thinks he’s doing his victims a favour by removing them from the cruel human world. Calling him crazy is an understatement. Tate is a whole box of fruit loops and then some!
Tate: I kill people I like. Some of them beg for their lives. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything. It’s a filthy world we live in. It’s a filthy goddamn helpless world. And honestly, I feel like I’m helping to take them away from the shit and the piss and the vomit that are running in the streets. I’m helping to take them somewhere clean and kind.

Don’t even try to make sense of his lunacy. Just sit back and appreciate what a fucked up sad little individual he is.

Of course, Tate is a moderately good looking young guy, which means he’s considered the *heartthrob* of the show, regardless of the shit that spews out of his mouth. From what I’ve seen online, plenty of fangirls are like “omg tate is so cute, i just wanna give him a hug :x” and I am like “Really? I’m not sure he can feel you hugging him underneath his straightjacket, my dear.”
Tate forges a friendship with Violet by giving her advice on how to commit suicide properly. Remember kids, it’s down the road and not across the street. And make sure you do it in a bathtub, so the poor folks who find your body won’t have to clean up a big bloody mess.
Ben and Vivien find a bondage suit in the attic, presumably left behind by the last homeowners, who were a gay couple. BDSM fetishists, rejoice!
Ben’s libido gets a little too excited when he sees the suit, going all “WOAH I GUESS THOSE GAY DUDES WERE INTO SOME KINKY STUFF, HUH!?” And Vivien is like, “Two guys having sex isn’t the first thought that came to my mind when I saw this rubber suit, but whatever floats your boat.”
Ben Harmon is a sex maniac, giant cheating manwhore, and he can’t keep it in between his legs. With that said, he is a *hilarious* character and provides much of the laffos in this episode. It’s like this guy can’t function without constantly having sex on his mind. He is perpetually horny. And truth be told, he’s not really that different from a lot of men IRL.
You won’t find many redeeming qualities about Ben’s character, but one thing he has going for him is his undeniable sex appeal. And when I say ‘sex appeal’, I really meant ‘hot damn, have you looked at those online screenshots of Dylan McDermott’s beefy ass!?’

It helps that Ben seems to have lost his ability to wear clothes halfway into the episode, so he just struts around butt naked in his scenes. We got to see his mighty fine rear end twice in this episode. Or thrice, if you have a good memory and vivid imagination like me. *whistles innocently*

Meet Moira O’Hara, the housekeeper with an interesting duality twist. She looks like a harmless old maid to most of the characters…
…but from Ben’s point of view, Moira appears to be this young slutty temptress who wouldn’t mind cleaning a load of his wad, if you catch my drift.
Slutty Moira is like “Oh yeah, I’m gonna clean this house…STARTING WITH MY VAGINA.” In this very bizarre scene, Ben walks into the maid pleasuring herself on the armchair. Let’s hope that she washed her fingers before touching the rest of the furniture.
Ben gawks at her for practically five seconds, before the visual stimulation proves to be too much for his penis. Hey, there’s a reason why all the blood was drained from his face in this screenshot.
Unable to control his urges, Ben is masturbating ferociously in another room. I’ve never understood the distinction between an end table and other types of household tables until now, but apparently you can use the former as a mini station for jacking off. Remind me to never put anything on an end table when I’m visiting someone else’s house.
You know…this could have been a pretty erotic scene in some bizarre sort of way, had Ben not proceeded to BAWL HIS EYES OUT right after he blew his load. *wtf*
Just so we’re on the same page, Ben cried after masturbating. The dude cried like a little bitch. I’m sorry, but that’s just FUCKING HILARIOUS. I suppose he felt guilty about whacking off to another woman, which explains his reason for sobbing uncontrollably. But c’mon, look at his crying face and listen to his high-pitched wails. How can you not find this entire scene funny?
Needless to say, this is not Ben Harmon’s finest moment in life. To make matters worse, he forgot to close the curtains while crying and masturbating, which means the whole neighbourhood got to watch quite a spectacular show!
And someone certainly liked what he saw! Ooooh, Ben’s penis has a secret admirer~~~
Meanwhile, Vivien remains oblivious to the nature of the haunted house. She thinks her neighbour, Addie, is the one breaking into her home and causing mayhem in different rooms.
The much older Adelaide hasn’t updated her morbid catchphrases since 1978, while her mother Constance is a nosy woman who has an opinion on everything. These two are pretty much the neighbours from hell, but they can’t seem to stay away from the Harmon house.

Ben: She said that?
Constance: Oh, she says that to everyone.
Adelaide: *giggles*

Constance (Jessica Lange) is a hoot. She says all these cutting remarks like “You touch my kid one more time and I will break your goddamn arm!” and “Why is it always the old whore who acts the part of the moralistic prude?” What comes out of her mouth is so terribly inappropriate, yet you can’t help but laugh along with her. Constance is just a mean-spirited bitch, and I kinda love her for it.
Plus, if you think Constance is scary when she’s being friendly, just wait until you see how she acts towards her enemies. She has an epic rivalry with Haggard Moira, and there’s clearly some history of animosity between the two women. In fact, Constance gives her one of the greatest threats ever.

Constance: I’d move if I were you. *glares* Don’t make me kill you again!


Slutty Moira pretty much forces herself on her employer, going all “YOUR ERECTION NEEDS A GOOD CLEAN SCRUB~~~” Ben puts up a weak fight, but he’s helpless towards her seduction. It’s kind of hard to say no when a woman pushes her breast onto your face, y’know?
Unfortunately for Ben, it seems like someone always catches him in the middle of a lewd sexual act. In this case, poor Violet witnessed a disturbing exchange between her father and the maid.


