Back in “The Days”
Before cable networks got savvy at reorganizing their schedules to include some choice summer programming, that was generally a time when television was a desolate wasteland of repeats and reality shows. In other words, slim pickings. So that more than anything likely drove me to check out The Days. I got one thing out of it: an intense love for Evan Peters. In fact, when I look at that picture above, it reminds me that I had a clipping of just his section floating around my room for a few years. My association of Evan Peters to this is so strong, I was shocked to see it only ran for 6 episodes back in 2004. Honestly, other than some of my friends, I thought I was the only person on the planet that watched The Days, and was surely the only one that looked at Evan Peters when he popped up randomly and thought immediately of Cooper and yearned for his return to primetime. I savored his appearances and wished that the others around me knew the glories of Cooper Day. I see that he was on Invasion, and I do remember watching maybe the first 5 episodes or so (probably for him as well as William Fichtner, we share a birthday bond) but even their presence could not hold my interest in that show. I had no clue he was ever on One Tree Hill, but I definitely caught him on Dirt, House and Parenthood.
Finally, flash forward to American Horror Story, where his character Tate is just plain fascinating. At the risk of sounding like all the fangirls on imdb, Tate is easily my favorite part of the show. This is the first time Evan has really gotten a character to showcase his talent. It is hard for many people to reconcile themselves to liking Tate, especially with his crimes. And it is really easy to judge those that seem to like him even in the face of his actions.
I argue that the writers have been very crafty in their portrayal of Tate, especially to make an unsympathetic character sympathetic and forcing viewers to feel conflicted over their emotions towards him (I mean, isn’t that the point?). We initially know he is a bit unhinged, his dark dreams having landed him in therapy. We slowly get the impression he is a ghost of the Murder House, and with his victims coming back to haunt him on Halloween, that his dreams may actually be a reality. “Piggy Piggy” revealed that yes, in 1994 Tate executed a Columbine-style attack on his high school and was later killed in his bedroom by a SWAT team raid.
But the Tate we know from the show has no memory of these events and has no clue that he is dead. He may have dreams depicting what he did, but he is not lying to his victims when he says he has no idea what they are talking about. This Tate is a tabula rasa version of his living self. How can you lay fault on the version of Tate that Violet knows when he is a lost soul? Especially when the Murder House may have driven him to commit the act in the first place? The show is giving you a scapegoat for your feelings toward Tate and I wholeheartedly embrace it. The rest of the show is a mishmash of weird, but Evan’s scenes in “Piggy Piggy” felt genuine and made me feel. I can’t wait for the rest of Tate’s journey this season.