American Horror Story Season 10: Why Harry Is Worst TV Father - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, October 3, 2021

American Horror Story Season 10: Why Harry Is Worst TV Father

Television is no stranger to terrible dads and husbands. From Dexter Morgan in Dexter to Walter White in Breaking Bad and everyone in between, there are plenty of shows that feature men who aren't exactly in the running for a World's Best Dad trophy. Whether sneaking out in the middle of the night to go on murder sprees, making and selling drugs, or other actions of dubious merit, they're always claiming that the illegal acts and morally questionable decisions they make are for the betterment of their family, and yet their children and spouses — the very ones they're trying to protect — always seem to get caught in the cross fire.

One of the newest additions to the pantheon of terrible television fathers and husbands (and one of the most frustrating TV characters in recent memory) is Harry Gardner (Finn Wittrock) in the Red Tide portion of American Horror Story: Double Feature. Of course, like the terrible and selfish TV dads before him, Harry starts off as a peaceable and loving family man. After all, he only wants the best for his pregnant wife, Doris (Lily Rabe), and young violin prodigy daughter, Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), when he relocates them to an old shorehouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts during the off-season. It's a quiet seaside town that he hopes will be just the thing to clear his writer's block. That is, until their family is attacked by a series of trenchcoated vampire-esque beings: pale and hunched with pointed teeth. Naturally, Doris is unsettled by the incident and begs Harry to let them leave Provincetown and return to New York City.

RELATED: 'American Horror Story': The 9 Scariest Villains, Ranked

But Harry's good intentions to appease his wife rapidly fade away when his writing goals outweigh his initiative to be a decent husband and father. This is especially true when he meets fellow writers Belle Noir (Frances Conroy) and Austin Sommers (Evan Peters), who introduce him to a little black pill that they claim will get the creative juices flowing of those who already possess a spark of talent. Those who don't (the "talentless") turn into the pale, vampiric creatures that have been prowling around Harry and Doris's house. But this is not the case for Harry. The only caveat? The pills makes the talented user develop an unquenchable thirst for blood. And it's here that Harry's fall from grace begins.

The temptation is too great, and against his better judgment, Harry accepts the black pills. He spends days locked away in the house writing, oozing major Jack Torrance vibes ("All work and no play makes Harry a dull boy"). He pays little attention to his wife and daughter as they pack to leave for New York. But Harry is on a drug-induced high after finishing his script (which is quickly sold to Netflix and already attracting big name talent like Joaquin Phoenix). Basking in his newfound success, Harry persuades Doris to let them stay, knowing that if he loses access to the pills he will also lose his creative spark and be on his way to becoming the has-been that he feared. It's with this that Harry makes his first of many selfish decisions throughout Red Tide. He knows that Doris and Alma feel unsafe in Provincetown and yet ignores their emotions in order to further his career. "Honey, there's lots of places like this," he says in an attempt to sway them and sweep their worries and feelings of being attacked under the rug.

But Doris knows otherwise, and Harry's attempts to assuage her fear of the pale creatures quickly turn from poor excuses to outright gaslighting. "Doris, it was just drug addicts looking for electronics, okay?" Harry tries to make Doris think she's the irrational one. That she's the one trying to sabotage Harry's chances at literary success and Hollywood stardom. That she's the one trying to tear their family apart with her selfish needs and discomfort living in their new home. It's not long before he hurls insults against his wife that are borderline emotionally abusive. "You know, ever since we got here you have been hysterical about everything!" he says. "You are being so irrational! This happens every time you get pregnant!" It's a low blow, and completely inappropriate, but Harry doesn't seem worried about repenting. As if forcing his family to remain in a place that he knows is unsafe and running amuck with the "talentless" wasn't despicable enough, what's even more awful is how he begins to act once he needs to feed.