What’s interesting is that there actually isn’t a huge age difference between Dylan McDermott (50 years old) and Frances Conroy (58 years old). In fact, the younger Moira played by Alex Breckenridge (29 years old) is at least two decades younger than Mr. McDermott. So, knowing the age gaps kinda messes your perspective when viewing these scenes.
With his sexual frustration at an all-time peak, Ben lashes out at his wife for being so unapproachable and unforgiving towards his past indiscretions. In this scene, we see the differences in talent between Connie Britton, who is an amazing actress, and Dylan McDermott, who is an amazing…um, yeller.
Their argument is also much funnier if you watch it on mute, because it just looks like the two of them are exchanging ridiculous faces at each other.
IMO Vivien owned so much with very valid points during the argument, whereas Ben just came across as a total douchenozzle. Here are some highlights of their fight:

Vivien: I’m not punishing you, you narcissistic asshole! I’m trying to figure out how to forgive you for having sex with one of your students. You want me to have SEX with you!? I can’t even look at your face, Ben, without seeing the expression on it while you were PILE-DRIVING her in OUR BED!!!

Vivien: And you buried your sorrow in some twenty-one-year-old’s pussy.
Vivien: *spitefully* My hero.
Ben: I don’t even know how to say this without coming off as an asshole…
Vivien: Just go ahead, really! Never stopped you before!
And then, the two of them have angry make-up sex with each other, because that’s how they usually resolve conflict on television. Pfft, why would the married couple work out the problems in their relationship realistically when they can just have sexy times with each other?
Move over, Jason Voorhees! There’s a new masked monster in horror fiction! Meet the Rubber Man, specializing in anonymous sex with MILFS. Vivien thinks this is just her husband in bondage gear, preparing for round two. However, the show makes it evident that ~*someone else*~ is dressed in the rubber suit instead. Ooh, how kinky!
The sex was a huge let down considering the outfit he’s wearing. You’d think someone called the Rubber Man would be a little more adventurous in his lovemaking, and maybe throw in some kinky bondage stuff here or there, but it was like…oh, the missionary position, really?
You know you’re a disappointing lover when the chick has to work hard and fantasize in her head in order to have a pleasurable time. Nonetheless, the Rubber Man managed to rape Vivien long enough to impregnate her, so we can look forward to some Rosemary’s Baby monstrosity in the near future.
Meanwhile, Violet and Tate lure the school bully into the basement with the promise of scoring drugs, but it’s really an intimidation tactic to scare the beejeebus out of her.
I think this scene might be scarier if I could actually see what’s going on during the attack. Mostly, the screen just flicks between complete darkness and the occasional glimpse of an ugly deformed creature.

Is it alive? Is it dead? Is it even human? WTF is this horrid thing!?

Whatever this creature is, it definitely could use a manicure of some sort. Or at least a nail clipper.
Considering all the shit that went down in the basement thus far, I think Leah should count her lucky stars that she manages to get out of the house alive. Whether she’s still alive on the ~*inside*~ is a whole different matter though.
The scariest part about this screenshot is that I’m not even sure what’s more evil. The mutant baby looks ghastly as hell, but Tate is just fucked up on some other inhuman dimension. *shudders*
Even Violet is terrified of Tate after witnessing a glimpse of his dark side, and she goes all: “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!? Look, I just want to be a regular emo teenager who cuts my wrists, listens to Morrissey songs, posts inane poetry online, and hates the world in the peaceful solitude of my bedroom, okay!? Don’t get me involved in your demented torture schemes anymore!!!”
Ben comes face to face with the man who spied on his wank-and-weep session earlier in the episode. The guy’s name is Larry Harvey (Dennis O’Hare) and what a surprise, he is yet another psychologically damaged creepo on the show!
Larry used to live in the haunted house, but claims that he was driven to madness and eventually burned his whole family alive. He was put into the psychiatric ward, but was recently released since they discover he has a terminal disease. Now, Larry warns Ben to escape from the house before the darkness consumes him too.
Does anyone have a hard time connecting with Larry’s character? It’s hard to feel for someone whose character introduction goes like NICE TO MEET YOU, I BARBEQUED MAH TWO DAUGHTERS! His actions are downright sociopathic, and he’s so emotionally detached from any sort of moral compass. At least Tate resembled a human being during certain moments. Larry is just a straight-up nutjob.
The episode ends with Vivien’s pregnancy announcement, except that we know the baby daddy is most likely the mysterious bondage fetishist…
Poor Ben. The guy spills his semen pretty much everywhere, including twenty-one-year-old students and certain end tables around the house, yet he can’t hit on target when it comes to his wife. Weak effort, man.


  1. Great recap, as usual. I literally screamed when Bianca Lawson appeared on my TV. I'm convinced she will never age or die or any of that jazz. She has been playing teenagers since 1993 and I don't see her stopping anytime soon. But on another note, I cannot wait to see how you handle the rest of the episodes. It just gets better and better.

    • Yeah, American Horror Story is a fun show and it's deliciously twisted. It's not something I would've watched without some prompting, but I'm glad I gave it a try and I'm gonna continue with the rest of the episodes.

      And seriously, someone needs to compile a list of all the teenage roles that Bianca Lawson has played so far. She has an *impressive* resume.

  2. I'm so glad that you're recapping this! I do warn you though that you may want to watch some of the episodes in the day time.

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