The Ryan Murphy Effectby krista kurisaki on Sep, 21 2012
Fall is upon us, a season that many associate with sweaters, color-changing leaves, and the occasional (or maybe not so occasional) cram sessions for midterms. For me, however, this fall can be summed up into two words: Ryan Murphy.
That’s right. Ryan Murphy. To some, a pioneering writer and director who brought viewers some of the most talked about and touching television moments of all time. To others, the face of the “Ryan the Troll Murphy” meme and plot continuity’s worst enemy. However, whichever side of the argument you stand on, you cannot ignore Murphy’s success and mass appeal. His shows have spanned multiple genres and promoted a variety of situations and relationships. Who else could merge music and television so seamlessly on Glee while creating a world of dark secrets and family tragedy in American Horror Story?
So whether you’re a closeted shower singer (me), avid viewer of LEGEN-wait for it-DARY comedies (me), or a fan of the twisted and paranormal (strangely, also me), Murphy’s got something tailored for your enjoyment this fall. Let’s check out the highlights.
Glee: Both Murphy’s biggest success and most obvious weakness. A show that has smashed records, redefined a generation, and somehow bridged the gap between Journey and Justin Bieber. What began as a simple musical comedy about an underdog glee club and their dedicated director has quickly morphed into a platform for social awareness. In the last season alone, Glee dealt with sensitive topics such as teenage sexuality, suicide, and domestic abuse – though not always to unanimous acclaim. Some have accused it of losing its original magic and becoming a hot mess of tribute episodes, ineffective guest stars, and snarky one-liners. This season, however, Murphy looks to turn that all around by introducing several new locations and fresh talent to the mix. Last week’s season premiere “The New Rachel” attracted 7.41 million American viewers and has been well received by the public, offering a satisfying preview to the new direction (no pun intended) of season four. And if the brilliant mashup of Britney Spears and Aerosmith by new members Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist in last night’s episode is any indication of what’s to come, it’s clear that at long last #gleeisback.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9:00 PM on FOX.
American Horror Story: Asylum: Honestly, I’ve never been a horror film fanatic. I’m more the person who runs screaming out of the neighborhood haunted house, clutching onto the sleeves of a friend. True story. So I don’t quite know what I was thinking when I decided to give this show a shot. Fortunately, I did and after episode one, I was hooked. Somehow, it took marital issues, The Black Dahlia, and undead demon babies and incorporated them into an arresting, if not entirely outrageous plot. In a radical move, Ryan Murphy killed off nearly the entire cast of season one and decided to make the show an anthology, meaning that season two will consist of entirely new characters, settings, and scares. You’ve probably already seen the viral teaser videos circulating the web and offering clues about the future of the show (don’t worry, I don’t understand them either). As of now, we know that it will take place in an asylum on the East Coast and will feature returning fan favorites Jessica Lange and Evan Peters, among others, while also casting Jenna Dewan of Step Up and Adam Levine (yes, the one in Maroon 5) in lead roles. Both risqué and psychotic, American Horror Story: Asylum looks to thrill yet another audience this season. Only one question remains: Are you ready to get committed?
American Horror Story: Asylum premieres Wednesday Oct. 17 at 10:00 PM on FX.
The New Normal: From the beginning, I had doubts about Murphy’s latest television venture. After all, how much more modern could a family get? The formulas between the two shows seemed so similar that I doubted the program had the essence to stand on its own. The pilot had its moments, but was often dragged down by stereotypes and stinging quips that made me cringe more often than laugh. However, the show hits its stride in the third episode “Baby Clothes,” seamlessly incorporating both the hilarity and heart it needs. Justin Bartha stands out as the sensible doctor of the couple, the Ross to Broadway vet Andrew Rannells’ flamboyant Rachel. And as soon as Rannells showed off his acting chops during a face-off with a homophobic man in a clothing store, I was sold. But even for those who require more than a tear-jerking monologue to convince them to tune in, I’d advise them to give The New Normal a chance. If he can elevate his main characters above their stereotypical molds and keep the plot quirky and relatable, Ryan Murphy may very well have another hit on his hands.
The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30 PM on NBC.
Featured photo credit: Gage Skidmore