By Brett Sanders
“American Horror Story” has swept the nation with excitement. With a recurring cast, each season playing different characters and focusing on new types of horror, there is nothing not to love about the creative feel the show displays. When “American Horror Story: Freak Show” premiered three weeks ago, advertisements were seen everywhere. Back for the fourth season, the show centers on a bunch of “freaks” who will do anything to make their show survive and turn in a profit. With three episodes in, the characters are crazier than ever — in the best way possible — the cinematography is spookier and the experience of watching it is more enjoyable.
The great thing about “Freak Show” is that even though it is set in the 1950s, the theme of wanting to fit in and find a place in society is just as meaningful, if not more so, today. Even further, the characters aren’t hard to relate to, for every individual on the show represents a broken dream yet still possesses a glimmer of hope for a better life. Overall, the thing that makes “Freak Show” great is how the horror aspect is conveyed in a meaningful artistic form. From the set design to the acting, every part of “American Horror Story” is a work of art.
And the cast is stronger than ever. Evan Peters is back in his fourth season on the show, playing a developing man who has lobster claws for hands, using his “freakiness” to bring sexual pleasure to women galore. Peters is fine as this character, but his acting is average compared to the powerfully emotional performances that surround him. Kathy Bates, who won an Emmy for her performance on the third season of the show, is nothing less than spectacular, playing a bearded woman who has a depressing past and simply wants the best for her son (Peters’ character). Sarah Paulson portrays Bette and Tot Tattler, conjoined twins who have polar opposite personalities. Paulson is great playing these two individuals who share a body, and the special effects complement her performance.
The greatest performance, however, belongs to Jessica Lange, who also won an Emmy last season for the show. The emotion Lange shows as Elsa, the freak show leader who longs to be recognized as a world-class singer, is pure and congenial, making it an honor for the viewer to experience her stunning performance.
Being three episodes into the season at the time of this review, the show itself is more weird than frightening. The scariest parts come from a clown who has a disproportionate jaw, so he puts on half a mask to cover his freakish mouth. This aspect of the show is sure to send shivers down the spine of anyone who has coulrophobia. It will be interesting to see where the story goes with this murderous clown. As the story further develops, it is hopeful that the show will become more terrifying and not just abnormal.
Despite this longing to be scarier, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” is one of the best programs currently on television. With respect to students, college has the potential to be stressful and feel like nothing but perpetual schoolwork. It is nice to take an hour out each week to let one’s mind wander and enter an enrapturing story. “American Horror Story: Freak Show” has something in it for everyone, even if you don’t find indulgence in horror.