Max Greenfield's assault in the first episode of American Horror Story: Hotel is probably the most disturbing scene in the entire series, but it feels like its there for shock value. Ryan Murphy is one of the biggest names in television, having produced, written and directed a number of hit shows. This includes Nip/Tuck, a glossy drama that debuted in 2003 and followed two plastic surgeons and their increasingly complicated personal lives.
In 2009 he created Glee, a musical comedy following a high-school glee club. The show quickly became a hit thanks to its spirited covers of hit songs and talented cast. In 2010 Murphy wrote and directed Eat Love Pray, which starred Julia Roberts and was based on the novel of the same name. Eat Love Pray was a huge hit but Murphy has mostly stuck to TV in the years since, outside of occasionally producing films like the 2014 remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown. In recent years he's won acclaim for shows like American Crime Story and Feud, with the latter's first season covering the infamous feud between screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
Murphy is a big horror fan too, as evidenced by his shows American Horror Story and Scream Queens. The latter was a horror-comedy starring Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis that ran for two seasons. American Horror Story is an anthology series, with each season covering a new story. It debuted in 2011 and has run for nine seasons thus far. The show can be something of a mixed bag, with fans finding early seasons like Asylum and Murder House to be the best, while series like Roanoke received a weak response.
American Horror Story: Hotel is also considered one of the weaker seasons. Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) received acclaim for her lead performance but the series is messy, with stories that fail to connect and an emphasis on style over substance. The first episode "Checking In" features one of the show's most shocking moments, which involves a celebrity named Gabriel (Max Greenfield, New Girl). Gabriel checks into a room at the Hotel Cortez to shoot heroin. He soon sees a disturbing, blurry figure emerge from the darkness of his room, which is the Addiction Demon. This creature is a wearing a drill-bit dildo and before Gabriel can react, it attacks and assaults him.
Thematically, the Addiction Demon is supposed to represent the hold addictions can have on people. The demon seen in American Horror Story: Hotel is meant to be a physical representation of addiction, but even taking that into account, Max Greenfield's assault feels like a sequence that was simply intended to shock and repulse instead of making a deeper statement about the topic. It certainly got audiences talking and while the creature itself is suitably terrifying, the season does little to develop Gabriel beyond this scene.
The character is dead within a few episodes, and while his story is closely tied to that of Sally (Sarah Paulson), American Horror Story: Hotel's commentary on the subject of addiction is surface-level at best.