freakshowAmerican Horror Story is now in the fourth chapter of the serial story and the new series, subtitled Freakshow, is the best American Horror Story series yet. Audiences have made Freakshow the highest rated show on the network and the season premiere of Freakshow brought in the highest ratings the show has gotten yet. Ratings have stayed consistently high throughout the season. With a show like American Horror Story that changes settings and characters every season, essentially reinventing itself as a new show every season, there can be a dramatic change in ratings from one season to the next. The last incarnation of the show, Coven, was a ratings success but fans were left a little let down by the entire season. Freakshow was hotly anticipated because of both the setting and the characters that were set to appear in the show. Freakshow is so good that Jessica Lange, who was set to leave the franchise after Freakshow, is considering signing on for another season because she enjoys the character of Elsa Mars so much.  Whether Freakshow just touched a cultural nerve or whether Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy finally hit the right groove here are a few of the reasons why American Horror Story: Freakshow is the best chapter of American Horror Story yet:

The Musical Numbers
Elsa Mars started her freakshow as a support for her singing career. She wanted something to bring audiences in so that she could sing for them. The writers of show decided that since the show was totally surreal anyway they wouldn’t be bound by music from the 40s and 50s for Elsa to sing. They have tapped into some modern music that has an entirely different context set in the 1950s in a freakshow in Florida. Elsa Mars singing David Bowie’s Life on Mars to an audience of Florida natives who came to see the freaks was a genius move by Falchuk and Murphy that fans loved. That was followed up by Sarah Paulson, who plays Siamese twins Bette and Dot, singing Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. For the Halloween theme episode of Freakshow Elsa Mars sang Lana Del Rey’s “Gods and Monsters” as Edward Mordrake walked towards the stage in clouds of green smoke. The choice of music and the musical ability of the stars have added a lot of depth to the characters in Freakshow.

American Horror Story has come up with some terrifying characters before, especially in Asylum. But none have been as freakishly terrifying as twistyTwisty the Clown. Because his appearance initially is comical and almost like a broken down vintage clown doll when that childlike façade opens and reveals the killer clown it is absolutely horrifying. People who already had a fear of clowns will never get rid of the image of Twisty in their heads. And people who were previously not scared of clowns are now scared of them because of Twisty. Twisty may be one of the scariest clowns of all time.

The Freaks
Some of the freaks in the freakshow are actors but some are people who have real medical conditions that cause them to be disfigured or different. This gives the show a feeling of authenticity and shows a little glimpse of what life was like for people like that in the past. During the turn of the century years and up until around the mid to late 50s people who suffered from medical conditions like that would have very limited job opportunities if any. There were no OSHA laws or disability laws to protect them against discrimination. Many ended up working on sideshows and freakshows that toured the country because it was the only way they could support themselves. Sometimes circus and sideshow owners would create freaks through the use of costumes, sleight of hand and even abuse. It wasn’t an easy life and Freakshow doesn’t gloss over the fact that for the freaks in the freakshow life was often precarious, brutal, and cruel. Even when they were accepted by other people in the show the people in the towns and cities they visited weren’t always receptive to their presence. American Horror Story Freakshow managed to balance the surreal and the real with the perfect blend of fear, horror, fascination and compassion.