In the avalanche of each year's TV shows, it is not easy at times to find a hidden gem.
Never mind the bad reviews and the rating - AMERICAN GOTHIC may not hold an original premise, but it's one of the best whodunit mysteries TV has to offer this year.
At the centre of the story are the Hawthornes, a rich and influential family who get themselves mixed up in a serial murder investigation.
A murder weapon, the belt, is found in the structure of the collapsed tunnel that the family has built. The patriarch of the family, Mitch, quickly falls under suspicion. But did he have an accomplice? A prodigal son, Garret, who has returned just when the family gets into turmoil, is the primary suspect. The other possible accomplices are any of the Hawthorne family: a crazed drug addicted artist son Cam, a ruthless bisexual politician daughter Alison, and a controlling matriarch Madeline. And what about the young and innocent Tessa, who was just a teenager when the murders occur? Is she really beyond suspicion? The story is even more complicated with Tessa's police husband Brady on the case, whose obsession with finding the culprit creates a conflict of interest. Everyone has something to hide. And with good reason, because this serial killer case is much more complex than anyone could anticipate.
AMERICAN GOTHIC is by no means a perfect show. It is slow in the beginning, uses a lot of dramatic clichés and the start of the mystery does not seem compelling by any means. The slow beginnings caused bad reviews and a drop out of viewers, but in due course AMERICAN GOTHIC redeems itself, spectacularly. This is a case where the explanation is more interesting than the premise itself. Not only do we get the multi-layered family conflict and a satisfying resolution to the questions posed, we are suddenly given a new set of suspects just before the season finale, with the surprises coming in spades. And they are not some random revelations. Carefully crafted over 13 episodes, they feel organic and natural, and all you want to do is to slap yourself on the forehead saying - it was all there. How did I not see it coming?
The main problem with AMERICAN GOTHIC is that it is a six episode show stretched to double its size. But there's an upper side to it - the more you spend with those characters the more you care for them. The best part? The last three episodes redeem every minute you thought you wasted on this show. If you love mysteries that exceed your expectations and surprise you, AMERICAN GOTHIC is for you. Give it a chance, persevere through some slow action, and be rewarded!