American Horror Story: Freakshow

American Horror Story: Freakshow

American Horror Story: Freakshow

Season 4, Episodes 1 & 2

“Monsters Among Us/Massacres & Matinees”

Rating: A+/A+

It’s The Freakiest Show

I’m doing something a little different with the AHS reviews and have decided to combine the first two episodes into one piece, which is why there was nothing out last week about it. The main reason for this was my wanting to have a better grasp on the characters, as well as ensure that all of the major ones have been introduced.

On that note, wow. This series has always had a way of making people stand, mouth agape. It’s anthology storytelling is something we hadn’t seen on cable before, though it’s now a technique that is popping up everywhere. This shifting storyline has been one of the show’s best aspects, giving it three different plots for it’s previous three seasons, one taking place in a haunted house, one in an asylum, the most recent in a witch coven, and currently we run to the Freakshow every week.

This season is utterly fascinating to me. I always had a huge interest in the old vaudevillian freak shows that traveled the country. I watched Carnivale and was crushed when it was taken off the air early. It’s wonderful to be back on the circuit again, even if this time it’s under significantly different, darker circumstances.

One of the best things Ryan Murphy did with this season is hire actual performers that would have worked the circuit back when Freakshows were a thing circuses did. Mat Fraser, who plays Paul The Illustrated Seal, was born with phocomelia in both arms, giving his appendages the look of flippers. Jyoti Amge, who plays Ma Petite, is the world’s smallest woman, standing at only 2 feet and 0.6 inches. Rose Siggins, who plays Legless Suzie, had her legs amputated at the age of 2 and gets around using her hands. There were some wonderful behind-the-scenes videos released before the season began with interviews with each of them, telling their story, and it was a wonderful thing to see.

On the side of the regular players, we have Evan Peters as Jimmy Darling, a man born with ectrodactyly, giving his hands the appearance of lobster claws. Kathy Bates plays the Freakshow’s bearded lady, and Jimmy’s mother. Angela Bassett plays a three-breasted hermaphrodite, and Sarah Paulson, in an achievement of special effects, plays two-headed siamese sisters Bette and Dot Tattler, whose entry into Elsa Mars’ Cabinet Of Curiosities marks the beginning of Freakshow’s story. Well, that and a certain clown who is getting his own paragraph. Jessica Lange beautifully plays German showrunner Elsa mars, and newcomer (to the AHS family) Michael Chiklis plays Don Toledo, Jimmy’s deadbeat father and the resident strong man.

One thing that seems to shock people who are fans of American Horror Story and all of it’s tales when they find out is that it’s creator, Ryan Murphy, is responsible for Glee, as well as Nip/Tuck, but I’m seeing those fingerprints all over this season of AHS. From Elsa’s randomly placed David Bowie performance in the first episode, to the two headed Fiona Apple performance, you can definitely see the influence of Glee permeating the bleeding walls of American Horror Story. As far as Nip/Tuck goes, one only needs to look as far as the utterly bizarre storylines this show has sometimes. Jumping the shark was a specialty of Ryan Murphy’s, but bringing in the anthology technique seems to have held that tendency off from AHS as a whole.

There are easy parallels to draw between seasons, especially this time around. The rivalry between Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett that goes back centuries, Jessica Lange’s fear of being replaced by a younger model, but they are all told in a different enough manner that they aren’t stifling.

Okay so now is the part where I’m going to talk about Twisty The Clown. I feel like this should come with a trigger warning or something. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a villain, certainly not in American Horror Story, as memorable or viscerally frightening as Twisty is. From his outfit, dirty grey rags that were one bright and white but have faded and become dingy as time passed, to his mask, a horrible smile plastered onto his face, to his hair, which looks like he skinned someone and is wearing their scalp, to finally, his size, as John Carol Lynch is a massive human being and brings that weighty appearance and lumbering run to Twisty, this clown is beyond terrifying. I was never one of those people scared by Tim Curray in It. Pennywise was scary, yes, but he didn’t scare me outright. Twisty makes me skin crawl, and in a show full of fascinating and interesting characters, all I want is to know more about who he, and even more so, why he is.

Judging by these first two episodes, I’m predicting Freakshow to quickly become the best season of American Horror Story. Maybe this is too soon to say, but the characters in this are just so fascinating to me that I’ve been enthralled since the opening scene. Longer actually, since those 15 second ads came out, I’ve been reading and finding out as much as I could about the season as a whole, counting the days until I finally could watch it.

Stuff And Things

  • – When two people have a picnic in a show with Horror in the title, you just know bad things are going to happen.
  • – “Tell me, has anyone tasted your cherry pie?” Wow, subtlety is not Elsa’s strong-suit
  • – I can honestly say I was surprised by the revelation of Elsa’s leglessness.
  • – My guess is Appalachian for Kathy Bates accent. What about you guys?
  • – “One of us, we accept her we accept her, gooble gobble” became “Kill the copper kill the copper” but it was nice to hear a nod to the 1930 classic Freaks
  • – Wouldn’t Harry Houdini’s younger brother be called Houdini as well and not Hardini?
  • – “Three titties, proper girl-parts and a ding-a-ling. I’m a proper hermaphrodite. Put that on your banner”
    “My word. And what does that make you?”
    “The happiest man on Earth”
  • – Seriously, I love the randomly placed musical numbers, but it kind of takes you out of the 1950s to hear Fiona Apple’s Criminal or David Bowie’s Life On Mars.
  • – Poor Meep
  • – Amazon Eve is played by trans actress Erika Ervin. It’s really awesome to see members of trans community being cast in major productions, a la Laverne Cox in Orange Is The New Black
  • – In honor of poor Meep, and because they really are fascinating, I’m going to post the links to the BTS interviews with the cast.
Categories: Entertainment