In the past I had reviewed American Horror Story per episode. The fact is that not enough happens in the show per episode for it to warrant that anymore. This holds true especially for Freakshow. We are now 7 episodes in so I think it’s safe to say it’s not going to pick up quickly.
American Horror Story: Freakshow is the most disappointing season they have ever done. It takes place in the 50s, but is littered with 70s, 80s, and 90s pop music covers done by the actors. While probably great for their financials when they release the album this is completely jarring to the viewer and makes it hard to take the setting seriously.
Everything about this season seems very paint by numbers to me. It could be because I am familiar with horror tropes, but I saw every plot point coming a mile away. I had hoped that they’d have done something unexpected, but time and time again I was given exactly what I was expecting. And what I was expecting were clichés.
Every bit of this season seems like it’s been made up by a bunch of drunk friends at a party. Twisty the killer clown is a kind but slightly slow man who got bullied so became a killer. Yawn. Dandy is the rich kid who quickly becomes a killer. Yawn. Frances Conroy barely has anything interesting to do on screen as Dandy’s Mom. Yawn. Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of Bette and Dot, the conjoined twins seems like something that sounded great on paper but it prevents her from actually doing any sort of range other than the same one-note shit every week.
Oh and then there’s Jessica Lange’s character that is so one dimensional that even this fabulous actress can’t save it. She’s a circus owner who used to be a prostitute in Germany and had her legs cut off in a snuff film by “bad guys.”
Just “bad guys”. There’s no real cohesion or story to keep you interested. It’s more like a series of firework farts going off in which you keep watching but aren’t sure you enjoyed it. Even Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett – who I love – can’t save it.
There’s just too many characters doing random shit for any one character to get any amount of development.
Let’s not forget how tired I am of this show focusing on the younger cast members over the older and more interesting to watch actors. Evan Peters has a ridiculous amount of screen time. He’s great but – enough. We get it. Girls like him. How about they stop looking at marketing demographics and just make a good story rather than making a desperate plea to win the teen hearthrob viewership?
The addition of his real life girlfriend, Emma Roberts last season has carried over into this season. She still comes across as the only actor on the show who is out of place. It’s a series full of accomplished actors and then we have the 1 valley girl who never appears to be from the time frame she’s trying to portray. Watching the fortune teller scene with her and Jessica Lange was hard because it was like watching Ms. Lange do improv with a random girl from your local high school.
Since season 2 American Horror Story has seemed like a group of friends writing as they go and placing scenes in the series solely because it’s amusing to them for their actor friends to perform that. The difference with American Horror Story season 1-3 versus 4 is that the previous seasons were actually enjoyable. Even when the plot had holes in it to a ridiculous point I was interested in what they were going to do next because it was almost like a screen test of the unexpected. The characters were interesting so I really enjoyed watching these actors portray them even though I knew I wasn’t going to get any sort of payoff.
This season? I’m struggling to watch it. The press coverage of this season says it all – all of the attention is about actor x or y singing a hit song that we recognize or “OMG CLOWNS”. Even the press has picked up that this show is just a bunch of good actors doing random shit for the hell of it.
There is an anti-bullying theme that some like about this scene. I get the sentiment but it’s really tough to give a shit about characters who are as one dimensional as printer paper. Why should we accept Evan Peters’ character (note that I can’t even remember his character’s name) when he and many of these characters are murderers who engage in debauchery on the regular? The “Let’s have the actors do random shit” thing completely conflicts with any sympathy I’d have for any of them.
Seriously, I know the actor’s names but it’s tough recalling any of the character’s names from memory. That says a lot about the character development.
This show isn’t bad if you enjoy seeing the random scenes. These actors are fabulous. I would never take away from that. However, I personally am looking for something along the lines of the first season of AHS or something like Masters of Horror. While also uneven, “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” directed by Don Coscarelli and “Family” directed by John Landis are 2 of my favs from that series.
I will continue to watch AHS only because I run this blog and because there’s a lot that I like about the concept and execution of the series in general. I hope that for their next season they focus on story because – as one commenter put it – “this seems more like a boring reality show than a story”.
If you are interested in getting into this show I recommend season 1. While flawed, it was a very enjoyable series in my personal opinion.