Harry needs blood. And when he doesn't get it, a fiery rage descends on him that he takes out on Alma, who finds out about the black pills and is frustrated that Harry won't allow her to take them to improve her violin skills. "Don't be jealous because I found inspiration and you can't play fucking Paganini!" Harry bellows at his young daughter. So when Alma retaliates by taking the pills without Harry's knowledge or permission, it's completely his fault. Not only do his insults lead her to this moment, but he's also responsible for bringing drugs into the house. If he had been focused on his wife and daughter, he would've seen Alma steal the pills but he was too concerned with nurturing his own talent with the assistance of drugs to be hassled with the idea of his only daughter turning into a drug addict with a taste for human blood.

It's a good thing that Harry has an excuse. "I refuse to be a helicopter parent!" he responds to Doris's blaming him for Alma finding his pills. His defense is hollow, as if watching your child too closely on the playground and allowing her to rummage through your belongings for drugs are exactly the same thing. But while a decent and well-respecting father would forbid her from taking more pills to keep her safe, Harry indoctrinates Alma into the world of vampirism. Some fathers buy their daughters hot chocolate, but Harry goes "hunting" for Alma and brings her thermoses full of human blood to drink. It's an incredibly bizarre partnership, and Harry allows it to continue. After all, he reasons, if he's taking the pills to nurture his talent, how can he deny Alma the same? But this isn't candy and soda he's offering her. It's drugs. And the speed at which Harry moves from the mentality of This is wrong to one of Oh, you'd like some drugs, too? Sure thing! is frightening.

As if murdering others to sustain his insatiable hunger isn't big enough of a skeleton in his closet, Harry coaches Alma to keep Doris in the dark regarding their...affliction. He effectively builds a barrier between mother and daughter, influencing Alma's budding hatred for Doris. Tell her your problems! we want to shout. Confide in her! Throw away the pills instead of throwing away your family! Harry does confide in her, but only after keeping her in a drug-induced stupor as he and Alma feed and ready for Harry's Hollywood future.

Once Doris learns the truth, it's not long before she is coerced into taking the pills herself. However, unlike Harry and Alma, she becomes one of the "talentless." There's a momentary look of horror on Harry's face as he beholds his wife's balding head and paling skin as she loses all ability to speak and communicate. Does he use the opportunity to model proper love and care by comforting Doris? By staying with her during the course of this terrifying and traumatic transformation? No, he locks her in the bathroom and barricades the door. When he finally lets her leave, he sets her free to roam the cemeteries foraging for stray animals to suck dry, as if she, too, were a feral animal instead of a human, something to be tolerated instead of loved.

Doris always stood by Harry's side, supporting him and his writing, but when it comes time for Harry to repay the favor, he doesn't. He emotionally disconnects from Doris and her condition and is fine with sentencing his wife to a life of lonely vampirism. If he does, in fact, care about her, he sure doesn't show it in how quickly he recovers from her demise. As he returns to his writing and Alma returns to her violin, Harry seems perfectly ready to move on and forget her and all the pain he has caused her. He not only models poor coping mechanisms for Alma, but through his actions he inadvertently teaches her that when circumstances are tough, undesirable, or challenging, the best way to deal with them is to ignore and sweep them under the rug. This is incredibly frustrating because Harry clearly loves his daughter, but love isn't enough. His consistently selfish choices, endangering her, and encouraging her drug usage solidifies his status as one of the worst television fathers in recent memory.

In the end, Harry's selfishness is the very thing that leads to his demise when he is killed by Alma, caught off guard by his own single-mindedly determined offspring. Like father, like daughter. While it's perhaps unfair to say that Harry deserved to die, his despicable actions as a husband and father certainly don't earn him and his violent death any sympathy. His less-than-admirable character traits do offer one positive outcome, though: showing that the characters that we may think of as monstrous at first (the pale, hunched "untalented") might actually be the most human of all.

KEEP READING: 'American Horror Story' Season 10 Cast & Character Guide: Who’s Playing Who (This Time)



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