FX’s American Horror Stories
1×04: “The Naughty List”
Directed by Max Winkler
Written by Manny Coto
* For a recap & review of 1×03, click here.
* For a recap & review of 1×05, click here.
In Hollywood, a bunch of douchebag ‘influencers’ live in the Bro House together: Zinn (Nico Greetham), Barry (Kevin McHale), James (Dyllon Burnside), and Wyatt (Charles Melton). They do a bunch of videos of them funnelling White Claw, jumping into pools, wrestling, and they convince themselves they’re very original dudes. They’re “riding the edge” to make sure they keep lots of subscribers. Because y’know, they’re “pushing 30” and that’s like “40 in influencer years.”
One day, only a few days before Christmas, the bros are out watching a bridge while they drink and record. They see someone climbing over the side of the bridge, ready to jump and commit suicide. They start chanting “Bro House” like a bunch of idiots, then the guy jumps to his death below. Barry has second thoughts, suggesting they can’t post it online, whereas the others want to use it and gain “a million subscribers.” They convince Barry to go further with them and actually film the body.
The bros are having a holiday party and Barry’s still trying to tell Zinn they shouldn’t post the video. Zinn’s sure this is a way to “up the content,” that people want to see these types of things. Of course we know from real life that’s not what most intelligent people want to see, like when Logan Paul went to Aokigahara forest and filmed an actual dead body, someone who had committed suicide. The bros opt to show everyone at the party the video when they put it up. Except everyone’s rightly horrified by the sick video, even as the bros, apart from Barry, chant like dummies.
Next morning, the bros are losing tens of thousands of followers. Many comments are ragging on the bros hard. They’re trending on Twitter; not in a good way, either. Plus, the dead guy’s family are having a press conference later to denounce the Bro House. Oh no, bro! They’re left trying to strategise. So Zinn decides they’ve got to “go gay,” trying to appeal to the “LBTRs” through exploitation. But most of the bros see that’s a stupid idea. Meanwhile, the bros are having all their promotional material taken away and their contract’s getting suspended.
And so the bros are going gay! No homo, though. Just “homiesexuals.”
This sequence killed me because it’s something some idiotic influencers would do.
Yet they’re seeing more subscribers drop, faster and faster. They’re even getting made fun of by women in the streets. Barry thinks they ought to go back to their roots, stop trying to be edgy, “just be funny.” They head to the mall where they decide to cause a scene for the mall Santa Claus (Danny Trejo) and his elves. They even start picking on a small person playing an elf. Smooth move, bros. Then they get to Santa, as Zinn announces in front of the children that Santa’s not actually real. A true dick move. But Santa’s not fucking around. He knows Zinn to the ground, telling him: “You‘ll get what you deserve.” Bodes well on American Horror Stories—a show with a history of nasty Christmases and one truly bad Santa played by Ian McShane.
The bros upload their latest video and they can already see how shitty they were at the mall, even before anybody comments on the video. Barry’s particularly disgusted by their behaviour, so Wyatt starts suggesting he’s just negative and he isn’t “Bro House material” anymore. The bros start arguing amongst themselves. Then Zinn gives a bro speech, trying to keep their little bro family together; it’s what the country needs, dude. After that the comments start rolling in, and, naturally, they’re incredibly negative.
As soon as Wyatt goes to the garage for beer we know things are going to get murderous at the Bro House, like a callback to Scream. Zinn answers his phone and hears from Detective Gibbs (Taneka Johnson), who explains that the Santa from the mall was not the person hired for the job; the guy from the mall killed the person who was meant to play Santa. The cops want any video from the mall. The supposed Santa’s left a grisly scene behind him, too. Back to Wyatt, getting his head twisted around by Santa Claus in the garage right as he notices a camera stuck in the back of the fridge. In the living room, the video’s uploaded to the bros’ account, so Barry, Zinn, and James see their friend die. They assume it’s a prank; Barry tries deleting the video yet it goes right back up, along with a link to a story about Santa and originally being connected to a scary “pagan nature god.”
Zinn goes to the garage and can’t find anything suspicious. But he hears a strange sound nearby. He goes outside and finds the mall Santa, who beat him to death with some kind of club. Barry and James hear their friend scream from outside, though, again, they believe it’s just a prank by their buddies to get “more followers.” Simultaneously, Zinn’s wrapped up in Christmas lights, some even stuffed in his mouth. The lights are turned on and then Zinn gets tossed into the pool, getting electrocuted. Gnarly! The power goes out and James begins wondering if it’s not actually a prank, so he calls 911. But there have been many calls about problems at the Bro House; nobody’s coming, or at least not rushing. And now the remaining bros see a video of Zinn dying uploaded.
Christmas lights turn on inside. Barry and James share a hug before doing anything else; James also admits to his earlier boner. The two bros head outside, when James gets pinned to the car by an arrow Santa fires, after which he takes an arrow through the throat. Barry attempts to escape, taking an arrow in the thigh. He’s able to get back inside, but he’s bleeding pretty badly. He tries to get help online, interrupted by hearing Santa at the chimney. Mr. Claus is pouring gas down the chimney instead of coming down it himself. It’s right at that moment the Bro House hits 5 million subscribers. Barry catches fire when Santa strikes a match, running out to jump into the pool.
Ah, what a Christmas miracle!
Santa leaves the tree decorated with limbs and organs for the cops when they arrive.
And off he goes, to another mall somewhere else, to find another Santa suit.
Fantastic episode! More Danny Trejo, everywhere. Also I hate influencer + bro culture, so this was wonderful.