American Horror Story: Season 4 (Freak Show)
The biggest problem for any television show runner is to avoid cancellation. To do this, they must face a particular dilemma; keeping a series fresh for retaining the elements that made the first season of his success. For the production team of Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, they have resurrected a format that began in the earliest days of television, the anthology series. ‘American Horror Story’ is still growing strongly as it now prepares for its fifth season. The secret behind the successes that they have a core group of highly talented actors in each season represents a complete story based on one particular scenario of horror. Adding a touch of spiced each season the pool of regular cast members expand and contract as needed. Every season has taken this season-defining setting and populated with characters that are the most eclectic and frightening on television. Since she season represents a complete story that has a definite beginning, middle and conclusion, no cast member are immune from suffering a macabre demise. After scaring their fans with a haunted house, insane asylum and witches coven Falchuk and Murphy have focused their attention on a freak show. Traveling shows have offered attractions featuring human oddities and deformities for centuries. Frequently found as one segment of a nomadic carnival, in the 30s and 40s they were frequently freak shows that the main attraction. Holding to the general format of the series this season contains several main themes that have become defining hallmarks. Social issues such as discrimination and attitude toward sexuality including LGBT plot points are crucial to driving the main stories. Woven within the main threads are several serial killers each with their agenda. Thanks to the show within the show nature of this season almost every episode contain a musical number. It is also the only season to date but has characters overlapping the previous season. The most important tradition of the series once again upheld is that it is among the best shows to air on basic cable television.
This season takes us back in time to 1952 just outside the small town, Jupiter Florida. Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities is one of the last remaining freak shows still trying to eke out a living by traveling from town to town. Owned by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) she and her troupe a performance she lovingly refers to as her ‘monsters’ are desperate to find some way to revitalize the interesting initially. The initial cadre of performers include Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates), the bearded lady, her son Jimmy ‘Evan Peters) was malformed hands earned him the title of ‘A Lobster Boy.' Members of this traveling family included Paul (Mat Fraser), the Illustrated Seal and the giantess, Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin). In contrast to her exceptional height, there is the smallest human being, Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge). The latter two were in Guinness is Boca world record as the tallest (6 ft 8 in) and smallest, (2 ft 0.6 in), woman respectively. Mr. Fraser had the tattoos painted on for the series but did possess the physical differences. Rounding out the crew are a pair of microcephalic performers, Salty (Christopher Neiman), his wife Pepper (Grace Gummer) joined with Meep (Ben Woolf), a little person with limited IQ and unable to speak except for his name. His main act consisted of biting heads off of live chickens. Finally, there’s Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins), who can move about quite quickly using only the hands.
Fräulein Elsa's dream is to have the show become successful and serves as a foundation for our performances as a lead singer. She had formerly been a cabaret singer in prewar Germany and despite her belief to the contrary is long past her prime as a chanteuse. It should be noted that her songs as well as most of the musical numbers contained in this season out of place and time in a more contemporary than the stated 1952 setting. She sees her big break in the form of a pair of conjoined twins, Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) represents one of the most amazing feats of special effects that I have seen in quite a long time. Ms. Paulson is one member of the ensemble cast was impaired in every season so far. Bette, the left head, is quite naïve and infatuated with Hollywood movie magazines for becoming famous. Dot is far more pragmatic possesses a talent for singing. Greatly exacerbating their sibling rivalry occurs once they join the freak show. Dot becomes the star due to her singing voice relegating Bette to a supporting role in their act. At first, the town seems to be curious but fearful of these strange creatures. The posters put up around the town to advertise the show concentrated on the amazing ‘Siamese Twins, which promised something so far afield on anything their imagination could conjecture it drew the townsfolk in droves. A state of complete delusion Elsa believes the people there to listen to her sing.
Internal rivalry and politics of the freak show are just one aspect of this multifaceted story. People of the town of being stalked by a serial killer dressed as a clown with a disturbing grinning mask covering the lower part of his face. Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) had once been a very gentle member of a carnival who delighted children by twisting balloon animals. Reports rumors began to spread that he was a child molester so harangued by everyone that he tried to commit suicide by placing a shotgun in his mouth. Twisty survived the blast of the weapon but at the cost of the lower part of his jaw, is disfigurement was so severe that he consistently hid his terribly deformed remains of a face, achieved through the use of mask depicting an evil clown. As dangerously disturbing as twisty might be is far from the most heinous character to play the small town. Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) is the written spoiled son of a wealthy widow Gloria Mott (Frances Conroy). Dandy is emotionally immature and severely sadistic it is the treatment of everyone else including psychologically torturing his mother and abusive towards their made, Dora (Patti LaBelle). Dandy becomes infatuated with Twisty finding a kindred spirit and hatred of others in a liberating factor allowing him to become a serial killer on his right.
Another pair of performers joins the troop, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) and her lover Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis). Dell is a strong man with a mean streak also happens to be a closeted homosexual. Desiree has three breasts which are the main feature in the show but unknown to most she’s a hermaphrodite as well. Things are complicated, but the arrival since still used to be married to Ethel and is the father of Jimmy. As with all of the installments of this anthology series, there were so many finely crafted layers to the story that there is a major reveal in practically every episode. One of the secondary plots woven into the main story concerns Stanley (Denis O'Hare), a con artist currently employed by Lillian Hemmings (Celia Weston) the curator of the Museum of Morbid Curiosities. Stanley sells her preserved freaks usually in a jar filled with formaldehyde to display in her museum. Lillian seems to be unconcerned with the state of the curiosity before entering the display vessel, but in most cases, Stanley had to commit murder to fulfill the request. This makes him one of the most heinous of the serial killers in this series. He doesn’t kill other psychopathic urge incited by mental illness. Stanley dies out of pure convenience for profit. He is aided by a pretty young woman Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts), who poses as a fortune teller and able insert herself into the show to target freaks for Stanley. Unfortunately for the partnership Maggie has genuine feelings developed for Jimmy and begins to regret her part and the actions of a serial killer.
The people with diverse physical deformities are frequently the noblest characters in the story. One man, Vince (Lee Tergesen), is, so prejudice of the freaks there and his daughter Penny (Grace Gummer) has a relationship with Paul, he hires a tattoo artist to tattoo her face as punishment entirely. His train of thought was if you want to have an affair with the freak you should be a freak. Actually, with the possible exception of Ethel, I cannot think of one example of proper parenting within the context of the story Dandy’s enables his psychotic urges even to the extent of financing his purchase of the Twins. Jimmy’s father, Del, desserts him after seeing that the boy had inherited his families ‘lobster hand’ curse. What made this story so compelling was how the psychologically damaged surpassed in their freakish behavior by those outside their cadre, the audience. The ‘normals’ harbored such excessive quantities of bigotry, hatred, viewing themselves as morally superior
far more freakish and outside is of morality than those who proudly embrace the deformities and want to continue with life. The series has such incredible acting that you will be mesmerized by the performances. As part of an ensemble cast, many of the performance have become accustomed to working with each other synergistically enhancing each other’s presentations. This is a series that knows how to scare you not just a cheap visual effects but by infiltrating the darkest recesses of your mind slowly crafting his psychological horror that remains with you long after the season concludes. This is why so many millions of fans are eagerly awaiting the next story told by ‘American Horror Story.'
Posted 10/03/2015 01/27/2017