21st Oct2014

‘American Horror Story: Freakshow – Episode 1’ Review

by Nicky Johnson

Stars: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Michael Chiklis, Denis O’Hare, Even Peters, Emma Roberts, Minn Wittrock, John Carroll Lunch, Patti LaBelle | Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk


For the last couple of years, American Horror Story has been one of the most frequently recommended TV shows from my friends, and like most TV trends I blissfully ignored it so I can sink yet more time into Civilisation V and nuking Ghandi because, well, it’s Ghandi. Eventually though it got enough of my attention through the power of the internet and I decided to give this season a try.

Two hours later and I’ve watched the first two still unreleased episodes of season 4 (I love reviewing things, I really do) and you better believe I’m watching the rest. Episode two’s review will follow, but I honestly couldn’t wait to write about episode one.

This season’s subtitle is Freak Show, for the perhaps obvious reason that it revolves around a freak show. Jessica Lange is back as the freak show’s owner Frau Elsa Mars, an old German cabaret dancer still dreaming of being a star whilst doing anything for her ‘monsters’ as her show fails to attract the audience she needs. When she hears about how a two headed woman in Jupiter, Florida, was attacked in her home and her mother killed, Elsa sneaks into her hospital to try and recruit her as a headliner to the show.

Meanwhile, the murder toll is rising around Jupiter, and two kids are taken; a little boy from his bed, and a teenage girl as her boyfriend is stabbed to death by a twisted clown. The police however are led to the two headed woman, Bette and Dot Tattler, as their prime suspect after her disappearance from the hospital and her mother’s murder adds suspicion. As the world seems more and more likely to attack them, Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), a boy with syndactyly (webbed hands), rallies the group to defend themselves against those who would try to break them up.

First and foremost, that clown is amongst the scariest TV show characters of all time. He has absolutely no lines; all of the fear is generated by the sheer crazed look of him and the mask that he wears. Secondly, like I’ve mentioned before, this has me hook line and sinker. It’s an hour long episode that feels like half an hour, and the way the story, the acting, and make up, all of it comes together to make easily one of the best shows out there. From start to the reveal at the very end, it’s constantly interesting, and because it’s a completely new story every season, new watchers like myself can get addicted just as easily without having to go through the backlog of episodes.

That won’t stop me, however.

***** 5/5

The first episode of American Horror Story: Freakshow airs on FX, here in the UK, tonight at 10pm

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