WE’RE BACK, PEOPLE, and it feels so good. Almost as good as a lobster claw massage. (Too soon?)
The long awaited premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show finally arrived on our television screens last night, and I am simultaneously thrilled, horrified and in love with Jessica Lange, though that last part is always true. I’m going to change up our recaps and try out a new format that is a little bit of a homage to New York Magazine’s reality index of Gossip Girl or, The Greatest Show of Our Time – but, instead of a real versus fake index, which would be ridiculous to do with this show, I’m just going to pull a Whose Line and give and take away points, but the points don’t matter! Just like Whichever Gummer’s character on Freak Show!
(Seriously, how many Gummers are there?!)
The Pluses, or, Elsa’s Excellent Coat Collection
-But really, 500 points for that.
–One thousand billion points for the indispensable Sarah Paulson, who has gotten her due for Cordelia’s uselessness by playing two totally distinct characters who happen to share a body! Bette and Dot are already SO fun to watch, and their dynamic is insane. I mean, they’re both cool, but Bette is the frontrunner for Best Head so far – she’s got such a weird and beautiful mix of enthusiasm, stupidity and all out violent rage. Dot is just kind of a Debbie Downer. Like, she is literally always crying and it is NEVER for a reason.
–Plus a thousand for the flat out ridiculous accents. Jessica Lange’s Elsa Mars is German! Kathy Bates’ Ethel Darling has some weird thing where her vowels are really flat and awful sounding! Evan Peters’ Jimmy Darling has the same dumb accent he always does that makes him sound like a newspaper boy in a movie from the 40s!
-But wait, can we talk about Evan Peters? Last season we had a girl with a murder vagina (I’m still upset I never used the recap title “Murderbang, She Wrote,” but we all have regrets in this life), and this season we have a guy with motherfucking LOBSTER HANDS WHO GETS PIMPED OUT BY HIS MOM. Thank you, Ryan Murphy. Thank you so much. Plus 6,500 points for that scene where he lobsterblasted housewives into oblivion. (Lobsterblasting, incidentally, sounds delicious.)
–Plus 50 for the creepy soundtrack, some of which sounds like a jammed boat motor and some of which sounds like it’s straight off the set of Sleep No More.
-And speaking of music, plus J.K. Rowling’s current net worth for Elsa singing Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” in a delightfully campy moment that finished with a triumphant jizz of glitter, and then panned back to reveal that this whole shebang is kind of a sad affair. Frances Conroy and her weird kid thought so, anyway.
–Plus 150 points for the fact that Frances Conroy, finally given the chance to look semi-normal on this show, and Weird Kid want to buy Bette and Dot and we have yet to find out exactly why. Like, why do they want a murderous, two-headed person who probably has a myriad of health problems hanging around their undoubtedly giant house? Is this, like, a Pretty Woman situation where Knickerbockers McGee needs to look like he has a girlfriend for some kind of Creepy Overgrown Kid business convention? (Realistically I think he just wants to have sex with her but I think that explanation is more fun.)
–Plus 5,000 for some of the shots in this episode. That one of Twisty, standing just far away enough to register from the young lovers and their picnic, was especially chilling – there was some excellent direction in this episode, and you know I NEVER usually say that about Ryan Murphy joints.
–Plus 50 points each for Meep and the World’s Smallest Lady, and as usual, plus every point in the universe for Living Goddess Jessica Lange. Oh, and plus two legs for her stump reveal! I cannot WAIT to hear the story behind that one.
The Minuses, or, That Fucking Mask
-Let’s start with some things I mentioned above – minus 2,000 points for the accents, all of which are horrible.
-Also, minus 500 points for the truly bizarre sound mixing, which, when combined with Jessica Lange’s raspy-ass whisper, made me feel like I was trying to hear their dialogue over the sound of a lawnmower that happened to be sitting atop my skull.
-Oh, and minus 10 points for the opening milkman scene, which had a really good build but was kind of anti-climactic when it came right down to it.
–MINUS A MILLION TRILLION BILLION POINTS FOR FUCKING TWISTY OH MY GOD. NO. NO TO THAT. Like, I get it, we need a Big Bad, but that mask is THE ACTUAL WORST, and is reportedly even worse when he takes it off later this season. In related news, I am starting a Change.Org petition for him to NEVER TAKE IT OFF EVER.
–Minus 50 points for that dumb split-screen thing they kept doing while Elsa was talking to Bette and Dot. I felt like I was watching the opening to The Brady Bunch on a loop, but it was like, a nightmare version of that where Alice was German and Jan had two heads.
–Minus 400 points for Frances Conroy and Dennis the Menace. They’re incredibly boring right now and I’m definitely done with them until they do anything interesting.
–Minus a million lipsticks for Elsa’s lurid blue eyeshadow. Jessica would NEVER.
Bonus! Jessica Lange’s Weekly Words of Wisdom: “Stars don’t pay.” Sorry, Mom, but I’m gonna need to get that tattoo like yesterday.
That’s all for this week, but we have yet another 90 minute installment coming up next week, and hopefully we get to meet old Tri-Tits and a few other freaks/monsters along the way. If you used to read my Coven recaps and feel like answering, please let me know how this new format tickles you. Or lobsterblasts you. I should copyright that.