Well, it just might have been the most glamorous red carpet of all time. Certainly the most fun. The cast of American Horror Story: Freakshow attended a special screening of the season premiere last night, and let’s just say it was an eye-catching group.
Rose Siggins and her fabulous custom-designed skateboard.
Naomi Grossman wore practically NOTHING AT ALL. Put some clothes on, Pepper!
Singer Melanie Martinez – who wrote the theme song “Carousel” – is adorable in Prada.
Omg, hieeeeee Jyoti Amge!
A little perspective: Jyoti Amge and Erika Ervin.
TOO BEAUTIFUL, TOO ICONIC: Angela Bassett
Serial killer hotness: Finn Wittrock
Star power: Sarah Paulson and Emma Roberts
Gabourey Sidibe – So glad she’s back!
Forever yummy Evan Peters
Amanda Peet. Omg, remember how amazing she was in Igby Goes Down?
Wes Bentley: More handsome now than he was in the ’90s?
She Who Will Not Be Named.
She Who Will Not Be Named with the Destroyer of Worlds.
And finally: The goddess Kathy Bates.
(Photos: Pacific Coast News)
Just read a BLISTERING review of the new season, btw, in the SF Gate.
FX advises you to tune in to the “American Horror Story: Freak Show” premiere Wednesday night “if you dare.” Obviously, that line was written by the network’s marketing people without the benefit of having seen the first two episodes of Ryan Murphy’s previously wonderful anthology series.
As fans know, every year features a different story, albeit with many of the same actors playing different roles. What made it work so perfectly for three seasons was a brilliant mix of horror and humor, both over the top.
Someone seems to have lost the recipe with “Freak Show,” however, which boasts some extraordinary performances by actors who labor in vain against a sometimes plodding script, weighed down with underwhelming horror moments, way-too-obvious metaphors about tolerating differences and a pervasively airless claustrophobia.
In what she says is her final season with “AHS,” Jessica Lange plays the ringmistress of a third-rate freak show that has set down onthe outskirts of Jupiter, Fla., in 1952. Mimicking her idol, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Mars is a road-show Blanche DuBois with a German accent, badly dyed hair and a tattered monkey-fur cape, trying to keep the property owner from forcing the freak show to hit the road.
Her attractions include Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), whose deformed hands earn him the title Lobster Boy; the conjoined Tattler Sisters, Dot and Bette (Sarah Paulson); Jimmy’s mom, the bearded lady Ethel (Kathy Bates); and recent arrivals strongman and barker Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his tri-breasted hermaphrodite wife, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett).
The plot is halfheartedly thickened by a hideous killer clown roaming the landscape and brutally murdering various Jupiter citizens, and a whiny young man named Dandy Mott (Finn Whittrock) who runs away from his domineering mother (Frances Conroy) because he wants to join the freak show.
Once again, Tennessee Williams is evoked with facile similarity to Sebastian and Violet Venable.
“Stay, darling, stay with mother,” Conroy’s character pleads when Dandy runs off in a huff. “We’ll play June Allyson paper dolls or whatever you’d like. Something ghastly always happens when you run off in a mood.”
That line is so over the top that it suggests the otherwise MIA genius of previous “AHS” seasons, but all too soon, we’re forced to slog through more hamfisted writing. When Dandy tries to get a job with the freak show, Lobster Boy asks him if by chance he has pony legs or a “double ding-dong.”
“No, but I know the entire Cole Porter canon,” Dandy responds.
Did someone from FX find an old “Sean Saves the World” script when they were picking through the Dumpster at NBC or something?
In spite of everything else that doesn’t work, all the performances are at least very good, and a couple are simply extraordinary. You could say Lange pulls out all the stops, but at this point in her “AHS” career, there aren’t many left to pull out. Her Elsa Mars is haughty, tattered and ever swathed in a cloud of self-delusion, quite worthy of a great Blanche DuBois, who, of course, she played in a 1995 film. At one point, she channels the future to sing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” the way Dietrich sang “Falling in Love Again” and it’s nothing short of a sideshow aria.
Bates is a marvel, digging into her considerable trunkful of talents to adopt an exquisite Cajun accent as Jimmy’s doting, hirsute mom, Ethel Darling.
Peters is also terrific as Jimmy, barely able to contain his rage against a world that judges anyone not quite like themselves as a “freak.” By the way, the tolerance metaphor reaches a nadir of transparent obviousness when “Freak Show” includes a lunch-counter scene with the freak-show performers, meant to evoke the ugly days of segregation in the South.
Paulson may wind up competing against herself for a supporting actress Emmy for … well, not exactly the same part, but half of it anyway. As Dot Tattler, Paulson is cold, mean, damaged, and as Bette, she’s open, vulnerable and hopeful. Or is it the other way around? One can’t sing a note; the other has a beautiful singing voice. One inhales a cigarette, the other coughs as she exhales the smoke.
But where is the story, not to mention the trademark “AHS” Grand Guignol humor and the horror? The first two episodes try to fake us into believing there’s more here than meets the eye or ear with a lot of dramatic music, but it isn’t enough to mask the series’ deficiencies. Maybe JoJo the Dog Face Boy is just a sad dude in a mutt mask after all.