The premiere episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” is so good that it makes us wonder: Could this be the year the FX horror series finally wins the Emmy Award for Best Miniseries or Movie?
From the opening scene of a milkman’s discovery, we can already tell that this installment is darker and definitely scarier. We’re introduced to Bette and Dot Tattler (a doubly brilliant Sarah Paulson) the two headed ‘freak’ who is being courted by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) to join her dwindling local “Freak Show” act. But Elsa doesn’t want Bette and Dot to join just because of their special circumstance, but because she has built a family of out-casters who she seems to genuinely care for. We meet Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) who has flipper/lobster hands with special skills, Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates) Jimmy’s mother and Elsa’s confidant, Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) the world’s smallest woman, Erika Ervin (Amazon Eve) the world’s tallest woman, Pepper (Naomi Grossman) crossing over from the “Asylum” season, and several other “freaks.”
We are also introduced to socialite Gloria Mott (Frances Conroy — give this woman an Emmy already) and her spoiled son Dandy (Finn Wittrock) who asks to purchase Bette and Dot as if they were not human beings. Throw in an Emmy-worthy crazy song number performed by Lange and you see how it teeters over the top, but ultimately finds its ground. And all of this is going on while we’re getting the shite scared out of us by what is hands-down the scariest anything to appear on TV since NBC introduced us to the XFL: Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch). After watching Twisty go on his killing spree, I’d dare anyone not to lock their doors and turn on all the lights and burn anything resembling a clown in your home. The make-up for Twisty is a feat in horror and, though he may not be on par with Pennywise, he’s certainly not someone you’d want to be in the zip code with.
It looks like “Freak Show” may turn out to be the best of the “American Horror Story” franchise. Yes, “Hannibal” (NBC) and “Bates Motel” (AMC) have had great seasons, “The Walking Dead” (AMC) is still fun for its gore and a few zombie heads rolling every episode, and FX’s own “The Strain” has had some stand-out episodes, but none can hold a candle to what “Freak Show” seems to be doing. Ryan Murphy has found a way to do what “The Twilight Zone” was able to: blend a creatively creepy story with scenes of sheer terror.
At the upcoming Golden Globes, where TV miniseries and movies are combined into one category, “True Detective” has the clear lead according to Gold Derby readers.
However, that first installment of “True Detective” has already played out at the Emmys where “American Horror Story” is overdue to take the top prize. When “Murder House”(2012) and “Asylum” (2013) competed, they were pitted against TV movies and lost to “Game Change” and “Behind the Candelabra,” respectively. At the recent Emmys, minis were given their own category, but “Coven” lost to “Fargo.”