blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

American Gothic (1995) s01e11 – Rebirth

Rebirth’s a swing and a miss for American Gothic, even though it was an episode I’d been looking forward to seeing again, even though it’s directed by James “The Muppet Movie” Frawley. It also features garbage human being Danny Masterson as a teenage bad boy who helps Lucas Black against the normie teens bullying Black for… having had his entire family murdered. I didn’t recognize Masterson at that point (or at all, I needed the credits), but the mid-nineties white boy dreadlocks are a look.

Masterson needs some cash to get out of town, leading to sheriff Gary Cole harassing him. At least until Sarah Paulson figures out how to return from the dead: she needs to borrow someone else’s spirit. In this case, Paige Turco’s visiting pregnant friend, played by Amy Steel, is just what the proverbial doctor ordered.

I remembered the episode as being some complex character arc for Paulson, who only recovered her full faculties after her death, so she’s never gotten to be alive in this way before. Certainly not with all the grown men leering at her, which she doesn’t notice and, thankfully, doesn’t go anywhere. But her Rebirth gives Cole an idea for palling up to Black. All Cole’s got to do is turn Black against Paulson, which isn’t hard because Paulson’s hanging out with Masterson instead of brother Black. Even though she knows he’s super-lonely without her.

It’s also not a good brother-and-sister arc. It’s not immaterial, but it’s close.

Victor Bumbalo and Robert Palm get the writing credit, and it’s similarly nothing notable. Not in any good ways, especially in how lightly Black (and Paulson to some degree) take Cole raping their mother approximately nine months before Black was born—witnessing the event mentally traumatized Paulson for life. They’ve got no time to discuss it, not when Black can mope about Paulson hanging out with Masterson. He’s got a point—remove the real-life stuff, and there are still the dreadlocks and Masterson’s terrible Southern accent—but there’s also a severe lack of character development.

Is it worse than the scene where Turco makes light of Steel’s two previous miscarriages as she worries about her baby? I mean, no? Rebirth passes Bechdel in the worst ways.

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: