First Impressions

American Horror Story: Freak Show

Aired on: FX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Though I liked American Horror Story: Coven and watched the entire season, I wasn’t sure I was going to watch the fourth season of American Horror Story.  And yet, when the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show on October 8, 2014 on FX, I found myself needing to see what the new season had to offer.

            This season of American Horror Story is set in 1952 in the small town Jupiter, Florida.  The episode begins with the discovery of Siamese twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) upon the death of their mother.  Hidden on their mother’s farm for years, the Siamese twins are seen as monsters by the plain folk of Jupiter and it is rumored that they may have actually killed their own mother.  In fact, thanks to a string of murders in the area, the townspeople of Jupiter are on edge and wondering if Bette and Dot are the root of the town’s recent evils.

            But one woman knows better.  One woman knows the truth.  Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) believes that Bette and Dot, seen as freaks to the world, are her ticket to stardom.  A former German cabaret performer, Elsa now owns her own carnival, a Freak Show of an interesting caliber.  She believes that the twins murdered their mother, but is unconcerned, offering Bette and Dot a home in her carnival in exchange for their participation in her show.

            At first, Bette and Dot can’t agree on whether they want to stay, but acts of kindness by the troupe and a rescue from the law by lobster-handed handsome boy Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) makes them realize that this carnival can truly become their home.  And while Elsa’s dreams of sold out shows have yet to be realized, there is now hope for the carnival’s future.

            But in the shadows, there is still a serial killer to contend with, one wearing a clown costume and makeup, a mask that may not actually in fact be a mask, a very sharp knife and a murderous heart.

            Last year, after Coven finished its run, I thought I had heard a rumor that Jessica Lange was going to retire.  If this is at all true, then the storyline set forth by the creators of American Horror Story: Freak Show must have been extraordinary to make Lange drop her original plans and join the cast.  And what a cast that is, some are returning cast like Frances Conroy, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and more.  But there are some new folks joining in on the horror such as Michael Chiklis, John Carroll Lynch, Skyler Samuels, Wes Bentley and Patti LaBelle.

            The storyline of Freak Show is actually quite interesting.  It pits what the world considers to be freaks against those considered normal and shows us just what evil lies in the hearts of so-called normal man.  There is the side story of the murder mystery, but I have an idea that the serial killer clown has a little something to do with Elsa Mars’ carnival other than as a shadows skulker.  Perhaps he was one of her failed acts?

            I can’t say that I didn’t like this opener to the fourth season of American Horror Story.  In fact, I quite enjoyed it…perhaps even more than the season opener of Coven.  In any case, the season premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show definitely has me wanting to see more.


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