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‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’

| Thursday, October 9, 2014

American-freak-show-WEBSusan Zhu | The Observer
“We lived in the Murder House; we escaped the Asylum; we protected the Coven, and we will attend the Freak Show.”

“American Horror Story” fans everywhere eagerly have awaited the premier of the show’s fourth season, titled “Freak Show,” by following every newly-released trailer, posting countdowns on Twitter with #ahs and taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out “Which ‘American Horror Story’ character are you?” Finally, the wait is over. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”

Set in 1952 Florida, the show opened with a Victorian-style house, reminiscent of the haunted house from season one, and then moved to a hospital — a reference to the second season, set in an asylum. The episode took a bit too long to reveal the inevitable — if you have been paying attention to the media in the past two months, you know the main character of this season is the two-headed Sarah Paulson. Therefore, when the dramatic curtain was ripped away, no one was surprised to see the “twins” lying on the hospital bed. Also unsurprising is that the only brave soul to enter the “freak room” was Jessica Lange. For first-time “AHS” viewers, Lange has been stealing the show since season one. She is indisputably the main character of the show, dominating each scene with her attitude and over-the-top sass.

This season, she plays the role of the “ring master” Elsa Mars (thanks for the inspiration, “Frozen”).  When the “freak show” circus arrives in a new town, she seeks out the anomalies of society to add to her cast of performers. After Mars steals the “Siamese sisters” from the hospital in order to make them her headliners, the scene moves to the tent where we are introduced to the cast of freaks.

The writers made sure to intersperse a healthy dose of terror in between scenes of the freak show. A nightmare-inducing clown rudely interrupts an innocent couple (we all knew it was coming), causing everyone in my viewing party to cover their eyes for the first time in the episode. The Joker-esque character makes several unwelcome and horrifying appearances, each reminding me of my childhood fear and making me want to sleep with the lights on. Other than him though, the episode is pretty low on the horror scale compared to previous seasons.

Although the freak show characters are meant to be creepy and possibly scary, I couldn’t help but feel for them — especially knowing that there is a pair of “Siamese sisters” living in the United States and that the tiny woman in the show is actually the smallest woman in the world. The rest of the men and women who complete the classic lineup of circus freaks: the bearded woman, contortionists, an Amazon woman, a legless woman and of course the two-headed woman.

“AHS” veteran Evan Peters is a member of the circus as well with deformed, Star Trek-like fingers. He pulls off the 50s persona with a Danny Zuko hairdo and a black leather jacket. The circus theme also fits in with the 50s era because there were few left at that time, and Mars is trying to salvage her show.

The draw of the show is in the fact that each season begins in a completely different setting and era with a brand new cast of characters (other than the few loyal actors). This season has promise, with its subtle scariness and realistic, historical aspect. Watch the freak flags fly next Thursday on FX at 10 p.m.

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About Maddie Daly

A senior English and French major in love with Paris, cooking and fashion, currently residing in Chicago.

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