By Marco Cadena
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
After last year’s witch-themed season of “American Horror Story,” the expectations for the fourth installment of the anthology series are hig.
An entertaining show with thrills and memorable quotes are some of the things that fans of the series look forward to in its new “Freak Show” theme.
This season, which takes place in 1952, in Jupiter, Fla., follows the story of one of the last surviving freak shows in America. With actors and real-life “freaks,” the cast gives the show a balanced atmosphere between the real and the fake.
One of the traditions of “American Horror Story” is to bring back actors to portray different characters in every season. With Sarah Paulson as the Siamese twins “Bette and Dot Tattler,” Evan Peters as “Lobster Boy” and Jessica Lange as freak show ringleader Elsa Mars, the veterans of the series make a comeback for this fourth season. Recurring cast members also include Frances Conroy, Emma Roberts and “Misery’s” own Kathy Bates as the bearded lady.
The greatest decision that creators and producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk made for “Freak Show” was to cast actors with special body characteristics or disabilities. Part of the “Extra-Ordinary” cast includes 20-year-old Jyoti Amge, an Indian actress named the smallest woman in the world by the Guinness Book of Records; Mat Fraser, an English rock musician and actor born with phocomelia (malformation of the limbs) on both arms; and Rose Siggins, after being born with sacral agenesis (malformation of the feet) and having her legs amputated, the mother of two fitted right into the role of “Legless Suzi.”
With numerous teasers and a release of the stop-motion opening credits, the lead-up to the season premiere was long. After fan-favorites seasons such as “Murder House” and “Asylum,” it is hard to think what can possibly attract new fans and live up to everyone’s expectations. However, Murphy and Falchuk seem to be using the same technique that has gotten them ratings in the past: the right amount of horror, a slight tone of comedy, an original script and celebrity guests. For instance, Patti LaBelle and Angela Bassett.
The current season’s slow pace in introducing the characters and their backstories can be unlikeable by new viewers, but those who know the show’s structure realize everything will make sense later on and that it will take a turn for the worse, in a horrific way.
This turn is evident in this season, as we have met by now John Carroll Lynch’s character, “Twisty the Clown.” This clown has been terrorizing the freaks’ town, and according to Murphy, Twisty has also given nightmares to the cast and crew. With a big disproportionate smiley mask, pale makeup, old dirty clothes, someone else’s scalp as a hat and a pair of scissors to kill anyone in his way, Twisty is on the right track to become one of the most original and scary villains in modern television shows.
Something that needs to be admired is Lange’s ability to make transitions from one season to another. Lange’s leading roles and powerful acting have given each season something to enjoy and look forward to. Even though Lange’s character always shows leadership and strength, it is evident there is always a soft side that shows how much she cares for others beside herself — in this case for the freaks.
Paulson’s acting this season deserves a standing ovation. Playing a two-headed woman seems difficult, but Paulson appears to have no difficulties with the task. The relationship between Paulson’s characters give the show something to look forward to, as it is clear the clashing personalities will pit the sisters against each other sooner or later. The series’ special effects team has been more involved this season as they are behind every scene with Paulson.
The overall relationship between the actors and disabled ones is complementary. There is a right amount of gore and mystery, and the season’s premiere made sure to include surprises from the very beginning. From hair and make-up, to costume and sets, Murphy’s team will always know how to put on a good show.
The show’s fresh score by Rotten Tomatoes’ critics and mostly favorable reviews by the audience in general, has landed Murphy record-breaking ratings as this season’s premiere gathered more than 10 million viewers. This caused FX Network to put in the works a fifth season of the anthology series, which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays. One of the factors that triggered the current success of the horror series was the over-the-top promotion. From bus stops to billboards all over Time Square, Murphy’s tactics showed a quest for the next-big thing. Regarding to social media, the show’s producers came up with a hash tag, #WirSindAlleFreaks which translates from German to “We Are All Freaks,” enabling fans worldwide to connect and interact
Back in September at the Alamo City Comic Con, Naomi Grossman was among the celebrity guests who met and greeted fans at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. Grossman is the first actress in the series to portray the same character in two different seasons. “Pepper,” Grossman’s character, can be seen in both “Asylum” and “Freak Show.”
“Isn’t (the show) great?” Grossman said. “I can’t wait for you guys to see what’s coming.”
E-mail Cadena at firstname.lastname@example.org