By Samantha Snead
The new season of American Horror Story began just under a month ago, yet it’s already about one-third of the way over. So far, we’ve met dozens of characters whose stories are some of the most unique to ever appear on AHS.
In the pilot episode, conjoined twins Bette and Dot, both played by Sarah Paulson, are approached by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), the owner of a local freak show. When they arrive, they meet the rest of the troupe: Jimmy Darling, played by Evan Peters, and his mother, Ethel, also known as “The Bearded Lady”. Other members of the freak show include Meep, Legless Suzi, and Paul, the Illustrated Seal.
Then, we meet Dandy and his mother, Frances. Dandy is a complete drama queen whose mother never seems to be able to impress him. One day, she brings him his own personal clown, who turns out to be Twisty the Clown, a serial killer who kidnaps children and takes them to his hideout in the woods where he forces them to watch his magic tricks. His backstory is revealed in episode four, where we learn that he was once part of a freak show himself, until the members of his troupe turned on him. When he is killed, Dandy decides to take over his regime. The only real suspense on the show comes from this storyline, of which we, unfortunately, only get glimpses.
Compared to previous seasons of American Horror Story, this season seems to move slowly and the scary moments are few and far-between. It relies mainly on the shock value of its unique cast, and less on the actual storyline. A few of the show’s cast members, like Amazon Eve, Ma Petite, Meep, Legless Suzi, and Paul, the Illustrated Seal, are not so much actors, but real people with distinct physical characteristics who have been invited to join the troupe of “freaks.” While it’s cool that the writers have decided to tell the stories of real people, it borders on exploitation. Meep is portrayed as a live-animal-eating monster who can’t even speak besides to say his own name, and is killed in the second episode. Amazon Eve’s only role so far is to carry around Ma Petite, who is the shortest woman in the world at just over two feet tall. Many of the characters seem to be just accessories who stand in the background and shock viewers with their appearances.
Overall, the show is still worth watching, but doesn’t hold a candle to previous seasons – at least not yet. Emma Roberts, who played Madison on Coven, and Pepper, from Asylum, has just been introduced on Freak Show. Rumor has it that Lily Rabe, who played Sister Mary Eunice on Asylum, will return for a cameo appearance later in the season. Neil Patrick Harris and Gabourey Sidibe, who played Queenie on Coven, are also set to appear at some point. Though the first four episodes have been underwhelming, maybe the return of these actors will liven up the story. The next episode of Freak Show, entitled “Pink Cupcakes”, premieres on November 5.