Spolier Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen American Horror Story: Freak Show, Ep. 1 – “Monsters Among Us.”
“Oh, darling, it’s on the house. Stars never pay.” — Elsa Mars
Last season American Horror Story faltered and faltered hard, and while I considered throwing in the towel on this show all together, the perfection of AHS’ promotions won me over once again. And boy am I glad it did.
AHS has the luxury of reinventing itself every season, but for the last three years those reinventions have all stayed within the dark, ominous, shadowy realm of horror. In all fairness, most horror tends to lean towards the dark and shadowy, but that’s exactly why Freak Show feels like such a breath of fresh air. Without ever losing an ounce of creep factor, Freak Show presented itself as a surrealistic fantasy, all bright colors and David Bowie covers playing in the background while the blood spills in the foreground.
But enough talking about the show, lets talk about the show.
Welcome to Jupiter, Florida 1952. The freak show is in town and they have a brand new attraction: a two headed woman. After months of poor attendance, the show’s fearless leader, Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) is determined to make Jupiter her home. And what could be better audience bait than the “monster” currently making headlines?
Of course just because the crowds aren’t flocking to the tents doesn’t mean the locals aren’t enjoying the freaks on their own time. Because while the show may be their official business, sex is what this troupe truly excels at. From a side business servicing to bored housewives to filming orgies, Freak Show lives up to previous season’s sex-pectations and then some.
And they certainly stand up for each other.
But life isn’t all cupcakes and love making, there’s a killer clown on the loose. Does this clown actually have anything to do with the freak show? Who knows? Maybe us at some point. Maybe.
The first two seasons of AHS employed a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality and its deviation from that last season had be singing its praises early on and ready to pull my hair out by the end. Freak Show’s pilot suggests an attempt to employ the best of both worlds. There are plenty of threads to follow, from Frances Conroy and her son (likely the biggest freak of all) to the killer clown, and from the burgeoning romance between Dot and Bette and Lobster Boy and Elsa’s weakening grasp on sanity in the face of her reality.
Yet, the first episode took its time revealing itself. It was 45 minutes in until we even got to the freak show and we had to wait until the last 15 minutes to get a hint of the overall plot: a freak uprising.
After the disaster of last season I hate to get my hopes up too high, yet here they are, much higher than I expected. Lets see how long it lasts.
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