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American Horror Story: Freak Show “Monsters Among Us” 

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

It’s a new season of American Horror Story, which means new characters, new settings and new story lines. If this premiere is any indication, AHS: Freak Show should be the best season yet.

The premiere titled “Monsters Among Us” opens up in the town of Jupiter, Florida in 1952. We are introduced to a group of traveling “freaks” living on the outskirts of town. They are misunderstood by the public due to their abnormalities. You can already tell that a major theme this season will be what makes a monster? Are they the ones who are different? Or are they simply the ones who are closed-minded?

I have to admit, I was not a fan of AHS: Coven. I found the tone to be too light and campy to be disturbing. Thankfully, I don’t think this will be a problem this season. There has yet to be a villain on this series that has made me feel uneasy… until now! It looks like Twisty the clown has taken the gold medal in this competition. Everything from the costuming to the physicality is horrifying. I can’t wait to explore this frightening character. Where did he come from? Why is he murdering and kidnapping people? The scene where Twisty torments the kids was one of the most disturbing moments in the show’s history. This is coming from someone who’s never had a problem with clowns other than slight annoyance.

If anyone has seen Tod Browning’s Freaks, then you know this season is going to be heavily influenced by that film. The cast of curiosities we were introduced to reminded me a lot of the characters in Freaks. There is a family aspect to these people, but a deeply sinister side as well. They have no qualms about killing someone if it’s for the sake of protecting one of their own. Jimmy Darling will be an interesting character to follow. He has ‘lobster’ hands, and has no problem pleasing housewives with them. He’s a flirt and comes across as a nice guy. However, Jimmy clearly has a temper and doesn’t like to be challenged. I fear what he might do should someone get in his way.

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX

If Sarah Paulson isn’t nominated for this season I will be shocked. It’s only been one episode, but her portrayal of conjoined twins, Bette and Dot, couldn’t be more spectacular. There are so many subtleties that differentiate them whether it be a twitch of the mouth or a longing in the eyes. Both girls seem to be developing an interest in Jimmy. How long before they start fighting over him? Or will this show actually go there and have conjoined twin-cest? It honestly wouldn’t surprise me at this point. Ryan Murphy and co. aren’t afraid to push boundaries.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

The ringleader of this gang of misfits is Elsa Mars. I was genuinely surprised when she took off her fake legs at the end of the episode. Jessica Lange is dazzling once again. Shechews the scenery like no one else can. Elsa is clearly a woman who longed for a far more glamorous life. Her performance of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” was both enthralling and melancholy. She seems to genuinely care for her people, but they are also her source of income. There is bound to be complications once Bette and Dot start bringing in more crowds and get more of the attention.

Another character to look out for is Dandy Mott, played by Finn Wittrock. He’s a boy who’s gotten everything he’s ever wanted and is easily bored. Still, there’s something off with his character and his petulance might be a mere cover for a much darker personality yet to be revealed. I foresee a lot of these characters having morally complex personas. Bette and Dot seem like good enough girls, but they murdered their mother and tried to cover it up, and Jimmy’s a sweet talker, but has a fury inside him.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the directing. While this episode was not directed by AHS staple, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, I’m curious what he will do with the ones he does direct this season. Alfonso has a beautiful eye for detail and loves to bring in influences from other material. I’m sure he will make many references and nods to Tod Browning, as well as Federico Fellini’s La Strada.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who is Twisty? Where did he come from? What is he planning on doing with his “captive” audience?
  • Will someone find the detective that Jimmy and his cohorts disposed of in the woods?
  • Was Elsa born without legs or did she lose them, therefore turning her into a freak?
  • Where the hell is Ethel’s accent supposed to be from?

American Horror Story: Freak Show airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.

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