Lack of character connection creates disconnect

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Unfortunately, the perfect television series simply does not exist. Oftentimes when a show has been running for several years, the writing will hit a weak spot and many fans will push through and wait for the day the show returns to its original glory. Much to my dismay, that’s how I feel about Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s “American Horror Story: Hotel.”

The fifth season of “American Horror Story” is a definite blemish in the history of this wildly popular anthology show. “Hotel” opens the doors to the Hotel Cortez, a hotel in modern-day Los Angeles that houses more death than guests. Quite frankly, that is basically all this season consisted of—death. And excessive amounts of sex.

Yes, this is a horror show, but what separates this season’s gruesome activities from those of the previous seasons is the substance, or lack thereof. The characters are just murdering for murder’s sake. There are no complexities, no remorse. How many times can Lady Gaga get annoyed and slit someone’s throat before it gets old? If I’m going to dedicate nearly twelve hours of my life to this story, I want it to be a bit more complicated and emotion-driven. It really boils down to not connecting with the characters.

However, in typical “American Horror Story” style, I did find the characters’ background stories to be quite fascinating. The writers always do an excellent job crafting these strange, dark pasts. I only wish we got to see more of that depth in their present timeline. It’s almost as if by the time the audience gets to meet them, they’re jaded and numb to the world, so their traumatic pasts mean nothing.

One thing I did enjoy was seeing a few characters from the past seasons make appearances at the Hotel Cortez, so we get to see little ways that the seasons are connected.

As far as the plot goes, there are three main threads: vampires, ghosts and serial killers. Personally, I’m over the vampire phenomenon, and what’s worse is that this season did nothing particularly creative with vampire lore. They just wanted to drink blood, which brings us back to the lack of substance present in this series. The ghost aspect was okay, but it was done better in the first season.

The serial killer story line had the most potential when the season began, introducing us to the Ten Commandments Killer, whose murders follow the ten commandments in the Bible. While the premise is intriguing, the resolution was fiercely disappointing and sloppy.

Overall, “Hotel” was a bit all over the place. Plot lines, both major and minor, were not developed well. Most of the characters were mere echoes of interesting people. Admittedly, the season got more interesting in the last few episodes, but the payoff is minimal. Out of the first five seasons of this series, “Hotel” is by far my least favorite.