Wednesday, October 15, 2014

American Horror Story: Freak Show, Episode 1

Nobody can accuse Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story of not covering the classics. First there was the (best) haunted house. Then the haunted Asylum. After that there was the haunted French Quarter. It was only a matter of time before Florida Freak shows would get their chance to be haunted. So, how does this season stack up against previous seasons? How would we know? It just started. The nanobots can't see into the future! Jeez!

But, like all scientific endeavors, it's going to come down to a little elbow grease, repetition, and a few dirty parlor tricks in order to find out (Those things are all part of the scientific method, right? We missed a few night night classes...). So, strap-up (or on) and get ready to get your freak on, as The PCS kicks off it's coverage of American Horror Story: Freak Show.
  • Opening a scene with an old-timey milkman and not ending it like that scene from Pink Flamingos with the milkman. = +4pts (If you've seen it you know what we're talking about.)
  • The '50s: When your milkman had free reign of your house when you were out, thus birthing the Alpha plot of all pornography. = +6pts
  • The '50s: When protecting yourself in a house meant running to the kitchen and finding the nearest...rolling pin? = -2pts
  • New opening credits! Um...that' a lot of stop-motion self-pleasure there. But hey, you can't go wrong with a literal 3rd leg wearing a boot condom, or mutually masturbating pigmy/monkey skeletons, are we right? = +3pts
  • Any employee screening that involves asking the potential new employee if anyone has "tasted their cherry pie." = -5pts
  • Sharing your junk with a sister you can't stand. = -1pt
  • Taking flowers from this Swamp Clown. = -2pts
  • Reenacting the scariest scene from David Fincher's Zodiac. = +3pts
  • Replacing the Zodiac killer from that scene with a dirty Swamp Clown. = +10pts
  • World's Smallest Woman?! More like, World's Most Adorable Woman! = +4pts
  • Leave it to Jessica Lange to make even dining and dashing seem classy. = +5pts
  • Lobster Tate, King of the Best Little Whore House in Florida! Giving new meaning to the term "magic hands." = +6pts
  • Playing one of your Siamese sisters in full-on Clooney head tilt. = -2pts (Google it.)
  • Leave it to the Swamp Clown to reinvent the "clown car." = +8pts
  • Word of advice: The next time a Swamp Clown wants to show you what's in his pocket, YOU LET HIM SHOW YOU WHAT'S IN HIS FUCKING POCKET!!! = +3pts
  • Meep the Geek. = +3pts (Seriously, Meep you're welcome to the nanolab anytime.)
  • Kathy Bate's freak show power is apparently her ability to look like a yard gnome. = -2pts (Because gnomes aren't scary.)
  • It wouldn't be the '50s without a scene featuring a Studabaker full of white assholes throwing a bottle at someone with lobster hands. = -3pts
  • This partially real, partially made-up, exchange: "No flipper action!" "But, ma!" = -2pts
  • Nobody puts the Most Adorable Woman in a Cage! NOBODY! = -5pts
  • Crossing streams with Glee, despite our dire warnings last season. = -5pts
  • Nothing says, "We're just like everybody else and entitled to the things other people have!" quite like murdering a police man who's only crime is to (kind of douchaly) arrest a murderer and then having a meat cleaver orgy with your freak show friends on his body. This is America, Goddamit! People should have the right to violently dispose of people trying to do their jobs! = +4pts
Episode Score = +30pts
Season Score = +30pts

Ryan Murphy's skill isn't so much creating something new, as much as providing his eye for visual design to the blending of his various influences. For anyone who's seen Pink Flamingos or Zodiac, it's hard not to notice the similar themes. From the Zodiac inspired disturbingly random stabbings of the Swamp Clown, to the struggle between the Freak Show and the surrounding Florida town for title of "world's filthiest tribe," the similarities can be almost distracting. And, while this season didn't start off as scary as the first two, it does have a stabby fucking swamp clown, which is always good for a chill now and then. The other thing this show has going for it is Jessica Lange, singularly one of the best actresses working today. Period. No other actor on this show (or any other) so completely reinvents themselves each season the way she does. Whether it's transcending the Divine inspired make-up in a pathetic attempt at stardom, or extorting a local candy striper with an opium-induced sex film, she's the gravity that holds the center of Murphy's perverse universes, and has been since the beginning. Rumor has it this is her last season. Supposedly the show will continue without her. But, honestly, without her there to anchor the cast, one wonders if they should even bother.

Score Technician: Sean McConnell

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