Sunday, April 12, 2015


People are attracted to certain television programs if they are able to find commonalities from the show to our society. We want to see how the show relates to the realities of our society.  

Since American Horror Story: Asylum is different from most television programs out today, it can be a little more difficult to see the show as realistic. If anything, the characters in the program portray the realness of Asylum. The program reflects realness through the characters emotions and actions. Characters such as Lana Winters and Kit Walker act like people we would encounter in our daily lives. Lana wants to do more with her job as a journalist and Kit does what he needs to provide for his family. How the actors portray these characters make them seem real or the audience sees them as someone they know. Some of the events that occur in the asylum appear realistic such as the treatment of the patients. They portray the treatment of the patients in a way that it feels like the audience is in the asylum with them and can feel how they are being treated poorly.   

Values represented can help the audience to relate to a show. A variety of societal and cultural values are represented in American Horror Story: Asylum. Most of these values are reflective of the time of which the show is set (1960s). Some of the societal values that are represented is that woman are supposed to be “clean” and not expose themselves and that men have the “power” in regards to jobs and making decisions. More of the counterculture values are represented in the show such as females taking leadership roles and standing up against the previous cultural values placed for women in America.

American Horror Story: Asylum also challenges mainstream societal and cultural values. The nature of the program goes against typical drama television programs. Asylum seeks to show viewers what the societal and cultural values are in the 1960s, but then they show how characters go against these values such as Lana Winters and Sister Jude. 

Contextual and social issues are both clearly referenced and embedded in the plot of the show. Social issues such as prejudice against interracial marriage and gay couples are shown clearly in early episodes. Lana Winters actually ends up in Briarcliff due to Sister Jude not being accepting of her sexual preference. Other issues such as the treatment of the patient are embedded in the plot. The audience sees throughout the season how the patients are taken advantage of just because they are diagnosed with a mental illness. The workers see and treat them as “the other” and do not belong with the rest of society. 

Ordinary personal issues that are recognizable in Asylum are relationship issues. This can be recognized with almost every character in the show. For example, Kit is married to Alma but is brought to the asylum when he is accused of being Bloody Face. While at Briarcliff, he meets Grace, another patient, and the two have a romance. The audience can see later in the season that Kit lives a
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polygamy lifestyle with Grace and Alma. Issues arise between the two women and it is Kit that has to help them get along with one another. Another ordinary personal issues that the audience can see is the characters issues in making personal decisions. This can be seen with Lana Winters in deciding to keep the baby even though she was raped and her decision to write a book about what happened to her at Briarcliff even though she made up some of the material. 

Since the characters in the program are relatable in some way, the viewers are able to recognize their own fallibility in the characters. The mistakes, lessons, and the expectation that characters learn throughout the season of Asylum, are ones that viewers can relate to. They recognize the fallibility of the characters and therefore reflect the fallibility in their own lives. An example of this is that Lana Winters has certain expectations when it comes to writing and revealing the secrets about Briarcliff. She learns that there is fallibility in her expectations which leads her to becoming a patient at the asylum. Viewers can relate to this in that they might have set expectations for something to happen a certain way. When this expectation is not met, the viewers recognize their own fallibility in the expectations they have set.  

Trends and fads, intertextuality, and intention play a role in showing how a program relates to the realities of our society. The main evidence of trends seen in American Horror Story: Asylum are through the clothing the characters wear and characters homes. The viewers see images of the characters’ houses, which are decorated to match the trends of the 1960s. These images are also seen through the characters clothing in which they match the fashion trends of the 1960s. These trends can be relatable to the viewer today in that society has gone through these types of trends for years. The clothing that the characters wear might follow a certain fashion trend that we see today. The trends detected in the program make the show appear realistic to the audience.  

There are few intertextual reference to other media and/or real events and people. The show is set (for the most part) in the 1960s, but there are little references made. Some of the intertextual references are references to WWII in the episodes “I am Anne Frank” and an older film being played during the episode “Nor’easter.” 

The attributed intention of American Horror Story: Asylum is to scare the audience through horror elements while making the show seem realistic. Many horror TV shows or movies are not very realistic in nature such as vampires and werewolf’s. Much of this show is based on human beings and the horrors they have to deal with in the asylum. The audience is more likely to get scared or frightened by something that happens to humans because it feels more real. This attributed intention is more to persuade the audience than informing them. The writers goal is to get the audience to be scared and make them think in each episode. This takes some persuasion to get the audience to feel and think how the creators of the show want them to. 

It is evident that a television program relates to the realities of our society through the expected reactions of the audience. In regards to American Horror Story: Asylum, the expected reaction from the audience is to be surprised each week with what happens to the characters in each episode. Another possible expected reaction from the audience is to leave them somewhat confused in what is going on with the program. While I watched this show, I was often left confused, but wanting to know more. These reactions get the audience to keep coming back week-after-week! These factors do not just show how is relatable to the realities of our society, but how an audience can get immersed in the program. 

Works Cited

"The Counterculture of the 1960s." The Counterculture of the 1960s. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

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