American Horror Story is three episodes in to its forth consecutive season. Year after year, FX brings the show back because of how fresh, different, and overall successful the show is for the network. FX has essentially used American Horror Story as a steady platform to grow their brand on top of. This article is dedicated to telling you all about American Horror Story: Freak Show and where it places among other seasons.
American Horror Story: Freak Show takes place in the 1950’s at a circus like freak show. There are many new faces who actually physically bring something to the table. They have the shortest woman in the world on the show coming in at just over two feet. The show also uses some of its reoccurring cast as “freaks” by adding makeup and even CGI to make the show come to life.
AHS: Freak Show’s premiere was the highest watched telecast in FX’s history as a network, only reaffirming the idea that the show is the staple of the network. Even though critics are in love with the “indie like aesthetic,” fans are not necessarily into the series yet. The show definitely has some questionable characters and a plot that is still missing quite a bit of backstory, but the biggest issue for some is the weirdly contemporary moments in the show. The most recent episode debuted Jessica Lange singing a new Lana Del Rey song. While Lana and AHS fans were probably overjoyed with this crossover, it was a point of contention due to its displacement in a show set in the 1950’s.
What this season has that others don’t is such a wide array of cast members. This season is the most ensemble cast the show has ever experienced. Looking back on seasons like Coven and Asylum, none of the characters besides the leads really came to life. In a season like Freak Show, where everybody has something interesting to show, it makes sense that the show would include such a large cast.
The problem I see with this season is that the plot seems too hard to manage. Like in other seasons, many of the characters are going through their own storyline, where the show cuts back to the past to explain, and uses the setting in the present to solve them. This strategy has worked really well when there were only 3 or 4 big plots spreading around, but Freak Show didn’t stop there. Three episodes in and not all of our characters are even fully introduced yet. The show has so many people, that you can easily forget who is even at the circus or not. The show is jumps around from plot to plot so freely that it seems the show isn’t really making any progress at all. With extremely successful shows like Breaking Bad and True Detective (another anthology show), the story moves in a very clear and forward fashion.
For me, Freak Show at this point, is the least successful of the four seasons. I think that there are too many people to pay attention to, and there isn’t enough happening plot wise. To me it seems like such a shame because the gimmick of a circus seems great for a horror based series, and the cinematography is visually stunning, but the plot just doesn’t seem to be there.
What makes AHS such a success is that it rarely loses its fans. People know that if they don’t like one season, there’s still a very high chance they will like the next one. What’s so beneficial about the anthology type format, is that every season is a completely different, fresh story, and every season gives the viewer closure. AHS can pretty much have you hooked if you just like one of the four seasons. With other shows, you really have to like every season to be a fan. It is tough for an audience to sit idly by and watch a season that has no real ending.
I feel that anthology type television is definitely the way to go, and with shows like AHS and True Detective finding such great success in the format it seems that networks are starting to catch on. Anthologies can also allow shows to get bigger stars as they only have to commit to a single season instead of a questionable amount of time with a regular drama show. Overall I don’t very much prefer what AHS: Freak Show is doing plot wise, but I do think that the show is slowly revolutionizing the way we watch Television, and I know for a fact I will be tuning in next season regardless of Freak Show’s ending.